Gary Farrell Wines was founded in 1982 by Garry Farrell, a Napa Valley winemaker and winemaking consultant. His first wines were 1982 Pinot Noirs from the now legendary Rochioli and Allen vineyards in the Russian River Valley. Farrell earned a reputation for outstanding Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Chardonnay and built a winery overlooking the Russian River Valley in Healdsburg. In 2004 he sold his estate to The Vincraft Group, an investment group specializing in small, premium wineries. Today the estate makes Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Zinfandel.
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.
Zinfandel is a black-skinned grape, but 85% of the wine produced is made into a rosy “White Zinfandel.” Red Zin is far more complex and bold, while still being light-bodied. It grows in popularity as winemakers continue to experiment with new styles and blends.