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
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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
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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




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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
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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
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Warmest AVAs of Napa Valley

  • St Helena AVA
  • Calistoga AVA

Cabernet sauvignon
Calistoga some cooling due to gap in Mayacamas > Pacific Ocean
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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)
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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.
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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
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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
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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
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Wines (varieties) in Napa Valley California

Cabernet Sauvignon (40%)
  • Merlot - Pinot Noir - Zinfandel - Petit Verdot - Malbec - Cabernet Franc - Syrah - Petite Sirah
Chardonnay
  • Sauvignon Blanc - Pinot Gris
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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
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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
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3 Significant producers in Napa Valley

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