Chiles Valley

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Although small, Chiles Valley is one of the premier wine regions in the state of California. More than 6,000 acres comprise Chiles Valley; however, only a little more than 1,000 acres are planted vineyards. While Cabernet Sauvignon thrives in other regions, Zinfandel is king in Chiles Valley.
When touring Chiles Valley, you will find a small group of small wineries. The well drained soil and warm climate in this region have made it capable of producing outstanding Zinfandel wines in addition to excellent CabernetSauvignon.
During the evenings and at night, the cooling winds blow through this region, creating a situation where the growing season in Chiles Valley is able to begin and end later than most adjacent regions.
You will find that the terrain in Chiles Valley is much different from that in the surrounding area. The valley itself is quite narrow and runs from the southwest to the northwest. The ridges that surround the valley are quite steep so it is not possible to grow the grapes in Chiles valley anywhere but on the floor of the valley.
The climate in Chiles Valley is decidedly cooler than St. Helena and Rutherford, both of which are on the floor of Napa Valley. As a result, it is not uncommon for the temperature to drop twenty degrees overnight during the winter. Along the ridges, where the elevation is higher, snowfall is also common. When spring first arrives in Chiles Valley, the temperatures remain quite cool; especially when compared to other regions in Napa Valley. The breaking of buds tends to occur some three weeks later in Chiles Valley than other regions; however, vintners in this region still must be concerned with spring frost due to the lateness of the cool temperatures.
As summer arrives, Chiles Valley experiences warm and sunny days with afternoons that are cooler as the fog begins to roll in from the Pacific Ocean and San Pablo Bay. While other regions are not affected by the fog as a result of their elevation, this is not the case with Chiles Valley. Due to the fact that the fog must travel some thirty miles before it even reaches Chiles Valley, the region only occasionally experiences truly foggy days.
While spring and winter are usually much cooler in Chiles Valley than surrounding areas, surprisingly, temperatures remain moderate well into fall. This is fortunate for the vintners because it provides them with a few extra weeks for the fruit to develop before they must harvest it. This is one of the reasons that Zinfandel does so well in Chiles Valley.
Colonel Joseph Ballinger Chiles received a Mexican land grant in 1844. This would be the last Mexican land grant in the region. What made Chiles’ arrival to the region unique was the manner in which he arrived. He traveled to the region as one of the first wagon trains to cross the Sierra Nevada. Before this time, all of the immigrants to the region had arrived via Mexico or the sea.
Twenty-five years later the first vineyards were planted in Chiles Valley. During the 1870s, Lomita’s Winery was also established. Later it would become part of the modern day Volker Eisele Family Estate.
During these early days, the isolation of Chiles Valley was both an advantage as well as a disadvantage. Even though much of the rest of the region was booming during the late 19th century, Chiles Valley was so isolated it made it difficult to thrive.
Yet, while other wine regions in California were largely decimated by phylloxera, Chiles Valley was fortunately spared much of the destruction due to its isolation. As a result, a number of the Zinfandel vines in Chiles Valley are actually quite old. Even after Prohibition was repealed; the isolation of Chiles Valley meant that it was unable to compete with the mass produced jug wines that became popular in post-Prohibition years. It was not until the 1970s that any major production was begun on any scale in Chiles Valley. The Meyer family purchased a large plot of acreage in 1972 and began planning a wide variety of different grapes. Three years later, the Eisele Family planted their first Cabernet Sauvignons. Today, barely more than 1,000 acres are planted in vines in Chiles Valley; however, the wineries that are established here are known to be quite noteworthy. 

Introduction to the Regions of Napa Valley

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When you first decide to visit Napa Valley you may well find that the most difficult decision is which winery or wineries you want to visit. This is because there are literally hundreds of wineries in Napa Valley, scattered throughout a 35 mile area that can be broken down into several different regions within that area.
Napa Valley, located in Napa County, is just one of the many wine regions in the wine country of Northern California; however, it is certainly one of the most well known. In fact, Napa Valley is thought to be one of the most vital wine growing regions in the entire United States. Some of the most well known wineries in Napa Valley include Chateau Montelena, Beringer and Charles Krug Winery; however, there are many, many other wineries located throughout Napa Valley as well. While wine production in Napa Valley did suffer during Prohibition; following World War II, the wine industry in Napa Valley began to experience an upsurge.
Today, Napa Valley is home to more than 200 wineries. While you might find it difficult to visit all of the wineries in Napa Valley you can certain visit many by taking one of the numerous wine tours that operate throughout Napa Valley. Through these wine tours you will gain an opportunity to view and taste the many different varietals that are produced in Napa Valley including Chardonnay, Zinfandel, merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and many more.
There are fifteen different regions within Napa Valley. Carneros is considered to be one of the best regions in Napa Valley and is home to numerous quality wineries. On the north end of Napa Valley, you will find Oak Knoll. Oak Knoll is considered to be quite versatile and was finally granted AVA status in 2004.
Coombsville, located to the east, is also occasionally referred to as Tulocay. This region has not yet been established as an AVA region; however, you will still find numerous excellent wineries in this region.
Most of the wineries in Napa Valley are located on Highway 29; however, there are a number that are located just off Highway 29. The Yountville AVA is one of those areas. In the past twenty years this region has changed significantly. In this region you will find that the wineries are somewhat warmer. Slightly north to the region, the Yountville Mounts are situated, which help to block the fog coming in from San Pablo Bay as well as the wind.
Rutherford, Oakville and St. Helena, three of the most well known wine regions in Napa Valley, are located quite close to one another. The wineries in these regions have become well known for producing high quality Cabernet Sauvignon.
A row of hills running north to south separates the Napa Valley floor from the Stags Leap AVA region. Due to the fact that these hills tend to act as a sort of funnel for wind, the Stags Leap region can be somewhat cool and breezy; even when other areas in Napa Valley are warm.
Atlas Peak is situated high in the hills. This area was once home to many Sanviovese vineyards; however, today many of the wineries in this region are focusing on Cabernet Sauvignon.
Historically, the Mount Veeder AVA has been considered to be one of the best in the area. This is because they have typically produced grapes that are high-quality as well as scarce. On the mountain slopes in the area, Syrah, Zinfandel and CabernetSauvignon are commonly planted.
Diamond Mountain as well as Spring Mountain are situated in the north. The wineries in this region are known for a specific type of Cabernet Sauvignon that tends to be produced in very small quantities.
In the northeastern hills, you will find Howell Mountain. A number of well known wineries are located in this area and tend to do quite well because of the sunny weather.
Chiles Valley is one of the premier Zinfandel regions in the state of California. The isolation of this AVA region has allowed this vineyard to survive the problems that have historically destroyed many other vineyards.
One of the most recent additions to Napa Valley is Wild Horse Valley. This region is situated in the southeastern hills. The windy, cool climate is perfect for producing Chardonnay as well as Pinot Noir. 

History and Development of Mount Veeder in Napa Valley
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The weather in Mount Veeder tends to be rainier than the rest of Napa Valley. This is because of the Redwood and Round Creek watersheds. The great majority of the vineyards in Mount Veeder are situated near either Round Creek or Redwood Creek. Due to the abundance of large redwood and oak trees, in this region it is one of the most picturesque in Napa Valley.
The startling elevation of the Mount Veeder AVA also contributes to its stunning beauty. The mountainside slopes of Mount Veeder ranges between 400 feet above sea le vel to 2,600 feet above sea level. While a number of regions in Napa Valley receive some protection from the winds of San Pablo Bay, Mount Veeder is more exposed to the winds. As a result, the afternoons tend to be very breezy and far cooler than other areas. This lends well to a long growing season.
When you tour the wineries in Mount Veeder you will discover that a very small percentage of the land in Mount Veeder is planted with grape vines. The actual area of Mount Veeder covers some 25 square miles; however. Still, the area that is planted is ideal for the growth of mountain grapes that are rustic in nature. The roots of the vines in this are are able to extend deeply into the ground.
The terrain and climate of Mount Veeder is particularly well suited for Rhone varietals. Jade Mountain became the first winery in the area to take advantage of these elements for the production of Rhone varietals. The Paras Vineyard Syrah is considered to be one of the best Rhone varietal wines produced in Mount Veeder.
In addition to Rhone varietals, you will also find that a number of red Bordeaux varietals are also planted in Mount Veeder including Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
Many vineyards in the area produce grapes in low quantities. Most of these grapes are thick skinned and have an intense flavor concentration. In fact, the wines produced from Mount Veeder are known to be among the most flavorful wines in the entire Napa Valley region. As a result, most of the vintners in Mount Veeder find it necessary to balance that flavor with other elements.
Historically, the vintners in this area have been able to achieve this with remarkable aplomb. A significant portion of the development of Mount Veeder as a wine region is due to European mountain vineyard production. The first wines were produced in Mount Veeder as early as the 1860s. By the 1870s, German immigrants had begun to settle in the area and by the end of 1889 Mayacamas Vineyards had been firmly established. The owner of the vineyard had a broad range of commercial interests; however, and he went bankrupt at the turn of the century. Rumors persist that while other vineyards in Napa Valley were shut down during Prohibition, Mayacamas was used by bootleggers. Regardless, the vineyards were eventually purchased and restored in the late 1960s.
Themodern day Hess Collection Winery was established after the turn of the century by Colonel Thomas Gier. Eventually, he found it necessary to sell the property as a result of the Depression. The vineyards were purchased by the Christian Brothers, who used it for the production of sacramental wine throughout Prohibition. Today, the production facilities that were used by the Christian Brothers are leased to Donald Hess; where an extensive art collection is also housed.
Brother Timothy, in particular, is believed to have been one of the most instrumental individuals in the development of Mount Veeder as a leading wine region. Both he and Brother John proved to have an important role in the development of Mount Veeder as an AVA. The region was granted AVA status in 1990. Prior to 1935, the region was known as Napa Redwoods. Of course, today it has gained a sterling reputation in its own right. More than a dozen wineries are located on Mount Veeder.

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