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Napa Valley's southern growing Districts

Napa Valley South Wine Districts
Napa Valley South Wine DistrictsJhicks

In this third and last review of the Napa Valley sub-appellations, we’ll take a look at the southern section of growing Districts. These are closer to the Bay Area and have are strongly influenced by the Bay Area fog and Imarine layers.

First of the southern growing area Districts (sub-appellations) is Yountville. Located directly west of the Stag’s District, with the ground level from 20’ to 200’.

This is a red wine area and the primary varietals are Cabernet and Merlot. The area is influenced by the cool Bay Area marine influence. Fog is not uncommon and keeps the growing area cooler than some of the up-Valley Districts.

Immediately south of Yountville is the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley. The west side of the District is bordered by the Mayacamas Mountains. This is an area definitely influenced by the Bay Area. Fog through the late morning is common and the afternoon often has brisk winds plummeting the District.

The District is an area with low to moderate elevations. The lower (southern) end is at sea level, upper elevations reach top 800’. Because of the marine influence, temperatures during the daytime are usually no warmer than the upper 80’s; the evenings can get down to about 50°.

This varied environment allows the District to produce a true variety of wines. Most common are Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling!

Mount Veeder is nestled in the mountain area of the Mayacamas. Directly west of the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley, the vineyards are primarily above the marine layer fog line. Elevations range from 500 to 2600 feet. The elevation allows for warmer nights (above the fog levels) and cooler days. Warm summer days are often in the mid to high 80’s.

This environment allows for a variety of grapes, reds and whites, to be raised successfully. Most common in the area are the classic reds: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Zinfandel. The area is also a natural for Chardonnay.

Far to the east, but at the same latitude as Mount Veeder, is the Wild Horse Valley District. This District is one of the higher ones, with elevations ranging from 600 to 1900’. With the elevation and the winds off Suisun Bay to the south, the District is warmer than some of the surrounding areas, but the warmth is tempered by the marine environment to the south.

The District is known for the Chardonnays on the white wine side and Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir on the red side.

Coombsville District is almost a part of the City of Napa. It’s an interesting area since the Napa Valley floor (100 – 500’) allows for successful Chardonnay, Merlot, Syrah, and Pinot Noir vineyards. On the more hilly areas (to 1000’), the plantings are primarily Cabernet Sauvignon. It is a temperate area with the climate influenced by the proximity to San Pablo Bay.

The last area of the Napa sub-appellations is the famous Carneros District. Located to the west of the City of Napa, the District sets at sea level to about 700’. It is a cool growing area, strongly influenced by the marine winds off the Bay to the south.

Primary plantings are Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The area gets a lot of traffic since it one of the first Districts to be visited as one goes to Napa Valley.

These vineyards represent the final groupings of Napa Valley. Using this and the previous articles, it is possible to seek the type of wines you want to taste and make a routing plan.

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