Napa Valley’s Variety of Soils & Climates

Napa Valley and its winery’s different soils and climates.

The Napa Valley is famous throughout the world for the quality of its wines. The valley proper is a long, smooth, saberlike curve, two to four miles wide, that runs from the foot of Mount St. Helena (not to be confused with the notorious volcano in Washington State) to San Pablo Bay. At the northern end of the valley is the town of Calistoga, 348 feet above sea level, and the geyser called “Old Faithful of California.” Here the soil is rich and volcanic. At the southern end is the port city of Vallejo and the marshy tidal estuary where the river meets the bay at sea level. Here the soil is more sedimentary. In the center of the valley is the Rutherford Bench, also sedimentary but better drained than the lower parts of the valley. Some of the tributaries to the Napa River, like the Conn River, have their own little valleys.

Napa Valley’s Microclimates

All this variety means that Napa Valley wineries benefit from a broad range of soil and microclimates, lending each one a different terroir that shows up in the taste of the wine. Wine from grapes grown on the valley floor has a heavier feel on the palate. Mountain grapes grow in less fertile soil, which stresses the vines and produces less numerous but more flavorful grapes. The wine from them has more acidity and tannins, because marine layer fog from San Francisco Bay often covers the Napa Valley at night and during the morning in late summer and early fall. This means nights on the mountains are warmer than in the valleys — warm enough for grapes to continue ripening after dark. Ripening without photosynthesis leads to less sugar and more tannins within the fruit.

Excellent Napa Valley wines from a St. Helena winery

Some of the best California wines come from Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards in Napa Valley. Just a 10-minute drive from downtown St. Helena, Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards produces world-class wines at affordable prices. The vineyard is a 40-acre estate just south of Howell Mountain. The microclimate of Conn Valley is cooler than many other parts of the valley, although warmer than Howell Mountain itself, so the grapes they grow are closer to mountain grapes. At the vineyard, you have the chance to meet the owners and wine-makers and taste excellent wine stored in a cave.

Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards has been owned and operated by the Anderson family since 1983. Anderson’s wines are sold online and in five locations in Napa Valley, and many other locations nationwide. By ordering six bottles or more per year, you can join their wine club. This will get you a discount on many of their finest wines.