Sonoma Coast AVA runs from San Pablo Bay in the south to Mendocino County in the north. It includes 7,000 vineyard acres and earned AVA status in 1987. Its proximity to the Pacific Ocean means it gets double the rainfall of nearby inland appellations and the ocean gives the appellation a relatively cool climate. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir can thrive in these conditions, and there are numerous producers making critically acclaimed Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
The Merlot grape is such a deep blue that it is named for the blackbird. It’s an early ripening grape and one of the primary varietals used In Bordeaux. Merlot is also grown in the "International style," which is harvested later to bring out more tannins and body.