In 1981, Napa Valley was designated as the first American Viticultural Area (AVA) in California. AVAs in the United States are similar to the Appellation system in Europe, used to legally define and protect a geographical designation. Our Napa Valley AVA listings includes 16 unique Sub-AVAs with distinct microclimates and terrain exist. Together they produce just 4% of California’s wine and occupy an area that is 30 miles long and five miles wide, about 1/8 the size of Bordeaux (the largest wine growing area in France). The world-class wine grapes of the Napa Valley AVAs are a product of diverse soils, climates, and topographical conditions.
Located northeast from the city of Napa, Atlas Peak has an elevation of 760-2000 feet and is ideal for producing explicit Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay wines. The peak of this mountain offers temperatures about 15-20% cooler than the valley floor during the summer months. It is above the fog line and the soil is volcanic and very porous; this allows it to cool down quickly.
Calistoga AVA is known for its volcanic soil and bedrock. Days are hot (up to 100 degrees), which provides abundant color and flavor in the wines. The nights cool down, which helps to maintain the acidity and structure of the wine. At 300-1200 feet (located in the northern part of the Napa Valley appellation), this AVA is successful at making distinct and celebrated Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Syrah, and Petite Syrah wines.
Coombsville AVA is located to the east of Napa and is close to San Pablo Bay, which influences the temperate climate of this area. Vineyards are grown in the 100-500 feet range, and a small amount of vines extend beyond 1000 feet. The wines produced from the lower, cooler areas of this AVA include Merlot, Chardonnay, Syrah, and Pinot Noir; the hillside grapes create amazing Cabernet Sauvignons.
Located on the Mayacamas Mountains in the northwest portion of Napa Valley, the Diamond Mountain District is considered a mountain AVA. It is a 450-acre, steep-sloped area with elevations ranging from 400 ft. to 2,200 ft., resulting in less cool fog and more direct sunlight than other regions. The primary varietals from this AVA are Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Sauvignon Blanc.
Howell Mountain holds the distinction of the first Sub-AVA in greater Napa Valley and was home to some of the most successful winemakers during the boom of the 1880s. This 600-acre area located on the Vaca Mountains has elevations between 1,400 ft. and 2,200 ft., receiving cool breezes from San Pablo Bay but avoiding the fog. Howell Mountain produces the following excellent mountain wines: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Grenache, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Suavignon Blanc, and Zinfandel.