Grapes You’ll Be Seeing More Often in Napa Valley
Napa Valley is the most historic and well thought of wine region in the United States, if not the world. As such the choices that vintners and wine growers make in Napa have an inordinate amount of impact on the wider wine market than you might expect for a wine region that currently produces only 2% of the nations wine grapes. Napa, unlike its arch rival in Bordeaux though has both a reputation as well as a culture to innovate. Here are the grapes that you’ll be seeing more of in the coming years in NapaValley:
A combination of a look into cooler climate varietals along with the simple fact that the warmer vineyard sites simply cost too much money are pushing Napa land owners into increasingly cooler environments to grow their grapes. A great example of this is the Grenache grape, which when grown in warm environments simply makes good keg wine, or jug wine at your local grocery store, but when it is grown in cooler conditions can be every bit as complex as Pinot Noir. NapaValley is a relatively small geographic area with a rather unbreakable land trust that only allows planting on a limited number of acres, meaning new vineyards are being planted further and further away from its geographical center in Rutherford. One growth area is the Carneros region, which is actually shared by NapaValley and next door Sonoma, but more importantly sits directly on top of the San FranciscoBay. You have both Bay and river cooling going on, as well as strong winds blowing across the bay from the Pacific Ocean. Yes, there’s plenty of fog as anyone whom has ever seen a picture of the Golden GateBridge can attest. The final results are one of the coldest growing regions in California, but a haven for Pinot Noir and likely Grenache as well.
If you are not a fan of German wine, you may have never actually had a Riesling before. Riesling is a white wine grape that needs cooler growing conditions (thus its inclusion here) and produces a sweeter white wine that carries some residual sugar. A generation ago that residual sugar would have only disqualified Riesling from ever receiving good vineyard sites in America, but times are changing. Millenials are all the rage when it comes to the wine industry, for good reason. They are the first generation of Americans to drink more wine than beer from the first day they were allowed to legally purchase alcohol. They also grew up in the exact middle of the soda wars, meaning most of them are completely accustomed to sweeter drinks. One of the things they’re already shown a willingness to do, is to discount common wine knowledge for wines that they simply like better, or that they feel fit their palates more easily. Riesling is one grape likely to benefit from all of this, largely because it is a sweet wine, that never gained market share in America because it is difficult to pronounce-two strikes that don’t exist with the youngest and most serious generation of wine drinkers that this country has ever seen.
Mark Aselstine is the owner of Uncorked Ventures, an online wine club recently rated among the best wine clubs in America by Forbes Magazine. He is constantly in search of the best wines in Napa Valley and beyond for his wine club members who allow him to deliver two unknown bottles to their doors each and every month.