California’s Sacramento Valley Wine Region
In the Sacramento Valley, agriculture and politics collide and have equally important roles. The region is home to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the California State Capital and a variety of economy-driving crops including grapes. The vineyards, orchards and fields on the valley floor are surrounded by the rugged hills and gentle snow-capped mountains that are typical of the region. This region exemplifies the diversity of the California landscape—a bustling, political city, meandering rivers and drawbridges, the Sutter Buttes and rural, peaceful towns. Discover the land where in vines we trust!
Description: A Haven for Wine and Politics
The Sacramento Valley runs for approximately 120 miles from Red Bluff in the northern end of the valley to the city of Stockton. Bordered by the Sierra Nevada to the east and the Coast Ranges to the west, the region includes the counties of Sacramento, San Joaquin (Lodi), and Yolo (Clarksburg) and is home to 13 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs).
History: A River Runs Through It
The Sacramento Valley was discovered by Spanish explorers in the 1500s but remained virtually uninhabited until the 1849 California Gold Rush. The Sacramento River served as the main means of transportation for gold-seekers traveling from San Francisco to the gold mines in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. By the mid-1850s, many miners who did not "strike it rich," recognized the potential of a new business: agriculture. The first grapes were planted in the 1850s, and irrigation was introduced in the 1880s, when the agriculture industry in the region blossomed. Today the Sacramento River continues to play the important role of transporting agricultural goods to market.
Climate: The Mediterranean Feel
The Sacramento Valley has a Mediterranean climate with temperate winters and warm summers and cooling delta breezes. The winters are cool and moist with fog that may last for a week or more whereas summers are clear and dry. The Zinfandel grape naturally thrives in this sunny and warm atmosphere. And the Chardonnay grape demonstrates its versatility and also thrives in the many microclimates of this valley.
Geography: Water, Water Everywhere
Because it was once a vast series of wetlands, the Sacramento Valley has extremely fertile soil that is perfect for winegrape growing. The Sacramento River, the largest river in California, runs through the middle of the valley providing water to the vineyards, orchards and fields. Also, abundant waters from the Sierra Nevada mountain range drain into the Sacramento River and soil of this region contributing to the fertile earth. The moist soil and Mediterranean climate of this region work together to provide an ideal environment for flavorful grapes to thrive.
Varietals: Fun and Full of Flavor
he Sacramento Valley is best known for its full-flavored Chardonnay, which is the leading varietal in the region. In the southern part of the region, where the Sacramento Valley and the San Joaquin Valley meet, old vine Zinfandel, bold Petite Sirah and dry Chenin Blanc grapes flourish.
American Viticultural Areas
American Viticultural Areas, or AVAs, are delimited grape growing areas distinguishable by geographic climatic and historic features - which are sometimes noted on bottles of California wine. AVA boundaries have been delineated in a petition field and accepted by the U.S. Government.