This big valley (150 square miles) only has 25 acres of land currently under vine. Perhaps times may change as cash strapped vintners dreaming of building the next great Napa Valley winery might opt to forego the million dollar an acre price tags of Napa for a more gentile life in neighboring Capay. This relatively new AVA, has a long history of growing grapes – in fact as early as 1861, a winery in the region was voted to have the best vineyard in the Golden State. While it is just northeast of Napa and a mere two hour jaunt from San Francisco, the region has yet to achieve any star status amongst the wine press. Undoubtedly a combination of factors, but times may change as local wineries such as Capay Valley Vineyards begin concentrating on Iberian and Mediterranean varietals, such as Tempranillo and Syrah, more accustomed to warmer climes than are offered by this inland valley. Another potential for the region to explore is the ‘green’ factor, as its warm dry climate – particularly relative to fog prone Napa Valley – allows for less spraying in the vineyard. In an era when consumers are more aware of environmentally sensitive practices in the field, this could be an avenue for Capay Valley vintners to explore.
In the southern Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and Georgia vineyards are small and few, yet the establishment of the Upper Hiwassee Highlands could bring much more.
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