Spotlight on the Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and Chardonnay
The latest survey indicates that the Russian River Valley is the second most recognizable appellation in California just behind the Napa Valley and for a good reason; world class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Sonoma Coast is a close third in notoriety but is much larger and therefore the wines are more diverse and terroir typically less predictable save the western or 'true' Sonoma Coast. But I digress, more on the Sonoma Coast at a later date.
California is finally realizing what Europeans have known for centuries, that particular areas are best suited for particular varietals, or the concept of 'properly assigned appellations'. And the cool nature of the Russian River Valley, due to the juxtaposition to the Pacific Ocean and its rolling hills keeping vineyards under the fog canopy is suited best for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
However, two more pieces are still needed for the terroir puzzle for the Russian River Valley to be a world class appellation; soils and clones or bud wood. The alluvial soils are made up mostly of sand and sandy loam commonly known as gold ridge ideal for growing grapes. Then finally Dijon clones for Pinot Noir and Wente selections (used only by producers of high-end Chardonnay due to low yields) for Chardonnay, both originally from Burgundy, have recently become commonly used for plant material, completes the puzzle