A diverse landscape, as memorable as the wines which are produced from its vineyards, the North Coast sub-zone brings together the wine-growing areas of six different counties - Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Solano, Lake and Mendocino. Lush green hills, rugged coastlines and dense forests of towering redwoods are just some of the natural wonders which have made the North Coast a destination of choice for tourists from around the world, and its proximity to the cultural hub of San Francisco as well as its acclaimed wine industry, ensure that even those who are not inspired by its landscape, are drawn by its magnetism.
Needless to say in an area so vast, the microclimates of the North Coast sub-zone are numerous and diverse. Typically, given its closeness to the Pacific Ocean, as well as its mountainous topography, the area experiences significantly cooler summers than regions / sub-zones that are further inland. However, even subtle differences in aspect, elevation and locality mean that each vineyard has its own unique terroir.
The grape varieties cultivated on the North Coast reflect the overall Californian picture. Cabernet Sauvignon is the dominant red - vinified both as a varietal wine and in traditional Bordeaux style blends, and Chardonnay is the leading white grape. Pinot Noir - a notoriously difficult variety to cultivate - flourishes in some of the North Coast’s cooler climate areas, and Merlot, Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc are also well-represented.
Wine is big business here! More than half of California’s annual production comes from within the bounds of this sub-zone, albeit much of this wine does not carry the North Coast AVA label. Many more prestigious AVAs exist within the geographic restriction of this larger area, and it is on some of these distinct localities - and their much revered wines - that California’s international reputation has been built.