Napa Valley History - Pt. 2


by Doruk Gurunlu

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Napa Valley is sandwiched between Mayacamas Mountains on the west and the Vaca mountains on the east. Glorious fog comes rolling into the valley from the San Pablo Bay and plays an important role in making the southern part of Napa Valley the coolest. This cooling effect is felt from Calistoga all the way up to St. Helena, which is actually the warmest part of the valley. The Mayacamas receive the gentle morning sun which has the effect of green lushness. On the other hand, the Vacas appear scorched due to the afternoon heat.

The soils of Napa valley are incredibly diverse, with over 30 distinct types that overlap and interweave, forming complex patterns. The sun, the soil, the coolness and fog all make the area of Napa Valley superior for creating delicious wines.

To further our discussion of Napa wines, you must know something about American Viticultural Areas in Napa Valley. Growers and vintners helped to create defined grape growing areas within Napa Valley and they have distinct names to reflect the regional designations. These are known as AVAs.

Oberon Chardonnay by the glass comes from the Los Carneros AVA and is lighter in style than its northerly neighbors’ offerings. It has the good structure, body and flavors you would expect from a Napa Chardonnay but in a more elegant way. Los Carneros spans both Napa and Sonoma counties and can be bottled as either Carneros, Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley or even Sonoma Coast.

From the Howell Mountain, Diamond Mountain and Spring Mountain designated AVAs, you find the wines are less extracted and more acidic than valley floor wines and mostly more expensive. The Barnett Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from the Spring Mountain AVA is one of the favorite wines on our list.

Diamond Mountain is one of the smallest AVAs in Napa and we offer the 2007 Andrew Geoffrey Cabernet Sauvignon as a great example of the region. We suggest that because of the right amount of fruit and good tannins, it is a perfect way to start your main course. We would love to decant this gem, presenting a glass of the bubbles of that lovely white wine.

The Howell Mountains AVA vineyards are above the fog line which is considered1400 feet. That location helps to create wines which are really elegant and fine, as the elevation makes day and night time temperature swings smaller and leads to the wines being well balanced. Since our selections change constantly, please ask us about our current Howell Mountain wines available when you visit us at Pescado.

The Rutherford AVA is the historic heart of Napa and takes its name from Thomas Rutherford, who married George Yount’s granddaughter. (Remember George from Part One?)  Following that marriage, he was given 1000 acres of land as a part of her dowry. We suggest the Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon from the Rutherford AVA with our Spinalis and Shrimp Cake.

Oakville AVA is the contemporary part of Napa Valley. Many of the greatest hits of 80’s and 90’s are found here, such as Groth, Cabernet Sauvignon which have juicy and robust tannins and would make our tenderloin benedict more memorable.

St.Helena AVA is in the warmest part of the valley, just south of Calistoga. If you come with a big group, you can enjoy large format Heitz cellar Chardonnay from this AVA which is always a crowd pleaser. It will complement most of the dishes at Pescado.

Finally, the Calistoga AVA is located in the northernmost part of Napa’s valley floor and offers a wide variety of robust wines. If you want to try something other than Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, we have Eisele Vineyard Syrah made with lots of blueberries, black pepper and black olives. This wine will make every bite of your Tomahawk ribeye a new bite.

So many wines from which to choose and so many from Napa Valley AVAs. Just ask our Pescado Sommelier for assistance. We want you to enjoy every mouthful when you dine with us.

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Originally from Turkey, Doruk Gurunlu has lived in the United States since 2005 when he came to South Walton. Doruk has many passions – wine being one of them. He truly enjoys talking about wine with his friends and guests at Pescado in a way that makes the knowledge of wine accessible and relatable.