Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Napa Valley: Marquee Cabernet Sauvignon Region

Five percent of California’s wine is produced in the famed Napa Valley region. The valley spans 225,000 acres of land which is planted with 44,000 acres of vineyard and is home to 331 wineries. Cabernet Sauvignon is king in Napa with 17,300 acres of vineyards devoted to this varietal.


Napa Valley is 5 miles wide and 30 miles long and is bordered on the east by the Vaca Mountains, the west by the Mayacama Mountains, and at the northern end by Mt St. Helena. The southern end of the valley is exposed to the cooling influences of the San Francisco Bay. Soils in the valley are varied with over 30 different types having been cataloged. Primary soil types are of volcanic, maritime, or alluvial origins.

Napa Valley is blessed with a temperate climate with long growing seasons of sunny, warm days and cool evenings. Fog is generally pulled into the valley as a result of warm air rising. In some instances, inversion layers trap hot air in the valley. This warmth contributes to the lush ripeness of the valley floor fruit.  Hillside soils are thinner and more “minerally” than valley soils and these factors, combined with the valley floor warmth, are key contributors to the difference between valley floor and hillside fruit.

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