Just when you’ve finally figured out the criss-cross of Sonoma County’s 12 sub-appellations here is one more. Sonoma Countys' newest appellation, Bennett Valley, is located completely within the North Coast AVA, almost completely within Sonoma Valley, and partially crossing over into the Sonoma Coast and Sonoma Mountain AVAs. A petition for the proposed viticultural area was filed in October of 2001 with Jean Arnold, CEO of Matanzas Creek Winery leading the way. There were no letters of comment received and therefore, effective December 29, 2003, the Bennett Valley AVA went into effect. Bennett Valley is an 8,140 acre viticultural area with 650 acres currently planted to varietals such as Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah, with lesser amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc, Barbera, Grenache, and Sauvignon Blanc. It is surrounded by the Sonoma Mountain Range on three sides and the city of Santa Rosa to the north. Crane Canyon to the southwest is a gap between Sonoma Mountain and Taylor Mountain which allows the cooling coastal fog and breezes from the northern Pacific Coast. There are currently only two bonded wineries, Matanzas Creek Winery and Sable Ridge Vineyards, but with the recent AVA approval, that figure will certainly grow.
In the southern Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and Georgia vineyards are small and few, yet the establishment of the Upper Hiwassee Highlands could bring much more.
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Madame Merlot, you’re a big gal, soft and smoky; how we love your full, curvaceous figure. But you are