Takeoff to Napa
The Napa Valley- a term used today as a synonym for Napa County, is the best known U.S wine region in the world. For the most part Napa’s reputation has been built from the award winning Cabernet Sauvignons and of course the Bordeaux style blends. These amazing wines come from well-established big names and of course small boutique wineries like Faustini. Surprisingly enough Napa makes up only 4% in total California wine production. Don't let this number fool you! Although small in terms of grape harvest, you will see why this wine growing region keeps seasoned oneophiles coming back for more.
Back in the Early Days
Settler George Calvert Yount (for those of you who are thinking Yountville and the French Laundry you're right!) made his way to California in 1831. In 1834 he went to Sonoma, where he was employed as a carpenter by General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo. After working for Vallejo, Yount received the Rancho Caymus land grant in 1836, and became the first permanent settler in the Napa Valley. By 1838 he saw that the area had a lot of potential for growing wine grapes, and by 1839 with the help of two other pioneers, he was able to plant the first Vitis Vinifera grapes in the area. Charles Krug established Napa’s first commercial winery in 1861, which is still being operated today by his good friends the Mondavi family. Now there are more then 300 wineries in Napa to date.
Ideal terroir (meaning the all-inclusive physical environment of a wine growing area) is essential for making a great wine, and although Napa is one of the smallest wine growing regions, you can see that the grapes really speak for themselves. Defined by the Vaca and Mayacamas mountain ranges and influenced by its juxtaposition to the Pacific Ocean, the Napa Valley enjoys a beautiful dry Mediterranean climate (only 2% of the world has this!) perfectly suited to the growing of astonishing wine grapes. These mountains protect the Valley from the chilly air off the Pacific Ocean, and the scorching heat of the Central Valley. The Napa River runs generally north to south of the county, and helps keeps the valley cool at night. This ideal combination with the warm daytime temperature and chilly night air allows the grapes to ripen softly and in sync with one another.
Key Appellations in Napa
Napa County is one of the counties included in the North Coast AVA (American Viticultural Area) of California. Within Napa itself there are also 16 other sub AVAs. The most prestigious area of Napa Valley stretches north from the city of Napa upward which includes the Yountville, (where we source our Malbec Rosé) Stags Leap District, Oakville, Rutherford (Beach House #34 Sauvignon Blanc), St. Helena, Calistoga and Howell Mountain (Secret Veil) AVAs. This is a prime Cabernet Sauvignon growing area, and plays humble host to many of the famous American wineries and vineyards such as Silver Oak & Caymus. Below the city of Napa in the cooler part of the county, you will find the well-known Oak Knoll District and the Carneros AVA's which have ideal climates for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. These grapes are often used to make a majority of the sparkling wines produced around Napa.
So Where is Faustini?
Our winery is located in the Coombsville AVA. Coombsville is a quiet area, in the southeastern corner of the Napa Valley, closely situated against the foothills of the Vaca mountians (just 15 minutes outside of the city of Napa!). Most people who visit Napa generally never pass through it, or even know it exists, it's basically a hidden secret of the Valley! Yet, for anyone who has fallen in love with Napa Valley wines, or a seasoned Napa traveler who wishes to get out of the tourist area… Coombsville is an absolute MUST-SEE destination!
Here are some facts about the Coombsville AVA
Climate: Temperate climate moderated by close proximity to the San Pablo Bay and the influences of marine air.
Elevation: Most vineyards are in the 100-500 foot (30-150 m) zone, though a small portion tops 1000 feet (300 m)
Rainfall: 25 inches (65 cm) annually
Soils: Primarily weathered volcanic rock and alluvial deposits from the Vaca Range that surrounds the region
Principal varieties: Dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon on the hillsides with Merlot, Chardonnay, Syrah and Pinot Noir in the lower, cooler sites
As we wrap things up it's important to understand that Faustini is a winery. This means that all of our winemaking is done at our Coombsville location, and like many other wineries we too have a number of our grapes growing in not only Coombsville but other well-known parts of Napa, providing you with the ultimate tasting experience for each wine that we make. I hope you enjoyed this educational “Flight to Napa” and feel inspired to embark on a journey to visit Faustini, as well as the many other beautiful wineries and vineyards which lie in Napa County. Till next time my fellow oneophiles…Cheers!!
By, Shannon Hurley
-The Society of Wine Educators Handbook
-The Encyclopedia of Wine- Tom Stevenson
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