Windsor Oaks Vineyards is situated within three AVA's (American Viticultural Area) -- Russian River Valley Appellation, Sonoma Coast Appellation and Chalk Hill Appellation. We benefit from all the wonderful characteristics of each of these appellations. From the cool mornings and coastal evening fog of the Russian River AVA in our lower vineyards, to the slightly warmer temperatures of the Chalk Hill AVA in our higher elevations.
Chalk Hill AVA encompasses the northeast corner of the larger Russian River AVA. It was established in June of 1988. It is named for its unique, volcanically-derived, chalky white ash soils which lend themselves to the production of excellent Chardonnay. The upper hills are producing great Cabernet Sauvignon as well as Cabernet Franc and Merlot.
Russian River Valley AVA, known for producing Burgundian varietals, was originally settled in the early 1800's by Russian imigrants. The first cultivated field crops were wine grapes. The Italian immigrants, drawn to California by the Gold Rush of 1849, took up the torch and much of the growth of the later part of the century was due to their planting. The phylloxera epidemic (1880s through 1900) that decimated the area, damaged the growing region for many years. Ripping out diseased vines and starting over, the vineyards didn't recover in the Russian River Valley appellation until the 1960s. The new varieties that were introduced then are grown today.
Sonoma Coast AVA currently includes parts of several other AVAs, including Green Valley and Russian River Valley. This is a wide area with some controversy regarding various ideas of proper demarcation of the boundaries. Sonoma Coast is the largest single AVA in Sonoma County. It is characterized by steep, rugged mountains and connecting ridges rising 300 to 700 meters above and running parallel to the ocean. There are soil differences across the area, but there are also soil differences across areas of a single vineyard.