Is it possible to bottle the wind? In a word, yes.
The Petaluma Gap winegrowers say they produce wines that reveal their wind-swept terroir, and I agree with them; the wind absolutely shows up in the bottle.
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s Dec. 7 ruling makes the Petaluma Gap the newest American Viticultural Area. This puts Sonoma County’s AVA count at 18, revealing its diversity.
The new AVA covers 200,000 acres in southern Sonoma County and northern Marin County, overlapping the massive Sonoma Coast AVA. Roughly 75% of its 4,000 acres of vineyards are devoted to pinot noir, with most of the remaining acres equally planted to chardonnay and syrah. Other grape varieties comprise less than 1% of the planted acreage.
What’s remarkable about these Petaluma Gap wines is how the “wind tunnel” effect plays out in the bottle. The wind gives these late ripening grapes time to develop potent flavors, while allowing them to retain their crisp acidity.
A passage from the Petaluma Gap’s website details how wind is funneled through the gap: “As inland valley air heats up, it pulls the cool coastal air into a naturally formed 15-mile-wide ‘gap’ in the coastal range mountains. The wind flows off the ocean between Tomales Bay and Bodega Bay, builds up speed as it funnels through the gap, then empties into San Francisco Bay.”
Here are four bottlings produced from grapes groomed in the Petaluma Gap that I highly recommend: Trombetta, 2014 Gap’s Crown Vineyard, Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, $65; Black Kite, 2015 Gap’s Crown Vineyard, Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, $60; Keller Estate, 2013 Sonoma Coast Rotie Syrah Viognier, $54 and Three Sticks, 2014 Gap’s Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir, $80.