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Napa and Sonoma wine brawl

Just as there are great sporting rivalries such is the duel between Sonoma and Napa California wines.

by: Reuters | 26 Mar 2008

What started out as friendly kidding between the two regions just north of San Francisco has turned into somewhat of a marketing brawl with folks in smaller Napa looking down upon Sonoma's larger producers.

"They just think we're a bunch of snots, that we make wine only for the elite," said Stuart Smith, owner of Napa Valley's Smith-Madrone vineyards.

Napa Valley wines, generally speaking, are pricier than those produced in Sonoma, and the valley is home to most of California's cult wines like Screaming Eagle, Araujo, and Colgin.

Part of what makes them so sought after is that so little is produced and when they are available collectors will pay anywhere from $400 to well over a $1,000 a bottle.

But for Sonoma wine maker Steve Reeder, it's not the cost of the bottle, but what is in it that matters.

Reeder doesn't make wine to be collected; he makes it to be drunk – preferably with food and most are in the $15 to $20 range. Simi, a unit of Constellation Brands' Iconic Estates division, nationally distributes nine wines from Sauvignon Blanc to its reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

He hates what he calls the over-extracted, over-oaked, over-done wines that are no longer driven by the soils.

Michaela Rodeno, head of Napa Valley's St. Supery, a vineyard almost synonymous with Sauvignon Blanc, had news for Reeder.

"I don't like over-extracted, over-oaked, over-alcoholic wines either and I don't think you can blame that on Napa. This rivalry has been going on for ages. It's just so Hertz and Avis, "she said.

"They're No. 2. They're trying really hard. They should just face it. We make better Cabernets and they make fine Pinot Noirs," Rodeno said.

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