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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Sonoma County pronounciation guide

When you're traveling through the area you hate to make a faux pas by saying something like, "How do I get to Heldsburg?" because there isn't any "heldsburg." This is why I won't go to Massachusetts -- how the heck am I supposed to say, "Mattapoisett" or "Leicester?"

Here are a few Sonoma County places I've heard mispronounced:

Towns of Bodega and Bodega Bay - boh-day-gah. Not BoDEEga. It's a Spanish word that apparently means "cold and foggy."

Town of Cotati - cah-tah-tee. It'll be an exit on the freeway as you head towards the wine.

Town of Graton - gray-tun. I mention this one because someone actually pronounced it gray-TAW with a French nasally accent once. We aren't that fancy around here.

Town of Gualala - gwa-lah-lah. Not that it matters; no one ever goes there.

Town of Guerneville - gurn-vil. It is not gurnee-vil. Let's get that straight! Some call it Groinville. I let you discover why on your own.

Town of Healdsburg - heelds-burg. Or just call it Mayberry with Wine and people will know where you are talking about.

Mount St. Helena - hel-ee-nah. The highest peak around. There's also a town of St. Helena in Napa Valley.

Mayacamas Mountains - Mie-ah-cahm-ahs. Those Natives have a difficult language.

Town and historic figure Vallejo - val-lay-ho. Okay, a proper Spanish pronunciation should be something like vah-yay-hoe, but it's been Americanized so we can pronounce it without tripping over our tongues. Vallejo was a Mexican general responsible for laying out much of the county, including deeding the original Santa Rosa site to Maria Carrillo - cah-ree-yoh


And a few wine terms you'll hear tossed around:

Appellation - Sounds like the Appalachian Mountains, but it's a legal region defined for wine grape growing, as Russian River Valley.

Cuvée (koo-vay) - It just means a blend of different grapes usually referring to sparkling wine, as in "this Brut is a cuvee of pinot noir and chardonnay."

Malolactic fermentation (mal-oh-lak-tic) - A secondary fermentation (after the primary where the grape sugars are converted to alcohol). This one converts the natural tart acids to softer buttery acids. This term is usually used in reference to chardonnay.

Phylloxera (fill-ox-ur-ah) - A vine pest that destroyed vineyards in the late 19th century then made a nasty recurrence in the 1980s. In other places they may define major time frames around pre-war, post-war, or after the great blizzard of 1978, or whatever.  In coastal California major epochs are before and after Phylloxera invasions and earthquakes.

Viticulture (vit-i-cul-chur) - Wine grape growing. As opposed to enology (ee-nol-oh-jee) which is winemaking. One gets your hands dirty, the other turns them purple.


Now if someone can tell me how to pronounce Kissimmee, Florida so I don't look like a dumb tourist...