Napa Valley (California) Wines

Along with Sonoma, the Napa Valley appellation, with 15 additional nested AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) over 45,000 planted acres, is one of the premier wine producing regions in America. Geographically, the Napa Valley is framed by the Vaca Mountains in the east and the Mayacamas Mountain Range in the west. Generally, soil in the north of the region consists of volcanic gravel, while the south consists of clay and silt deposits associated with historical advances of nearby San Pablo Bay. Napa has a wide range of micro-climates, largely shaped by altitude and the relative exposure to the influence of cooling fog.

Map of Napa Valley wine regions

Map of Napa Valley’s wine regions

Napa Valley Wine Grapes

Cabernet sauvignon dominates grape production in Napa. Napa’s magnificent cabernet sauvignon-based red wines come in a range of styles: in warmer environments (such as the Napa Valley floor), flavors will be dark, soft, and generous. In cooler environments (such as the mountain appellations), wines increase their structuring tannins, retain greater acidity, and take on slightly more earthy and herbal flavor characteristics. Merlot comes in swift second place, offering immediately approachable wines with generous fruit, easy tannins, and low acidity.

While cabernet dominates red wine production, chardonnay holds the leadership position in white wine production. That said, there are a range of white wine options worth exploring: sauvignon blanc, riesling, pinot gris, viognier, and gewurztraminer.

Napa’s wines are world class – the only drawback generally being the high prices relative to some non-US wine-producing zones — and should be sought out by wine drinkers seeking the best experiences.

Wines of the USA iPhone & iPad App


Learn about American wines with Approach Guides wine app for iPhone and iPad. The app profiles many American winemaking regions, grape varieties, appellations, and vintages, giving you everything you need to know to choose a wine that meets your preferences.

Yountville AVA in Napa Valley (with map)

The Napa Valley, with 15 additional “nested” AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) over 45,000 planted acres, is one of the premier wine producing regions in America. One of its most famous AVAs is Yountville, located in the center of the Valley. Yountville was the place where Napa Valley’s first vineyards were planted (1836) and is now the home to gastronomic destinations like The French Laundry and Bottega Ristorante.

Map of Napa Valley wine regions

Map of Napa Valley’s wine regions

About Yountville AVA (Napa, California)

Located in the center of the Napa Valley, the Yountville AVA (sea level to 1100 ft above sea level) experiences very balanced temperatures: it is modestly warmer than the Carneros and Oak Knoll AVAs to its south, but cooler than the Oakville, Rutherford, and St. Helena AVAs its north.

This balanced temperature profile gives Yountville’s cabernet sauvignon — cabernet dominates the AVA’s production at nearly 70% of total — a very distinctive profile. Yountville cabernets are more subtle, gentle and reserved than those from the warmer AVAs; however, they have a greater polish than the harder, earthier versions from the cooler AVAs. Tannins are hard and acidity levels are good. Yountville: an appellation with wines in harmony!

The Yountville AVA also produces quality merlot.

Wines of the USA iPhone & iPad App

Learn about American wines with Approach Guides wine app for iPhone and iPad. The app profiles many American winemaking regions, grape varieties, appellations, and vintages, giving you everything you need to know to choose a wine that meets your preferences.