There's a Quiet Evolution Happening in the Napa Valley
May 27, 2008
If there was any concept that could be concluded from our tasting of Napa Valley wines it was this: There’s a quiet evolution taking place in the Napa Valley. Some producers have taken up the cudgel of terroir-driven wines.The wines are beginning to be ratcheted back through various means both in the cellar and in the vineyard; and equilibrium is returning, especially to the Cabernet Sauvignons that made the appellation so famous in the first place.
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Densely planted with vines, St. Helena has over 30 wineries and is widely known to be a quality winegrowing region. Covering just over 9,000 acres, the appellation is located where the Napa Valley floor narrows, between the Mayacamas and Vaca mountains. St. Helena is considered to be the centre of quality viticulture in Napa Valley. The history of winemaking here is legendary and St. Helena’s wines are unique. Charles Krug, who opened his celebrated winery in 1861, is considered the father of Napa viticulture. The area’s wines still rank among the valley’s best. This AVA is located in an up-valley area, where the climate and soils are quite different from the surrounding regions. A marine air incursion that affects the lower areas of the valley is not so dominant here. However, cool Pacific breezes from the north reach St. Helena earlier, cooling vines quickly and delivering graceful, intense fruit with concentration and depth. St. Helena has become the cultural, social and economic heart of the Napa Valley.
Since Thomas Jefferson first tried to cultivate European vinifera in Virginia, the state has been a decided piece of American wine country. Over the years better knowledge, equipment and materials have all contributed to an advancing wine industry, but the more recent decade or two has brought out the real potential that can be found.
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is the Regional Correspondent for St. Helena ~ Napa Valley.