Nestled in the cooler San Pablo Bay influenced area at the foothills of the southeastern end of the valley, hugging the Vaca range, and just east of the city of Napa (proper) is the Coombsville AVA. The lesser known 16th sub-appellation of Napa Valley was established in 2011, which seems like only yesterday. Well, in wine terms, it pretty much was, although Cabernet plantings in the area date back to the 1920s, and possibly before.
Cool air from the maritime climate and subsequent fog blanket the area almost daily durring the growing season and temperatures are more regulated durring the winter, reducing the concerns of frost damage in the region. The soils in the region are highly influenced from erosion and the valley’s volcanic history, namely Mt. George. The soils are comprised of volcanic sedimentary rock, volcanic ash, alluvial deposits, and gravel.
The soil composition and climate make for a longer growing season with slower ripening, smaller berries and longer hang times which allows the flavors to develop more and have increased concentration. Remember, great wine starts on the vine. Rich, smooth, polished, and supple tannins are a direct effect of this style of slow ripening.
This new appellation boasts smaller family-owned wineries, a more down to earth vibe, and beautiful landscapes not flooded with excessive traffic and tourism. Often referred to as a “hidden secret” by the locals, the wines are no less amazing than anywhere else in the valley, just not as highly sought after in the market place, nor is the area as heavily marketed for tourism. Likened to how Napa was in the old days, the region now boasts a uniqueness for its unknown status.
It is a lesser known fact, but the big houses in Napa had known about Coombsville for a very long time, and were happy to source fruit for their award winning Napa Valley wines, knowing the secret to their blend was a portion of the Coombsville fruit they could get their hands on.
Until the establishment of the AVA in 2011, it was considered Napa’s best-kept secret. Upon applying for the AVA status, the certification review board received more letters in favor than any other AVA application ever, and not a single letter in opposition. It appears the quiet, secret corner of Napa is now ready to take its rightful place on the map.