The Impact of Terroir in Clarksburg Wine Country

The Clarksburg Wine Region is located on a leveed island and sits below the river level in the Northern Sacramento Delta. The AVA is about 16 miles long and 8 miles wide. It encompasses 64,640 acres of which about 9000 are planted with over 20 different varietals. Most the region’s grapes are sourced by non-resident wineries.

An exception to this rule is the relatively large Bogle Winery. Bogle is located on the Merritt Island AVA which is entirely within Clarksburg. The winery produce several high-quality, value-driven wines with local grapes.

An important feature of the AVA’s terroir is its high viticultural output. This is largely due to the soils. Made of clay, loam, and peat, they do not naturally drain well. Water often has to be pumped out of the ground. These soils are very fertile and contain abundant minerals. It is not unusual for one acre in the AVA to produce 6 tons or more.

Another distinctive characteristic of the region’s terroir is its long, dry growing season. Sunny days are moderated by afternoon breezes from the San Francisco Bay. The vicinity of numerous canals and rivers also moderates temperatures. Nights are cool, but not exessively cold. This keeps grape acidity at advantageous levels, especially for Chenin Blanc.

Clarksburg Chenin Blanc is arguably the best in the country and has a very fruity aroma that is reminiscent of Vouvray (the grape’s home in France’s Loire Valley). Petite Sirah also thrives in the viticultural area.

The Impact of Terroir in Clarksburg Wine Country

Despite the fact that these two grapes grow fabulously in the AVA, the American wine consumer generally has little experience with them. Unfortunately, the region has largely been relegated to undeserved obscurity in recent years. For this reason, some Clarksburg wines are simply labeled, “California”.

It is my opinion that the future of American wine consumption will increasingly realize the value of varietals grown in terroir-specific regions. It will not be a moment to soon for this phenomenal AVA.