Located in Yolo County, California, about 30 minutes northwest of Sacramento, the Dunnigan Hills American Viticultural Area (AVA) consists of over 89,000 acres. Wine grapes grown in this AVA include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Tempranillo and more. Approved in 1993, the Dunnigan Hills AVA has a warmer climate than other parts of the Sacramento Valley, making it less prone to frost and therefore better suited for growing excellent wine grapes. It also has hot summer days and cool summer nights (courtesy of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento Delta), along with the perfect soil composition (well drained, gravelly loam) for grape growing. This allows for the creation of some amazing wines. For more information on the vineyards, wineries and wines of this California AVA, see below.
R.H. Phillips. The largest winery in the Dunnigan Hills AVA, its California estate vineyard has over 1,300 acres of planted vines, all situated on the hillsides of Dunnigan Hills. They produce over 800,000 cases of wine each year. All of the California wines created here are cold fermented, and some of the grapes are harvested at night to minimize exposure to the sun during harvest. This Dunnigan Hills winery creates both French and southern Rhone varietals.
Toasted Head Chardonnay is their signature wine (named for the practice of toasting barrel heads and staves), and they also create Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Viognier and other wines. Be sure to sample their Merlot Toasted Head 2003, a gorgeous red wine with aromas of herbs and red currants, followed by flavors of dark cherries and cocoa. Their Viognier Toasted Head is also outstanding, with aromas of orange blossoms and ginger, followed by flavors that include honey, ginger and vanilla. Also try this Dunnigan Hills winery’s Shiraz, which has aromas of raspberries and blueberries, followed by flavors that include black cherries, oak and cocoa. For more information on this Dunnigan Hills winery and its California wines, click here.
Matchbook Winery. Located in Zamora, California and owned by the founders of R.H. Phillips (see above), Matchbook Wines are created from Dunnigan Hills grapes that are blended with grapes from coastal California regions. This blending adds structure to the Dunnigan Hills wines, as well as intensifying their flavors. They produce Chardonnay, Tempranillo, and Syrah wines. Be sure to try their 2008 Old Head Chardonnay, a blend of 90% Dunnigan Hills Chardonnay, 7% Russian River Chardonnay, and 3% Viognier. This California wine has aromas that include tropical fruits and apples, followed by flavors of honey and cream. Also try their 2007 Tempranillo, a blend of Tempranillo, Graciano and Petite Sirah. It has aromas of black cherries and spice, and flavors that include vanilla, oak and blackberries. For more information on this California winery and its Dunnigan Hills AVA wines, click here.