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Being early ripening varieties, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir need a cool climate in which to excel. The French have known this for centuries, which is why the Burgundy region is based on these two grape types.

...while the Carneros region, where Napa and Sonoma meet, is another great region for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay as well as varieties such as Merlot, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc.

Carneros is an American Viticultural Area (AVA) that is situated at the northern end of the San Pablo Bay, an extension of the San Francisco Bay. It is this location that makes Carneros unique, as Steve Rogstad, winemaker at Cuvaison, notes. "Because our AVA is low lying (almost sea level) and directly facing the San Pablo Bay, we get fog rolling in at night that slowly peels back during the morning hours. This limits sunshine and keeps temperatures moderate."   This is an ideal situation for producing wines of very good acidity and structure, and the best Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays of Carneros - the leading varieties planted here - display heightened aromatics and excellent freshness, as well as remarkable varietal character.

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Would I endorse Carneros Wines as a region? You bet I would, in a heartbeat. It was a lovely day in Carneros, at The Donum Estatethe host winery for this educational, wine event.

 

The Obvious ~ The Hook, Something from the Heart

SHE: Hello, I’m going to ask you only one question, because I’d honestly like to connect with each of you here today.

HE: Fair enough.

SHE: Okay, here it is. “There are at least 10,000 brands in the whole wide world. Each company has a unique point of view, based on its own history and development over time. I want to know, in this context, what makes your brand so unique, from ALL others in the world.”

HE: Hum… Let me think about that for a minute. It’s a good question, and I’ve never thought about what the answer would be.

I repeated that 17 times, pushing people out of their comfort zones. <....>

They all know they’re in a cool climate, and take great joy in where they are as it relates to their wines. This is not a commodity wine group; these are passionate people and it’s serious business in Carneros.

It all started with Tuesday. That's the day the Carneros Wine Alliance holds their annual barrel tasting get-together each spring. When you arrive, you get a wine glass; when you leave, you get a commemorative coffee mug. So when it's Tuesday, I think of Carneros.
Shared between Sonoma and Napa Counties, the Los Carneros American Viticultural Area (AVA) was established way back in 1983. The region's key claim to quality is that it's cool two ways - the rolling, windswept vineyards are influenced both by Petaluma Gap ocean breezes and San Pablo Bay.

Among other treats offered at this intimate event, which is only open to member wineries and a few trade and media folks, is a sneak peak at the latest vintage - usually organized into a theme, like this year's sampling of Pommard clone Pinot Noir from member vineyards - and sometimes a behind-the-scenes look at a winery locale.

This year's event was held at the Donum Estate.

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Hilary Berkey of Vintage Wine Estates and Emily Byrne of Etude Winery have been elected co-chairwomen of Carneros Wine Alliance, a nonprofit association of wineries and grape growers in the Carneros American Viticultural Area and will share governance responsibilities.

Nichole Peterson of Artesa was elected vice chairwoman, and Carneros Wine Alliance ambassadors Carla Bosco and Crista Johnson will serve as treasurer and secretary, respectively. Bosco served as board chairwoman in 2017 and 2018, and Johnson was chairwoman in 2016.

Additional board members include Mike Cox, Schug Carneros Estate; Scott Billeci, ZD Wines; Anne Moller-Racke, The Donum Estate; and Alison Crowe, Garnet Vineyards. All board positions were effective Jan.1 and continue for one calendar year.

Carneros Wine Alliance elects new directors

The Carneros Wine Alliance, made up of wineries and grape growers in the Carneros American Viticultural Area, just elected a new board of directors for the year. The Carneros area includes the relatively cool area that straddles the Sonoma-Napa county line south of Sonoma.

The new officers and current board include Hilary Berkey of Vintage Wine Estates and Emily Byrne of Etude Winery, who will be co-chairs. Nichole Peterson of Artesa was elected vice chair, and Carneros Wine Alliance ambassadors Carla Bosco and Crista Johnson will serve as treasurer and secretary, respectively. Additional board members include Mike Cox of Schug Carneros Estate, Scott Billeci of ZD Wines, Anne Moller-Racke of the Donum Estate and Alison Crowe of Garnet Vineyards.

The Carneros Wine Alliance, a nonprofit association of wineries and grape-growers in the Carneros American Viticultural Area (AVA) recently announced its board leadership for 2019.

Hilary Berkey of Vintage Wine Estates and Emily Byrne of Etude Winery have been elected co-chairs and will share governance responsibilities. Nichole Peterson of Artesa was elected vice-chair, and Carneros Wine Alliance ambassadors Carla Bosco and Crista Johnson will serve as treasurer and secretary, respectively. Bosco served as board chair in 2017 and 2018, and Johnson was chair in 2016.

“For more than three decades, the Carneros Wine Alliance has worked to build partnerships and programs that raise awareness for our region,” said Berkey, co-chair of the Carneros Wine Alliance. “There’s a lot of energy here, with new hospitality experiences, winemaking talent and culinary destinations to share.”

“Our goals for the year ahead are to host some compelling events, bring more visitors to experience our member wineries and tasting rooms, and most of all, to celebrate world- class cool-climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir,” continued Byrne, the other Carneros Wine Alliance co-chair.

Additional board members include Mike Cox, Schug Carneros Estate, and Scott Billeci, ZD Wines, Anne Moller-Racke, The Donum Estate, and Alison Crowe and Garnet Vineyards.

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The Carneros Wine Alliance, a nonprofit association of wineries and grape-growers in the Carneros wine region that borders San Pablo Bay, has elected new leadership to its board of directors.

Hilary Berkey of Vintage Wine Estates and Emily Byrne of Etude Winery have been elected co-chairs of the organization.

Berkey serves as marketing director with Vintage Wine Estates of Santa Rosa and has previously worked for Treasury Wine Estates and Constellation Brands Inc. Byrne is associate brand manager for Etude Winery and also has worked for Peju Winery in Rutherford.

Nichole Peterson, the marketing coordinator of Artesa in the Napa Valley, was elected vice-chair.

Carneros Wine Alliance
The Carneros Wine Alliance is a non-profit association of wineries and grape-growers in the Carneros American Viticultural Area (AVA).  Carneros is the only appellation located at the crossroads of two major wine regions, the Napa and Sonoma Valleys.  Influenced by the maritime breezes and fog from its southern border with the San Pablo Bay, Carneros produces the region’s finest Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and sparkling wines. The Carneros Wine Alliance is committed to promoting the distinction, diversity and above all, quality, of the grapes and wines from Carneros.