of Russian River Valley
Originally all of California was under the Pacific Ocean, with the Sierras being part of the Pacific coastline. As we think about the expanse of time, Sonoma County has a relatively new history, as compared to the eastern and central parts of the United States. The history regarding Green Valley dates back to those prehistoric times and the shifting of Northern California’s plate tectonics. Forces resulting from the collision of the North American Plate with the Pacific Plate, along with more recent, geologic volcanic activity, have resulted in mountain building and the down shaping of Russian River Valley’s parallel valleys.
One hundred million years ago, the Pacific Plate moved northward and slid under the North American Plate, creating the older geology of the Green Valley appellation. It shaped the earth’s crust, which resembles a patchwork quilt. It left varying soils that are made up of a mixture of ocean floor rocks that have intersected at the fault line and in the earth’s surface. The Pacific Ocean floor slid down and eastward, going under the edge of the continent. This next eroded the older rocks and soils covering the valley floor.
From three to five million years ago, the Green Valley of Russian River Valley was only a shallow inland sea. It had a tilt, which slowly drained into the Pacific Ocean. These early movements set the stage for Green Valley’s ideal wine grape growing region. When this change happened, it left behind a series of fine sandy soil types. With their balanced chemistry and slight variations in clay components, this earth perfectly feeds today’s vines with the nutrients and water that they need to thrive.
Two major soil categories emerged; the sandy Goldridge, which makes up about 60 percent of Green Valley of Russian River Valley, and the older rocky Franciscan. Classic Goldridge provides good drainage and exceptional, natural chemical balance.
Early history of Green Valley of Russian River Valley includes a bit of Russian History. Russians immigrants arrived in Green Valley of Russian River Valley in 1812 to settle the Sonoma coastline between Bodega Bay and Fort Ross. It wasn’t until 1836 that Yegor Chernykh, a Russian agronomist, developed food supplies for their Alaskan settlements. He established a farm just west of what is now called Graton. His wines were intended for sacramental purposes. These vineyards were among the first cultivated fields in what is now the Russian River Valley appellation.
Current history of the Green Valley of Russian River Valley appellation begins in 1983, when it was established as Sonoma County Green Valley. The American Viticultural Area (AVA) of Green Valley then underwent a name change. In 2008, the Tax and Trade Bureau approved a name change from Sonoma County Green Valley to its official name today of Green Valley of Russian River Valley.
Green Valley is located in the middle of Sonoma County and in the south-central area of Russian River Valley. Its terroir is considered by many to be the crème de la crème grape growing region for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The climate in the Green Valley, with its close proximity to the Pacific Ocean, makes it one of the coolest appellations within Sonoma County, favoring the cultivation of these cool climate varieties.
Green Valley of Russian River Valley begins its landscape from just north of Petaluma and Forestville, and reaches northward to Sebastopol. According to Jim Pratt, “When the Pacific receded, it left great soil: sandstone, down anywhere from about five to nine feet, with a sandy loam soil on top. So what we have is a moderate clay layer that’s permeable to water. This gives us outstanding drainage, with the sandy loam on top. This is good nutrient content, but not so much that it dictates the vigor of the vine. This way the winemaker and grape grower can actually work together with the soil, take what it gives, and then add this Green Valley area’s climate.”
The fruit in Green Valley of Russian River Valley ripens slowly, which produces wines with lower alcohol and more evenly balanced acidity, a hallmark for perfect, food friendly wines. Ron Rubin Winery is so pleased to be growing grapes and making wine in the prestigious Green Valley of Russian River Valley. For our wines, we wanted the best that nature had to offer as a great base, with that base for us being Goldridge soils. Our Pinot Noir has all of the ingredients for success that we give to our viticultural and winemaking teams, so that they are able to craft world-class, affordable wines for your enjoyment.
Green Valley of Russian River Valley
Winemaker Joe Freeman discusses what makes Green Valley of Russian River Valley so special.