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Sonoma Valley Wine

California's Sonoma Valley is arguably America's second most famous wine region. It is trumped only by the Napa Valley, its eastern neighbor on the other side of the Mayacamas Mountains. It should be noted, however, that it is the name 'Sonoma' that has gained this fame, rather than the Sonoma Valley per se. While the term 'Napa' essentially covers all wines from Napa County and Napa Valley, 'Sonoma County' and 'Sonoma Valley' are far from synonymous. This distinction is vital to those seeking an understanding of California's two top wine regions.

A springtime sunset in Sonoma Valley

The Sonoma Valley AVA covers a long, thin tranche of Sonoma County's south-eastern corner and is entirely separate from the prestigious AVAs of Northern Sonoma, which include the likes of Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and Knights Valley. Santa Rosa town, at the northern end of the valley, marks the transition between these two areas. The valley lies between the Mayacamas and Sonoma mountains and is drained by Sonoma Creek, one of Sonoma County's two key rivers (the other being the much longer Russian River). Sonoma Creek rises on Sugarloaf Ridge in the Mayacamas and flows southwards for roughly 35 miles (60km) before discharging into San Pablo Bay. Sonoma Valley follows the creek for its entire length.

Within the north-western third of the Sonoma Valley AVA lie the Sonoma Mountain AVA and its lower-lying neighbor Bennett Valley. While they produce a handful of interesting wines, these two small AVAs are far from famous. The story is quite different at the southern end of the valley, where it crosses over into the famous Carneros AVA. Carneros (or Los Carneros) is divided roughly in half between Sonoma and Napa and represents the meeting point between the two valleys. It is widely regarded as the source of California's finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines, meaning that almost all wines from this part of the valley use the Carneros title instead of the Sonoma Valley name, to which they also have a right.

The wines for which Sonoma Valley is known are rich reds made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and ripe, generously flavored (and generally oaked) Chardonnay. The occasional Sonoma Valley Merlot is also to be found on the market, although these have been increasingly rare since the variety's fall from favor in the 1990s. That said, some producers – notably Chateau St Jean right at the northern end of the valley – have stood by their Sonoma Valley Merlot.

The very first vineyards here were established in the late 1850s, at around the same time that George C. Yount began making Napa Valley wines just over the Mayacamas. Buena Vista and Gundlach Bundschu wineries, on the eastern outskirts of Sonoma town, were established in 1857 and 1858 respectively.

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We found 491 wines produced in this region.
Wine Name
Grape 
Popularity
Kistler Vineyards 'Kistler Vineyard' Chardonnay, Sonoma Valley, USA Chardonnay $115 637
Kunde Family Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley, USA Cabernet Sauvignon $18 996
Kenwood Vineyards Jack London Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley, USA Cabernet Sauvignon $28 1827
Arrowood Vineyards Reserve Speciale Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley, USA Cabernet Sauvignon $85 2085
Kunde Family Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley, USA Cabernet Sauvignon - Malbec $42 2205
Kamen Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley, USA Cabernet Sauvignon $78 2334
Ridge Vineyards Pagani Ranch Zinfandel, Sonoma Valley, USA Zinfandel $35 2350
Louis M. Martini Monte Rosso Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley, USA Cabernet Sauvignon $66 2472
Kistler Vineyards Cuvee Cathleen Chardonnay, Sonoma Valley, USA Chardonnay $161 2604
Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery Cherryblock Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley, USA Cabernet Sauvignon $85 2717
Kistler Vineyards Durell Vineyard Chardonnay, Sonoma Valley, USA Chardonnay $107 2749
Bedrock Wine Co. The Bedrock Heirloom Red, Sonoma Valley, USA Rare Red Blend $42 3011
B.R. Cohn Winery Olive Hill Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley, USA Cabernet Sauvignon $51 3051
Hanzell Vineyards Chardonnay, Sonoma Valley, USA Chardonnay $69 3300
Hanzell Vineyards Pinot Noir, Sonoma Valley, USA Pinot Noir $85 3317
Ravenswood Winery Single Vineyard Barricia Zinfandel, Sonoma Valley, USA Zinfandel $32 3459
Gundlach-Bundschu Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley, USA Cabernet Sauvignon $35 3606
Kunde Family Estate Chardonnay, Sonoma Valley, USA Chardonnay $13 3869
Kunde Family Estate Syrah, Sonoma Valley, USA Syrah $22 4563
Kunde Family Estate Merlot, Sonoma Valley, USA Merlot $15 4609
Ravenswood Winery Single Vineyard Old Hill Zinfandel, Sonoma Valley, USA Zinfandel $49 5169
Gundlach-Bundschu Estate Vineyard Merlot, Sonoma Valley, USA Merlot $25 5206
Kunde Family Estate Reserve Chardonnay, Sonoma Valley, USA Chardonnay $30 5336
Sonoma-Cutrer Les Pierres Chardonnay, Sonoma Valley, USA Chardonnay $39 5815
Gundlach-Bundschu Vintage Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley, USA Cabernet Sauvignon $73 5913
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