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Napa Valley Wineries

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An Introduction to Napa Valley

If you are a wine lover, there is nothing better than taking a tour of some of
the Napa Valley wineries. For many wine lovers, a visit to Napa Valley can be
the culmination of a lifetime dream. The breathtaking scenery and very pleasant
climate make for a wonderful vacation.

Napa Valley is situated in Northern California. The soil and climate in Napa
Valley have proven to be among the best in the world for growing wine grapes.
As a result, this region has become one of the premier wine producing regions
in the U.S. A number of different wines are featured through wineries in Napa
Valley, including Caymus, Chandon and Frank Family.

Millions of tourists and visitors flock to Napa Valley each year in order to
tour the many wineries in production there. In fact, Napa Valley has become one
of the premier attractions in the entire state of California. Not only will you
be able to enjoy breathtaking vistas during a trip to Napa Valley but your trip
will also provide you with a once in a lifetime experience to enjoy numerous
culinary pleasures as well. In the event you happen to dabble in your own
winemaking at home, a trip to Napa Valley can certainly provide you with plenty
of inspiration.

Historically, Napa Valley has always been strong; however, there have been
times during history when it seemed as though this fertile and beautiful valley
would almost cease to exist in terms of wine production. One of these times
occurred during Prohibition, beginning in 1920. A root louse known as
phylloxera also contributed to the destruction of numerous fine vines during
this time period as well. As a result a number of wineries in Napa Valley
closed. Following World War II; however, they re - opened and Napa Valley once
again became quite popular.

After the results of the Paris Wine Tasting were announced in 1976, at which
time the Napa Valley Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon were deemed to be better
than many fine French labels, Napa Valley became quite popular. Today, Napa
Valley has continued to grow and expand and is home to literally hundreds of
wineries. Some of the best wineries in the world are located right in Napa
Valley.

A trip to Napa Valley provides you with the opportunity to enjoy wine tours
from morning until evening. Not only will you have the chance to enjoy a wide
variety of fine wines but you can also see the process of making wine from the
very first step to the very end. In addition, many wineries offer high quality
wines at rates that are highly discounted.

When you first travel to Napa Valley you will discover that despite the fact
that so many wineries are located in Napa, the valley itself is rather
condensed. The entire valley is just 35 miles long. The advantage of this is
that you can easily travel from one end of Napa Valley to the other in a very
small amount of time. Provided that traffic is not heavy it takes only about
half an hour to drive the entire distance of the valley. Highway 29 forms the
main route for the wineries; which is where most of the larger wineries as well
as the restaurants, shops and hotels are located. Highway 29 begins at the mouth
of the Napa River, quite close to the end of San Francisco Bay. You can easily
reach every winery in Napa Valley by traveling along Highway 29.

The Regions of Napa Valley

When you first decide to visit Napa Valley you may well find that the most
difficult decision is which winery or wineries you want to visit. This is
because there are literally hundreds of wineries in Napa Valley, scattered
throughout a 35 mile area that can be broken down into several different
regions within that area.

Napa Valley, located in Napa County, is just one of the many wine regions in
the wine country of Northern California; however, it is certainly one of the
most well known. In fact, Napa Valley is thought to be one of the most vital
wine growing regions in the entire United States. Some of the most well known
wineries in Napa Valley include Chateau Montelena, Beringer and Charles Krug
Winery; however, there are many, many other wineries located throughout Napa
Valley as well. While wine production in Napa Valley did suffer during
Prohibition; following World War II, the wine industry in Napa Valley began to
experience an upsurge.

Today, Napa Valley is home to more than 200 wineries. While you might find it
difficult to visit all of the wineries in Napa Valley you can certain visit
many by taking one of the numerous wine tours that operate throughout Napa
Valley. Through these wine tours you will gain an opportunity to view and taste
the many different varietals that are produced in Napa Valley including
Chardonnay, Zinfandel, merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and many more.

There are fifteen different regions within Napa Valley. Carneros is considered
to be one of the best regions in Napa Valley and is home to numerous quality
wineries. On the north end of Napa Valley, you will find Oak Knoll. Oak Knoll
is considered to be quite versatile and was finally granted AVA status in 2004.

Coombsville, located to the east, is also occasionally referred to as Tulocay.
This region has not yet been established as an AVA region; however, you will
still find numerous excellent wineries in this region.

Most of the wineries in Napa Valley are located on Highway 29; however, there
are a number that are located just off Highway 29. The Yountville AVA is one of
those areas. In the past twenty years this region has changed significantly. In
this region you will find that the wineries are somewhat warmer. Slightly north
to the region, the Yountville Mounts are situated, which help to block the fog
coming in from San Pablo Bay as well as the wind.

Rutherford, Oakville and St. Helena, three of the most well known wine regions 
in Napa Valley, are located quite close to one another. The wineries in these 
regions have become well known for producing high quality Cabernet Sauvignon.

A row of hills running north to south separates the Napa Valley floor from the
Stags Leap AVA region. Due to the fact that these hills tend to act as a sort
of funnel for wind, the Stags Leap region can be somewhat cool and breezy; even
when other areas in Napa Valley are warm.

Atlas Peak is situated high in the hills. This area was once home to many
Sanviovese vineyards; however, today many of the wineries in this region are
focusing on Cabernet Sauvignon.

Historically, the Mount Veeder AVA has been considered to be one of the best in
the area. This is because they have typically produced grapes that are
high - quality as well as scarce. On the mountain slopes in the area, Syrah,
Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon are commonly planted.

Diamond Mountain as well as Spring Mountain are situated in the north. The
wineries in this region are known for a specific type of Cabernet Sauvignon
that tends to be produced in very small quantities.

In the northeastern hills, you will find Howell Mountain. A number of well
known wineries are located in this area and tend to do quite well because of
the sunny weather.

Chiles Valley is one of the premier Zinfandel regions in the state of
California. The isolation of this AVA region has allowed this vineyard to
survive the problems that have historically destroyed many other vineyards.

One of the most recent additions to Napa Valley is Wild Horse Valley. This
region is situated in the southeastern hills. The windy, cool climate is
perfect for producing Chardonnay as well as Pinot Noir.

Tips for Planning a Pleasurable Napa Valley Wine Tour

Napa Valley is a great destination to plan a vacation where you are a wine
connoisseur or you know absolutely nothing about wine but you would like to
learn. There is a keen belief that you need to be a wine expert in order to
enjoy a trip to Napa Valley; however, the truth of the mater is that you can
still enjoy a great time in Napa Valley even if you are not very knowledgeable
about wine. If you are considering starting a wine cellar at home, a trip to
Napa Valley is a great way to educate yourself about different types of wine as
well as stock up on quality wines at reduced prices.

First, be aware that when you plan a trip to Napa Valley it is a good idea to
make your reservations in advance. Napa Valley has truly experienced a surge in
popularity in recent years. More than five million people visit Napa Valley and
take wine tours each year. As a result, it is a good idea to make reservations
in advance.

Most of the wineries in Napa Valley are located on Highway 29. Napa Valley
itself is just a mere 35 miles long. When traffic is not bad you can easily
navigate the distance of Napa Valley in 30 minutes. That said; however, the
immense popularity of Napa Valley has meant that there have been numerous
construction projects; both in terms of building construction as well as road
construction. This means that you should plan for road delays. The good news
about this is that you will have plenty of time to read up about the many
different wineries located in Napa Valley while you are waiting.

Due to the fact that you may get delayed on the road, it is a good idea to make
sure that you start the day with a full tank of gas. You certainly will not find
any gas stations at any of the wineries. In the event you run into construction
or a road delay you do not want to find yourself without gas.

When packing for an outing or a day of taking wine tours it is a good idea to
make sure that you bring along several items with you to make the day easier
and more pleasurable. First, keep in mind that it is a good idea to bring along
a pack lunch. While it is true that some wineries will offer food; there may not
always be substantial amounts of food so it is a good idea to be prepared. Many
wineries offer picnic areas that are absolutely stunning so you will have
plenty of opportunities to enjoy a relaxing and breathtaking lunch.

In addition, it is a good idea to bring along some bottled water. In most
cases, you will spend a lot of time walking around and traveling between
wineries. Bringing along your own bottled water is a good way to make sure that
you do not have to stop for water or go thirsty in between.

You will also want to make sure that you bring along a camera. Napa Valley is
certainly well known for its fine wineries; however, the scenery and landscapes
in Napa Valley are nothing short of spectacular.

Finally, make sure that you bring along plenty of dollar bills and five dollar
bills. You will find that there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy wine
tastings for just $5.

Introduction and History of the Oakville Wine Region in Napa Valley

The Oakville region has become associated with quality wine in the last several
years. Situated in the heart of the wine industry in Napa Valley, there are some
5,000 acres of vineyards stretching throughout this region. This is one of the
most popular regions with tourists in Napa Valley.

This region, in particular, has become well known and recognized for quality
production of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Some of the most widely regarded
wineries in the region include Rudd Winery, Dalla Valle, Opus One, Screaming
Eagle and Silver Oak Winery.

It is believed that one of the reasons this region has been so successful at
producing highly sought after wines is due to the warm climate and its location
north of the Yountville Mounts. Most of the wind as well as the fog from San
Pablo Bay is blocked; providing quite a bit of protection to the area. As a
result, the region's grapes are given sufficient time to ripen as well as to
develop the characteristics for which wines from this region have become known.

The distinct and decidedly different terrains in this region have also lent to
its success. Due to the distinct terrains in this region, a variety of
different grapes are able to thrive. Just a few of the varieties that are
commonly planted in this region include Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and
Cabernet Sauvignon. On the valley floor, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are
also very common.

The history of wine production in Oakville is long and distinguished. The first
vineyards in this region were planted by Hamilton Walker Crabb. 240 acres of
land were purchased by Crabb in 1868. The Kalon Vineyard was soon established.
Forty years later, there were more than 400 acres of vineyards in the region.

When phylloxera struck the area during the 1880s Crabb proved to be quite
proactive. In fact, he was one of the very few winemakers in the region to
convert his vineyards to rootstocks that were phylloxera resistant. Most of the
remainder of the industry in the area was subsequently destroyed
by this rather aggressive pest.

Those that remained were struck by Prohibition. Most of the vineyards in the
area during this time were either neglected or completely destroyed due to the
lack of demand as a result of Prohibition. There were a few vineyards that
remained and were planted with specific varieties that could make it through
being shipped to the East Coast for home winemaking purposes. During this time
large tracts of land that had previously been planted with some of the most
noble varietals in the region were completely uprooted and replaced with prune
orchards; the main agricultural crop of Napa Valley for several decades.

Following the repeal of Prohibition, it took a number of yeas before the
Oakville wine region recovered. Eventually, things begin to change in the 1950s
when most of the old Crabb estate was purchased by Cesare Mondavi. The old Kalon
Vineyard was included in the purchase. Before long, Mondavi began to produce
some wine from the quality grapes growing at the To Kalon.

During the 1960s, Heitz Cellars went into production of Martha's Vineyard
Cabernet Sauvignon; a wine that would become critically acclaimed. At the same
time, the wine renaissance of Napa Valley began to pick up Steam. Robert
Mondavi separated from the family winery at Charles Krug and went into
production in Oakville; further solidifying Oakville's place as a premier wine
region.

It has been said that Mondavi has contributed more to the development of the
Napa Valley wine industry as a whole than anyone else. After splitting away
from his family, he set about establishing a completely innovative winery in
Oakville. His winery was built literally from the ground up and included in his
vision the establishment of a tasting room that would welcome visitors as well
as tours of the behind the scenes winemaking process. As a result of his
vision, the wine industry in Oakville; as well as Napa Valley has never been
the same.

Guide to Oakville Wineries

When visiting Oakville, you will notice there are a number of wineries worth
visiting. Depending on the types of wines that interest you, you may discover
that some wineries are more appealing to you than others.

Miner Family Vineyards - This vineyard was established by Dave and Emily Miner 
in 1998. The vineyard is located in the eastern portion of Napa Valley. You will
find this vineyard located just off Silverado Trail. The vineyard here is
planted with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay.

PlumpJack Winery - The PlumpJack Winery was established in the 1990s as part of
an investment group. The area that comprises this vineyard was founded
originally in 1881; however. During the 1970s it was known as Villa Mount Eden.
The majority of the vineyards here are planted in Cabernet Sauvignon.

Silver Oak Winery - For many years, Silver Oak Winery has been known for its
excellent Cabernet Sauvignon. In recent years, the winery has also acquire an
additional 100 acres located somewhat north of Stags Leap.

Rudd Winery - Although this winery is somewhat new, especially in comparison 
the large number of wineries that have been established for many years in the
region, the Cabernet Sauvignon blends that are produced from Rudd Winery have
already received acclaim. The winery was established in 1996 by Leslie Rudd.

Groth Vineyards - Established by Dennis and Judy Groth in 1982, this winery has
developed exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon in the more than two decades it has
been established. In addition to their fine Cabernet Sauvignon, Groth Vineyards
also produces Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Opus One - The 'ultra - premium' category was invented by Opus One. The winery 
was established in 1979 by the well known Modavi and Rothschild families. 
Since that time Opus One has become one of the most well known wineries in this
region. They use a blend of both modern as well as traditional farming methods
that has obviously produced excellent results.

Screaming Eagle Winery - If you are looking for a truly exceptional wine, you
will likely find it at Screaming Eagle. This winery produces some of the most
difficult to acquire wine in California. Accordingly, it is also some of the
most expensive. The winery is located on Silverado Trail.

Kelham Vineyards - Off Dwyer Road in western Oakville is Kelham Vineyards. If you
are in the area, it is certainly worth a visit; however, you should be aware
that the wine is actually made in Shadow Brook winery, located in St. Helena.

Dalla Valle Vineyard - This vineyard was established in 1982 by Gustav and Naoko
Dalla Valle. Like many of the wines from this region, these wines are extremely
difficult to acquire.

Heitz Wine Cellars - Located on Taplin Road, off Highway 29, is Heitz Wine
Cellars. The original owners have since passed the winery on to their children.
This is one of the most interesting as well as outstanding wineries in the
region.

Robert Mondavi Winery - This one is certainly a must see. The winery was
established in 1966 following a feud with Mondavi's brother, Peter.

Far Niente - You will find Far Niente Winery just off Oakville Grade. This
historic property was closed for 25 years; however, today it is open for
tastings. Make sure you make an appointment in advance; however.

Cosentino Winery - This winery will certainly delight your senses with its
stunning beauty and wonderful wines. It is situated north of the Yountville
AVA. More than 30 different types of wine are produced by Cosentino, so it is
well worth a visit.

Franciscan Oakville Estate - Although this winery was originally established 
in 1972; it went bankrupt. Three yeas later the property was purchased and
eventually renovated by Raymond Duncan and Justin Meyer. The Peter Eckes
Company purchased the property in 1978.

Paradigm Winery - Over the last several years, this winery has gained an
extensive following. Only the best thirty percent of the grapes from their
personal estate are vinified. As a result, this winery is home to an
exceptional Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Nickel & Nickel - You will find this winery on the east side of Highway 29.
Established by the owners of Far Niente in 1997, today Nickel & Nickel is one
of the premier wineries in the region.

Cardinale Estate - North of the Yountville Mounts you will find Cardinale
Estates. This winery is home to superb red blends that are produced using
grapes from Howell Mountain, Mount Veeder and Oakville.

Guide to Rutherford Wineries in Napa Valley

It has been argued that the wineries in Rutherford produce the best Cabernet
Sauvignon in the entire state. The well drained soil in the region along with
the warm temperatures in Rutherford certainly has made it an ideal location for
growing this highly valued grape. Whether or not the wineries in Rutherford
truly are the best in the entire state when it comes to Cabernet Sauvignon may
be a matter of personal opinion. If you are going to be in Napa Valley;
however, you will certainly want to make a stop by at least a few of these
acclaimed wineries to find out for yourself.

Cakebread Cellars - Although the region itself is known for Cabernet Sauvignon,
Cakebread Cellars has earned a reputation based on Chardonnay. Jack Cakebread,
owner and founder, has been producing quality wines for more than three decades.

Honig Vineyards - The first Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes of in
Rutherford were planted in 1964 by Louis Honig. In the beginning, his grapes
were sold to other wineries in Napa Valley; however, today he produces his own
wines.

Sullivan Vineyards - Jim Sullivan, a former graphic designer, moved to Rutherford
in 1972 and established Sullivan Vineyards. His first wine was produced in 1981
and he has been producing quality wines ever since.

Caymus Vineyards - This winery specializes in Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and
produces two different wines from their Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

Grgich Hills - Mike Grgich turned the wine scene upside down in 1976 when his
1973 Cheateau Montelena Chardonnay took the top prize at the Paris Wine Tasting
for the white wine category. Grgich Hills was founded the following year and the
wine industry in Napa Valley has never been the same.

Conn Creek Winery - Originally established in 1973, this winery received 
critical acclaim for their 1974 Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. You will 
find the winery just off Rutherford Crossroad between Silverado Trail and Highway 
29.

Quintessa - Quintessa has come to be known for wine that is truly excellent as
well as expensive. More than 270 of the best acreage in Rutherford comprises
Quintessa.

Peju Province - Located on the east side of Highway 29, Peju Province is a select
winery that restricts their work to a very small group of retailers and
distributors. If you wish to purchase Peju Province wine, the best way to do so
is to visit their winery in Rutherford.

Pina Napa Valley - The Pina Family is an excellent example of the long tradition
of wine making in Napa Valley. Pina Napa Valley was originally established in
1981; however, the Pina family is part of a winemaking heritage that extends
back several decades to St. Helena.

Provenance Vineyards - The first Cabernet Sauvignon was released by this winery
in 1999; however, the property on which the winery resides was originally owned
by Thomas Rutherford during the 1800s.

Alpha Omega Winery - Travel down Highway 29 and you will find Alpha Omega winery.
Founded by Eric Sklar and Robin Baggett, this winery is a fine example of how
hobby winemaking can become a successful venture.

Tres Sabores - Also known as Three Tastes, this winery is located in the western
hills of Rutherford. A Zinfandel based blend as well as a regular Zinfandel and
a Cabernet Sauvignon are produced by Tres Sabores.

Raymond Vineyards - Originally established in 1971, Raymond Vineyards is a true
family operation.

Hall Wines - Two different production facilities comprise Hall Wines. One is
located in St. Helena and the other in Rutherford. If you would like to visit
the tasting room in Rutherford, you will need to make an appointment; however,
the one in St. Helena is open to the public.

Beaucanon Winery - Beaucanon was originally established in 1978 by Jacques de
Conick from the Bordeaux region of France. His family has been in the business
of making wine for more than 260 years.

Staglin Family Vineyards - This has become one of the most successful operations
in the entire Valley and is certainly well worth a visit.

Rubicon Estate - If you are a fan of "The Godfather" movies, you are already
familiar with the direction work of Francis Ford Coppola. Rubicon Estate, one
of the most famous wineries in Napa Valley; however, is another example of
Coppola's far ranging interests. The Rubicon, an acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignon
blend, is his flagship wine.

History of the Carneros Wine Region

In the eastern part of Napa Valley, you will find Carneros. While Napa Valley
has certainly become famous around the world in the last thirty years, Carneros
has become decidedly unique. While you will certainly find plenty of Pinot Noir
and Chardonnay in Carneros, you will also find plenty of Syrah and Merlot as
well.

Some of the most well known wineries in Carneros include Talisman Cellars,
Etude and Truchard Vineyards. One of the reasons that the wineries in the
Carneros region have become so successful is widely attributed to the cooling
by the fog and the wind from the San Pablo Bay. Still, you will typically find
that compared to numerous other wine regions in California, the weather in
Carneros is still rather warm. On the Napa side of Carneros, the weather tends
to be warmer than on the Sonoma side.

The rolling, low hills of the terrain in the Carneros region have also
contributed significantly to the way in which vineyards are developed in this
region. Due to the fact that the soil in this area is quite shallow, the
vineyards tend to grow at a slower rate. As a result, you will typically find
that the vineyards will only measure two or three inches in diameter even when
they are more than ten years old.

The Carneros region was originally developed from both Mexican and Spanish land
grants. The rugged pioneers in this region were determined to develop the area
despite the unfertile soil. The great majority of the Carneros region in Napa
Valley was granted to Jacob Lease in 1840. The thousands of acres that were
received by Jacob Leese, as well as Nicholas Higuera, were then subdivided and
sold. Grapes have been grown in this particular region for more than 150 years;
however, it was not until the middle of the 19th century that this part of the
Napa Valley became involved in winemaking. Jacob Leese is credited with
planting the first vineyards in this region on Rancho Huichica, an 18,000 acre
parcel of land. Several years later, Higuera sold a portion of his land to
Nathan Coombs. The land was then surveyed by Coombs and the town of Napa was
established.

During the 1850s a good portion of Leese's land was purchased by William H.
Winter. Winter Winery was then established during the early 1870s. For a long
time San Francisco served as the primary market for the wines produced in this
region. Beginning in the 1880s the Phylloxera Louse devastated many of the
vineyards in the Carneros region.

The Winter Winery was purchased in 1881 by James Simonton and it was renamed
Talcoa Vineyards. This winery became the first to experiment with a specific
type of rootstocks that were resistant to Phylloxera. A significant amount of
damage had already been done to the vineyard; however. By the time Prohibition
was enacted, it seemed as though the Carneros region was doomed. In fact, the
region might very well have ended if it had not been for the commitment of
several people.

John Garnetto constructed the first winery in the region following Prohibition
in 1935. Louis M. Martini purchased more than 200 acres in the region in 1942
and began to experiment with a number of varietals that were suited for cool
weather. By 1983, Carneros had become established as an AVA.

Guide to Spring Mountain Wineries in Napa Valley

Spring Mountain wineries are situated in the northwestern hills of Napa Valley,
directly above St. Helena. Some of the most notable producers in the area
include Smith Madrone, Cain Vineyard and Paloma Vineyard.

Fantesca Estate - This is a small winery that was originally established in 2002.
The winery produces a Chardonnay originating from Carneros and a Cabernet
Sauvignon that hails from Spring Mountain.

Pride Mountain Vineyards - Established in 1990, by Jim and Carolyn Pride, this
family based vineyard has begun what will certainly continue to be a notable
family operation.

Kongsgaard - This winery is considered to be a specialist when it comes to
Chardonnay. The winery also produces a very small amount of Roussanne, Viognier
and Syrah. Their 2003 Napa Valley Chardonnay reached the #8 spot on the 2006 top
100 list.

Newton Vineyard - Newton Vineyard is home to a group of exceptional terraced
wines.

Spring Mountain Vineyard - Spanning 226 acres, this vineyard is quite diverse
with elevations ranging from a mere 400 feet above sea level to some 1,450 feet
above sea level. If you are in the area, it is truly something to see.

Robert Keenan Vineyards - The land that comprises this winery was originally
planted in the late 19th century. Robert Kennan purchased the property in 1974
and since that time has been able to tap the potential of this property;
producing wines that are known for their bold flavors.

St. Clement - West of Highway 29, you will find St. Clement. Like many properties
in the local area, St. Clement has been planted since the late 19th century with
grape vines. You will find the tasting room located in a breathtaking hillside
building.

Frias Family Winery - It was Manny Frias Sr.'s dream to one day retire to this
beautiful region. Today his son produces a limited amount of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Sherwin Family Vineyards - You will find a superb Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
produced at this winery. The grapes used in the wine are all grown on the
vineyard.

Smith Madrone - This winery is considered today to be one of the premier wineries
in the entire Napa Valley region. The winery was originally established in 1971
by Stuart Smith.

Cain Vineyard - Established in 1989 by the Cain family, today the Cain Vineyard
is well known for its Cain Five blend, which consists of a variety of
traditional red Bordeaux varietals including Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet
Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

Vineyard 7 & 8 - When this vineyard was established it was with the goal of
producing the absolute best Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon that was
conceivable. Situated at an elevation of more than 2,000 feet above sea level;
it is entirely possible they have reached their goal. Stop by and find out for
yourself.

Stony Hill Vineyard - The 160 acres that comprise this vineyard in the
northwestern hills of Napa Valley were originally purchased in 1943 by Fred and
Eleanor McCrea. Four years later they began planting Chardonnay vines. This was
certainly a forward looking action as only 200 acres of Chardonnay were planted
throughout the entire state of California at the time.

Hollywood & Vine - Doug Barr, a former actor and director, relocated from
Hollywood during the 1990s to this picturesque location.

Atchley Vineyard - In 1968, 20 acres of this lovely region were purchased by
Marvin Atchley. This was the beginning of Atchley vineyard, situated on the old
location of Moding Winery.

Terra Valentine - The focus of this excellent winery is a mountain grown 
Cabernet Sauvignon.

Barnett Vineyards - This vineyard is worth stopping by if for no other reason
than the breathtaking views you can see of the valley floor. As if that were
not enough; however, Barnett Vineyards, produces an excellent and intense
Cabernet Sauvignon.

On ThEdge Winery - When you visit this winery, you will quickly understand its
rather unique name. The winery is situated on a ridge that serves as a
separation between Sonoma and Napa Valley counties.

Domaine Charbay - This winery is frequently referred to as The Still on the Hill.
The family that owns the winery has been distilling liquor in Europe since the
mid - 18th century. Today Domaine Charbay produces rum, brandy, vodka and wine.

Paloma Vineyard - Definitely one of the most historic vineyards in the area. The
land that comprises Paloma was originally planted more than 100 years ago.
Although the original vineyard was neglected and abandoned for a number of
years, many of the century old Zinfandel vines have survived.

Guide to Howell Mountain Wineries in Napa Valley

Howell Mountain offers some of the most outstanding wines in the region,
although you might easily pass up this superb region due to its location off
Highway 29. Cabernet Sauvignon is the most popular wine in this region.

Lail Vineyards - Robin Lail and her family are able to trace their roots back to
winemaking in Napa Valley for more than 100 years. Her great great uncle,
Gustave Niebaum was one of the owners of Inglenook while Robin's father, John
Daniel Jr., was also an owner of Inglenook.

Howell at the Moon - This somewhat new winery is certainly worth checking out.
The first vintage was produced in 2004.

Robert Craig Wine Cellars - Grapes for three very distinct vineyards are used to
produce the award winning Cabernet wines from this winery.

Lamborn Family Vineyard - Only a small portion of Zinfandel and Cabernet
Sauvignon is produced by this winery, established in 1971.

Spence Vineyards - For a number of years, this winery produced only homemade,
non - commercial wines. The winery eventually offered an inaugural 2003 Cabernet
Sauvignon vintage to the public; however.

Summit Lake Vineyards - This winery has become quite well known for their
Zinfandel; which is mountain grown. In addition, they produce a small amount of
a port style Zinfandel and a Cabernet Sauvignon.

White Cottage Ranch - In the northeastern hills you will find White Cottage
Ranch, where only a small port of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Sangiovese
and Zinfandel blend are produced. All of the wines are handcrafted.

Bravante Vineyards - The wines produced from this vineyard are truly remarkable
as a result of the extraordinary care that is given to the grapes in the
Bravante Vineyards.

Cornerstone Cellars - Mountain wines have been produced by this Napa Valley
winery since 1991. The founders, David Sloas and Michael Dragutsy, were
originally doctors from Tennessee before they moved to Napa Valley.

La Jota Vineyard - La Jota was originally established late in the 19th century by
Frederick Hess. Following the end of Prohibition, the property was purchased by
Bill and Joan Smith and painstakingly revived. Today the property is owned by
Jess Jackson.

Ladera Vineyards - Two mountain Cabernet Sauvignons are the focus of Ladera
Vineyards.

Viader - Specializing in a blend of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, Viader
was originally established in 1989.

O'Shaughessy Estate Winery - In the hills of Napa Valley, O'Shaughnessy Estate
was established in 1996. The red volcanic soils of the area have proven to be
quite successful for the venture.

Black Sears Vineyard - Only a small amount of Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and
Zinfandel are produced by this acclaimed winery.

Chateau Woltner - This ghost winery has not been refurbished and is operational
again. The property was originally established during the late 19th century.

Atalon Winery - Grapes from all over the Valley are sourced by Atalon Winery. The
focus of this winery is Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Although the wines from
this winery are produced in only limited quantities, the prices are usually
quite moderate.

DR Stephens Estate - This 35 acre estate produces Chardonnay and Cabernet
Sauvignon from grapes that originate from the Cavernos AVA in Napa Valley.

Retro Cellars - The primary focus of Retro Cellars is Petite Sirah. Grapes from
the Muscatine Vineyard on Howell Mountain are used to produce the wine.

Outpost Wines - A number of different wines are produced by Outpost Wines
including Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Grenache. The grapes
here are 100% organically farmed; making it one of the most intriguing wineries
to visit if you have the opportunity.

The Effect of the Climate and Terrain on Rutherford Wineries

Rutherford Wineries have become known in the last few years in international
circles. The number of accolades they have received have brought a great amount
of respect and admiration to Napa Valley. In fact, Rutherford Wineries has come
to be associated with some of the best wineries in the entire state.

In particular, Rutherford Wineries are known for their vast production of
excellent red wines. The well drained soils and warm climate in the Rutherford
region have created an area that is ideal for growing red Bordeaux varietals
such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. As
a result of the award winning wines produced in this region, Rutherford has also
become one of the most popular wine tour destinations in the Napa Valley region.

Due to Rutherford's close proximity to Oakville, one might at first assume that
the two are identical. Although they are somewhat alike, they are also
different. The climate in Rutherford is similar to the climate in other
neighboring regions. There are also some very subtle differences; however. The
main reason that the climate in Rutherford is different from neighboring AVAs
is the fact that Rutherford tends to be less affected by the fog and wind that
sweeps in from San Pablo Bay.

You will find that the climate in Rutherford tends to be warmer. The weather
here is often warm, dry and sunny. The terrain also has its own distinct
nature. The soils close to the valley walls are deep and well drained. This
area is referred to as the Rutherford Bench. The terrain in Rutherford climbs
some four hundred feet up into the hills. More than 6,500 acres span the
Rutherford region, with most of the terrain planted in Cabernet Sauvignon
grapes. The heat and dryness in the Rutherford region allows the grapes here to
mature more than in other regions; which results in tannins that are more deeply
developed. As a result, the Cabs produced in Rutherford have the ability to
stand up to decades long aging. There are also varietals planted; however,
including Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec.

As a result of the climate and terrain differences in Rutherford, the Cabernet
Sauvignon produced in this region tends to have a flavor that is somewhat
earthier. Because of this, the excellent wines produced in this region often
require addition bottling time in order to fully develop its character. The
time is well worth it; however, as wines produced in Rutherford are considered
to be first class. Some of the most complex and superb wines in the state are
produced in Rutherford.

Rutherford Dust is often given credit for the fine grapes that are grown in the
region. Three alluvial fans dominate the terrain in Rutherford. These fans are
comprised of marine sedimentary debris as well as volcanic debris. Over the
years, the mountains have been eroded. You will notice as you move north that
the soil in Rutherford tends to become far rockier. The warmer climate and the
elevations that increase gradually allow the grapes in the region to produce
wines that are fuller bodied than in many other regions.

In fact, more than two thousand of the most highly prized vineyards in the
entire state are located right in Rutherford. The well drained soils in these
areas allow the vineyard roots the freedom to grow quite deeply as they search
for water. Interestingly, it has been noted that some of these root systems are
able to extend as much as 50 feet deep.

While Sauvignon Blanc is widely planted in valley floor area, Chardonnay also
does quite well. Frog's Leap Winery, in particular, has become well known for
its production of Sauvignon Blanc. In fact, they earned a reputation for fine
Sauvignon Blanc even before this wine became fashionable.

Most growers in the area find that the soils located near the Napa River are
more fertile than the bench soils. As a result, the vineyards in these specific
areas are able to use canopy management in order to ensure the quality of their
wines.

Guide to Stags Leap Wineries in Napa Valley

As you travel through Stags Leap, you will notice that there are numerous
notable wineries in this region. As with most regions in Napa Valley, Cabernet
Sauvignon rules here; although, you will find some wineries that experiment
with other types as well including Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. This is one
of the premier regions in the area, consisting of a number of well known
wineries as well as family owned and operated wineries.

Clos du Val - Originally established in 1972 by John Goelet and Bernard Portet,
this is one of the most expansive winery operations in the region as vineyards
are also owned by Clos du Val in Carneros as well as Stags Leap.

Shafer Vineyards - A larger number of wineries in this region are quite
excellent; however, Shafer Vineyards is considered to be a premier winery. The
Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon is widely regarded to be one of the best
produced throughout the Napa Valley region.

Regusci Winery - The Regusci Family has been making wine since 1932. Today;
Angelo and his son produce Merlot as well as Cabernet Sauvignon.

Chimney Rock Winery - You will find Chimney Rock off Silverado Trail. This winery
specializes in Bordeaux varietals, particularly Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon,
Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc and Petit Verdot.

Quixote Winery - Only a limited amount of Petite Sirah and Cabenet Sauvignon is
produced by Quixote winery; although Quixote does also produce under the Panza
label as well.

Robert Sinskey Vineyards - Owner Robert Sinskey has been an important part of
Carneros for a number of years before beginning production in Stags Leap.
Today, his Merlot and Pinot Noir wines are well regarded. The winery produces
some 25,000 cases of wine each year. If you are in the area, this winery is
worth stopping by.

Stags Leap Wine Cellars - Originally founded in 1972, this winery went on to
receive critical acclaim and help to move Napa Valley onto the map at the 1976
Blind Tasting in Paris. The wines of Stags Leap Wine Cellars managed to edge
out competition from some of the premier Bordeaux red wines.

Steltzner Vineyards - One of many family wineries in the region, Steltzner is one
of the most highly regarded wineries in the area. Founder and owner Richard
Steltzner began establishing his vineyards in the area as far back as 1965.

Cliff Lede Vineyards - This breathtaking 60 acre estate is one of the most
spectacular in the Stags Leap region. The Poetry Inn as well as an art gallery
are also located on the property.

Hartwell Vineyards - Established in 1986, today Hartwell Vineyards produces
nearly 4,000 cases of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon every year.

Baldacci Family Vineyards - Although this is a small vineyard, you will find that
some of the best wines in the region hail from it including some exceptional
Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Gewurztraminer wines.

Silverado Vineyards - For more than two decades, Silverado Vineyards has been
producing wines in Stags Leap. The wines from this vineyard are primarily
produced using estate grown grapes. Silverado Vineyards produces Merlot,
Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Sangiovese wines that are
all considered to be exceptional.

Reynolds Family Winery - During the time he lived in German as a youth, Steve
Reynolds dreamed of the day he would start his own winery. Today he has made
that dream come true with the establishment of Reynolds Family Winery.

William Hill Estate - Founded in 1978, this winery produces a wide variety of
wines included Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

Pine Ridge Winery - Five different AVAs within the Napa Valley contribute fruit
to the Pine Ridge wine; making it truly unique. You will find a lovely Merlot,
Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay as well as blend of Chenin Blanc and Viognier.

Stags Leap Winery - Originally established in the late 19th century, this winery
has become one of the most prominent in the region today, focusing on Cabernet
Sauvignon and Petite Sirah.

Pillar Rock Vineyard - This 23 acre estate was purchased by Ron and Teri Kuhn in
1995. Win production today is handled by highly acclaimed Cary Gott.

History and Development of Rutherford as a Premier Napa Valley Wine Region

The first local grapes were planted in Rutherford by Thomas Rutherford in the
middle of the 19th century. This began the illustrious history of the
Rutherford Wineries. The name of this region was derived from Thomas
Rutherford, who contributed so much to the history and development of the
region. Today, the original land on which those first grapes were planted is
owned by Provenance Vineyards, a winery respected in its own right. The
Rutherford family held strong ties throughout the Napa Valley wine region as
Rutherford married one of the granddaughter's of George Calvert Yount;
Elizabeth Yount. For their wedding present, Thomas and Elizabeth were presented
with a large parcel of land in what was at the time a northern tract of Caymus
Rancho, belonging to Yount. Significant time, as well as energy, were spent
developing the vineyards there and producing wine. As a result of their
efforts, the Rutherfords gained a strong following.

After George Yount died in 1864, the rest of his land was sold to numerous
individuals including Judge Hastings and Gustave Niebaum. Niebaum eventually
became the founder of Inglenook Winery, which has become legendary. Other land
was purchased by Georges de Latour and Beaulieu Vineyard was established on
that site. Latour took preventive action and imported rootstocks from Europe
that were resistant to the phylloxera pest during the late 19th century. As a
result of his efforts, he became one of the foremost experts in replenishing
the vineyards in California that were decimated.

While many of vineyards in the area were falling victim to Prohibition, Latour
also proved to be forward thinking in that regard as well. He was able to
negotiate contracts directly with the Catholic Church as a result of his
personal relationship with the Arch Diocese in San Francisco. While other
vineyards in the area went under after Prohibition went into effect in 1919,
Latour managed to continue operating Beaulie Vineyard by producing sacramental
wine for the Church.

After Prohibition was repealed, Beaulieu as well as Inglenook became the two
premier wineries in not only Napa Valley but also in the entire state as well.
Some of the most superb wines during that time were produced in those two
vineyards. For the most part, most of the wines produced during that time
period were jug wines and fortified wines; however, Beaulieu and Inglenook
managed to produce wine with an emphasis on excellence. In fact, the 1941
Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon is still considered by many to be the best wine
ever produced in the state of California.

Andre Tchelistcheff, a protege of George de Latour, would also make numerous
contributions to the region and the state as well. Born in Russia in 1901,
Tchelistcheff fought in the Russian Civil War and then relocated to France. In
the 1930's he began his study of viticulture and became acquainted with de
Latour. Soon thereafter he was recruited by de Latour to come to work at
Beaulieu Bineyard in Rutherford. It was Tchelistcheff who advanced the idea of
planting varietals according to the specific terroir of the land in Napa
Valley. At the time the majority of the production in the country was comprised
of wines that were poorly made and undistinguished. It was Techelistcheff who
became a strong advocate for planting Cabernet Sauvignon in the region. The
process of cold fermentation was also engineered by Tchelistcheff as well as
various vineyard management strategies, including fastidious winery sanitation
for the prevention of contamination.

In summary, the Rutherford region has become one of the premier wine growing
regions in the United States. The dedication and passion for the production of
quality wines of the numerous individuals who settled this region ushered the
region through the dark days of the phylloxera pest infestation as well as
Prohibition. While other vineyards in Napa Valley during these time periods
fell into disrepair and neglect that took decades to repair, Rutherford
soldiered on into modern times, becoming a world class wine region.




Oakville AVA: A Study in Individual Differences

Situated directly in the heart of the Napa Valley wine region, Oakville
experiences some of the best weather in the area with days that are warm and
sunny. The soils in the area, which are comprised of gravelly loan, are
particularly well drained; allowing vintners in the area to produce some of the
best wines in the area. More than 90% of the land in the region is planted with
vineyards ranging from a number of Bordeaux varietals as well as Sangiovese,
Syrah and Zinfandel.

Although the warm temperatures and sunshine of the region are common in the
Northern Napa Valley, the Oakville climate is somewhat cooler than Rutherford,
which is situated to the north. While Cabernet Sauvignon is certainly one of
the king crops in Oakville, you will find that it receives somewhat less
dominance in Oakville than in Rutherford. Opus One, one of the premier wineries
in Oakville, is home to one of the most famous Cabernet blends in the entire
state.

The wind and fog that comes in from San Pablo Bay only mildly affects the
mornings and afternoons in Oakville. The series of hills known as the
Yountville Mounts assists in blocking most of the influence from the Bay. As a
result, the northern areas are warm.

The warm temperatures of Rutherford have led to the growth of exceptional
Cabernet Sauvignon. In Oakville, the temperatures are somewhat cooler. As a
result, the fruits grown here have flavors that are somewhat softer than the
Cabs grown in Rutherford. In comparison to Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon, the
Cabs produced in Oakville have less tannin. In addition, you will find that
they do not tend to age as well. Still, Oakville Cabernets are known for their
balanced and complex makeup.

The great majority of the Oakville AVA, which has become famous in its own
right, is situated on the Western Bench above the floor of the Napa Valley,
just at the base of the Mavacamas Mountains. The great majority of the best
known Cabernet production stems from Oakville Bench.

The sediment that has washed down from the hills has contributed to the world
famous Oakville Bench. The soils in this area are gravelly and sandy as a
result. In addition, they are well - drained and quite deep, providing plenty of
support for the development of large root systems.

One of the most famous properties in the Oakville AVA Bench is Martha's
Vineyard. This vineyard was planted during the 1960s and 1970s and today
comprises 40 prime acres. Heitz Cellars has also received international
accolades as a result of making wine that resulted from Martha's Vineyard.

Between Silverado Trail and Highway 29 you will find the valley floor. In this
area, the soils tend to be a combination of sandy loam that is well drained and
iron rich clay. As a result, white varietals tend to thrive in this region. In
the eastern portion of the valley floor, you will notice that the soils have a
decidedly reddish color. This is from trace elements of oxidized iron.

Groth Vineyards and Winery is situated between Highway 29 and Silverado Trail
right on Oakville Cross Road. This winery has become well known for their Cabs,
which feature notes that are somewhat minty as well as dark and fruity. The
soils in this particular area are a combination of sandy loam and clay loam.

The differences in the terrain in this area led to some debate when the area
was first petitioned for AVA status. At the time a proposal was made that the
area be established as two different AVAs; a general Oakville AVA and an
Oakville Bench AVA. Naturally, vintners who would not have been included in the
Oakville Bench AVA were opposed to the idea and subsequently the general
Oakville AVA was established instead.

Despite the fact that only one AVA was established many feel that there are
still distinctive differences between the soils in the benchland and other
areas of Oakville. Specifically, the Cabs that are produced in the Oakville
Bench are considered to have fewer minty and herbaceous notes than those wines
that are produced on the valley floor. Those wines from the valley floor tend
to have the ability to develop more fully as they age in addition to their
fully bodied and earthier notes.

The Development of Spring Mountain as a Napa Valley AVA

On the western side of Napa Valley, on the Mayacamas Mountains, you will find 
the Spring Mountain wineries. There are approximately two dozen vineyards and 
about 20 wineries located in this region. The dramatic landscape of this region 
is the perfect backdrop for wine tours.

One of the most interesting aspects of Spring Mountain is its unique
microclimate. In fact, the climate in Spring Mountain is quite different from
what you will find on the floor of the valley. The marine breezes blowing in
frequently help to cool the area throughout the day, creating a blend of
acidity and tannins that are quite remarkable. While fog frequently settles on
the floor of the valley during the night, this is less of a problem in Spring
Mountain. As a result, the nights are often warmer; leading to the production
of red grapes which are fuller bodied.

Red grapes are planted over about 80% of the vineyards here. The Cabernet
Sauvignon hailing from this region is well known for its softer tannins as well
as an acidity level that is somewhat lower than in other areas. For the most
part, the majority of the wineries in this region are constructed on the
hillside terrain. Generally, the vineyards here are smaller in scale than other
wineries throughout Napa Valley. As a result, they are able to approach the
production of grapes and wines with a highly unique style.

While grapes were first planted in other regions in Napa Valley as early as the
mid - 19th century; the history of Spring Mountain as a wine region did not begin
until 1873. At this time, Charles Lemme planted what would become the first
vineyard in the area.

That vineyard was comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon. Eventually, he also
established La Perla Cellar. The name Beringer came to Spring Mountain in 1885
when Jacob and Frederick Beringer planted a vineyard over sixty acres. Today,
that particular vineyard is called Beringer Flat.

Another of the early vintners of Spring Mountain was Tiburico Parrot. After
arriving in the area during the 1890s, he set about producing some of the
finest wines in the region. In fact, several of his wines won national as well
as international awards.

A very impressive winery, Chateau Chevalier, was constructed in 1891 by Fortune
Chevalier. Today that winery is owned by Jacob Safra and continues to produce
noteworthy wines. In addition, a significant amount of acreage was owned by
Peter Conradi toward the end of the 19th century. His vineyards focused on
Syrah and Zinfandel.

As was the case with most other vineyards throughout Napa Valley, Spring
Mountain suffered at the hands of both phylloxera and Prohibition. The wine
production in this area was all but destroyed. Fred and Eleanor McCrea set
about reviving the area during the 1940s after purchasing Stony Hill Vineyard.
Later, during the 1960s and 1970s, a number of other wineries were established
which went on to achieve critical acclaim. One of those was Smith Madrone
Vineyards and Winery, which was established in 1971 by Stuart Smith. In 1977,
the Frias Family purchased 100 acres and planted their first vineyards eight
years later. Although the vintners in the region certainly face a number of
challenges presented by slopes that are almost inaccessible, they seem to have
faced up to these challenges with tremendous success. Their dedication and
resourcefulness in growing grapes on Spring Mountain have paid off well. By
1991, Spring Mountain had been able to achieve AVA status.

History of the Oak Knoll Wine Region in Napa Valley

Oak Knoll has had a reputation as a fine wine producing region for many
generations. You will find Oak Knoll in the southern part of Napa Valley. When
you visit this region you will discover that it is typically less crowded than
many other regions in the area. One of the reasons for this is the fact that
most of the wineries in the region are located off of Highway 29 rather than
directly on the highway. This can be a tremendous advantage for the tourist;
however, as it typically means that the tasting rooms will be less crowded.

The climate in this region is somewhat transitional due to the fact that it
receives the cooler winds from San Pablo Bay in addition to the warmer air
coming from the North. This area has often been described as a 'sweet spot,' a
term that was coined by John Trefethen. As a result of the transitional climate
a wide variety of different grapes can be grown in this region.

One of the most interesting aspects of this region is the terrain of the Oak
Knoll wine region. Each individual vineyard plot can be somewhat unique and
different and contain a different soil composition. This is the reason you will
find a tremendous amount of variation in this region.

Prior to 1968, most of the region was actually not used for growing grapes at
all. There had been some wine production but certainly not to the point that it
has reached today in Oak Knoll. Eugenio Trefethen was the first to realize how
much untapped resource this region might hold. He purchased 600 acres in the
region and the rest is now history. In 2004, Oak Hill was designated as an AVA.

The first winery built in Oak Knoll was Eshcol Winery, built in 1886. Gravity
flow technology was used in this winery in order to make production more
streamlined. Some of the earliest wines produced in this winery became highly
acclaimed. Cabernet Sauvignon was particularly well known.

In the 1920s the Biale family moved to area and began producing wine.
Eventually they opened a winery as well as a tasting room on Big Ranch Road. In
order to visit this winery you need to make an appointment.

When Treffethen purchased his 600 acres in 1968, part of the land he purchased
encompassed the old Eshcol property. Several years later, in 1973, Trefethen
Winery was established by John Trefethen. It was a long and difficult process;
however, he set about restoring the once historic property. Today, his winery
is still a fine example of gravity flow technology in use in a winery.

The 1970s proved to be a tremendously vital time period in the development of
Oak Knoll as a premier wine region. In 1970s, Jeff Corley arrived and began to
establish a number of vineyards. In the beginning he planted Chardonnay and
Pinot Noir; however, since that time he has shifted his attention to planted
many varietals that are much fuller bodied. For a number of years, Corley sold
his grapes to other wineries; however, beginning in the 1980s he began his own
wine production. His winery now produces a highly acclaimed Pinot Noir.

Other well known wineries in the Oak Knoll region include Darioush Winery,
Andretti Wineery, Laird Family Estate, Koves Newlan, Sedna and Broodale
Vineyards. Robert Biale Vineyards and Trefethen Vineyards continue to stand out
among the vineyards in this region.

The Climate and Terrain of St. Helena Lends to an Exceptional Napa Valley Wine
Region

St. Helena has become known not only for producing fine wines but also for
being the business center in Napa Valley. If you are traveling to the area and
looking for accommodations, this area is certainly worth considering. The
picturesque town is home to some 6,000 residents and features some of the most
beautiful wine country in the area. In addition, you will have the opportunity
to tour some of the most prestigious wineries in the entire state of California.

The warm climate in St. Helena has contributed to its development as a premier
wine region. Most of the wineries in St. Helena produce wines that are Cabernet
Sauvignon based and do so with tremendous success. Some of the most well known
wineries in St. Helena include Charles Krug, Beringer and Vineyard 29.

As a result of the warm and sunny climate in St. Helena, Zinfandel and Cabernet
Sauvignon, in particular, do quite well. The wines produced in St. Helena tend
to posses a full body than the wines you will find in the southern regions,
which are cooler. Due to robustness of the wines of St. Helena, the region has
become a favorite with tourists who are interested in tastings and wine tours.

As is the case with many of the sub - regions of the Napa Valley, you will find
that the terrain of St. Helena is somewhat different than even areas that are
located quite close by. The soils in this region tend be comprised of volcanic
and alluvial debris. At one time the San Pablo Bay covered a number of the AVAs
in Napa Valley; however, interestingly enough, it did not ever extend so far
north as St. Helena.

In comparison to the southern regions of Napa Valley, St. Helena tends to be
warmer. The valley tends to curve somewhat to the west, dispersing even the
small amounts of fog and wind that slide past the Yountville Mounts. In the
afternoon; however, the climate tends to become cooler as the breeze makes its
way through Knights Valley and Chalk Hill. As evening draws near, the
temperatures drop even further. This provides the opportunity for the grapes in
St. Helena to retain their acidity.

St. Helena also receives more rainfall on average than the remainder of the
southern valley. Up to 38 inches of rain falls per year in St. Helena, compared
to a mere 32 inches in the rest of the valley.

The terrain of St. Helena has also led to the development of this region as a
premier wine production area. Here, the soil tends to be primarily sedimentary
and alluvial. A small amount of volcanic influence can also be found in the
soil. As a result, some of the most widely planted varieties in the region
include Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay. Zinfandel also tends to do well here, as
evidenced by the success of Buehler Vineyards.

Due to the fact that the vines in the valley are able to extend up to 400 feet,
Merlot, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon are all able to thrive in the local
area.

You will find as you travel south of St. Helena that Valley tends to narrow
quite a bit. North of town, adjacent to Highway 29, is the Bench. Beringer
Vineyards, one of the most well known vineyards in the country, is situated on
the Northern Bench. As the oldest continually operated winery in the Valley,
Beringer has developed quite a reputation.

The exceptional climate and terrain in St. Helena has led to the development of
several renowned wineries and vineyards. Vineyard 29 is just one of the many
examples that have become known throughout the world as a result of the superb
local climate and terrain. The vineyard was founded in 1989 by Teresa Norton
and Tom Paine. Cuttings from Grace Family Vineyard were used to establish the
vineyard.

While there is no doubt that St. Helena has become well established as a
commercial center in the Valley, the production of exceptional wines is still
quite strong here. The quaint town in the heart of the St. Helena region serves
as an attractive draw for tourists every year.

Howell Mountain: Seclusion is Recipe for Success

Howell Mountain has been the home of noteworthy wines for a number of years. At
first glance, this region might seem to be an unlikely location for such a
popular wine region. The Seventh Day Adventist town of Angwin, which is alcohol
free, is located quite nearby, afterall. Despite that fact; however, Howell
Mountain has become a premier wine region in Napa Valley and is particularly
well known for its production of Cabernet Sauvignon wines.

The region is relatively secluded; however, this has not prevented Howell
Mountain wineries from becoming successful. Even during the early 19th century,
there was wine production in the region. Today, a large number of these
wineries, which had become little more than ghost wineries, have since been
renovated and are in production once again.

The mountainous and sunny climate of Howell Mountain, with its elevation that
soars more than 1,800 feet above sea level, is perfect for the production of
local grapes. As a result, the area has become known for producing Cabernets
that feature velvety tannins and flavors that are highly developed. The
stunning natural beauty of the area, combined with the nearby proximity to
town, has also made Howell Mountain a popular tourist destination.

A large majority of the vineyards on Howell Mountain face to the west. This
provides an abundance of afternoon sunlight to the grapes grown on the slopes.
As a result, the area has become well known for its production of Cabernet
Sauvignon. The continual breeze and elevation of the region have helped to
prevent mildew in the Howell Mountain region, despite the higher temperatures.
The moderate winds and abundant sunshine are believed to contribute to the fact
that the grapes in this region are able to retain their acidity. Historically,
red Bordeaux varietals have been grown on Howell Mountain such as Cabernet
Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot and Malbec in addition to
Petitte Sirah and Zinfandel.

True wine production on Howell Mountain began in the 1880s. Isaac Howell, for
whom the region is named, had settled in the area in 1847. By the end of the
19th century, more than 600 acres had been planted in Howell Mountain. One of
the most noteworthy landowners during the time was Charles Drug, who owned more
than 100 acres of planted vineyards. Liparita Winery was also established in
1880, by Willam Keys, who had a moderate amount of success with clarets.

Howell Mountain Winery was established during this time period as well. Jean
Chaix and Jean Adolph Brun had met in Napa and then went on to plant 20 acres
on Howell Mountain. They used cuttings derived from the Medoc. In 1886, Howell
Mountain Winery was established. The expansive stone walls which were used in
the construction of the winery made the winery one of the most expensive
buildings to be constructed during that time in Napa Valley.

Like everywhere else, Howell Mountain was almost decimated by Prohibition.
Every single winery in the region was closed while the vineyards either fell
into disrepair or were actually replanted with other crops as local owners
attempted to survive the period. During the years following the repeal of
Prohibition, a number of vintners attempted to reopen; however, by and large,
their attempts failed. Howell Mountain Winery is just one example. Until the
mid - 1940s, the winery attempted to produce a small amount of wine; however,
they were unable to continue and eventually closed. Later, it was would be
re - opened as Chateau Woltner; however, that was not until many years later.

It was actually not until the 1960s that interest in Howell Mountain was
revived. A number of the older properties in the region were purchased during
this time period and revived. As a result, Howell Mountain became the first
sub - AVA to be established within Napa Valley. If you are in the area, be sure
to stop by and sample one of the Cabernet Sauvignon wines produced on Howell
Mountain. No visit to Napa Valley would be complete without it.

Introduction to the Coombsville Wine Region in Napa Valley

Although Coombsville is not an official AVA, it is still highly regarded as a
fine wine production region. You will find Coombsville just east of Napa. One
of the most distinctive differences between the wineries in Coombsville and
those in other areas of Napa Valley is the fact that most of the wineries in
Coombsville are family owned as well as family operated. This is a decided step
away from the many commercialized operations in other Napa Valley regions. In
addition, many of the wineries in Coombsville have been owned by the same
residents, who live in the area, for quite some time.

The climate in the Coombsville region is somewhat of a cross between what you
will find in other regions. Coombsville receives a lot of exposure from the
wind and fog of San Pablo Bay, much like the regions to the south. There are
many parts of Coombsville; however, that feature temperatures that are warmer
and similar in nature to the regions in the eastern hills.

Coombsville has become quite well known for producing outstanding Bordeaux
varietals. One of the reasons for this is the amount of rainfall that this
region receives each year. The Coombsville region receives an average of 25
inches of rain per year. Compared to the rest of Napa Valley, this is somewhat
low. As a result, several Bordeaux varietals are widely planted throughout the
region; including Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The volcanic debris in this region has also had a strong contribution to the
success of Coombsville. Millions of years ago Mount George erupted and the
resulting lava flows have allowed the terrain in the region to become the idea
spot for growing a wide variety of grapes. Zinfandel, Merlot and Cabernet
Sauvignon all thrive quite well in the soil in this region. The somewhat
sloping and hill terrain means that the region is well drained. As a result,
the soil here does not tend to retain water. This results in summers that are
much hotter than many other regions. Since Cabernet Sauvignon grapes need warm
soil in order to completely ripen this is the perfect location for them to
thrive. The breathtaking beauty of this region makes it perfect for tours.

The region of Coombsville has developed, for the most part, alongside the
nearby town of Napa. Nicholas Higuerra and Jacob Leese were granted extensive
land grants during the 1840s throughout the southern Napa Valley. During this
time most of the local economy involved livestock and farming; however, Leese
soon recognized that the cool climate was perfect for planting vineyards.

Coombsville takes is name from the purchase of land by Nathan Coombs from
Nicholas Higuerra in 1848. The town of Napa would eventually be established on
part of this land. The region suffered right along with the rest of the Napa
Valley during Prohibition and even after Prohibition had been repealed, there
was little production of quality wine in this region. Prune orchards proved to
be more lucrative during this time period. It was not until the 1960s that
vineyards began to be planted to any large degree in this region. In 1975,
Tulocay Winery was established by Bill Cadman. His winery has focused on the
production of red Bordeaux varietals including Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and
Cabernet Franc.

Some of the most well known wineries in Coombsville include Dolce Winery,
Farella Vineyard, Tulocay Winery and Caldwell Vineyard.

Introduction to the Yountville Wine Region in Napa Valley

If you are planning a stay in Napa Valley, you may wish to make your
accommodations in Yountville. You will find a number of luxurious options in
Yountville as well as a variety of boutique shopping options. As a result, this
is one of the most popular regions in Napa Valley among tourists.

Most of the wineries in this region have developed right along with the town.
If you had visited the region twenty years ago, you would have found only a
handful of wineries. In the last few years a number of changes have come to
this part of Napa Valley. As a result, this area has also experienced
tremendous development.

The climate of this area tends to be somewhat moderate and breezy. You will
find when visiting this region that the evenings are far cooler than many of
the other regions that are actually located more to the north. Cabernet
Sauvignon grapes tend to thrive in this region while Zinfandel, Merlot and
Syrah grapes are also planted as well. The consistent terrain of Yountville
makes this one of the premier wine growing regions in the area. The growing
season in this region tends to be somewhat long with mornings that are foggy
and clear afternoons. As a result of the warm summer days and cooler
afternoons, this area specializes quite well in Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet
Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot. Other varieties that are also
substantially planted include Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.

The terrain in this region has also had a contribution to the region as well.
Within this region there are deposits of debris and geological material that
cannot be found at any other region within Napa Valley. The Yountville Mounts
located north of town provide protection from the fog and the wind of San Pablo
Bay. This protection has allowed some of the most highly acclaimed vineyards in
the region to develop.

The history of this region as a wine growing area can be traced back more than
150 years. George Calvert Yount was granted 11,000 acres in 1836. This became
the Caymus Rancho. A large portion of the Valley Floor between St. Helena and
Yountville was included in the grant. Eventually Yount made improvements on the
land and was the first to actually plant vineyards in the Napa Valley. The land
where these vineyards were planted is now owned by Dominus Estate. A portion of
Yount's land was sold to Charles Hopper in 1850. A town was laid out on the
property several years later. Originally, this town was known as Sebastopol;
however, a town in nearby Sonoma County had already laid claim to this name. As
a result, the town was renamed Yountville in 1867 after George Yount's death.

A distillation facility and large winery were constructed by Gottlieb
Groezinger in 1870. Vintage 1870 now encompasses this property. When in the
region you will find a number of high - end restaurants as well as shops here.

While expansive activity had be]en going on in the region for a number of
years, the town of Yountville was not incorporated until 1965. In 1999, the
area was granted AVA status.

Some of the most well known wineries in the region include Dominus Estate,
Gemstone Vineyard, Chanticleer, Jessup Cellars, Domaine Chandon, Goosecross
Cellars and Parador Cellars.

Diamond Mountain Wineries: Persistence and Skill Produces Excellent Wines

Diamond Mountain wineries are elevated above the valley floor, situated on
Diamond Mountain. Here, the vineyards benefit from the hillside slopes that are
warm and rich with volcanic soil. As a result, the mountainside wines that are
produced in this region are often quite distinctive.

In particular, the wineries in the Diamond Mountain region are known for being
quite age worthy; especially the Cabernet Sauvignon produced here. The steep,
often unforgiving, slopes of Diamond Mountain require not only perseverance but
also skill. If you are in the region and wish to enjoy a tour or tasting, be
sure to call in advance as the wineries in this region are usually only open by
appointment.

Along with Cabernet Sauvignon, the warm climate of Diamond Mountain is also
ideal for Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Zinfandel and Petit Verdot. There are
even some limited quantities of white grapes that are planted in the region as
well; including Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.

For the most part, the soil of Diamond Mountain is comprised of volcanic ash.
Over millions of years, the ash has decomposed to the point that minerals have
been able to leech out. Unfortunately, this means that much of the soil is
unfertile. The small, rather thick skinned grapes that are produced on Diamond
Mountain; however, are able to produce exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon wines.
Today some of the most superb Cabernet Sauvignon wines in the entire state are
produced on Diamond Mountain. These wines tend to have a flavor that is quite
intense, even when compared to the regular standards of Napa Valley.

While Cabernet Sauvignon leads when it comes to wine production on Diamond
Mountain, many other red varietals are also produced. The sunny slopes on the
hills of Diamond Mountain have proven to be perfect for the ripening of grapes
such as Merlot, Zinfandel and Cabernet Franc.

In the early days, pioneering winemakers were drawn to Diamond Mountain by the
rugged and beautiful terrain. The first winery to be established on Diamond
Mountain was Shramsberg, in 1862. Within thirty years Jacob and Annie Schram
would own more than 100 acres in the Diamond Mountain region. Despite the
Schram's success, the hostile terrain discouraged most others from cultivating
during those early years. A school was not even established on Diamond Mountain
until 1909 as a result of the slow settlement in the area. While other areas had
developed and then been decimated by both phylloxera and Prohibition, Diamond
Mountain had barely even begun its rise to prominence.

As it would turn out, it would be sparkling wine production that would make the
difference on Diamond Mountain. Jack and Jamie Davies purchased the Schramsberg
property in 1965 and began producing sparkling wine. The historic vineyards
were replanted with pinot noir and chardonnay. Eventually, the land was
converted to the production of red Bordeaux grapes; however, it was the
interest in sparkling wine that revived this struggling area. By the mid - 1970s
there were several wineries in operation on Diamond Mountain, including Roddis
Cellars and Al Brounstein.

The rather unique growing conditions of the area meant that it was necessary
for vintners to adapt their own techniques in order to succeed. These efforts
eventually paid off handsomely when AVA status was acquired for Diamond
Mountain in 1999. Today, the region has earned a reputation as producing
exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon. While traditionally these Cabs have not been
considered noteworthy until they had aged for a number of years, the Cabs
produced on Diamond Mountain have earned a stellar reputation even in their
youth.

Chiles Valley

Although small, Chiles Valley is one of the premier wine regions in the state
of California. More than 6,000 acres comprise Chiles Valley; however, only a
little more than 1,000 acres are planted vineyards. While Cabernet Sauvignon
thrives in other regions, Zinfandel is king in Chiles Valley.

When touring Chiles Valley, you will find a small group of small wineries. The
well drained soil and warm climate in this region have made it capable of
producing outstanding Zinfandel wines in addition to excellent Cabernet
Sauvignon.

During the evenings and at night, the cooling winds blow through this region,
creating a situation where the growing season in Chiles Valley is able to begin
and end later than most adjacent regions.

You will find that the terrain in Chiles Valley is much different from that in
the surrounding area. The valley itself is quite narrow and runs from the
southwest to the northwest. The ridges that surround the valley are quite steep
so it is not possible to grow the grapes in Chiles valley anywhere but on the
floor of the valley.

The climate in Chiles Valley is decidedly cooler than St. Helena and
Rutherford, both of which are on the floor of Napa Valley. As a result, it is
not uncommon for the temperature to drop twenty degrees overnight during the
winter. Along the ridges, where the elevation is higher, snowfall is also
common. When spring first arrives in Chiles Valley, the temperatures remain
quite cool; especially when compared to other regions in Napa Valley. The
breaking of buds tends to occur some three weeks later in Chiles Valley than
other regions; however, vintners in this region still must be concerned with
spring frost due to the lateness of the cool temperatures.

As summer arrives, Chiles Valley experiences warm and sunny days with
afternoons that are cooler as the fog begins to roll in from the Pacific Ocean
and San Pablo Bay. While other regions are not affected by the fog as a result
of their elevation, this is not the case with Chiles Valley. Due to the fact
that the fog must travel some thirty miles before it even reaches Chiles
Valley, the region only occasionally experiences truly foggy days.

While spring and winter are usually much cooler in Chiles Valley than
surrounding areas, surprisingly, temperatures remain moderate well into fall.
This is fortunate for the vintners because it provides them with a few extra
weeks for the fruit to develop before they must harvest it. This is one of the
reasons that Zinfandel does so well in Chiles Valley.

Colonel Joseph Ballinger Chiles received a Mexican land grant in 1844. This
would be the last Mexican land grant in the region. What made Chiles' arrival
to the region unique was the manner in which he arrived. He traveled to the
region as one of the first wagon trains to cross the Sierra Nevada. Before this
time, all of the immigrants to the region had arrived via Mexico or the sea.

Twenty - five years later the first vineyards were planted in Chiles Valley.
During the 1870s, Lomita's Winery was also established. Later it would become
part of the modern day Volker Eisele Family Estate.

During these early days, the isolation of Chiles Valley was both an advantage
as well as a disadvantage. Even though much of the rest of the region was
booming during the late 19th century, Chiles Valley was so isolated it made it
difficult to thrive.

Yet, while other wine regions in California were largely decimated by
phylloxera, Chiles Valley was fortunately spared much of the destruction due to
its isolation. As a result, a number of the Zinfandel vines in Chiles Valley are
actually quite old. Even after Prohibition was repealed; the isolation of Chiles
Valley meant that it was unable to compete with the mass produced jug wines that
became popular in post - Prohibition years. It was not until the 1970s that any
major production was begun on any scale in Chiles Valley. The Meyer family
purchased a large plot of acreage in 1972 and began planning a wide variety of
different grapes. Three years later, the Eisele Family planted their first
Cabernet Sauvignons. Today, barely more than 1,000 acres are planted in vines
in Chiles Valley; however, the wineries that are established here are known to
be quite noteworthy.

The History and Development of the St. Helena Wine Region in Napa Valley

St. Helena was the focal point of early commercial wine production in the Napa
Valley region. As a result of the production of wine in this region, the entire
wine industry in California was shaped.

The town of St. Helena was established in 1855. Several years later, in 1861,
the first winery was established in the Valley by a German immigrant. His name
was Charles Krug. A number of other German immigrants soon followed in his
steps, including the Schrams and the Beringers. Krug went on to become one of
the first major vintners in Napa Valley. Born in 1825 in Prussia, Krug had been
a political radical as a youth. Later he moved to Alto, California and became a
neighbor of Agoston Haraszthy, who became Krug's mentor regarding the
production of grapes and wine. Before long, Krug began producing wine for
others. One of his first clients was George Yount, of Yountville fame.

Krug established his first commercial winery at the age of 27. Quickly, he
became well known for his use of a cider press in order to extract juice from
his grapes. Krug also became associated with a number of other innovations for
the production of white wine as well. These methods included aging as well as
fermentation techniques. Considering the era, Krug was quite careful in his
selection of varietals and rootstocks.

Throughout the next thirty years, Krug continued the development of his winery
and vineyards. He was not able to escape the ravages of the pest phylloxera;
however, and he was eventually forced to declare bankruptcy as a result. Krug
died in 1892 and the following year his winery was purchased by James Moffitt.
In 1943, the winery was sold once again; this time to Cesare Mondavi.

Without any hesitation, Mondavi began to renovate the vineyards as well as the
production facilities. Mondavi was assisted by his sons, Peter and Robert, in
the operation of the winery. The Mondavi family continues to operate the winery.

Beringer Vineyards has also earned quite a reputation. The vineyard was
established in 1876 by Frederick and Jacob Beringer. That same year local
vintners established the St. Helena Viticultural Club. The Beringer brothers
had been attracted to the region because the growing conditions were quite
similar to that of their home region in the Rhine Valley of France. At the
time, the task of developing the vineyard was arduous due to the fact that
brothers had to literally carve caves into the hills that were situated
directly behind their winery. The work was completed by Chinese laborers and
upon completion the caves proved to be the ideal place for the aging of
Beringer wines. Today, those same caves are still in use.

Beringer Vineyards produces a number of different wines; many of which are
produced with grapes that are actually sourced from different regions. Although
other vineyards in St. Helena are just as well known as Beringer, Beringer
Vineyards has the sole claim to being the oldest winery in Napa Valley that has
been continuously operated.

The flagship wine of the winery is the Beringer 1999 Private Reserve Cabernet
Sauvignon. Only the best fruit from numerous AVAs in Napa Valley are used in
the production of the wine. They are all aged separately, using French Oak, and
then blended together later. This extremely complex wine is considered a premier
wine of the region.

The development of the St. Helena wine region has certainly been greatly
assisted by the Krug and Beringer wineries; however, they are certainly not the
only wineries in the region. As early as the 1880s there were nearly 3,000 acres
of vineyards planted in St. Helena and more than a dozen wineries in operation.
Unfortunately; however, the combination of Prohibition and phylloxera almost
completely decimated the region.

Even some of the oldest wineries in St. Helena eventually went out of business
as a result of Prohibition. During this time period, the acreage was converted
to the growth of other products.

In the 1940s; however, the venerable Krug winery began to return from the ashes
after it was purchased by the Mondavi family. Today, the Krug winery is still
one of the most respected in the state.

History and Development of Mount Veeder in Napa Valley

The weather in Mount Veeder tends to be rainier than the rest of Napa Valley.
This is because of the Redwood and Round Creek watersheds. The great majority
of the vineyards in Mount Veeder are situated near either Round Creek or
Redwood Creek. Due to the abundance of large redwood and oak trees, in this
region it is one of the most picturesque in Napa Valley.

The startling elevation of the Mount Veeder AVA also contributes to its
stunning beauty. The mountainside slopes of Mount Veeder ranges between 400
feet above sea le vel to 2,600 feet above sea level. While a number of regions
in Napa Valley receive some protection from the winds of San Pablo Bay, Mount
Veeder is more exposed to the winds. As a result, the afternoons tend to be
very breezy and far cooler than other areas. This lends well to a long growing
season.

When you tour the wineries in Mount Veeder you will discover that a very small
percentage of the land in Mount Veeder is planted with grape vines. The actual
area of Mount Veeder covers some 25 square miles; however. Still, the area that
is planted is ideal for the growth of mountain grapes that are rustic in nature.
The roots of the vines in this are are able to extend deeply into the ground.

The terrain and climate of Mount Veeder is particularly well suited for Rhone
varietals. Jade Mountain became the first winery in the area to take advantage
of these elements for the production of Rhone varietals. The Paras Vineyard
Syrah is considered to be one of the best Rhone varietal wines produced in
Mount Veeder.

In addition to Rhone varietals, you will also find that a number of red
Bordeaux varietals are also planted in Mount Veeder including Merlot, Cabernet
Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

Many vineyards in the area produce grapes in low quantities. Most of these
grapes are thick skinned and have an intense flavor concentration. In fact, the
wines produced from Mount Veeder are known to be among the most flavorful wines
in the entire Napa Valley region. As a result, most of the vintners in Mount
Veeder find it necessary to balance that flavor with other elements.

Historically, the vintners in this area have been able to achieve this with
remarkable aplomb. A significant portion of the development of Mount Veeder as
a wine region is due to European mountain vineyard production. The first wines
were produced in Mount Veeder as early as the 1860s. By the 1870s, German
immigrants had begun to settle in the area and by the end of 1889 Mayacamas
Vineyards had been firmly established. The owner of the vineyard had a broad
range of commercial interests; however, and he went bankrupt at the turn of the
century. Rumors persist that while other vineyards in Napa Valley were shut down
during Prohibition, Mayacamas was used by bootleggers. Regardless, the vineyards
were eventually purchased and restored in the late 1960s.

The modern day Hess Collection Winery was established after the turn of the
century by Colonel Thomas Gier. Eventually, he found it necessary to sell the
property as a result of the Depression. The vineyards were purchased by the
Christian Brothers, who used it for the production of sacramental wine
throughout Prohibition. Today, the production facilities that were used by the
Christian Brothers are leased to Donald Hess; where an extensive art collection
is also housed.

Brother Timothy, in particular, is believed to have been one of the most
instrumental individuals in the development of Mount Veeder as a leading wine
region. Both he and Brother John proved to have an important role in the
development of Mount Veeder as an AVA. The region was granted AVA status in
1990. Prior to 1935, the region was known as Napa Redwoods. Of course, today it
has gained a sterling reputation in its own right. More than a dozen wineries
are located on Mount Veeder.

Contribution of the Climate and Terrain to the Popularity of the Stags Leap
Wine Region

Just off Silverado Trail you will find the main road that winds its way through
Stags Leap. This is where the great majority of the wineries in Stags Leap are
located. Although the area is located off Highway 29, the main thoroughfare of
Napa Valley, tourists find that the wineries in this area are quite welcoming.
The rather interesting name of the region can be attributed to a legend which
indicates a stag leapt from the palisades in order to escape from a group of
hunters.

Much of the popularity of the Stags Leap wine region can be attributed to the
climate as well as the terrain in the area. The volcanic soil of the Stags Leap
area is particularly well suited for the growth of Cabernet Sauvignon. The Cabs
produced in the Stags Leap area tend to be more restrained than many of the
Cabernets grown in other regions, especially those grown in the warm northern
regions.

The moderate climate of Stags Leap is due to the row of hills that run along
the western border. The wind from San Pablo Bay is thus drawn up in a sort of
funnel. The region is cooled as a result, permitting the acidity in the grapes
to develop more fully. Interestingly enough; however, the great majority of the
vineyards in Stags Leap are situated on slopes that face the west. Due to this
they receive a fair amount of afternoon sun. The fruit in this region is
perfectly ripened as a result, featuring clearly developed tannins. This is a
characteristic that has become widely associated with the wineries in Stags
Leap.

While Stags Leap, like most of the other regions in Napa Valley, struggled to
gain prominence throughout the middle of the 20th century, the 1976 Paris Blind
Tasting proved to be a critical turning point for Stags Leap. In fact, it has
been argued that this event was the most important event in the establishment
of Stags Leap wineries. Stags Leap Wine Cellars managed to achieve
international acclaim when their Cask 23 Cabernet Sauvignon received first
place and beat out numerous premier red wines from the Bordeaux region.

The Cabernet Sauvignon produced in Stags Leap has developed the nickname of the
Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove. It is believed that the volcanic terrain in the
region is responsible for the unique characteristics of the wines in the Stags
Leap area.

The terrain in the local area can be subdivided into two distinct areas. They
are the lowlands and the hills. The soils in the hills tend to be far more
volcanic and are ideally suited to the growth of Cabernet Sauvignon as well as
other red Bordeaux varietals such as Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. Petite
Sirah, Zinfandel and Petit Verdot also do quite well here. The fruit in this
particular region tend to be grown in somewhat low quantities as a result of
the well drained soil; however, it is quite intense.

Near the Napa River, the soil is well drained as well. In contrast to the
hillside soil; however, the soil near the River is mainly made up of clay and
silt. The vineyards in this region contain a high degree of alluvial volcanic
sediment that has been washed down from the hills over a period of many years.
As a result of this, the soils here tend to be very fertile. White varietals
tend to do very well in this area including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and
Semillon.

The Distinguishing Characteristics of Atlas Peak

The wineries of Atlas Peak in Napa Valley are situated along the eastern hills.
This region has become revered for red grapes that are full - bodied such as
Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese. Within Atlas Peak, you
will find a number of premier wineries including Cobblestone Vineyards,
Dominari, Ardente Winery and Atlas Peak Vineyards.

The sunny, elevated climate of Atlas Peak has allowed the wineries in this
region to be less affected by the morning fog that is quite common to the
valley floor. The cool winds that come in from the Bay ensure that the acidity
in the grapes in Atlas Peak is high. When visiting the area, you will find that
the temperatures in Atlas Peak are somewhat cooler than on the floor of the
valley. This is due to the southern location and elevation of Atlas Peak. As a
result, Atlas Peak wineries are able to enjoy an extended growing season.
Compared to other regions in Napa Valley, harvest time in Atlas Peak can be as
much as two weeks later.

Still, in spite of the cooler temperatures in Atlas Peak, the vineyards are
still treated to plenty of sunshine. The Italian varietals planted here, in
particular, soak up the sunshine; especially the Sangiovese vineyards. Atlas
Peak Vineyards, owned and operated by Piero Antinori of Tuscany, is by far the
largest vineyard in the Atlas Peak region.

During the afternoons fog frequently rolls into the southern region; however,
the elevation of Atlas Peak shelters it from most of the fog. The evenings can
still be quite cool compared to the days; however, which is beneficial to the
vines.

More so than in many other sub-regions in Napa Valley, the influence of
volcanic activity is quite apparent in Atlas Peak. The soil here is perfect for
the growth of Cabernet Sauvignon as well as a variety of other red grapes.

You will note when touring the vineyards in Atlas Peak that the majority are
grown on mountain slopes that are decidedly rugged. The elevation in Atlas Peak
varies considerably, ranging from 1,200 feet above sea level to 2,600 feet above
sea level. Vintners in the region have discovered that this rough, rugged
terrain is somewhat difficult as well as expensive in terms of development. In
addition, a significant portion of the soil in Atlas Peak is shallow, unfertile
and unable to retain irrigation. As a result, Atlas Peak is not as developed as
many other regions. Although the region is comprised of more than 11,000 acres
only a small portion is actually planted with vineyards. While only 1,500 acres
are actually planted with vineyards in Atlas Peak, the small area that is
planted produces outstanding wine.

The first grapes in Atlas Peak were planted more than one hundred years ago by
Italian immigrants. This was the beginning of a long and successful wine
industry in the area. Most of the vintners during this early time period were
attracted to the local region because it so closely resembled their hillside
vineyards back in the Old Country. Considering the lack of modern technology at
the time, the successful planting of these rugged slopes is even more amazing.
Today, Atlas Peak is home to approximately 1,500 acres of planted vineyards.
Most of those vineyards are planted in Bordeaux, Rhone and Italian varietals;
all of which do quite well here.





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