Stonestreet Estate Vineyards, Alexander Valley, Healdsburg

It’s hardly surprising that Cabernet Sauvignon is popular in Sonoma County, as it’s the most popular red varietal wine in the world. Planted on some 12,000 acres of Sonoma County vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, or “Cab,” as it’s nicknamed, is mainly grown in the warmest of Sonoma County’s diverse regions. Smaller berries and thicker skins contribute to Cabernet Sauvignon’s famous flavor, tannic structure, and ease of growing in the favorable Mediterranean climate of Sonoma County.

Here is a guide to Sonoma County’s outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon wine by region:

Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon by Region

Sonoma Valley

The entrance to the winery over a bridge
St. Francis Winery & Vineyards, Santa Rosa

This “sweet spot” in the heart of Sonoma County is made for Cabernet. Here, you’ll find the legendary Monte Rosso vineyard and others that have been more recently planted. 

Cabernet Sauvignon wineries in the Sonoma Valley region:

Alexander Valley

A bottle of wine next to a full glass
Silver Oak, Healdsburg

Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley is warm and gravelly, creating a Cabernet match made in Sonoma County heaven. From the valley floor to the mountaintops, Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley has perfect, robust qualities.

Cabernet Sauvignon wineries in the Alexander Valley region:

Knights Valley

In the shadow of Mount St. Helena, Knights Valley is sandwiched between Calistoga and Alexander Valley. With few wineries and no town, it’s a rural vineyard and ranching region prized by both Sonoma and Napa wineries for Cabernet.

Dry Creek Valley

A vineyard grows up a steep hill with an olive grove in the middle
A. Rafanelli Winery, Healdsburg

Cabernet Sauvignon has found a place in this classic Sonoma County wine valley, with its toasty summer days tempered by cooler evenings.  

Cabernet Sauvignon wineries in the Dry Creek Valley region:

Cabernet Sauvignon Style 

Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from Jordan Vineyard & Winery have just been picked and sit in a bin in a vineyard
Cabernet Sauvignon from Jordan Vineyard & Winery, Healdsburg

Born from the union of Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc, the origin of Cabernet Sauvignon is southwestern France. Cabernet Sauvignon displays an ever-changing but usually recognizable suite of aromas and flavors, which may include cigar wrapper, pencil lead, gravel, cassis or black currant and top notes of raspberry, blackberry, and blueberry. Cabernet Sauvignon is rarely seen in Rosé form, and winemakers seldom skip oak barrel aging for their Cabernet.

Cabernet Sauvignon History in Sonoma County

In the 1850s, budding Sonoma County vintners imported the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. The ambitious John H. Drummond won acclaim for Cabernet from his Dunfillan vineyard near Glen Ellen, which today is part of the Kunde Family Winery. In the 1970s, legendary winemaker André Tchelistcheff consulted on Cabernet for estates such as Jordan Vineyard & Winery and wineries like Rodney Strong Vineyards and Chateau St. Jean which gained attention for their excellent Cabernet Sauvignons. Icons of the industry like Beringer and Louis Martini also sourced some of their best Cabernet Sauvignon wines from Sonoma County vineyards.

Written by Sonoma Insider James Knight

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