The wind-whipped Sonoma Coast is not a particularly hospitable location for growing wine grapes. Temperatures can fluctuate wildly, there is the ever-present threat of mold, due to the humidity, and the sandy soils do not encourage vines to flourish. Yet since 2002, the team behind Peay Vineyards—Nick and Andy Peay, along with winemaker Vanessa Wong—have endeavored to create wines of purity and finesse in this very environment.
But as all three will tell you the AVA Sonoma Coast is huge, and applies to vast areas of Sonoma County that do not share the extremes that are found right near the coast where the cold, deep Pacific ocean and resulting inversion layer contribute to a truly unique micro-climate. In response The Peay's and their nearby neighbors are pushing for a new AVA called "West Sonoma Coast".
It is in this newly proposed AVA that some of the most interesting and terroir specific wines are being made. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay dominate, as they both benefit from the long growing season and temperature fluctuations. But the Peays have also found Syrah to be very well suited to their locale as well . . . which is good since Vanessa, Nick and Andy all enjoy the traditional Northern Rhone wines as much as Burgundy.
The wines at Peay Vineyards are benchmark examples of the excellence that can come from California. They are elegant, unique and intense, thanks in part to the ancient marine soils on which they are grown. The Peays spend as much time as possible working amongst the vines. Because they own (and for Nick and Vanessa live on) the entire property they have become intimately familiar with each vineyard's distinct characteristics and are able to make wines that showcase their special terroir.