West Sonoma Coast Wine Region and Appellation

Vineyard within the new West Sonoma Coast AVA

With the recent approval of the newly established West Sonoma Coast American Viticultural Area (AVA), Sonoma County now has a whopping 19 different AVAs! 

West Sonoma Coast AVA map
Where to find the West Sonoma Coast AVA on a map

Located on the furthest western sliver of Sonoma County, made up of steep, rugged mountainous terrain along the Pacific Ocean coastline, the West Sonoma Coast AVA holds approximately 50 vineyards planted with several varieties, mostly Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah. The approval of the AVA recognizes the uniquely cold, marginal, and maritime growing conditions of this region.  

Fog and cold within the West Sonoma Coast AVA create challenges for growers and advantages for winemakers
Fog and cold in the West Sonoma Coast AVA create challenges for growers and advantages for winemakers

Elevation of the West Sonoma Coast AVA ranges from 400 to 1,800 feet, with vineyards planted on steep ridge tops along the San Andreas fault line. Cold marine air and heavy fog create challenging conditions for grape growers, while offering distinct advantages for winegrapes. Daytime highs are cooler and nighttime lows are warmer than the rest of the Sonoma Coast AVA, allowing grapes to ripen slowly throughout the day and night, reaching peak maturity at lower sugar levels with pronounced acidity.

This video from West Sonoma Coast Vintners explains more of what makes this area special:

Consumers can expect wines produced in this AVA and labeled “West Sonoma Coast” to have bright acidity, moderate alcohol, and pure flavors, differentiating them from wines grown on warmer sites farther inland in the Sonoma Coast AVA. Some of the wineries either farming or using fruit grown in the West Sonoma Coast AVA are: 

32 Winds WineBalletto VineyardsBanshee WinesBlack Kite CellarsErnest VineyardsFlowers Vineyards & WineryFreeman Vineyard & WineryHirsch VineyardsLittorai WinesMarine Layer WinesPaul Hobbs WineryRed Car Wine, and Small Vines Wines

Map of the new West Sonoma Coast AVA
Map of the new West Sonoma Coast AVA 

The new West Sonoma Coast AVA comprises three subregions, from north to south: Annapolis, the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA, and Freestone-Occidental. The AVA’s western boundary is the Pacific Ocean; the eastern is a series of elevation contours within seven miles of the Pacific; the northern is the shared Sonoma-Mendocino County line; and the southern isthe northern boundary of the Petaluma Gap AVA

Congratulations to the winegrowers and producers of the new West Sonoma Coast AVA! 

Written by Melanie Wynne

Other Sonoma County AVAs:

Alexander Valley
Bennett Valley
Carneros – Sonoma
Chalk Hill
Dry Creek Valley
Fort Ross – Seaview
Fountaingrove District
Green Valley of Russian River Valley
Knights Valley
Moon Mountain
Northern Sonoma
Petaluma Gap
Pine Mountain – Cloverdale Peak
Russian River Valley
Sonoma Coast
Sonoma Mountain
Sonoma Valley

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