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Petaluma Gap AVA Is a Rising Star in the World of Wine

Petaluma has a long history as the “Gateway to Wine Country” — but today, it’s fast becoming a must-visit for wine lovers. The Petaluma Gap AVA  is Sonoma County’s newest American Viticulture Area (AVA). The area has already produced dozens of 90+ point wines that are bringing in the awards and visitors.

Start your wine-tasting adventure in downtown Petaluma. Adobe Road Winery offers a warm and welcoming setting as you sample winemaker Garrett Martin’s three Petaluma Gap wines: a medium- to full-bodied ruby purple Roberts Road pinot noir, as well as a fine, full-bodied Frederick Vineyard syrah and an intensely flavor-packed Lichau Hill cabernet sauvignon made with fruit grown atop the fog line.

Discover more small-batch wines at Barber Cellars in the historic Hotel Petaluma. Be sure to sip the Burgundy-style 2017 Belle Marie chardonnay, a bright and crisp vino aged in steel. For something subtler, try the peachy 2018 Petaluma Gap “Rougissant” pinot gris, made with handpicked grapes from the Keller Estate Vineyard.

Fancy ports over pinots? Hop over to Sonoma Portworks in the old Foundry Wharf building, a one-of-a-kind winery helmed by port pioneers Caryn and Bill Reading. There you’ll sample delicious after-dinner wines, grappa, and ports right out of the barrel, paired with local cheeses and chocolates.

Now it’s time to head out to the countryside. Pack a picnic and purchase a bottle of wine to enjoy on the lawn or patio at Karah Estate Vineyard. Winemaker Reid Kinnett oversees the cellar and wine operations of the 35-acre estate, specializing in estate grown Burgundy-style pinot noir and smaller-batch estate chardonnay.

Parum Leo (“little lion) Winery & Vineyard is the newest addition to Petaluma’s impressive group of wineries. Their vineyard provides the first sighting of grapevines for visitors heading north from Marin County to Petaluma. Using natural fermentation, owner and winemaker Donald Laurence says their “processes ensure our wines tell the story of the Pinot Noir grapes as the unadulterated essence of their terroir.”

Azari Vineyard proprietors Kamal and Parichehr Azari’s winemaking approach is steeped in their shared Persian heritage. The bucolic winery grows and produces distinctive wines, including an estate pinot noir and an earthy, Iranian-style shiraz. The winery is only open to wine club members, but guests staying at one of the estate’s two vacation rentals can enjoy the full Wine Country experience.

A visit to Keller Estate Winery is a tasting experience you won’t soon forget. Overlooking the Petaluma River, the winery offers seated one-hour estate tastings as well as a walking tour that takes you behind the scenes. Explore the wine cave and taste six estate wines, including limited edition estate La Cruz pinot noir and a full-bodied chardonnay. Be sure to call ahead — reservations for tours are required 24 hours in advance.

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