Ravenswood was founded in 1976 in Sonoma Valley by Joel Peterson. Peterson is a microbiologist by training, but while doing immunology research in San Francisco in the early 1970s he began dabbling in winemaking. Because of his success with Zinfandel, he quickly became known as the godfather of Zinfandel, and single vineyard Zinfandels continue to be the estate’s flagship wines. Ravenswood owns about 15 acres of vineyards but acquires most of its grapes from a network of more than 100 northern California growers. The estate also makes Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and various blends.
Sonoma Valley AVA is Sonoma County’s original winegrowing district. Designated as an AVA in 1981, it includes 14,000 vineyard acres in a long, narrow valley that runs north-south. Rather romantically, the valley is also called The Valley of the Moon. The oldest winery in the AVA, and one of the oldest in California, is Buena Vista Winery, founded in 1857 by a Hungarian count who planted vineyards in Wisconsin before moving to California. Today there are nearly 60 wineries in the AVA producing a variety of wines, from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to Cabernet Sauvignon and Gewurztraminer. The appellation is bordered by mountain ranges on the east and west, which partly account for Sonoma Valley’s unique terroir. The mountains protect it from the cooling weather of the Pacific Ocean and fruit ripens well.
This red wine is from Piedmont. It is known for low tannins and high acidity, which makes it taste both light-bodied and rich. Barbera most often drinks early, but some variations can be cellared. The wine is relatively inexpensive and flexible for pairing.