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US consumers ‘confused’ by multiple Sonoma AVAs

Sonoma Valley has announced the launch of a new campaign to differentiate the region from the larger Sonoma Coast and even larger Sonoma County AVA.

‘Is it a town? A county?’: confusion over Sonoma AVAs

There is confusion in the marketplace regarding the differences between the many appellations that include the name ‘Sonoma’, the Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Alliance reckons.

‘We know that Sonoma Valley has very distinct appellations, but there is confusion with the title. Is it a coast? Is it a valley? Is it a town? A county? Or all?’ executive director Maureen Cottingham said.

The 400,000ha Sonoma County appellation includes 15 sub-regions, 60 miles of coastline and more than 25,000ha of vineyards.

A recent survey of 1,000 US consumers shows that, when purchasing wine, few differentiate between Sonoma County and Sonoma Valley and that using both on a label may even be a disadvantage.

‘The presence of an AVA with “Sonoma” already in the name (e.g. Sonoma Mountain) may complicate understanding of conjunctive labeling,’ the survey by research company Wine Opinions says.

‘While a substantial number of consumers (42%) can comprehend that a “Sonoma-named” AVA can reside within Sonoma County, over one-quarter are confused by combinations like ‘Sonoma Mountain, Sonoma County” and 22% believe that this indicates a blend of Sonoma Mountain and Sonoma County fruit.’

Additionally problematic is the name Sonoma Valley, which includes three sub-AVAS (Bennett Valley, Carneros and Sonoma Mountain) and one proposed sub-AVA (Moon Mountain), two of which are high altitude, mountainous regions.

The SVVGA’s ‘Roots Run Deep’ campaign is separate but complementary to the ‘We are Sonoma’ campaign launched by the Sonoma County Vintners and Sonoma County Tourism earlier this month, Cottingham said.

Written by Courtney Humiston in Sonoma

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