Russian River Valley is one of the most important American Viticultural Area AVA that takes its name from the Russian River that pass through the Sonoma County wine-growing region of California. It is one of the coolest areas in California and well-known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Russian River is the second-largest river within the nine-county Greater San Francisco Bay Area.
The viticultural history of the area dates back to the 19th century when immigrants from France and Spain settled in the region and began planting vines. And by the dawn of the 20th century, nearly 200 wineries were operating and selling their grapes to bulk wine producers. It was not until the 1970s that vineyards in the Russian River region would begin to focus on quality wine production and using their grapes for local bottling. The region became AVA in 1983 and began to develop a reputation for the quality of its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wine production, still and sparkling .
The climate of the Russian River AVA is characterized by cool morning fog that comes in from the ocean through the Petaluma Gap and vanishes during the day influencing the diurnal temperature variation in a cooling way, which is very important for preserving the freshness in the wines. The central and western parts of the AVA are the coolest and tend to be most extensively planted with Pinot noir and Chardonnay, as the warmest northeastern corner, near the city of Windsor is mostly planted with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
The soils of the Russian River were shaped by collisions between the North American and Pacific tectonic plates and eruptions by volcanic vents that deposited volcanic ash over layers of eroded bedrock. That has created sandstone of loam known as ""Goldridge soil"", which is the most respected in the whole area perfectly suited for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines. There is another very typical soil type near the town of Sebastopol based on clay, which is also very good for Pinot Noir grapes.
Some of the world's best Pinot Noirs are produced in the area, with characteristics of vibrant transparent colour, lively acidity, cherry and berry fruit flavours and delicate aromas that would often include earthy mushroom notes. Pinot Noir planted here accounts for more than 15% of the California's total and 10% of all grapes in the Sonoma County wine region. The other grape varieties planted in the area are Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris.