History and Development of Mount Veeder in Napa Valley
The weather in Mount Veeder tends to be rainier than the rest of Napa Valley. This is because of the Redwood and Round Creek watersheds. The great majority of the vineyards in Mount Veeder are situated near either Round Creek or Redwood Creek. Due to the abundance of large redwood and oak trees, in this region it is one of the most picturesque in Napa Valley.
The startling elevation of the Mount Veeder AVA also contributes to its stunning beauty. The mountainside slopes of Mount Veeder ranges between 400 feet above sea le vel to 2,600 feet above sea level. While a number of regions in Napa Valley receive some protection from the winds of San Pablo Bay, Mount Veeder is more exposed to the winds. As a result, the afternoons tend to be very breezy and far cooler than other areas. This lends well to a long growing season.
When you tour the wineries in Mount Veeder you will discover that a very small percentage of the land in Mount Veeder is planted with grape vines. The actual area of Mount Veeder covers some 25 square miles; however. Still, the area that is planted is ideal for the growth of mountain grapes that are rustic in nature. The roots of the vines in this are are able to extend deeply into the ground.
The terrain and climate of Mount Veeder is particularly well suited for Rhone varietals. Jade Mountain became the first winery in the area to take advantage of these elements for the production of Rhone varietals. The Paras Vineyard Syrah is considered to be one of the best Rhone varietal wines produced in Mount Veeder.
In addition to Rhone varietals, you will also find that a number of red Bordeaux varietals are also planted in Mount Veeder including Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
Many vineyards in the area produce grapes in low quantities. Most of these grapes are thick skinned and have an intense flavor concentration. In fact, the wines produced from Mount Veeder are known to be among the most flavorful wines in the entire Napa Valley region. As a result, most of the vintners in Mount Veeder find it necessary to balance that flavor with other elements.
Historically, the vintners in this area have been able to achieve this with remarkable aplomb. A significant portion of the development of Mount Veeder as a wine region is due to European mountain vineyard production. The first wines were produced in Mount Veeder as early as the 1860s. By the 1870s, German immigrants had begun to settle in the area and by the end of 1889 Mayacamas Vineyards had been firmly established. The owner of the vineyard had a broad range of commercial interests; however, and he went bankrupt at the turn of the century. Rumors persist that while other vineyards in Napa Valley were shut down during Prohibition, Mayacamas was used by bootleggers. Regardless, the vineyards were eventually purchased and restored in the late 1960s.
The modern day Hess Collection Winery was established after the turn of the century by Colonel Thomas Gier. Eventually, he found it necessary to sell the property as a result of the Depression. The vineyards were purchased by the Christian Brothers, who used it for the production of sacramental wine throughout Prohibition. Today, the production facilities that were used by the Christian Brothers are leased to Donald Hess; where an extensive art collection is also housed.
Brother Timothy, in particular, is believed to have been one of the most instrumental individuals in the development of Mount Veeder as a leading wine region. Both he and Brother John proved to have an important role in the development of Mount Veeder as an AVA. The region was granted AVA status in 1990. Prior to 1935, the region was known as Napa Redwoods. Of course, today it has gained a sterling reputation in its own right. More than a dozen wineries are located on Mount Veeder.