Although there are numerous reasons to enjoy Sonoma Valley, wine is unquestionably the main draw. And with good reason: Sonoma Valley produces some of the most esteemed wines in North America, and the caliber of the regional cuisine elevates the wines to a higher level. Sonoma Valley, also referred to as “The Valley of the Moon,” is renowned for its natural beauty, which makes it an ideal location for wine cultivation. A must-visit location for history fans, who will savor the region’s pioneering past as the cradle of the California wine industry, is the valley due to its winemaking heritage.
1812: Russian farmers and fur trappers established the first grape vines in Sonoma in 1812 along the Pacific coast as part of an outpost to raise food and hunt sea otters for the Alaskan fur trade. What was formerly known as the Russian’s Fort Ross is now a state park, historical site, and a component of the Fort Ross-Seaview American Viticulture Area despite having only existed for forty years and never having more than 400 residents (AVA).
1823: Not until shortly after 1823, when Spanish missionaries started building their final mission in California, Mission San Francisco Solano, did grape farming really start to take off. Several thousand vines were planted by Father Jose Altamira, or possibly by his newly baptized Native American servants, for the purpose of producing sacramental wine and other unknown purposes. It’s worth stopping by the still-standing Mission San Francisco Solano in Sonoma’s town square, which has been restored and is now a historical site.
1834: In Northern California, Sonoma Mission Vineyards cuttings were planted. All missions were taken over by the Mexican government as a result of political instability. At this time, vine cuttings from the Sonoma Mission were planted in northern California.
June, 1846: The residence of Mexican General Mariano Vallejo, who was confronted by 33 armed ragtag Americans demanding Mexican control and the territory’s surrender in June 1846, is another historical site in Sonoma’s town square. General Vallejo, ever the gentleman diplomat, welcomed the guests inside for breakfast and wine from his vineyards. With wine came reason and General Vallejo, anticipating future political aspirations, prudently stepped aside, giving birth to the foundations of California independence from Mexico. In what was known as the Bear Flag Revolt, the flag, carrying the symbol of a grizzly bear signifying strength, was raised over Sonoma plaza and later became the California state flag.
1857: The Count Agoston Haraszthy, a Hungarian immigrant, established the first fine winery in Sonoma County, Buena Vista Vineyards, a few miles northeast of the town square. The Buena Vista Winery was established in 1857 by Budapest-born Hungarian Agoston Haraszthy. Haraszthy was unable to support the estate financially, so in 1863 the Buena Vista Vinicultural Society—a group of investors headed by San Francisco banker William Ralston—stepped in to help. As soon as the society was established, Buena Vista was turning out two million gallons of wine annually. Wine prices dropped significantly as costs increased as a result of the success of California’s emerging wine industry. Haraszthy’s resignation as the winery’s superintendent was forced in 1866. In the 1870s, the winery used roughly 500 acres of grapes to create about 100,000 gallons of wine annually. Sparkling wine was a preferred product. The group was compelled to liquidate its assets and declare bankruptcy during the 1873–1877 downturn. Businessman Robert C. Johnson would live on the estate in the 1880s.
1861: The California Governor appointed Haraszthy to oversee the commissioning of a study on “ways and means best adapted to promote the improvement and growth of the grapevine in California” for the California Legislature. Haraszthy responded by traveling to Europe to research the best viticulture and winemaking techniques. He returned with more than 100,000 cuttings from more than 350 different varietals. Every boom has a bust, and by the middle of the 1860s, things had started to fall apart a little. It turns out that Haraszthy, the “Father of California Viticulture,” and his travels to Europe contributed to careless planting and the phylloxera infestation—an bug that feeds on grapevine rootstock—despite his good intentions. As a result, Sonoma battled over the final several decades of the 19th century to survive the phylloxera outbreak.
January 16, 1920: During this period, Prohibition was implemented, which had an effect on the growth, exportation, and consumption of wine in Sonoma and other parts of the country. Due to the allowance of 200 gallons (757 liters) per household, home winemaking experienced a surge. California produced 150 million gallons (567 million liters) of domestic wine. Over 30,000 acres were added to the grape growing area (12,000 hectares). As a result, there was a tremendous upheaval in the local wine industry.
December 5, 1933: On this day, the prohibition ended. When Prohibition eventually ended, only 160 of California’s 700 wineries were still in business. There are barely 50 wineries left in Sonoma County. The miserable conditions remained well into the late 1960s. There were only about 25 wineries left in Sonoma County in 1867, and grape prices were low ($112 per acerage ton in that year). Then, in a matter of hours, something completely changed. Between 1968 and 1975, the county saw a sharp increase in the cultivation of vineyards, and both new and established wineries launched a campaign to recover Sonoma.
1975: In Sonoma, several wine labeling regulations were introduced. As wine labels become more controlled, wine appellations begin to play a larger role in the promotion of Sonoma County wines. reverting to the 1920s’ levels of 24,000 acres (9,700 ha.). A legal permit is required in order to create a wine label for a new wine. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau has restrictions that apply to wineries (TTB). Sonoma County wines are therefore available for purchase with the knowledge that they are of the finest quality.
May 24, 1976: The Paris tasting, which compared California wines against French choices, was a turning point in the global recognition of California wines. A 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay from Napa Valley grapes was the winning white wine (a 1973 Stags Leap Wine Cellars cabernet). Wine lovers in 1976 preferred to focus on winery names rather than grape farming when choosing a wine. The fact that 20 tons, or almost half, of the chardonnay fruit used to manufacture Chateau Montelena chardonnay, came from vineyards in Sonoma County is unquestionably the cause of the fact that so few people were aware of it.
November 21, 1983: This is the day Green Valley AVA was established. In Sonoma County, California, the Green Valley of Russian River Valley AVA (formerly Sonoma County Green Valley AVA) is an American Viticultural Area. One of the coolest appellations in Sonoma County is the Russian River Valley AVA, which is situated at the southwest corner of the Russian River Valley AVA. The Green Valley’s environment, which is even colder than that of other regions of the Russian River Valley, is conducive to the growth of cool-climate grape varieties like Pinot noir, Chardonnay, and Gewürztraminer. Due to the better market recognition of Russian River Valley wines, several wines that could have been labeled with the Sonoma County Green Valley AVA classification were instead labeled with the more inclusive appellation designation of the Russian River Valley AVA. In order to identify the Green Valley with the more well-known Russian River Valley, a group of local winemakers petitioned the United States Department of the Treasury Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau for a name change. On April 23, 2007, a modification to the federal statute designating American Viticultural Areas altered the designation of the appellation to the Green Valley of Russian River Valley AVA.
November 21, 1983: Dry Creek Valley AVA was established. More than 9,000 vineyard acres, 60 wineries, one deli, and no traffic lights may be found in Dry Creek Valley. Dry Creek Valley is the most condensed, user-friendly, and densely packed with wine sampling possibilities of any wine region in Sonoma County. However, it is also home to a close-knit agricultural community where businesses do not even have a foothold. Many recently constructed vineyards are owned by the ancestors of immigrants who came here to farm in the 1800s. And despite the fact that the biggest family-owned vineyard in the country keeps a facility here, you’d never guess it was tucked into the undulating benchland.
November 1983: This is the time Chalk Hill AVA was established. California’s Sonoma County is home to the American Viticultural Area (AVA) known as Chalk Hill. The Russian River Valley AVA’s northeastern section is covered by the wine appellation’s limits. The majority of vineyards are situated close to Windsor, to the east of U.S. Route 101. The peculiar volcanic soil of chalky white ash, which has demonstrated itself to perform well with the planting of white wine varietals like Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc, is whence the term Chalk Hill originates. The western slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains are where the majority of the region’s wineries are situated. Carneros AVA was formed in the same year.
1984: Alexander Valley AVA, one of Sonoma Valley AVAs was established. North of Healdsburg in Sonoma County is the Alexander Valley, an American Viticultural Area (AVA) in California (Wappo: Unutsawaholmanoma, “Toyon Bush Berry Place”). Along with the city of Cloverdale, there are numerous wineries and vineyards in this region. It is Sonoma’s largest and most densely populated wine area. The valley is traversed by Highway 101, and the Russian River flows through it as it is flanked on both sides by vineyards. There is a view that extends as far south as Taylor Mountain and Sonoma Mountain from the upper elevations of the valley rim.
June 11, 1987: Sonoma Coast AVA was established on this day. The Sonoma Coast AVA, an American Viticultural Area in Sonoma County, California, is a region of more than 500,000 acres (2,000 km2) of land. The Pacific Ocean’s coast is where the majority of this area is situated. It extends from San Pablo Bay to the edge of Mendocino County. In comparison to other parts of Sonoma County, it is well recognized for having a cold climate and receiving more rain. Due to the region’s vast range of microclimates, petitions for the development of sub-AVAs, such as the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA, which was approved in December 2011, have been made to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau of the United States Department of the Treasury.
Feb. 28th, 2002: Rockpile AVA was established on this day. The American Viticultural Area known as Rockpile AVA is located in Sonoma County, California, northwest of the town of Healdsburg. When the Rockpile AVA was created on February 28, 2002, it was the twelfth legal wine appellation in Sonoma County. The wine region covers around 15,400 acres and is situated in northwest Sonoma County (62 km2). The entire AVA is elevated above sea level by more than 244 meters (800 feet). The AVA now contains eleven vineyards with a combined 160 acres (1 km2) of wine grape plantings.
November 2011: On this day, Pine Mountain-Clover Peak AVA Was Established. 150 acres are being developed together with 230 acres of vines in the Pine Mountain-Clover Peak AVA. It is elevated and situated in the vast North Coast viticultural zone (overlapping the northernmost parts of Alexander Valley and the Northern Sonoma viticultural areas). Most of the vineyards are modestly sized, occupying 5 to 20 acres of flat or gently sloping land.
November 1, 2013: The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau created the Moon Mountain District AVA (TTB). Region of Moon Mountain Just to the north of the city of Sonoma, Sonoma County is a designated American Viticultural Area (AVA) that is a part of the North Coast and Sonoma Valley wine regions. Since the 1880s, this hilly area on the far eastern fringe of Sonoma County has earned a reputation for producing wines with deep, strong flavors made from the Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah grape varieties.
January 8, 2018: On January 8, 2018, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau of the U.S. Department of Treasury designated Petaluma Gap AVA as an American Viticultural Area (TTB). From the Pacific coast at Bodega Bay southeast to Highway 37 at Sears Point on San Pablo Bay, the region stretches over 202,476 acres (316 sq mi), straddling the border of northern Marin and southern Sonoma counties. The AVA has nine bonded wineries, 80 commercially producing vineyards, and 4,000 acres (1,619 hectares) of land under cultivation. It is wholly inside the North Coast AVA.