Norton Safeweb

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Guy Fieri, Fountaingrove, and Petaluma Gap

There have been several newsworthy events in Sonoma County this week already--and it's only Wednesday!

One involves Guy Fieri, the others concern new appellations.

image from
Guy Fieri
, the Food Network star and local resident, wanted to build a winery on land he owns on a narrow country road just outside Santa Rosa. His neighbors said no and the county planning commission said no. Nobody wanted the traffic it would draw to its tasting room and events center. Fieri could appeal, but he's decided to drop the proposal altogether. This doesn't mean he won't submit a modified plan again sometime.

The Fountaingrove Round Barn
From the late 19th century

The Fountaingrove District
became an official appellation, or AVA. An American Viticultural Area is a federally-approved name for a specific grape-growing region. Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley are well-known AVAs. There are now 17 in Sonoma County. Fountaingrove is a historical name belonging to the old Fountaingrove Winery from the late 19th and early 20th century. The AVA is northeast of Santa Rosa bordering on the cooler Russian River Valley to the west and the warmer northern end of Napa Valley to the east. There are a handful of tiny wineries within the Fountaingrove District and about 500 acres of grapes in 35 different vineyards.

Chilly marine layer rolling in through the Petaluma Gap
image from

The paperwork was submitted to get the Petaluma Gap listed as an official AVA. This would be a sub-appellation of the Sonoma Coast AVA situated in southern Sonoma County and northern Marin near the town of Petaluma. The Petaluma Gap is actually a feature in the local terrain. It's a gap in the coastal hills allowing in cool air in off the Pacific so this area has a breezy, cool growing season. It was all about dairy cattle until cool climate grapes like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay moved in. It could be about a year before this becomes a legal appellation.