Russian River Valley AVA, Sonoma County

Wine lovers often ask, What makes Russian River Valley wines so special? The answer is simple: the unique climate and geography of the region. 

The Russian River Valley appellation is a large wine region of about 150 sq miles located in the heart of Sonoma County, California about 60 miles north of San Francisco. Grape vines are planted to 150,000 acres. Named for a Russian explorer who explored the valley in the early 1800s, this region was originally planted with grapevines as early as 1817.

The Russian River Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area) was formally established in 1983, and since then, it has become one of the most respected and sought after wine regions. It is also one of the most diverse appellations in California and home to more than 50 wineries that produce a wide variety of wines. Unique to the Russian River Valley AVA are the sub-regions contained within; Green Valley AVA and Chalk Hill AVA

The fog that rolls into the valley from the Pacific Ocean each night helps to keep the daytime temperatures in the Russian River Valley cool.

Russian River Valley fog at Davis Family Vineyards


There are four things to know about the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County.

  • The region is world-renowned for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay;
  • The region has a cool, foggy climate which is ideal for growing these two varieties of grapes; 
  • The region is also home to many other grape varietals including Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon; 
  • Because of its unique Mediterranean climate, which only encompasses just 3 percent of the globe, wines produced in the Russian River Valley are considered to be some of the finest in the world. 


The Unique Soils of Russian River Valley 

The region’s soils are incredibly well-suited to Pinot Noir. Volcanic ash from eruptions millions of years ago created sandstone of loam in areas of the region, coined Goldridge soil, and is highly desired for Pinot Noir plantings. Also found in Russian River Valley and highly desired are clay deposits from erosion off of Sonoma Mountain and Alluvial soils near the river beds. 

If you are a fan of Pinot Noir, there is a good chance you have had a Russian River Valley wine. The region has become synonymous with the varietal, as it is one of the few places in the world that can consistently produce such a delicate and finicky grape as Pinot Noir. 

Pinot Noir Selections

Wine Producers in Russian River Valley

The Russian River Valley is a great place to visit for a wine-tasting vacation, as there are many wineries to choose from, each with a unique story, and the scenery is so breathtaking you want to bottle that, too. 

Russian River Valley winemakers

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