By Lisa Rowlands

The more northerly latitude here has a marked influence on the climate and subsequently on the grape varieties that are able to adapt to the cooler, often wetter conditions. Summers remain mild, with the Pacific fog forming a principal constituent of the weather, and winters are typically cold with higher levels of precipitation than the rest of the state. The ocean breeze has a great influence on the sub-zone, particularly for coastal vineyards.

The somewhat rugged terrain of Northern California’s four counties dictates that much of the geographical area is not suitable for high quality viticulture. In the areas that do offer conditions conducive to the cultivation of grapes, diverse topography, soils ranging from loamy silt to rocky shale and limestone, and site elevations that range from sea level to almost eight-hundred metres above, create unique terroirs. Subsequently, the wines produced here come in a great number of different styles.

Red grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Syrah, along with white varieties Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc are amongst the most successful fruits of these northern quarters, the best examples delivering wines of great varietal character and distinction.

Counties of Northern California