Sandlands Vineyards is a new venture from Tegan and Olivia Passalacqua. Tegan is a Napa Valley native and director of winemaking at Turley Wine Cellars since 2013. He’s also worked in winemaking in New Zealand, the Rhone Valley and South Africa. Passalacqua is part of a wavelet of young winemakers and vineyard managers who are reviving once-classic California varieties, often using grapes grown in traditional northern California wine growing areas that nevertheless were considered outliers during the last part of the 20th century. The name Sandlands comes from the fact that Passalacqua's grapes mostly are grown in sandy regions and without irrigation -- a nod back to the roots of California winemaking in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Sandlands makes Chenin blanc, Trousseau Noir and Carignane from grapes sourced in Napa Valley, Contra Costa County and Amador County. The wines are produced in very limited quantities and generally available only through a mailing list.
Sonoma County is not an AVA, but it is a commonly used informal designation for wines made outside of more specific AVAs within Sonoma, which is a large wine producing region just west of Napa Valley. Though Sonoma is often overshadowed by its glamorous neighbor Napa Valley, it has a long history of wine production. The area specialized in jug wine until the mid-20th century, when Sonoma producers took a cue from Napa and started improving quality. Unlike Napa, where Cabernet Sauvignon is king, Sonoma specialized in Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel, though excellent Cabs are produced too. There are at present 16 AVAs within Sonoma County, and, like much of the West Coast of the United States, new AVAs are created in Sonoma County with regularity. Some Sonoma appellations, such as the Russian River Valley, are renowned for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.