Introduction To 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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

Jason Smith

Former Marine, IT Guy & Builder of Websites.  I have 5 US states left to visit. I enjoy hot springs, adventures, hiking, photography, sci-fi, wine, coffee & whiskey.  I am fluent in sarcasm, name that tune, & speak in movie quotes.  I spend most of my time building websites, fixing computers, metal detecting, magnet fishing and gaming occasionally.

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