California - North Coast - Napa County

18 important questions on California - North Coast - Napa County

Napa Valley in bullitpoints

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • High quality wines
  • 4% of Cali's production
  • 50% of retail value all Cali wine sold

Coolest part of California Napa Valley and 3 AVAs and main varieties

  • Southern part, open to San Pablo Bay
    • Carneros > Pinot Noir / Chardonnay
    • Coombsville > Cabernet Sauvignon
    • Oak Knoll > Cabernet Sauvignon

4 slightly warmer AVAs in Napa Valley, California

  • Yountville AVA
  • Stags Leap District AVA
  • Oakville AVA
  • Rutherford AVA

Still cooling nights from San Pablo Bay
  • > winds and fog
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Main grape variety in the 4 warmer AVAs in Napa Valley

Cabernet Sauvignon in
  • Yountville AVA
  • Stags Leap District AVA
  • Oakville AVA
  • Rutherford AVA (some Zinfandel)

and less Merlot and CF

Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley

  • Concentrated ripe fruit
  • medium(+) / high body
  • high ripe tannins
  • juicy blackcurrant, blackberry, plum
  • notes of spice (liquorice, cloves) or herbs

Most famous vineyard in Oakville and Rutherford in Napa Valley

The Rutherford Bench
  • three-mile stretch of vineyards on gently sloping alluvial fan at the bottom of the Mayacamas mountain range

Warmest AVAs of Napa Valley

  • St Helena AVA
  • Calistoga AVA

Cabernet sauvignon
Calistoga some cooling due to gap in Mayacamas > Pacific Ocean

Mountain AVAs in Napa Valley, California

  • Sites up to 800 m
  • vineyards above fog layer
  • less temperature extremes > lower diurnal range
  • higher levels of tannins and acidity than those of the valley floor
  • west-facing sites exposed to intense afternoon sun > warmer
  • southern coolest > CS struggles to ripen (Mount Veeder AVA)

How come Napa Valley is not under pressure from urbanization

The Napa Valley Agricultural Preserve (1968) awarded tax benefits for people who kept vineyard land rather than building upon it.

Some reasons for the high prices for Napa Valley grapes and land

  • Popularity and prestige of the wines
  • The inability to expand vineyard area
    • Almost all permitted vineyard land has been planted
    • Legislation prevents land with more than 30% slope from being converted to vineyard
      • > forest > reduces erosion

Vineyard management Napa Valley California

  • Vines pruned and trained cordon or replacement spur, with VSP terellising
  • Mechanisation possible on valley floor
  • Some mountain sites only hand possible
  • Drip irrigation widely installed
  • Cool nights >
    • risk of frost on valley floor vineyards
    • in mountain AVAs air movement and warmer nights

What is 'Napa Green' in Napa Valley California

The sustainability certification from Napa County
  • for both vineyard and winery
  • 55% of vineyard land is certified Napa Green

Wines (varieties) in Napa Valley California

Cabernet Sauvignon (40%)
  • Merlot - Pinot Noir - Zinfandel - Petit Verdot - Malbec - Cabernet Franc - Syrah - Petite Sirah
  • Sauvignon Blanc - Pinot Gris

Wine style Napa Valley wines

  • 1980's-90s: over-ripe, full-bodied, long hangtime, high alcohol, lower acidities, high proportion new oak > vanilla, coconut, toast
  • Now more diversity
    • Trend: picking earlier
    • new oak still used, but shorter time in oak
    • healthy fruit (good equipment > optical sorters
    • blending different AVAs

5 reasons for the complex style of Napa's Cabernet Sauvignons

  • Blending!
  • Blending with a small proportion other grape varieties (Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Sirah)
  • Blending across different vineyards
  • Blending across different AVAs
  • Blending grapes from different soil types
    • e.g. Alluvial & fertile river soils
  • Blending grapes from cooler (southerly) vineyards with grapes from warmer vineyards

3 Significant producers in Napa Valley

  • Screaming Eagle
  • Harlan Estate
  • Stag's Leap Wine Cellars

Style of Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley

  • Varies up and down the valley
    • depending on site
    • depending on grape growing and winemaking
  • They tend to be
    • good - outstanding
    • premium - superpremium price

White wines in Napa Valley

  • Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc
  • as the reds varies depending on site, grape growing and winemaking
    • warmer areas: more stone fruit and tropical rather than citrus
  • Chardonnay usually oaked, but some don't use oak
  • Sauvignon Blanc usually unoaked, but some do use oak

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