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Napa Valley is more than one growing area

Variety of Napa makes a great place for different grapes
Variety of Napa makes a great place for different grapes

Napa Valley, home of wineries, restaurants, winding roads, meandering streams and lots and lots of wine. But many are familiar with the name Napa Valley and yet do not know all it encompasses. We’ll look at Napa and hopefully help through light on the area.

Napa Valley is known as an “appellation”. By definition, an appellation is an area protected legally by geographic designation. It defines where grapes are grown and gives rights to the growers in the appellation.

Napa itself is made up of many sub-appellations, in fact there are 16 separate sub-appellations in Napa Valley. Each of the sub-appellations has unique climate characteristics which result in micro-climes suitable to the growing of different grapes.

In this article we will look at five of the northernmost sub-appellations. We will continue to cover the remainder in the future.

Beginning in the north, the most northwest area is Calistoga. This is a cool growing area with winds from San Pablo Bay and Petaluma adding to the mild climate. Weather in this area rarely exceeds 80° F. The altitude in Calistoga ranges from sea level to about 700’. The area is well known for Pinot Noir, Merlot and Chardonnay.

To the south of Calistoga is Diamond Mountain. This area ranges from about 400’ to 2200’ and is warmer than the Napa Valley proper. Two Cabs are grown here, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.

East of these areas is the Howell Mountain sub-appellation. Howell Mountain is influenced by long, sunny days. Elevation ranges from 1400’ to 2600’. This area is also dryer than the more coastal areas. Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot and Viognier are the prime grapes in this region.

East of Howell Mountain is the Chiles Valley District. This is a region which is moderately warm (80° F) during the day, but with its elevation and late day and evening fog, has much cooler nights. These conditions are ideal for the two Cabs and Merlot.

Back on the coast is the Spring Mountain District. This is a cool environment, one which produces the cabs, Chardonnay, Merlot and Zinfandel. Elevations in the area range from 400’ to 2600’.

So on your next trip to “Napa”, you will be able to look at the areas, the wines produced and make a choice of your specific wine tasting tour.

Have a winederful day!

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