Last night I attended a wine tasting featuring Pinot Noirs made from grapes grown in the Petaluma Gap. Even though I live in the area and have tried a few of them, this was the first serious tasting of these wines that I've attended.
The Petaluma Gap is a relatively small chunk of land that stretches from the ocean to San Pablo Bay in Sonoma County north of San Francisco. Grapes grown in this area currently bear the appellation "Sonoma Coast", but some of the local growers and wineries have joined in an effort to create a new separate appellation called the "Petaluma Gap". This is apparently a contentious marketing issue, but if you want to learn more about the Petaluma Gap, click here to go to the website of the Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Alliance.
At the tasting, I discovered that Petaluma Gap Pinots are as good as any made anywhere. Wineries in the Gap tend to be very small, so you will probably have to do some work to find them. Trust me, it will be worth the effort. Some of the labels you should look for are Adobe Road, Enriquez Estate, Karah Estate, Azari, Keller Estate, Cline Cool Climate, Clary Ranch and Saltonstall Estate.
FYI, the winner at the tasting was the 2008 Saltonstall Estate ($30). Other wines at the tasting ranged from $17 to $45. The $45 wine came in last, but it was still a terrific wine. All of the scores were in a very narrow range, and most tasters found it difficult to rate one above another. If ylu are in the mood for a first-class Pinot, seek out wines from the Petaluma Gap. You'll be glad you did.