How the best vineyards in Napa Valley become the best
There are about 400 wineries in Napa valley, and many different microclimates and regions of soil that add up to 16 American Viticultural areas. No one of them produces the perfect grape — instead, the best vineyards of Napa Valley match the right variety of grape to their particular terroir, tend the vines lovingly and harvest the grapes at just the right moment. They grow Pinot Noir and Merlot grapes in the coolest parts of the valley, Zinfandel grapes in the mildest and the hardy but exquisite Cabernet Sauvignon grapes anywhere they want. (Premium Cab grapes from Napa sell for about $20,000 a ton.)
Wine clubs and wine tastings
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. Joining a wine club is a great way to get invited to these tastings.
Bigger vineyards have scheduled tours, and smaller ones can usually be toured by appointment. When you visit a smaller vineyard, you have a much better chance of talking to someone involved in making the wine — or even the owner.
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. 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. An example of what this vineyard can produce is the 2012 Right Bank. This comes from one of those perfect years for grape growing, when sun and rain seem to conspire to produce high yield and high quality. The wine features a strong blackberry aroma with hints of red berries, plums, dark cocoa, leather, blue violets, roses, cloves, anise and allspice. The flavor is similar, and perfectly balanced with seamless oak and grape tannins and bright acidity. This wine is expected to be good for 30 years. Order a bottle of the 2013 vintage today to see if it’s equally good.