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There are more than 240 specified geographical wine grape-growing regions in the U.S. called American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) that are defined by the federal government and must have certain features that distinguish them from the surrounding regions. In order to be labeled with the name of an AVA, federal law requires that 85 percent or more of the wine must come from grapes grown in the appellation. While Napa Valley and some other AVAs are quite famous, many are lesser known like River Junction and Santa Lucia Highlands mentioned below.

McManis Family Vineyards 2017 Chardonnay, River Junction, California Bought • Dierbergs, 8450 Eager Road, in September for $11.49

Description • This bright, crisp and flavorful chardonnay, which is considered a Best Buy by Wine Enthusiast, comes from River Junction, located at the confluence of the San Joaquin and Stanislaus Rivers near Modesto. It’s one of the few California AVAs to have only one winery. A medium- to full-bodied white, it has a rich mouthfeel and tastes of stone and tropical fruits with a touch of oak and butter. This is a well-balanced, lively white that would go well with chicken and meaty fish entrees.

Z. Alexander Brown 2017 Uncaged Chardonnay, Santa Lucia Highlands, CaliforniaBought • Dierbergs, 8450 Eager Road, in September for $13.49

Description • If you’re a fan of bold, voluptuous chardonnay with generous oak, give this full-bodied white a try. It comes from the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA in Monterey County. This is a rich, complex chardonnay with good acidity that tastes of apples and stone fruit with some bakery spice and ample notes of vanilla and toasted oak. This is a rich chardonnay that calls out for Lobster Newburg and other decadent entrees cooked with heavy cream sauces.

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