Sierra Foothills AVA is in the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and it includes parts of eight counties. With total acreage of 2.6 million acres, and nearly 6,000 vineyard acres, it is one of the largest appellations in California. Wine grapes were planted in the foothills during the Gold Rush in the mid-19th century and the appellation was officially recognized in 1987. There are five sub-appellations within the Sierra Foothills region, and more than 100 wineries, most small and family-owned. Zinfandel is the most successful wine grape in this region, though Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are also planted.
Despite its popularity, this grape is quite rare. Less than 10,000 acres are planted worldwide, with the bulk in California. In France, the grape is referred to as Durif. Not to be confused with Syrah, Petite Sirah is a cross of Syrah and Peloursin. The result is darker and fuller.