Placeholder Image photo credit: Congressman Jared Huffman
US Representative Jared Huffman at a Littorai
Wines vineyard in Sebastopol.

A group of prominent West Sonoma County winemakers are hoping to add another American Viticultural Area, AVA, to the map.

It’s been years in the making, but Joe Rogoway recently put his John Hancock on the top line and sent off the final application for the Sebastopol Hills AVA.

It went to the inbox of the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau - the regulatory body for such things, Rogoway said.

"If this petition is granted, basically there will be wine that is on shelves or in restaurants that will, on its label prominently feature Sebastopol's AVA as being the the place where the grapes were grown, and that is something that's not possible now," Rogoway said.

Rogoway is a lawyer representing the Sebastopol Hills Winegrowers Association.

That's headed up by Alex Kanzler, Ted Lemon, and John Balletto of Kanzler, Littorai, and Balletto Vineyards respectively.

Those are three of the major wine growers in the small region hoping to gain specific recognition for wines from the hills west of Sebastopol.

Now, basically what the labeling has to show is either that it's from the Russian River Valley AVA, or the Sonoma Coast AVA.

Rogoway said the proposed designation, which could be approved in as quickly as a year, is closely bounded west of Sebastopol.

"The north boundary is Bodega Highway, let's say, starting at the intersection of Highway 116 and Bodega in the city of Sebastopol," Rogoway said. "If you take that west to Barnett Valley Road, that is the northern boundary, and then take Barnett Valley Road, connects to Burnside Road, which connects to Bloomfield Road, where there's the intersection of Bloomfield Road and Blucher Creek. That is essentially the southern boundary. Then take Blucher Creek all the way to the intersection of Highway 116, which will bring you back up north along the eastern boundary to the starting place; and that is essentially the boundaries for the proposed AVA."

Ross Halleck, an award-winning winemaker in the Sebastopol hills, said he’s happy to see what he considers a “special area” getting proper recognition.

That's a sentiment Rogoway said he wants people to share when they drink wines from that specific corner of the county.

"This really special coastal cool climate with the Gold Ridge sandy loam soil, and the daily fog intrusion," Rogoway said. "And to understand that what they're tasting, what they're experiencing came from this special place."

Still Halleck said there’s a certain mystic quality that makes a wine special, and that the whole AVA movement would be more wonderful if it took in some magic. Halleck said “drawing lines is so un-magical.”

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