American Viticulture Areas (AVAs) are defined as agricultural regions that have distinct climate or geographic features that impact the way grapes are grown. There are 267 AVAs in the United States, and more than half (147) are in California.
At Ridge Vineyards, our winemaking style is dedicated to highlighting specific patches of ground. An AVA’s climate, soil types, and topography impart unique attributes and directly contribute to a wine’s character. Here, we explore the ways that characteristics of the Alexander Valley AVA are expressed in our wines.
The climate in the Alexander Valley AVA is Mediterranean, ideally suited for grape growing. The area is typically subjected to cool, wet winters while the vines are dormant, and dry, hot summers during the growing season. The valley is cooled from south to north by marine air moving in from the Pacific Ocean via the Petaluma wind gap and the Russian River valley, resulting in a dramatic diurnal (day to night) temperature swing.
Elevations range from 400 to 2500 feet, which can have a significant impact on the terroir of an Alexander Valley Vineyard. Higher-elevation vineyards, such as our Boatman Vineyard and Buchignani Vineyard, receive slightly more sunshine because the fog line burns off sooner. The resulting wines tend to be riper in flavor, more robust, and softer in acidity.
Our Geyserville Vineyard, on the other hand, is on the valley floor. Here, warm days ideal for ripening fruit give way to frequent evening breezes and occasional morning fog to give the vines time to rest. The soil is made up of deep gravelly loam mixed with larger river rocks, which were deposited by an ancient river that once flowed through the land. This combination not only permits excellent drainage while also allowing the soil to retain heat when necessary, but it also imparts a distinctive mineral quality to the wine. The wine from this vineyard tends toward a more elegant style with vibrant acidity.
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