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Chalk Hill: A hidden gem for lovers of Sonoma County wine

Amid the morning fog that descends on the landscape, rows upon rows of grapevines stand tall, a testament to the fertile soils of the Chalk Hill wine region. Situated in the heart of Sonoma County, Chalk Hill, though unassuming, has earned its stripes as one of the county's most distinguished wine-growing areas.

Chalk Hill's journey to winemaking prominence began when the founder of Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards & Winery discovered this intriguing terrain during a flight in a small plane. Situated in an intriguing corner of the Russian River Valley AVA, Chalk Hill, established as an AVA in 1983, is distinguished by its warmer climate and white, volcanic soils rich in quartzite. Despite being home to more than 1,400 vineyard acres, Chalk Hill boasts just five wineries, making it a true hidden gem.

Renowned for its chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and Merlot, Chalk Hill also accommodates a variety of other grapes including semillon, syrah, sangiovese, zinfandel, and pinot noir under favorable conditions.

Chalk Hill, extending east from Windsor, encompasses a cluster of hills, a petite valley graced with vineyards, and reaches altitudes of up to 1,600 feet, tucked between the Alexander Valley and Knight's Valley AVAs. Its namesake is attributed to the chalky white ash, or more accurately, quartzite-rich volcanic tuff that characterizes its soils. While it is a sub-appellation of the Russian River Valley AVA, Chalk Hill enjoys a slightly warmer climate with fewer cool fogs and more moderating breezes.

Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards & Winery, established in the 1970s and now owned by the . winery-buying Foley Family, sets the bar for the region's wines and offers a unique wine tourism experience with its hospitality center, equestrian center, and culinary program. Visitors are welcomed for a unique vineyard hike series this summer, where they can explore the stunning 1,300-acre estate and enjoy a special multi-course lunch with wine pairings. Reservations for the hikes, scheduled for May 20, June 10, and July 15, can be made online.

For those inquisitive travelers who delight in unearthing the hidden corners of wine country, Chalk Hill offers an unforgettable journey. With its unique terroir, versatile range of grapes, and welcoming hospitality, this tucked-away region of Sonoma County beckons exploration and appreciation.

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