In the last article, we discussed much about California’s state-wide wine appellation. In this article, we will be discussing in great length about Napa Valley because most of America’s finest wines come from this location. Napa is similar to Bordeaux in terms of the quality of the wine produced there. Generally, Napa has a more temperate climate than Bordeaux, making the wine grapes there richer in alcohol, with more flavors. This makes adding sugar during the fermentation of the wine, absolutely unnecessary, and in fact is not allowed for wines carrying the Californian label.
Napa County vs. Napa Valley Appellations
At this point, we will like to clearly state the difference between Napa Valley appellation and Napa County appellation. It is hard to see Napa County appellation, as most of the areas in the county, falls into Napa Valley AVA, which is the most common of the appellations. In some rare instances, you might see wine that is produced from two distinct regions, with neither region contributing more than 75% of the grapes. While Napa Valley AVA can contain about 15% of out of appellation wine, it is 25% for Napa County appellation for out-of-county wine.
Allowance for Blending
Apart from Carneros appellation which falls into Sonoma and Napa counties, Napa has a warm climate similar to Piedmont in Italy. Plantings are done at 17ft above sea level. The region also has very fertile land towards the South, and gravelly well-drained soil towards the North. This means that the soil in the south can produce greater yield, though to get stronger flavor concentration, the vineyards yield needs to be reduced. (All Napa grapes are not equal). The appellations in Napa are further divided into smaller appellations, with each one being unique in its own right. Kalon vineyard is a good example.
All wines from Napa are not the same. There are so many wine makers in Napa Valley, with some doing just a few cases, with the others ambitiously reeling off millions of cases from their production facility. The size of wineries has little effect on the quality of the wine produced. At Cali, when we source Californian wines for export to India we are looking to find the best values so that we can offset the cost of import tariffs.
You can’t exactly say if there is something special about Napa’s wine. The best vineyards and wineries in Napa aren’t any better than most others. The leverage Napa has is that some of the most talented wine makers work in wineries in Napa. On the other hand, not all varieties of wine grapes thrive in Napa.
Alexander valley which shares boundaries with Napa, and produces exactly the same kind of grapes, isn’t recognized as part of Napa, due to historical reasons. Lake County, which is towards the North of Napa, produces grapes which are sometimes blended with Napa’s grapes. Even though Napa produces better grapes than Lake County, Napa’s grapes still maintain a high quality when been blended with Lake County’s grapes so as to reduce its cost. Even at a blend of 15%, out of appellation grapes are still allowed to retain Napa Valley label. Another thing that needs to be borne in mind is that some wines perform better in certain regions than another. Pinot Noir for instance performs well in Russian Valley that lies in Sonoma County and Sonoma Coast both located in California, but it does not do well in Carneros.
Hope you found all that was shared here very insightful. Please get across to us if you have any questions.