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Know where your wine grapes came from? These online maps can tell you

on 19/05/15 at 9:31 am


map_topart_wine-932x524“I’ve been spending some time in wine country recently, renting a cabin from friends. Every morning I sit out on the deck, drinking coffee, reading, and admiring the view, which you can see in a photo below. In the time I’ve been here, the vineyard across the way has turned from sparse and brown to bushy green, and that got me wondering: Whose vineyard is it? What kind of grapes are they growing? Is the wine any good?

In trying to figure that out, I eventually stumbled on a map-driven website for wine industry insiders. It was developed by Jordan Thomas, a cartographer who grew up here in Sonoma county. Jordan was quick to tell me that the point of his site isn’t to satisfy the idle curiosity of wine country visitors like me–it’s used mainly to help match vineyards that have grapes to sell with winemakers who might be interested in buying them. That said, it’s a also a great way to satisfy the idle curiosity of wine country visitors like me.

My first attempts to figure out what grapes I was looking at were pretty crude. I looked up the area on Google maps. The cabin is on Fitch Mountain in Healdsburg. The Russian River follows an S-shaped course here (you can see it below in the 1898 map from David Rumsey’s collection). The cabin is roughly in the location of the big W, and the view is to the north. Picture two eyeballs nestled in the arms of the W and you get the idea. The bottom half of the S is the river winding its way around Fitch Mountain. The top half, according to Google, is called Digger Bend. That’s where the vineyards are.

You can see the vineyards in Google’s satellite imagery, but there’s no identifying information. Googling the likes of “Digger Bend vineyard” got me nowhere.”