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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