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Wine Spectator School

Class 3: Sonoma County and the Central Coast


The Land Rush
Beginning in the early 1800s, the Mission grape was cultivated at a series of missions that dotted the Pacific coastline from Mexico to Sonoma.

It wasn't until the 1970s that a handful of small, independent wineries planted vineyards in the mountainous northern portions of the Central Coast, including the Santa Cruz Mountains.

The southern half of the Central Coast was cattle country until the 1990s, when skyrocketing land prices in Napa and Sonoma sent many large- and medium-sized producers scrambling for inexpensive land with vineyard potential.

Today, huge tracts of vineyard sprawl along the lush coastal hills and valleys between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Climate and Geography
The southern latitude means that the sun is...

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