FROM “WIND TO WINE”- THE PETALUMA GAP
Visitors to Petaluma are often surprised by the temperature variations that can take place within a single day. Summer mornings can start out downright chilly (packing a sweatshirt is always a good idea) with fog blanketing the valley. By mid-day, the fog has burned off, the sky is a vibrant blue and the temperature has climbed. Time take off the sweatshirt and stash it in the backpack.
As the shadows lengthen in the afternoon, the breeze picks up as cool air from the Pacific Ocean is drawn in to a 15-mile-wide “gap” in the coastal range mountains, eventually reaching the San Francisco Bay and bringing back the nightly fog…and jacket. In any given day, the temperature may vary by as much as 40-50 degrees.
So what is the impact of this wind tunnel effect…besides recommending that visitors dress in layers?
For the 200,000 acre Petaluma Gap grape growing region that extends from Sonoma County to northern Marin County, the wind is a powerful force for good. And as anyone who has tasted a Pinot Noir, Chardonnay or Syrah from a Petaluma Gap winery knows, it’s beyond good…it’s absolutely delicious.
The cool wind causes the grapes to ripen later, thickening the skins in the process. Because much of the flavor of the wine comes from the grape skins, the grapes grown in the Petaluma Gap region produce wine that is exceptionally elegant and has distinctive depth.
This is an exciting time for the region. In February 2015, the Petaluma Gap Wine Growers Association submitted the extensive documentation to petition the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to establish the region as an AVA (American Viticultural Area). News regarding final approval of the AVA could come at any time.
Currently, the Petaluma Gap is part of the Sonoma Coast AVA. Being recognized as its own AVA will set the region apart and is also an acknowledgement of the area’s distinctive climate and soil. Regardless of when the announcement comes, Petaluma is proud to have this rising star in the world of wine be identified with the city and carry forward the community’s agricultural and viticultural legacy.