On the northernmost edge of San Francisco Bay (here called San Pablo Bay), is the Carneros region which rises gradually from flush-with-wildfowl wetlands where tiny pink brine shrimp thrive in the salt marshes. The thin-soiled gently rolling hills spill over into neighboring Napa County, and was once home to shepherds and their wooly flocks, hence the name which is Spanish for “ram.” One of the coolest regions in Sonoma County–partly because of the Bay’s moderating influence–the Carneros is prime Pinot Noir and Chardonnay country, varieties used both for crisp sparkling wines of great stature and for lean, table wines. Pinot Noirs, which clearly demonstrate their Carneros breeding, often show a jammy strawberry character, while Carneros Chardonnays possess delicate floral, white peach and white grapefruit qualities that are subtle, yet alluring. A third variety has recently been included in the mix–Merlot. It turns out, that the Carneros is just warm enough to mature Merlot fruit, producing wines of cassis and black currant fruit and a softness in the mouth that is simply beguiling. Goes well with lamb, too.