I love this map of the many soil series within Napa Valley, and I am so into it, I forgot to explain in an interview today that the point of my wine is to be a food-friendly blend that’s complex, elegant, and affordable–THAT’s why I’m in the business, not just because soil & climate diversity in Napa Valley support producing such a wine in the temperate hillsides of Carneros. But I love when there’s a good reason for things, so I keep going off about the soil series…
Here’s an astounding fact: within the boundaries of the Napa Valley AVA are half of the world’s soil orders. “Orders” are classified by the soil formation process. Let’s stop there because I’m not a geologist, but HALF? Go ’round the globe–deserts, mountains, plains, etc. Half? Here in Napa Valley. Amazing.
The next level of differentiation in soil science are ‘soil series’ where we have 33. That number compares–according to winemaking consultant Aaron Pott–to four (4) soil series’ in all winemaking regions of France.
So we’ve got all this diversity and yet I commonly hear, “Why aren’t you doing Cabernet Sauvignon, isn’t that the best grape?” A former Marketing Director of the Napa Vintners Association told me, “Cabernet Sauvignon is more valuable because it develops more complexity than Merlot and other Bordeaux varietals.” This is so not true. Complexity is a result of the right grape in the right place, as the French have learned with thousands of years of practice. And many notable Napa vintners have been growing cool-climate Bordeaux varieties with great success in protected pockets of Carneros for years–Newton, Hyde, Hudson, Havens, Sinskey, to name a few.
Perhaps it’s counter-intuitive, but cool climate does not mean thin, lean, green, unripe or weak; quite the opposite –long, cool, even growing conditions (not too hot by day, not too cool by night) create long hang time in the pursuit of ripeness, and long development time creates character and complexity. Just like with people.
Check out the map: Napa Valley AVA Soil Series