If the Napa Valley is considered the king of American wine regions, then Sonoma is certainly the queen. Bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west and Napa to the east, Sonoma is actually over double the size of Napa Valley, covering 4100 square kilometers versus 1950 square kilometers. At first glance, an observer might think that Sonoma’s greater size would reveal itself in larger wineries and production. But quite the opposite is true. With its diverse topography of rugged mountains, jagged coastline, and wooded forests interspersed with fielded plains, the secret to Sonoma is that there is no single definition of Sonoma. Each corner of the Sonoma landscape is a potential treasure, a hushed secret that could be home to the next great wine.
At Les Belles Collines, we have focused our efforts in Sonoma on vineyards tucked away in the Sonoma’s Russian River Valley. The valley, through which the Russian River meanders, is moist, densely forested, and deeply isolated. The Russian River Valley shares a commonality with the Napa Valley; it is the beneficiary of the same Pacific Ocean marine layer that cools the grapes in the evening, halting phenolic development and thereby preserving acidity in grapes. In the daytime, the warm California sunshine ensures that the grapes to ripen to full maturity, while the Russian River is still able to act as a moderator of heat. This cool microclimate allows vineyards in this area to grow Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that express a delicacy, both in taste and texture, that is remarkable.