Russian River Valley Chardonnay Gets Its Dew
May 19, 2009
Once considered red wine country, particularly for Zinfandel and Pinot Noir, the Russian River Valley has been "discovered" as the right place for excellent Chardonnay. Editor-at-Large Dan Berger investigates.
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Twenty odd years ago, the beautiful redwood-clad Russian River Valley was an unassuming mixed agricultural area, which drew little attention in status wine circles. Since then, the cool-climate consciousness that has swept across wine regions from coast to coast has given this low-lying valley and its 10,000 acres of vineyards considerably greater cachet. Russian River Valley, granted official appellation standing in 1983, is now one of the most recognized AVA names in America. The appellation is internationally renowned for challenging varieties like Pinot Noir, which excels in this cool-climate, yielding highly expressive wines. A lean and restrained style of Chardonnay is also a signature cepage for the region. One sixth of Sonoma County's total vineyard acreage falls within the Russian River AVA boundaries, with all vineyards sharing to varying degrees the defining characteristic of cooling fog that is drawn inland from the Pacific each day.
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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is the Regional Correspondent for Russian River Valley.