During the early decades of winemaking in the Napa Valley, grapes were often planted in patchwork pattern vineyards in which many varieties were mixed. But experience has since shown the wisdom of matching grapes with locations whose microclimates and soils are best suited to particular grape varieties.
Within the Napa Valley, regions have emerged that possess distinct microclimates and terrains, imprinting recognizable characteristics on the grapes grown within them.
Vintners and growers within these regions delineate the boundaries of these growing areas, giving them names that reflect their regional designations, or appellations.
Data supporting a proposed American Viticultural Area, or AVA, is submitted to the government, which decides whether the proposed appellation designation will be granted.
The Napa Valley is what is commonly referred to as an appellation. In the United States, the legal term Is American Viticultural Area or AVA and Napa Valley was the first in California designated in 1981.
The Napa Valley produces just 4% of California’s wine grape harvest and is 1/8th the size of Bordeaux. It enjoys a dry Mediterranean climate which encompasses only 2% of the Earth’s surface which translates to great consistency vintage-to-vintage. Within the Napa Valley AVA, regions have been recognized that possess distinct microclimates and terrain, imprinting recognizable characteristics on the grapes grown there. These AVAs are commonly referred to as sub- or nested-appellations. This great diversity within the Napa Valley allows a wide range of fine wine grapes to grow well here, and provides the winemaker a diverse palette to create from. All to bring consumers an incredible selection of consistent high quality wines from the region.
The Napa Valley is itself an appellation. Within the Napa Valley appellation exists 16 subappellations, or AVAs, including: Atlas Peak, Calistoga, Chiles Valley District, Coombsville, Diamond Mountain District, Howell Mountain, Los Carneros, Mt. Veeder, Oakville, Rutherford, St. Helena, Spring Mountain District, Stags Leap District, Yountville, Wild Horse Valley and Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley.