How the best wines of Napa Valley are grown
To find the best wines in Napa Valley, wine connoisseurs judge wines on appearance, aroma, body, taste and finish. The wine should be clear and brilliant, with the proper color and a complex, intense aroma. The weight and texture of it in the mouth is nearly as important as the flavor, which should be well balanced with recognizable notes of flavor. Its aftertaste should linger pleasantly in the mouth after it has been swallowed.
The best vineyards in Napa Valley match different varieties of grape to their particular soil and microclimate to achieve these qualities. There are about 400 wineries in the valley. In the coolest parts of the valley, winemakers grow Pinot Noir and Merlot grapes. The hardy Cabernet Sauvignon grapes can grow in any part of the valley, but yield better wines in some areas than in others. (Premium Cab grapes from Napa are sold for about $20,000 a ton.) The winemakers put planning and judgment into harvesting the grapes at precisely the right time, when the grapes are ripe-tasting but without too much sugar.
The best vineyards in Napa have tasting rooms where old library wines and the vintages of the past few years can be tried for a reasonable fee, paired with artisanal cheeses or other gourmet dishes. Bigger vineyards have scheduled tours, and smaller ones can generally be toured by appointment. When you visit a smaller vineyard, you have a much better chance of talking to someone who does some of the work there — or even the owner. The best time to visit is fall or spring, so as to avoid the crowds of tourists. In the fall, you can watch the harvest, but all the employees will probably be busy.
One of the best vineyards in Napa near St. Helena
Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards in Napa Valley, a 10-minute drive from downtown St. Helena, is one of the best vineyards in the Napa Valley area. Their Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends are widely regarded as among the best wines in Napa. Their Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and non-malolactic Chardonnay of this vineyard also have a cult following. It holds tastings in its barrel caves, where current releases and library wines may be sampled and visitors can learn all about the process of making and storing the wine. Cave tastings are $65, but one tasting fee can be waived by joining their wine club or making a $100 purchase.
Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards produces world-class wines at affordable prices. The vineyard is a 40-acre estate just south of Howell Mountain, and has been owned and operated by the Anderson family since 1983. Anderson’s wines are sold online and in five locations in Napa Valley, and many other locations nationwide. Order a bottle today.