Oeno Ventures - Wine Regions & Their Key Varietals

The Art of Wine Tasting
Before Visiting Wine Country

Wine Varietals & Descriptions
Useful Wine Tasting Terms

Wine Country Weather
Wine Regions & Their Key Varietals
Quick Tips for Serving & Storing Wine
About Wine Glasses
Reading Wine Labels

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Designated wine grape growing regions are referred to as "AVA's" or American Viticulture Areas. Here you will find a brief summary of each wine appellation featured on this site as
well as their key varietals.

Mendocino/Anderson Valley

There are 10 AVA's that have been designated within Mendocino County. The majority of Mendocino County plantings are in the eastern side of the county, clustered around the cities of Redwood Valley, Ukiah and Hopland. The Anderson Valley is one of California's coolest wine growing
regions in the state being deeply influenced by the cool Pacific fog coming in off the coast. The Anderson Valley is located about 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean in the hills of coastal Mendocino, Yorkville, Boonville, Philo & Navarro. There are 56 wineries throughout the county with 15,500 acres planted to vineyards. Because of the cool climate, this area is ideal for producing Pinot Noir
& Sparkling Wine while Zinfandel thrives on warm hillside vineyards above the fog.


The Monterey AVA includes parts of Carmel Valley, Salinas Valley and contains 5 smaller
American Viticultural Areas. Over 50% of the grapes grown in the Monterey AVA are Chardonnay.
In the northern region, Riesling and Pinot Noir are prominent, while in the south, Bordeaux varietals
are most often grown. 38,200 acres of wine grapes are planted to vineyards in Monterey County
and this area houses approximately 75 wineries and growers.

Napa Valley

Napa Valley is a uniquely diverse winegrowing appellation which many people regard as California's foremost AVA. The combination of Mediterranean climate, geography and geology
of the region are conducive to growing quality wine grapes. Here, Cabernet Sauvignon is king, however Napa Valley features more than 450 wineries that grow many other grape varieties including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Zinfandel, and others. There are several AVA's within the Napa Valley ranging from those on the valley floor to steep, mountainside vineyards located on
both ends of the valley. A drive up Spring Mountain will afford you phenomenal Cabernet Sauvignon from grapes grown to distinctive red soil which is known to produce rich wines. Howell Mountain
& Mount Veeder specialize in intense, spicy Zinfandel while the Carneros region benefits from
cool fog and breezes off of the San Pablo Bay creating ideal growing conditions for premium Pinot Noir, Chardonnay & producing distinctive Sparkling Wine.

Paso Robles/SLO

Paso Robles is located on the central coast in San Luis Obispo County and is California's fastest wine growing region. This territory encompasses more than 26,000 vineyard acres with more than 200 wineries and counting. More than 40 grape varieties are cultivated here with great emphasis
on Zinfandel & Rhone varietals. San Luis Obispo offers contrasting wines from the hot and dry
Paso Robles wine region featuring cooler coastal wines such as Chardonnays and fine sparkling wines. There are are 26,400 acres of wine grapes planted in San Luis Obispo with Cabernet Sauvignon dominating the vineyards.
This region is comprised of three pristine viticulture areas:
the Edna Valley, Arroyo Grande Valley and Avila Valley which house approximately 100 working wineries.

Santa Barbara/Santa Ynez Valley

Santa Barbara County is home to over 100 wineries and is planted to over 21,000 acres of
vineyards. There are 4 designated AVAs in this region consisting of Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, Sta. Rita Hills and Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara. The diverse Microclimates & Terrains help create optimal growing conditions for varietals such as Pinot Noir & Chardonnay. These grapes thrive in this cool region off of the Pacific Ocean and are considered the front runners of
this appellation. Various Rhône & Italian grape varietals are the up-and-comers to Santa Barbara County and also flourish in these versatile conditions and benefit from the uniqueness of the soil.


Sonoma County is one of California's largest producers of wine grapes, far outproducing it's neighboring Napa Valley. Appellations throughout Sonoma County consist of Alexander Valley, Bennett Valley, Chalk Hill, Dry Creek Valley, Green Valley of Russian River Valley, Knights Valley,
Los Carneros, Northern Sonoma, Rockpile, Russian River Valley, Sonoma Valley, Sonoma Coast
& Sonoma Mountain. This expanded region is known for its unique terroir with Sonoma Mountain protecting the area from the wet and cool influence of the nearby Pacific Ocean. Sonoma County
is comprised of more than one million acres of land of which 60,000 acres area planted to winegrapes. Because of differing climates in each region, grape varietals planted to vineyards in Sonoma County vary, however the most common varieties cultivated here are Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Zinfandel. There are approximately 300 wineries throughout the county, much of them small family wineries, each producing distinct wines
reflecting the terroir as well as individual farming practices.

Santa Cruz Mountains
The mountain terrain, the Pacific Ocean, and the nearby San Francisco Bay have wide ranging effects on this AVA, creating a myriad microclimates suited for growing varietals such as Zinfandel
to cooler climate varietals such as Pinot Noir.
The Santa Cruz Mountains are home to more than 70 wineries & 200 small vineyards producing Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, port-style wines and other varietals and blends. The region’s vineyards and wineries actively support sustainable practices, including cover crops, erosion control, canopy management, solar, biodiesel.

Temecula Valley

Temecula is California's smallest wine growing region and is located north of San Diego County
in Southern Riverside County. This AVA is comprised of about 33,000 acres planted to vineyards and the region houses approximately 44 wineries. Temecula Valley's hotter climate and relatively low rainfall is particularly well-suited to grapes such as the Rhône varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel and is less suited for growing cooler-climate varietals, such as Pinot Noir.
Temecula Valley does not specialize in any one particular varietal and is known to cultivate a wide variety of grapes.

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