All of the vineyards along the Sonoma County coastline have been grouped under one official viticultural area, comprising more than half a million acres with roughly 7,000 acres under vine. This umbrella AVA was created largely to accommodate cold-climate, ‘estate-bottled’ producers, who own vineyards scattered throughout the cooler zones along the Sonoma coast. Cool climate and relatively high rainfall are the general ecological features shared by all vineyards within the Sonoma Coast AVA. These factors contribute to slow grape maturation, with optimum ripeness coinciding with the very end of the growing season -- ideal conditions for the challenging Pinot Noir variety. The appellation stretches as far south as San Pablo Bay, right up to the Mendocino County line. Its broad boundaries overlap a number of other Sonoma AVAs and sub-AVAs. They also include some Sonoma shoreline vineyards, previously outside any other viticultural area. Recognition of the diversity of conditions within the Sonoma Coast has led to petitions to further divide this AVA into several sub-AVAs. Watch for the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA, which should be the first of these sub-AVA's to be approved.
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