wine tasting photoThe inaugural Wind to Wine Festival Grand Tasting is Aug. 8, and it will give people a chance to sniff and sip the wind, if they’re so inclined.

Before we delve into the particulars about how wind can shape a terroir, here are the details about the upcoming event:

The Grand Tasting, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., will showcase wines produced from grapes grown in the Petaluma Gap area vineyards. More than 20 wineries are expected to pour nearly 80 wines, and tickets are $95 a person. ( The tasting will be at the Sheraton Sonoma County, 745 Baywood Drive in Petaluma.

Ana Keller, one of the chief organizers, said the festival is a way to introduce these wines that will hopefully have an American Viticultural Area (AVA) to further showcase them in the future. A proposal to create the Petaluma Gap AVA was filed in February of this year.

“Although we don’t expect to have news in the near future, we are building what we know is a long road of communicating and promoting these wines, so that when the AVA is official, wineries will see the value of using Petaluma Gap on the label,” Keller said. “We’re proud to be at the forefront of further defining the Sonoma Coast AVA, which we all agree is too large and doesn’t really drill down on the different microclimates, soils and terroir.

For the uninitiated, the geographic reach of the proposed Petaluma Gap AVA includes a portion of Marin County.

Keller said what makes the Petaluma Gap unique is the break in the mountains at Bodega Bay. The mountain range runs perpendicular to the coast, instead of parallel, as in other areas. This allows the wind to rush inland, past the town of Petaluma and out through the San Pablo Bay. The wind speed on most days during the growing season is of at least 8 miles per hours every afternoon, Keller explained.

“The wind has a variety of effects: during winter if helps prevent frost,” Keller said. “It also dries the fruit as the mist (from the fog) settles. And it thickens the grape’s skins, where, as we know, is all the flavor and tannins. This creates wines of significant depth on the palate.