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Monday, February 29, 2016

Pinot Noir Taking Over

Sonoma County's most planted grape is Chardonnay. That should be no surprise as Chard is the number one selling wine in the country. For a very long time Cabernet Sauvignon was the second most planted and by far the most planted red wine grape.

Pinot Noir has officially passed Cabernet.

Fort Ross Vineyards near the Pacific. A perfect spot for Pinot Noir
Image from fortrossvineyard.com
Pinot didn't really have an impact on the area until about 30 years ago when the Carneros area of southern Napa and Sonoma Counties started planting in earnest. Then about 20 years ago Russian River Valley and about 10 years ago the Sonoma Coast.

The fascination with Pinot Noir seems to be its variability, in a good way, based on clones, soil and climate. Any change in any of these makes a distinctly different wine. The wine is very drinkable  when young, but can still spend a little time in the cellar.

It's often called a feminine wine as opposed to masculine wines like Cabernet or Syrah.

The bad news for the consumer is the average price per ton of Pinot Noir grapes in Sonoma County is significantly higher than any other grape. And just as certain Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards in Napa can charge some pretty extraordinary prices so can certain Pinot Noir vineyards in Sonoma County. This translates into higher bottle prices.

Article on Sonoma County's Top Red Grape from the Press Democrat.