One of the Napa Valley’s earliest appellations may well be its least known. The Wild Horse Valley AVA is a mere 3,300 acres in size, with barely over 100 acres under vine and just a single winery calling it home. Straddling Napa and Solano counties, this viticultural area enjoys more sunshine hours than both Napa and Green Valleys, as summer fogs usually stop before reaching Wild Horse’s elevation. Its southerly location near San Pablo Bay exposes Wild Horse Valley to cool westerly winds from the ocean and bay, especially in the spring and summer. There have been vineyards in this valley, off and on, for well over 100 years. Joseph Vorbe, one of the earlier settlers, planted 50 acres of wine grapes here in 1881. These days, the very few wines emanating from the Wild Horse Valley appellation are certainly of distinctive quality, although viticulture still struggles to join the rest of Napa as the most popular agricultural pursuit.
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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