The Banana Belt is a unique
micro-climate found in the high ridges along Northern California's coastline in particular
locals. The high ridge area of Cazadero (geographically known as the Mendocino
Highlands) is one such area lucky enough to have this distinctive designation.
This is effectively a relatively
narrow band or belt of land roughly parallel to the coastline, or what is known as the
"coastal cool zone". This narrow coastal cool zone is placed between the
"marine zone" and the "coastal warm zone", conditions like you find on
the Santa Rosa Plain, i.e. Santa Rosa to Cloverdale.
The Banana Belt or coastal cool
climate is believed by many to be the premier micro-climate of Sonoma County's already
moderate Mediterranean climate.
A "Banana Belt" is an
area in close proximity to the Pacific Ocean with a high enough average elevation to
benefit from the closeness of the Ocean's warmth and the tendency for heat to rise in what
is commonly referred to as an "inversion". In a "Banana Belt"
there are on average six or less days of deep frost each winter. In reality there is
seldom a deep frost in Cazadero's Banana Belt region, generally this occurs only when the
entire state is in a deep freeze!
Beneficial is that during the winter
between storms there is often very pleasant weather, at times quite warm! During
the Summer the elevation tends to keep the coastal fog out of the hills while still
allowing a cooling ocean breeze to be effective. Plenty of warm days with cool
breezes, few extremely hot days, and fewer days with fog, even foggy mornings are rare in
the higher ridges. The summer nights are often splendid for short sleeved star
Apparently one can cultivate
nearly anything grown on the planet here, short of those things requiring very warm or
cold winter conditions. The Russian trapper/explorers first planted grapes in Sonoma
County at Fort Ross in 1812, in recent times Cazadero's Banana Belt has become the home of
scattered world class vineyards, rivaling the best France has to offer.