Bennett Valley is a gently sloping elevated valley nestled among three mountain peaks in California’s Sonoma County.
Within the Sonoma Valley appellation and overlapping a portion of both Sonoma Mountain and the Sonoma Coast, its well-drained mountain benchland soils combine with early morning fog and cool marine breezes to create ideal conditions for growing exceptional cool-climate varietals.
Bennett Valley consists of a series of high sloping ridges, hills and swales suspended from Bennett Mountain to the north, Taylor Peak to the west and Sonoma Mountain to the south. The boundaries of the AVA roughly correspond to the Matanzas Creek watershed.
More of an alluvial bench than a valley, volcanic activity created both the diverse topography and a wide range of soil types, exposures and terrains. The volcanic history of the landscape defines the soils. Steep, rocky soils with good drainage encourage deep roots and intense flavors without dilution.
With just 650 planted acres, Bennett Valley is one of the smaller Sonoma County appellations. Its 36 primarily family-owned vineyards average less than 20 acres each. At harvest time, you’ll often find grower-owners and their families and friends out in the fields working alongside the harvest crews. There is an obvious passion here, and the growers believe deeply in the emerging potential of this relatively new AVA.
The valley itself is peaceful and serene. There is just one winery open to the public (Matanzas Creek), but you’ll find the appellation listed on some of the most sought-after artisan labels in California: Dumol, Morlet, Carlisle, Tor Kenward and Pax, to name just a few.
In addition, there are a handful of recently established grower brands, many based in warehouse production facilities that cater to small lot, artisan winemaking. While their focus may vary — some committed primarily to crisp, beautifully structured white wines, others to distinctive cool-climate Syrah — all are focused on crafting wines that are true to their vineyards and unique appellation.