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The Impact of Terroir on California Wines

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The Delta is an intricate network of rivers, canals, marshes, and leveed islands that are both natural and man-made. This environment is created by runoff from the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. The natural boundaries of the Delta are Stockton to the south, Sacramento to the north, the Carquinez Straits to the west, and the Sierra Foothills to the east.

Although the Delta is technically part of the enormous Central Valley AVA, several factors differentiate the terroir of this wine producing region. The Central Valley AVA produces the majority of California’s wine, yet no producer uses the name on their label because of the association with mass-produced, cheap wines.

Whereas the majority of the Central Valley AVA is unaffected by coastal fog, some is able to move through the San Francisco Bay and into the Delta. The region enjoys moderate temperatures, sunshine, and moist air. These are advantageous characteristics for high-quality wine production. Two AVAs located in the Delta have particularly distinguished themselves with their wines.

Terroir of Specific Delta AVAs

Cool air from the San Francisco Bay positively influences the production of Clarksburg Wine. Located on a leveed island, the AVA has extemely fertile soils. Over twenty varietals are grown, but Chenin Blanc has received the most acclaim.

The Impact of Terroir on California Wines

Lodi Wine is produced directly to the east of Clarksburg. Lodi enjoys sunshine and cool breezes. It has a long history of producing many different California Wines, but is most noted for Zinfandel.

General Sierra Foothills Terroir

Fog from the San Francisco Bay does not reach AVAs located in the Sierra Foothills, but these regions have different characteristics that make them suitable for fine wine production.

Soils in the region are very austere, have little organic material, and significant granite deposits. Irrigation is sometimes used, but many growers shun it in order to stress their vines. Although Zinfandel has historically been the varietal of choice in the Sierra Foothills, many other grapes thrive in the elevated terroir.