Green Valley is one of the smallest appellations in Sonoma County. It lies in the southwestern part of the Russian River Valley, bounded by the towns of Sebastopol, Forestville and Occidental. It is very tightly delineated, both geographically and climatically, and is the most consistent of any North Coast appellation in terms of soil, climate and flavor.
Green Valley is primarily about the vineyards. There are over 100 growers in the area, and eight key wineries: DeLoach Vineyards, Dutton Estate, Dutton-Goldfield, Emeritus Vineyards, Hartford Family Winery, Iron Horse Vineyards, Marimar Estate and Orogeny. The AVA comprises a total of 19,000 acres, mostly planted to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for both still and sparkling wines, plus some exceptional cool-climate Syrah and Zinfandel.
The two major soil categories are the sandy Goldridge and the older rocky Franciscan. Classic Goldridge provides good drainage and exceptional, natural chemical balance. Franciscan soils are dominantly light brown, sandy clay loam with higher magnesium content, well suited to Green Valley’s cool climate.
The main soil-related factors in wine quality are water supply, history, soil chemistry and nutrient supply, all dictated by clay content and original parent material. The key—as with every aspect of winemaking—is balance.
Comparative tastings show a remarkable thread of continuity in Green Valley Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. Asked to provide a short description of the Green Valley flavor profile, tasters offer the following:
Chardonnay: Fresh, clean, crisp, crystalline focus, beautifully integrated, restrained, Gravenstein apple, complex citrus (a hint of lime, tangerine), spice (cinnamon, nutmeg), core of minerality, long finish, great food wines, age-worthy.
Pinot Noir: Bright fruit (cherry and cranberry); great clarity of fruit; sweet spice character (allspice, cinnamon, clove); distinguishing underlying, rich earthiness (red clay); tea and floral notes; complex; nuanced; lively acidity; subtle oak; soft tannins; supple texture; long palate evolution; beautiful structure; definite sense of class.