Thursday, July 19, 2012

Suisun Valley Winemaking History

Varietal grape growing for premium winemaking in California’s Suisun Valley, has roots dating back into the 1800′s, and represents over a century of continuous viticultural activity.

In the 1800′s, vineyards were more prominently located in the southern end of both Suisun Valley and neighboring Green Valley. They were typified by classic head pruned vines in field-blend plantings. In the latter 1800′s, Mangles Winery(long decommissioned and now gone) sat just to the west of Suisun Valley Road near Cordelia. It represented one of the largest commercial wineries in the United States in its day, and produced wines from fruit grown in and around this location.

While phylloxera (and later Prohibition) did much to disrupt the local grape industry in the early 1900′s, a strong rebound for grapes and wine commenced in the post WWII economic expansion. Wine industry cycles over the years have continued to increase viticultural acreage, change varietal plantings, and influence a continuous pursuit of quality gains.

In 1982, growers of the Western Solano County Grape Growers Association successfully petitioned the BATF, and received formal designation of Suisun Valley as an identified AVA. The 15,000 acre Suisun Valley AVA was subsequently included in the 1983 formation of the North Coast AVA, combining Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino counties, together with Suisun Valley and Green Valley (with elements of Lake and Marin Counties) into one overarching ultra premium growing region, now recognized world-wide.

Benefiting from a Mediterranean climate, properly fertile soils and significant marine air influences during summer months, Suisun Valley growers have incorporated new trellising systems with changes in varietal and clone selections, to continue quality enhancement in wine grape production.

Today approximately 3,000 acres are under vine in the Suisun Valley and that fruit continues to be sourced by numerous Napa and Sonoma wineries for inclusion in multiple product lines.


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