What is a

Simply put, a Sommelier (or, Somm) is a student of wine, who has reached a specific level of mastery in the subject. Many are also trained in food pairings spirits, and fine-dining service. Often, you can find sommeliers in your favorite restaurants, curating wine lists and recommending bottles. There are many levels of somm training. Read on to meet a few of these professionals who love Sonoma County wines.

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How to Read a Wine Label

Wine labels are more than just attractive packaging. Wine labels are carefully thought-out and give important information about the wine in the bottle. They can also be a little confusing. Here are the basics of what you will find on a wine label:

1. The Vintage

This is the year (vintage) the wine grapes were grown and harvested. Wine changes based on annual conditions such as weather, water, sunlight, heat and soil nutrients. To name a specific vintage, at least 95% of the grapes used for the wine must have been grown and harvested that year.

2. The Winery

Of course, you will always find the name of the winery on the label. Wineries work hard to build their reputations on wine style, quality and their unique story. If you like one wine from a specific winery, try another!

3. The Varietal

The wine varietal tells you what type of wine grape the wine was made from since different grapes have different flavor profiles. In order to list a wine varietal name, at least 75% of the wine in the bottle must be from that grape variety. Otherwise, it will likely be labeled as a “blend” or a “table wine.”

4. The Region

The region, or American Viticultural Area (AVA) tells you where the wine was grown. Different wine regions build a reputation for quality, specific grape varieties and growing practices. Sonoma County has 18 different AVA’s. On some wines, you may even find the specific vineyard or “vineyard designate” listed under the AVA.

5. The Sustainability Logo

Sustainability is a big deal in the world of agriculture. Sonoma County has proudly certified 99% of its vineyard acreage sustainable by a third-party auditor, so you can be pretty confident that a wine that says “Sonoma County” was grown responsibly. Just to be sure though, look for the sustainable winegrowing seal!

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