Arrowood Vineyards and Winery was founded in Sonoma, California, in 1986 by Richard and Alis Arrowood. Richard was the original winemaker at Chateau St. Jean and while there produced some of the state’s first single-vineyard wines. Arrowood’s first vintage under his own label was 1987, and in 1990 Richard left Chateau St. Jean to devote himself full time to Arrowood. Since then the 20-acre estate, half of which is in Sonoma Valley and half in the Russian River Valley, has been acquired first by Robert Mondavi then by the wine and spirits conglomerate Constellation. Robert M. Parker Jr. has written that despite the change in ownership “things have changed little, which is good news for wine consumers, as this has long been a noteworthy source for beautiful white and red wines. Arrowood has no weak spots in its portfolio.”
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.