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Written by Gerald Boyd
The Sonoma County lifestyle is attractive to an increasing number of people who appreciate the county’s efforts in melding and satisfying the needs of expanding communities, with those of grape growing and wine making. The annual Sonoma County grape harvest is, after all, worth an estimated $200 million and represents 61 percent of the county’s total agriculture.
Throughout the county, grape growing and wine production are on a region-by-region basis. To pick just a few examples, cool Carneros and the Russian River Valley are best known for Chardonnay and Pinot, while the warmer Dry Creek Valley and Rockpile boasts some of the state’s best Zinfandel and the Alexander Valley is noted for its excellent Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Chardonnay, America’s most popular white wine is also the county’s leading variety with an impressive 16,000 acres. Sauvignon Blanc is a distant second among white varieties, at 2,500 acres. For red varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon heads the roster with 12,000 acres, followed by Pinot Noir, 10,000, Merlot, 7,500 and Zinfandel, with 5,000 acres. Countywide, annual production of still, sparkling and dessert wine is estimated at more than 30 million gallons, from approximately 200, 000 tons of grapes.