10 Facts About Los Carneros AVA

Spanning some 37,000 acres extending into both Napa and Sonoma counties, “Los Carneros AVA” is a hot-bed for cool-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines, as well as for sparkling wines, typically produced in the traditional method. The name of the AVA means “the ram” in Spanish, and this year marks the 30th anniversary since the Carneros Wine Alliance was founded.

To celebrate, the Alliance is hosting a “Year of the Ram” birthday bash on July 25, 2015 and details are here. To help celebrate, we’re putting our educational caps on and butting heads with some hard facts about Carneros, which is a complex appellation defined by its climactic characteristics and not by political boundaries.

10 Facts About Los Carneros AVA*

  1. AVA status granted: 1983
  2. First vineyards planted: 1830s
  3. Famous vineyards: Hyde and Hudson in Napa County and Sangiacomo in Sonoma County.
  4. First winery established: 1870s (The oldest continually operating winery in Carneros: Bouchaine Vineyards, founded by a Missourian named “Boon Fly.” Vines were first planted in the 1880s).
  5. Total wineries: 45
  6. Major grape varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir (though good Merlots are produced in cooler areas as well).
  7. Approximate acres under vine: 9,000
  8. Soils are primarily clay and are quite shallow–only about three feet deep with low to moderate fertility.
  9. Taittinger’s Domaine Carneros is an exact replica of their Château de la Marquetterie property in Champagne, France.
  10. UC Davis Heat Summation Scale rates Carneros: Region I (2,500 or fewer growing degree days, ranking it on the lowest end of the scale).

*Sources: Carneros.com; Robinson, J., & Murhpy, L. (2013). American Wine. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: University of California Press; appellationamerica.com.

Mark Your Calendar: Carneros Wine Alliance Annual Barrel Tasting

Carneros Spring Barrel Tasting

Each year, members of the trade and media are invited to the annual Carneros Wine Alliance Barrel Tasting Event, typically held in the Spring. Current vintages as well as older ones and barrel samples are available to taste. Christian Oggenfuss and I are pictured in the photo above, taken by Ashley Teplin of Teplin+Nuss, tasting our way through Carneros at this year’s past barrel tasting. Those interested in next year’s event should contact: info@carneros.com.


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