Introducing the West Sonoma Coast

Things are afoot on the Sonoma Coast. In a previous newsletter, I wrote a long article describing the Sonoma Coast appellation. If you’re interested in brushing up, please go to our web site where you will find it in the archive of articles I have written. In the article, I describe how the appellation is huge, encompassing the entire coast plus half of the inland county of Sonoma all the way east to Sonoma Mountain and south to Carneros. It covers a broad range of micro-climates and as a result makes it futile for someone to gain a coherent idea of the expression of the appellation’s terroir through a tasting of wines with Sonoma Coast on the label. As such, a common response from many people when I say I make wine from the Sonoma Coast is “are you on the true Sonoma Coast” (i.e. the part that lies along the coast. Yes, I am)? This strip of ridge top vineyards shares many features and has emerged as an ideal place for a very specific expression of Pinot noir and Chardonnay.

Well, a group of like-minded wineries and vineyards on the coastal, western part of the Sonoma Coast decided it was time to better understand what makes wines from the west Sonoma Coast appellation special and unique from the rest of the appellation. This led to the formation of a new vintners association—the West Sonoma Coast Vintners. Our work may lead to a new appellation some day, but in the short term, it will educate producers and consumers on why wines from the West Sonoma Coast taste the way they do. So far, we have a membership of about 25 wineries and vineyards. You will recognize all of the names; they are the Who’s Who of coastal Sonoma Coast wine. We will spend the next year researching our area, meeting to discuss our goals, and getting the word out to consumers as we learn anything of import. If you wish to follow along, our web site is

You may ask why should you care about all this insider baseball redistricting and navel-gazing? Well, we are creating a new wine festival for consumers to share our discoveries about the West Sonoma Coast. It is called the West of West Wine Festival. Yes, you marketers, it does form the acronym, W.O.W. The weekend-long festival will be held in the coastal hamlet of Occidental, CA in the southern portion of the West Sonoma Coast from August 5th-7th. We will host small winemaker dinners, hold seminars with luminaries and their wines, put on a Grand Tasting with a collection of wines never seen at a large tasting event, and conclude with a west county Pig Feast. The next day we will have Open Houses and barrel tastings at participating wineries. It will be fun, educational and, quite possibly, the best way for you—and me—to experience the wine, food and culture of the West Sonoma Coast. You can buy tickets and learn more at where you can also join the WSCV mailing list. In the meantime, put the dates August 5th -7th on your calendar and line up a nice little house in the Redwoods or on the coast. This will be a memorable weekend.

Recent articles by Andy Peay