California wines (II)-Napa Valley, Carneros and Sonoma County

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Most of the finest Californian wines are produced in the North-to-Central Coast areas of the state, while most of the bulk wines are produced in the further inland Central Valley area. Let’s first look at some important AVAs in the North Coast Region.

• Napa Valley

Napa Valley is perhaps the most famous AVA in California. Benefiting from versatile weather conditions, various international varieties are planted here, including Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc; but the most successful variety in Napa Valley is no doubt Cabernet Sauvignon.

According to recent research, the Napa Valley accounts for 3% of California wines, while the Napa county is responsible for one in five bottles of wine produced in California. Napa Valley AVA is further divided into smaller sub-AVAs including Oakville, Stags Leap and Rutherford, which are especially known for producing excellent Cabernet Sauvignon.

• Carneros

Connecting Napa Valley to the east and Sonoma county to the west, this comparatively cooler region is known for producing quality sparkling wines made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

• Sonoma County

Sonoma County is one of the biggest and most historic AVAs in north California, known for producing rounder, softer red wines than the Napa Valley. The geography in Sonoma is very complex, and like the Napa Valley, the county is divided further into many small sub-appellations. Outstanding wines include Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley and Zinfandel from the Dry Creek Valley.

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