Apr 01 2012
There is no doubt that Sonoma and Napa wines are lauded worldwide and have put US winemaking on the map. Both these counties have unique climate and geographic strengths which make them excellent for wine.
Napa is reasonably tiny compared to Sonoma. It only runs 34 miles north and west. Its vineyards run just about totally north to south down the spine of the valley. Notwithstanding its tiny size, Napa gives just over four hundred acres to the vine. Sonoma is just about twice the area of Napa and has well over four hundred acres planted with vineyards.
Sonoma’s strength lays in her sub regions (known as AVAs) that display a shocking selection of microclimates. The existence of these microclimates allows producers to grow and make quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, in addition to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Zinfandel. There exist warm and dry sub regions, such as Dry Creek Valley and Knights Valley (in reality simply a climate and geographic extension of Napa Valley), and cool and damp climates, like Russian River Valley and its sub region Chalk Hill.
Ocean breezes and mist help chill the latter two areas, allowing Sonoma wine growers to supply impressive examples of the fussy Pinot Noir. Knights Valley, because of its soil, which is both rocky and gravelly, and warm climate, is perfect for growing high-quality Cabernet. Sonoma County’s Green Valley and Los Carneros (a sub region shared with its rival Napa) are ideal for making quality grapes for sparkling wines. Sonoma Valley, while excellent for Cabernet, is also well-suited to Zinfandel because of her dry and warm conditions and her ability to ward off fog that would make a mould and rot problem for Zinfandel.
Napa’s climate and geographic strength is her climatic progression, of cool and damp conditions in the south to hot and dry conditions in the north, and many soil types, from gravel and low fertility in the north to clay and silt in the south. While she does not have Sonoma’s diversity in micro climates, Napa does have a decent range of soils and elevation that certainly improves the grapes she manufactures.
Like in Sonoma, Los Carneros enables sparkling wine production in Napa. While Howell Mountain, Oakville, and Rutherford all create most of the area’s prize winning and high-quality Cabernets. Napa Cabernet, of course, is what made this American region so famous.
Nic Haegeli still considers himself rather new to the wine business, but he now has a few years of expertise as a wine manager at Colonial Spirits, a Concord liquor store. With a BA in History and a Master of Public Policy in International Relations, Nic never imagined himself working with wine. However, he did grow up in Alsace, France… Thus it makes sense when you know where he was raised. Colonial Spirits’ latest venture is Colonial Spirits Delivers, an online liquor store, which supplies beer, champagne, liquor, and wine delivery to Eastern Mass.