The Climate and Terrain of St. Helena Lends to an Exceptional Napa Valley Wine Region
St. Helena has become known not only for producing fine wines but also for being the business center in Napa Valley. If you are traveling to the area and looking for accommodations, this area is certainly worth considering. The picturesque town is home to some 6,000 residents and features some of the most beautiful wine country in the area. In addition, you will have the opportunity to tour some of the most prestigious wineries in the entire state of California.
The warm climate in St. Helena has contributed to its development as a premier wine region. Most of the wineries in St. Helena produce wines that are Cabernet Sauvignon based and do so with tremendous success. Some of the most well known wineries in St. Helena include Charles Krug, Beringer and Vineyard 29.
As a result of the warm and sunny climate in St. Helena, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon, in particular, do quite well. The wines produced in St. Helena tend to posses a full body than the wines you will find in the southern regions, which are cooler. Due to robustness of the wines of St. Helena, the region has become a favorite with tourists who are interested in tastings and wine tours.
As is the case with many of the sub-regions of the Napa Valley, you will find that the terrain of St. Helena is somewhat different than even areas that are located quite close by. The soils in this region tend be comprised of volcanic and alluvial debris. At one time the San Pablo Bay covered a number of the AVAs in Napa Valley; however, interestingly enough, it did not ever extend so far north as St. Helena.
In comparison to the southern regions of Napa Valley, St. Helena tends to be warmer. The valley tends to curve somewhat to the west, dispersing even the small amounts of fog and wind that slide past the Yountville Mounts. In the afternoon; however, the climate tends to become cooler as the breeze makes its way through Knights Valley and Chalk Hill. As evening draws near, the temperatures drop even further. This provides the opportunity for the grapes in St. Helena to retain their acidity.
St. Helena also receives more rainfall on average than the remainder of the southern valley. Up to 38 inches of rain falls per year in St. Helena, compared to a mere 32 inches in the rest of the valley.
The terrain of St. Helena has also led to the development of this region as a premier wine production area. Here, the soil tends to be primarily sedimentary and alluvial. A small amount of volcanic influence can also be found in the soil. As a result, some of the most widely planted varieties in the region include Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay. Zinfandel also tends to do well here, as evidenced by the success of Buehler Vineyards.
Due to the fact that the vines in the valley are able to extend up to 400 feet, Merlot, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon are all able to thrive in the local area.
You will find as you travel south of St. Helena that Valley tends to narrow quite a bit. North of town, adjacent to Highway 29, is the Bench. Beringer Vineyards, one of the most well known vineyards in the country, is situated on the Northern Bench. As the oldest continually operated winery in the Valley, Beringer has developed quite a reputation.
The exceptional climate and terrain in St. Helena has led to the development of several renowned wineries and vineyards. Vineyard 29 is just one of the many examples that have become known throughout the world as a result of the superb local climate and terrain. The vineyard was founded in 1989 by Teresa Norton and Tom Paine. Cuttings from Grace Family Vineyard were used to establish the vineyard.
While there is no doubt that St. Helena has become well established as a commercial center in the Valley, the production of exceptional wines is still quite strong here. The quaint town in the heart of the St. Helena region serves as an attractive draw for tourists every year.