Both wine countries of Napa Valley and Sonoma County have different geographies that differ with subtlity and contrast. Carneros is a large area occupying both counties and has fewer tasting rooms than further up trail in Sonoma and Napa. Despite it’s rural feel can be immediately offset by the very busy highway 121–but that is key. Driving off of nearly any road leads to a gorgeous setting and the rural sense comes back into play.
Los Carneros is home many varietals Pinot Noir and Chardonnay but to other varietals such a Merlot, Tempranillo, Grenache, Malbec, Pinot Meunier, Riesling, Roussanne and Dolcetto to name a few. Pinot Noir found it’s first cool climate setting (in California) in Los Carneros and that is hard to believe. In the treasury of Los Carneros AVA is it’s fortunate geography–the San Pablo Bay gently giving the the cool breathe in summer time that is so valuable and so necessary.
And Carneros is relatively new with respect to wine grape cultivation. Louis Martini developed the Stanly Ranch in the 1940s paved the way for what we enjoy today. There are approximately 6,000 acres / 2,400 hectares that are devoted to viticulture.
Carneros treasury is being a fortunate cool zone which in many ways is a work horse for the sparkling wine industry in California–many wine grapes that find there way to a bottle of sparkling wine (Mumm Napa, Domaine Carneros and Domaine Chandon).
I do take time to drive in Carneros – I get out and take a moment to breathe the air, enjoy an evocative sunset and enjoy it’s quiet. Getting to the tasting room is enjoyable but the journey to getting there is equally so.
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