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Knights Valley is the easternmost appellation of Sonoma. Its situation just east of the small Chalk Hill AVA (where Chalk Hill Winery makes fine chardonnays) and the much warmer Alexander Valley AVA, where some great full bodied zinfandels and cabernets are made, makes it even further away from the cooling breezes of the Pacific. Hence the very warm and arid conditions for the vines, which tends to produce thick skinned, well structured full bodied wines that will age for decades.
Vines have been growing here for more than a century, but it wasn’t until Beringer planted their vineyards here and from 1977 bottled their fine Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, before the valley gained its reputation. Anyone who have tasted either that wine, or those of Peter Michael Winery know there is a great potential in the wines from this almost forgotten valley.
Knights Valley gained its status as AVA in 1983, and today there are some 620 hectares of vines here. Beringer is by far the most important player, with around 240 hectares under vines, most of it on the valley floor. From almost 49 hectares of vineyards, scattered on small terraces and slopes with south, southwest and west exposure that rises from 300 to 580 meters above sea level, Peter Michael Winery produce stunning whites of Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Chardonnays, as well as impressive and age worthy reds of bordelaise grapes. The latest planted vineyard belongs to Luc Morlet, former winemaker at Peter Michael Winery and since 2006 vintner with his own winery, Morlet Family Wines. In 2008 he planted 4.85 hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot on an east facing slop in the southern part of the valley (from there, it’s only a ten minutes drive to Calistoga in the northern part of Napa Valley).