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In addition to establishing its distinctive qualities, to secure an AVA, the alliance must establish the geographical boundaries, ensuring that it doesn't overlap with an existing AVA. The alliance is still deciding those boundaries, but will need to hire experts to draw up the maps, as well as an attorney to handle the application request.

"The whole thing costs about $25,000," Clary says, adding that the process could take around two years. "We'll be fundraising to help pay for that."

The alliance also hopes to raise the profile of Petaluma Gap wines locally. Currently, no tasting rooms downtown feature wines made in Petaluma, which is something the alliance hopes to change.

"It's really going to be great when we can put Petaluma Gap on the label, and then people can go out and ask for it specifically," Cover says, although he admits that not everyone will be happy with their efforts. "They're worried it will look like Napa with vineyards all over the place."

But, Clary says, Sonoma County has a $1.25 billion wine tourism industry and "Petaluma would be remiss to miss out on that."

(Contact Emily Charrier at Emily.charrier@arguscourier.com)