Can you find 20 organically grown wines for $25 from Sonoma wineries? You can.
• Sonoma grows more Pinot Noir than Cabernet
• Zin's a thing (5,000 acres)
• Sonoma grows more Chardonnay than Cabernet
• Alexander Valley Vineyards-G | $15
• Larson Family Wines | $24
• Horse & Plow-G | $25
• Eco Terreno-Acero | $22
• Horse & Plow-G | $25
• Merriam Vineyards | $22
• Preston Farm & Winery-G | $24
• Preston | Kalogiros-G | $24
• Quivira Vineyards-Fig Tree | $25
• Horse & Plow-Draft Horse White-G | $25
• Korbel-Brut-Organic-G* | $15
iSonoma's sparkling wine tradition dates back to 1882 when Korbel Vineyards began making sparkling wines via the traditional method. Today the large, mass market sparkling giant sources grapes from across the state, making 1.4 million cases.
Korbel's Brut ($15) has even been served at the White House.
Korbel's organically grown sparkling wine is one of the fastest growing organically grown sparkling wines on the market. Though its made from grapes farmed outside of the county, the wine is made in Korbel's Guerneville winery in Sonoma County.
• Brut-Made with Organic Grapes
Zinfandel and other hearty red grapes were planted as field blends (sometimes called mixed blacks) and were designed to be harvested and vinified together.
Modern winemakers have preserved some of these traditions; a few make them from organic grapes, the traditional method of farming used before World War I.
1880's Field Blends
• Geyserville Field Blend
• Fredericks Zinfandel
In 1881, Andrea Sbarbono founded Italian Swiss Colony wines in Asti, to provide jobs for Italian immigrants.
The winery had a 500,000 gallon wine vat, the largest in the world, attracting thousands of visitors. It was a huge tourist attraction in California that, in its heyday, was second only to Disneyland.
Today it operates as Souverain and is owned by Gallo.
Sonoma organic and biodynamic wine industry leader Paul Dolan (of Truett Hurst) is the great grandson of Pietro C. Rossi, who helped found Italian Swiss Colony.
Cabernet rose to prominence in the late 1970's when Napa bested top Bordeaux wine in a competition held in Paris.
Soon after Cabernet became California's main red wine. Though Sonoma's Cabs took longer to catch on (thanks to Napa's superior marketing) , today Sonoma's Bordeaux style wines are known for quality and value (compared to Napa).
The then reigning wine critic Robert Parker put Sonoma Cabs on the map when he rated Richard Arrowood's Cabernets as highly as he rated Napa's.
Arrowood started two major wineries Arrowood (which he sold in 2000) and Amapola Creek in 2020 when he retired.
Arrowood was convinced that organic grapes made better wine.
Phil Coturri was his vineyard manager.
• Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
In 1983, the cool climate Russian River Valley was a newly emerging wine region. Today it's home to 10,000 acres of vines.
In 1978, when the Davis family bought land in the area, county farm advisors told founder George Davis to plant Chardonnay, not Pinot Noir. Over time, Pinot won out and pretty soon the neighboring cattle ranch was planted to it.
In 2018, Pinot Noir acres (13,000 acres) outnumbered Cabernet vines (12,000) in Sonoma County.
1970's Pinot Noir
• Pinot Noir-Hillside Vineyards
The first wineries to push out to the wilds of the Sonoma Coast came in the early 1980's but it wasn't until the 1990's that the area started to be recognized as a good place to grow in the sunny places where the fog burned off.
Though more vineyards grace its steep hillsides today, the region's rugged terrain is still remote and untamed.
For those who were looking for lower priced land, the bet paid off, and true West Sonoma Coast wines are in demand.
True Sonoma Coast
Sonoma's unique for its historic, dry farmed, head trained, old vines.
Vintners treasure these vines and make select bottlings from them.
Old vineyards typically interplanted a variety of wine grapes, called field blends, combining as many as 26 different varieties.
The most famous old vineyards (that are certified organic) are scattered throughout the county.
For a complete list, see the Historic Vineyard Society.
Ridge Vineyards offers tours of their historic Lytton Springs vines.
Alexander Valley AVA
Three acres of Zinfandel and other mixed blacks in which a few vines date back to the 1880s.
• "Vineyard 101"
Only 2 ½ acres in size, it dates back to the 1920's.
Dry Creek Valley AVA
• Zinfandel-Lytton Springs
The site has 100+ year old Zinfandel vines interplanted with mixed blacks.
Moon Mountain District AVA
• Fredericks Vineyard
The vines here were planted in 1937 and continue to be head trained and dry farmed, as are all of the old vineyards listed here.
Sonoma Valley AVA
• Armor Plate
Two acres in size, the vines are 90% Zinfandel with the rest in mixed whites and blacks. It was planted in the 1890s.
• Val Rossi Homage
In 2002, Intel CEO Paul Otellini purchased the historic Kenwood property first planted in 1910. Maintained by the Rossi family for nearly a century, Otellini hired organic vineyard expert Phil Coturri to restore the vineyard.
As a young man, Coturri met his true love, Arden, there, They married five years later.
On Sundays (only), Preston pays homage to the old Italian jug wine tradition, offering a jug wine for sale.