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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Fountaingrove District AVA

The Fountaingrove District became an official appellation, or AVA, about two years ago in March 2015. 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 almost 200 of them in California and now there are 17 in Sonoma County.

image from sonomawinegrape.org
  
The Fountaingrove District is named after the late-19th early-20th century winery on the property of a utopian community run by a somewhat shady character named Thomas Lake Harris. The Fountaingrove Winery on the property was run by the well-respected Kanaye Nagasawa, the first Japanese winemaker in the U.S. The Fountaingrove name has been used in the northern part of Santa Rosa where the old winery and community had existed. The Fountaingrove Distirct AVA doesn't actually include this historic land where Nagasawa ran the Fountain Grove Winery

The AVA is northeast of Santa Rosa bordering on the cooler Russian River Valley to the west and the warmer north end of Napa Valley to the east. It covers about 60 square miles of hilly to mountainous terrain.

In some respects it seems more of just a catchall for some miscellaneous "unclaimed" territory that's surrounded by more famous growing regions. Usually having your own AVA means your grapes and your wine are worth more.

The area will probably be most known for its Cabernet Sauvignon though there is Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and others growing in this region. There are lots of vineyards in the Fountaingrove District and a handful of small wineries with the most well-known being Pride Mountain. The best known vineyard is probably Kick Ranch.

There are new ones coming. Petaluma Gap and West Sonoma Coast are in the works, but not approved yet. All of these areas make at least some sense to local folks, but I expect they mostly confuse the average consumer.