Why grow grapes and make wine in Napa and Sonoma?
We pursue the concept the French call "terroir" which we often refer to as a wine having a "sense of place".
Basically different grape varieties mature better and show unique wine flavor characteristics when grown in certain locations because of the geology, soil chemistry, climate and sun aspects of that place. This is why, over centuries, the growing of Bordeaux, Burgundy and Rhone varieties have been restricted to those specific areas. Even more finely defined this is why a Chardonnay grown in Chablis has a diffeent flavor profile from Chardonnay grown in Montrachet.
Northern California, in particular Napa and Sonoma, grow fruit equal or superior to any other place in the world. Uniquely the geology, geography and micro climates of their valleys parallel the best wine grape growing areas in old world countries like France, Italy and Spain giving us the potential to grow a multitude of popular varietals and make exceptional new-world examples of old-world wines.
Defined by mountain ranges and influenced by its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, the Napa Valley enjoys a dry Mediterranean climate perfectly suited to the growing of fine wine grapes.
Only 2% of the earth’s surface is covered by a Mediterranean climate where the long growing season is marked by sunny, warm and dry days followed by cool evenings, an ideal combination for allowing grapes to ripen slowly and evenly.
In the mountains along the east of the valley temperatures vary more from summer to winter months and with more sun exposure in these elevated vineyards, the growing conditions are far more suited to producing world class, high flavor red varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon.
Here we found nearly an infinite array of microclimates providing Sonoma's overall ideal combination of weather, temperature, fog and rainfall making its diversity and quality of wines unique throughout the world.
Sonoma County is heavily influenced by its close proximity to nearly 60 miles of Pacific Coast shoreline, and its cool nights and temperate days create the perfect conditions to draw in layers of oceanic fog to chill Sonoma’s warm interior Russian River Valley and Dry Creek Valley.
Daytime temperatures average a comfortable 71˚F, with the warmest summer days rarely topping 84˚F. Nighttime temperatures stay mostly in the 40s, meaning hard frosts are a rarity, even during the critical flowering time for grapes.
At the start of fall harvest, the weather remains moderate with little to no rainfall. Sonoma County experiences no measurable snow or hail and normal rainfall measures between 25 and 30 inches a year.
Grapes thrive in this climate, the reliably moderate diurnal swings, tempered by coastal fog and only trace amounts of summer rain allow a wide diversity of grapes from the delicate Burgundy varieties of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, to the right bank Bordeaux varieties of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
It does not end there, the hilltops of Sonoma provide elevated sun exposure, ideal for Rhone varieties of Shiraz/Syrah, Grenache and Mouvedre as well as Cabernet Sauvignon.