Getting to Know the Sub-Districts of Napa: Part 2
Getting to Know the Sub-Districts of Napa: Part 2
Posted July 14, 2015
The popular districts of Napa Valley: St. Helena, Rutherford and Oakville:
The largest and busiest sub district of Napa Valley is St. Helena. A good portion of the wine that comes from this region is easy drinking and highly accessible. Varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, and Zinfandel flourish in this warm environment. If you are not into the gigantic wineries of Beringer or Sutter Home, there are cultish labels like Grace Family, Spottswoode and Vineyard 29 that are so worth trying. The 2012 Vineyard 29 Cru Cabernet Sauvignon is a gorgeous wine to add to your to-drink list.
This destination spot is home to Caymus, Quintessa and many other excellent wineries. Most Bordeaux varieties have become quite comfortable here, producing elegantly earthy reds, distinguishing this region from the juicy fruit bombs associated with California. The 2010 Bello Family Cabernet Sauvignon and 2013 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon are delightful examples under $100.
When you start seeing names like Screaming Eagle, Opus One, Silver Oak and Groth, you have officially left Rutherford and have reached the Oakville AVA. Understanding the microclimates and soil types has lead to some world-class manipulation practices that help to put these wines on the map. Any of the wines listed above are great guides of quality and terroir, although some are rarer and more expensive than others, try what you can find.
The unique districts of Napa: Chiles Valley, Atlas Peak, Wild Horse Valley and Mount Veeder
Isolated by the surrounding steep ridges, the original old vine Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon plantings have maintained their integrity in Chiles Valley. Major diurnal swings and well-drained alluvial soils assist in the expression of lush dark fruits and hugely structured Cabernet Sauvignons and Zinfandels. One of the more popular Zinfandel producers of this region is the Green & Red Vineyard. Try the 2012 Green and Red Chiles Canyon Vineyard Zinfandel
Named after the highest point in the region, Atlas Peak successfully grows many different red and white varieties. Although it is not the focus, you can find nice examples of Sangiovese and Marsanne from this region. If you were ever interested in Sangiovese outside of Italy, a winery worth looking into is the Atlas Peak Vineyards.
Wild Horse Valley
Completely isolated and home to only one winery, this AVA is unique. Since 1985, Heron Lake Winery is the only producer making wine in this desolate area. If you are a fan of Burgundian Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, check out the Miss Olivia Brion selection from Heron Lake Winery.
Has the longest growing season in all of Napa and produces some of the smallest yields. The wines from this region are super concentrated and age worthy. The soils are volcanic and shallow but the passion within the vignerons are rich and deep, as cultivating vines in this region is not an easy task.
The cooler Districts: Yountville, Stags Leap, Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley, Coombsville and Los Carneros
Going back to the 1800’s, Yountville is home to the first vineyards in Napa. Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Zinfandel, are all produced here. Check out Keever, Silverado and Dominus Estate to truly get a taste of Yountville.
It almost feels like we can skip this popular district, as it has already done a great job of implementing itself into the lexicon of wine enthusiasts from all over. Stags Leap is the smallest district within Napa and with that being said, 98% of our customers know Stags Leap district more than any other district within Napa. If you haven’t tried any wines from this region, a great one to start with is the famous Stags Leap Winery.
Oak Knoll District
Grapes like Chardonnay and Riesling are among the best produced here because of its cooler climate. The 2013 Trefethen Chardonnay Oak Knoll District, is an nice example to start with.
Coombsville was once the hidden gem of Napa Valley. Producing perfectly balanced fruit, wineries like Paul Hobbs,Quintessa and Viader have sourced fruit from here. To taste the quality of Coombsville, try the 2009 Caldwell Vineyard Rocket Science Proprietary Red.
Carneros AVA is shared between Napa Valley and Sonoma County. Within close proximity to the San Francisco Bay, the Pacific Ocean and the Coast Mountain Ranges, the important grapes are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Try 2013 ZD Chardonnay and if you are in the mood for sparkling, give the 2010 Taittinger Domaine Carneros a shot.
Now that you have your to-drink list, keep note of the wines you like,and you may discover a passion for a particular district. With every sip you take, have fun uncovering the beauty of Napa!
Giovanni is a passionate and upbeat wine buyer on the endless journey of value wines. After her ventures in bartending, Giovanni started her wine career at Wine Library 5 years ago. When she is not tasting and studying wine she is cutting out patterns and sewing fabric. Follow her on twitter @Winelib_G
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