Find a Winery Gem by Exploring the Distinct Sub-Appellations of the Napa Valley
The Napa Valley is only 30 miles long and 5 miles across at its widest point, but there are so many distinct micro-climates to discover. Learning how these unique areas can impact the grapes and ultimately the wines can help you uncover your favorite appellation and next hidden winery gem!
An appellation is how a country categorizes its wines within geographical borders. In the US, we call these AVAs or American Viticultural Area. Napa is considered one of the top AVAs in the country and due to the vast diversity within this region, 16 sub-AVAs were established to further distinguish between the different growing regions.
Here is some information to help you in your journey.
Mountain vs Valley Floor
Elevation plays a very significant role in establishing the unique growing conditions of the mountain AVAs versus those along the valley floor sandwiched between the eastern and western mountain ranges.. Temperature, soils, sun exposure, and fog cover are just a few of the factors that separate these areas, and the impact they have on the grapes grown there.
At Majuscule Wine, we mostly farm our grapes from the western side of the valley in the Mount Veeder Appellation. The vineyards are on high slopes, sometimes up to 2,000 feet elevation. This mountain topography creates the most extreme growing conditions, the longest growing season, and the lowest yields in the Napa Valley. The hillside vineyards perched high above the Napa Valley floor have several microclimates and are challenging to farm, but the extra effort yields incredible results in the bottle.
"Up Valley" vs "Down Valley"
The town (and appellation) of Calistoga anchors the northern end of the Napa Valley, known locally as "Up Valley". Highway 29 is the main road that travels down the middle of the Valley from Calistoga through St. Helena to the "Down Valley' where you'll find the town of Napa to the cool Los Carneros appellation at the very southern end, Each sub-appellation along the way has other unique characteristics that distinguish the grapes grown in that area from their neighbors a few miles down the road.
Ready to explore the many distinctive areas and wineries within the Napa Valley to find your next favorite hidden gem?
Click here to download your own map and guide to the Napa Valley appellations from Napa Valley Vintners.