Russian River Valley Wine History
The History of Russian River Wine Production
A number of Italian immigrants also contributed to the emerging wine industry. By 1890, a number of wineries were in operation and there were several thousand acres of vineyards.
Phylloxera, Prohibition and the Great Depression devastated the local wine industry. During these years, the region was primarily known for agricultural products other than vineyards. The weather was too cold to produce grapes suitable for the fortified and jug wine production that the American market demanded at the time.
The wine industry began to reemerge in the 1960s, but would not really take off for several more years. Most of the early energy went into less peripheral regions like the Sonoma and Napa Valleys. However, the popularity of one varietal would change everything.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Americans fell in love with Chardonnay. The reputation of wines from the Russian River Valley increased as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir were both planted extensively. These varietals are well suited to the cool, foggy climate of the viticultural area. AVA status was granted in 1983 and encompasses over 50 wineries and 200 vineyard owners.