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Terroir Of Anderson Valley Vineyards

Anderson Valley Vineyards experience one of the coolest climates of any viticultural area in California. Because of the cool and generally steady temperatures, wineries in the region generally harvest a full month later than other most other California AVAs.

The Anderson Valley is immediately to the west of the 3,000 foot Coastal Mountain Range. The valley is exposed to the Pacific Ocean in the northwest where the Navarro River meets the ocean. This causes the climate to be significantly cooler than viticultural areas east of the Coastal Mountain Range. The region’s soils are primarily alluvial with a substantial amount of clay.

The climate within the Anderson Valley is not entirely consistant, and the northern tip of the valley can be as much as 10 degrees cooler than areas in the southeast. This is due in part to the northwest’s lower, more maritime-influenced elevation, (800 feet).

It is also cooler because of exposure to wind and fog from the Pacific Ocean and the Navarro River. The fog cover enters the valley and moves to the southeast. It slows the ripening process and is particularly beneficial for Pinot Noir and Gewurztraminer. Acidic, sparkling wines generally produced with grapes sourced from this chilly region.

The southeastern part of the Anderson Valley is more inland, has a higher elevation, (1300 feet) and is a bit warmer. Chardonnay and White Riesling are able to fully ripen in this part of the AVA. It is still cold enough to keep the wines acidic and refreshing.

This area excels at producing still versions of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Pacific Echo NV Cremant is an interesting hybrid of sparkling and still Pinot Noir and Chardonnay sourced from the warmer, southeastern part of the valley. It is a mildly effervescent wine with a little bit of residual sugar. I had never tasted this style of wine before, but it really agreed with me.

Terroir Of Anderson Valley Vineyards

The diverse terroir of the Anderson Valley also supports Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. There are several nooks and crannies in the hills that are not affected by fog and receive abundant sun exposure. These vineyards are still affected by winds from the Pacific Ocean and Navarro River. Most of these wines have high acid levels and are not full-bodied.

Anderson Valley Vineyards experience ideal conditions for several cool-weather varietals. Sparkling wines from the AVA are refreshing, and have a refined quality. As the New World continues to realize the importance of terroir for specific varietals, the Anderson Valley seems to be ahead of the curve in its specialization.