Understanding Napa Valley’s top grapes and wine styles

Hi everyone welcome welcome good morning Good afternoon good evening again Wherever you’re joining from us um for Joining us from uh we’re glad to have You here with us live um today we will Be going through a session uh vanessa Conlon will be leading us through Understanding napa valley’s top grapes And wine styles um so just a little bit Of housekeeping notes uh we do want to Make sure that you all know this will be Recorded and stored on youtube so if It’s getting a little late you can Always hit pause and rejoin later And of course we do have a little bit of A longer session today so if you have Any questions or anything there’s that Lovely q a box down there feel free to Pop in your questions and then we will Try to get to those at the end of the Session today Now uh without much further to do i’ll Be introducing vanessa so i’ll just give You a little bit of some notes on her Before she goes away and tells us all About napa so vanessa thank you so much For being here um real quick on her Story and her background so she has Served as a director of sales and Marketing for Several wineries um top prestigious ones In napa valley uh some names include Arietta lines uh dana estates she also Did work on the other side of the coast

So the east coast in manhattan for Several uh wine retailers and wine bars Serving as the wine buyer and wine Director for those And um you know she has a very Wonderful heart and is very much an avid Supporter of charitable causes she sits On the board of the jamison humane Foundation which is an animal rescue and Sanctuary and Through hard work she has raised over Seven million dollars with wine auctions That she has helped organize so that is Really impressive um and just a fun Little tidbit about vanessa is that in Her previous life she was a professional Musician performing on broadway Internationally uh so that is really Awesome maybe she’ll she’ll share some Tunes with us during the session But Without much more to say um welcome Vanessa the stage is yours we are so Happy to have you here with us and we Are looking forward to it Thank you thank you so much it’s great To be here and from everybody joining um Joining thank you for being here um i’m Going to share my screen in just a Moment i have some slides to present I live in napa valley so this is very Dear to my heart and i love sharing Knowledge about napa so there is quite a Bit to get through today so um

Do utilize the chat in the q a i will Try my best to get to those questions But do forgive me if we run Um long on this session because there is Quite a bit to get through so um one Moment i will share my screen And we will get started Okay Wonderful well again welcome thank you So much for being here uh we’re excited To share uh knowledge about napa today So what we’re going to cover today so This is a foundation course we’re going To cover i’m going to cover a little bit Of history we’re going to talk about the Place Um some people who are very instrumental In putting napa valley on the map And then we’re definitely going to cover The key grape varieties so We’re going to cover their Characteristics wine making styles and What you might how you might describe it To a consumer who wants to know more but Maybe has never had these types of wine From napa valley So our learning objectives today of Course is confidence among all um the Goal is to arm you with knowledge about The characteristics and the differences Of napa valley’s key great varieties and Wine styles so whether you already Discussed grape varieties you know daily And and or you just are just getting

Started and wish to know more um you’re Definitely going to leave with some Knowledge and some terminology that you Can use And in the end the goal is of course for You to be able to distinguish and Compare and contrast the key Characteristics of the grape varieties That we’re going to cover in today’s Session and then for those of you Working the trade again be able to help A consumer if they’re new to it as well So Uh before i dive into this um this Particular slide i just wanted to give a A brief overview of This special place of napa valley so Napa as a sort of a brand name is very Famous um but it’s actually quite a Small region it’s only about 30 miles Long And about five miles wide and it’s at Its widest so um in spite of being a Very small region it has quite a bit of Notoriety but in fact only four percent Of california’s wine grapes actually Come from napa valley uh i’ll discuss The place a little bit more as we go but It has 33 soil series and 100 soil Variations so it’s very very diverse in Terms of soils but also elevation and Topography so we have sea level all the Way up to 2 600 feet in elevation And one thing to know about the napa

Valley is the napa the whole of napa Valley is what we call an aeva which is An american bitter cultural area but Nestled within the napa valley aba there Are 16 other approved american Viticultural areas So to start with a little history so um Winemaking began here uh back in the 1600s when Spanish missionaries as you can see on The on the slide here um they moved North from mexico Up the west coast and and then they Planted what we know now as the mission Grape which came from spain It’s also known as crayola or pace um But this became the mission grape became Really the first original black grape Variety uh in california so from 1769 to 1824 franciscan monks Established 21 missions in the area and Planted the mission grapes for Sacramental use um for communion whining And so mission was a very important Variety in california and told the Spread of philosopher i’m sure you’ve All had heard of phylloxera which really Devastated the vineyards uh in many Places in the world and also was present Here in california and it really wiped Out almost all of the mission grapes Except for about 600 acres that remain And that’s mainly in the central valley So in 1861 this is really when the idea

Of having um high quality wines here of Respected wines um so bittespinipera so Foreign varieties were planted here by Some very famous uh pioneers like george Belden is one Um and innovators such as someone named Jacob schramm uh he joined this sort of Spirited planting at the time and he Chose zinfandel as his top bread and i Will definitely discuss something else As we move through the Session gustav nebaum this is a very Important man to know uh he’s one of the Most famous pioneers of the napa valley He was actually a finnish defer trader Um And but he was instrumental in the Advancement of quality within the napa Valley he was very wealthy and as a Result he was used to who’s able to use His wealth to import the best grapevines From europe and to improve the quality Of the winemaking here and then in 1879 He established inglenook which was the First chateau style winery in all of the United states and it was also the first To actually sell wine in bottles prior To that it was actually sold in barrels Transported to the place of sale and Bottled there So today there are more than 35 great Varieties flourishing in napa valley but Only a handful Five reds and two whites have greater

Than a thousand planted acres but you Can see we have quite a dirt but a Diverse variety of white and red Varieties planted here So there are several factors that make Napa valley a high quality prime region For growing grapes one is that we have a Mediterranean climate here so this Provides a long dry warm growing season During the during the growing season and Into the harvest and this is important For a number of varieties one it resists Um it reduces the risk of vine diseases Like mold and rot being affected like That It promotes a healthy crop It con contributes to the consistency Of vintages year to year we certainly do Have vintage variation in napa valley But it’s oftentimes far less significant That you’ll find in other regions um When we look at places like burgundy or Bordeaux our vintages tend to be a Little bit more Consistent And the mediterranean climate also Reduces the risk of swelled berries and Sugar dilution from rain at harvest Because we start harvest usually can Start sometime in august here for us for White wine varieties we make sparkling Wine which i’ll talk about a little bit Later as well um and then continue all The way you know sometimes into into

October although with global warming It’s off it’s moving a little bit um Closer to um To summer these days but because we Don’t really have rain during harvest it Does reduce that risk of dilution So the rain comes in the dormant months Over the winter it replenishes the Groundwater and the reserves here And this is important too because this Actually allows a lot of napa valley to Dry farm uh or very tightly manage their Irrigation practices so what i mean by That if you’re not familiar with dry Farming is it means you’re not going to Use any artificial irrigation in the in The vineyard yourself you’re just Relying on natural rainfall and it is Not that uncommon here at all um So the climate here drives the vineyards Into dormancy over the winter so the Vine can store up its energy and Reserves to use for the following Growing season And this long growing season is also Ideal for wine grapes to ripen very Slowly and evenly and what this does is Really allow the sugar and the acid to Be in perfect balance and to allow Phenolic ripeness so um something that Happens here too that allows for this Sort of beautiful balance of ripeness And acid is we have large diurnal shifts So a diurnal shift is a shift in

Temperature from day to night and here It can be quite significant um so what This does is it allows the grapes to Ripen during the daytime and then Because it cools down so significantly It still allows the freshness and Acidity to remain in the grapes so we Have that sort of perfect dichotomy of This california sunshine but also Beautiful freshness and vibrancy in the Glass That we’re also have influenced by the Ocean here so we have a proximity to the Ocean and large bodies of water um they Actually change the temperature very Slowly more slowly than soil and so we Have less temperature variation Overall And the effects from the ocean mitigate The sometimes very high temperatures That you can find here by delivering fog And cool breezes and much of the Valley’s fog comes up through the san Pablo bay at the southern end of the Region so i’m sitting in the town of Napa Which is actually on the sort of more Southern side of napa and i can tell you For sure because i see it myself every Day that often you’ll wake up if the Whole um part of the valley is blanketed In fog and as the sun comes out over the Course of the day it begins to what we Call burn off and you’ll start to see

You’ll start to see the sunshine Um this valley is also nestled between Two mountain ranges so on the western Side we have the mayakamas mountains and On the eastern side we have the vacca Mountains So this as i mentioned earlier really Allows for a lot of different elevations For plantings and the higher elevations Provide for the most diurnal swing And that again helps to retain acidity And higher elevations are also generally Cooler With more wind and rain but with less Fog so these unique conditions provide For a variety of different flavors Phenolic development at different Altitudes and allow for greater Complexity in the wines And these two mountain ranges on either Side the my hummus and the background They have Also a wide array of aspects or sun Exposure um so this can add uh Complexity to the wines if the grower Let’s say has vineyards with different Aspects and then they blend it together For more complexity So Mediterranean climate is actually very Rare Only two percent of the earth’s surfaces Have this but it provides again as a Recap lots of sunshine rain really only

During the winter months a very very Long growing season and because of all Of those things we’re blessed with very Ripe and healthy fruit overall All right so let’s talk through what We’re going to cover today in terms of Grape varieties because i think this is What we’re all most interested in right Is what’s in the glass and what what can You expect to find there i know it’s my Favorite part um so we’re going to cover Two different white wine varieties Sauvignon blanc and chardonnay and four Reds so we’re going to talk through Pinot noir merlot cabernet sauvignon and Zinfandel So just as a recap for anyone sort of New to wine there are several places That the character of a wine in your Glass can actually come from so of Course starting in the vineyard And with the actual grape variety itself So i’m going to talk through the Different characteristics of those six Different grape varieties but a lot is Just from the fruit and where it’s Planted Another thing is of course the the Climate in the vineyard i talk through Those different sort of Aspects and elevations here the Proximity to the bay the proximity to The ocean those will all affect what Happens in your glass when you taste it

And then of course there’s the human Element which is the wine making and We’re going to talk through um different Different wine making techniques as well That you might find in a glass of wine From napa valley All right so as we said each grape and Then subsequently of course each wine Has its own unique Character or personality That you can detect in the glass By Aroma Color Body Acidity Flavor and of course texture and when we Talk through these red wines we of Course we’ll talk about tannin as part Of that that texture All right so flavor development so over Time uh in the growing season um the During the sugars begin to ripen so You’re gonna have um more ripeness the Later into the growing season as it Develops more sugar accumulation in the Grape variety itself of course the time When the winemaker or the viticulturals Chooses to pick is very important Because again they’re looking for that Balance of sugar accumulation phenolic Development but also the acidity that’s Going to provide freshness so i would Say probably the most important decision

That someone could make the whole year Is that day when to pick and then of Course at the end we’ll be influenced by Some wine making techniques that we’ll Talk through one of them might be Something like oak which is definitely Something you can find in many of these Examples from napa valley So let’s talk a little bit about um Climate and hang time and what we mean By hang time is not we’re hanging out uh It’s how long the grapes or the clusters Are actually on the vine and depending On how long they are it will definitely Have a different effect on the wine in Your glass if you think about grapes Ripening you can liken this to Any sort of fruit if you have you know a Peach tree in your backyard obviously if You pick that peach earlier it’s going To be more tart there will be less sugar In it and it will have higher acidity Um if you pick it later it’s going to Have more sugar accumulation the acid Will start to fall and then of course if You pick very late it’s going to be the Most full-bodied riper concentrated um And in some cases here if you look under Cool climate um or cool there’s this Description of herbal and vegetal and We’ll talk through that a little bit Especially when we get into the bordeaux Varieties because that is something that Can that can happen in your glass if

It’s grown in a cooler climate or let’s Say picked on the earlier side All right so The wine making influence um we have a Wide variety uh as places around the World do of of what we ferment and how We age wines so we don’t have any laws Here in napa valley that govern how long We have to age a wine or what vessel it Has to be asian so we actually have a Lot of freedom here to express ourselves Through our wine making and in the glass So you’ll see a variety of different Fermentation vessels here um Certainly stainless steel you’ll see Large oak you’ll see concrete you’ll see Amphora There’s acacia barrels so a wide variety Of things that you could find here And of course in the aging process as Well you’ll see quite a bit of french Oak in napa valley but there’s also Let’s say silver oak which is one of the Four the most famous wineries in all of Napa valley owns its own cooperage and They use american oak um of course you Can see some Very protective handling uh with just Stainless steel as i mentioned sort of a Variety of different options here for The wine makers and Ripened grapes here can be harvested by Hand or by machine again we don’t have Laws

Around that many much of the wine making Here or the picking is done by hand and A lot of that goes back to where we are So if you remember what i mentioned Earlier um there’s a lot of different Hillside vineyards here and some of them Are just so steep that it would be Absolutely impossible um to to do Anything other than ham and harvest but It is an option and you’ll so you’ll see Both mechanical and harvesting Um generally here we press the fruit Very gently of course if we’re talking White wine you’re going to press the Juice off of its skins and then with red Grapes of course they’re fermented on Their skins to maximize the tannin the Color the flavor development and then Press stuff of their skins later Okay So when we talk about the top white Wines from napa valley we’re really Talking sauvignon blanc and chardonnay Now that does not mean that there aren’t Other grape varieties here there’s Riesling there’s garver streamer um There’s muscat there’s semi-on you’ll Find all these there’s uh grapes uh Indigenous to italy here we’ve got a lot Of ribolla jala um so but the top two of Course are going to be sauvignon blanc And chardonnay and these are both what i Call international varieties so these Are not varieties that are indigenous to

Napa valley i know we have people Joining from all over the world so and These grow in basically every wine Growing region But what might you expect from white Wine flavors in the glass so of course This is going to depend on the climate Right because the cooler the climate Higher the acidity you might have more Tart kind of citrus flavors Um if it’s a little bit warmer you can Head into sort of more orchard fruits You know peach nectarine apple um some Of this is gonna come just from the Grape variety itself um but then of Course and if you move into even um Riper uh fruit or warmer places of Growing you’re gonna get sometimes Tropical fruit and then as the slide Shows some like this little grass here We can have a little grassy herbalness Particularly on something like sauvignon Blanc that we’ll talk through in a Moment And then depending on how the wine maker Decides to to Ferment it and age it you might get Notes from oak or malolactic Fermentation or something like bleach Stirring So sauvignon blanc the wild grape um so This is a grape known for a very vibrant Acidity it’s not a shy grape it was Always one when i was um

Blind tasting to study for the master of Wine exam it was almost like a gift if i Got this into blind tasting because it’s Very expressive it’s very aromatic And of course it’s hailing from the Loire valley of france that’s grown Around the world as i mentioned here Chile new zealand australia south africa Name it But the grape itself sauvignon is from The french word of sauvage or savage Meaning wild because the shape of its Leaves is actually similar to those of Wild grapevines Not named that as you might think Because of those sort of expressive Aromas but actually because of the shape Of the vines and it’s actually one of The parental grapes of cabernet Sauvignon along with cabernet franc So There’s an interesting history here of Savio blanc in napa valley so of course As you can see on the slide in the 1880s The bomb planted it at inglenook uh it’s A place i mentioned earlier uh in the Presentation Um and as with most grapes in napa Valley you know soviet blanc has a long Story storied past uh in the 1880s that Gustaf nibon was among the first to Plant it but other wineries began to Plant it as well and by 1915

Bolio vineyards and several others had Won gold medal awards for their Sauvignon blanc at a wine festival in San francisco Then in the mid 1900s sylvia blanc was Pioneered by legendary vin nurse such as H.w crabb Trophethan and lark mead although at That con at that time they were calling It so term Uh and it was fashionable for california Wines to use terms from some of the Great wines in france so you may Remember that inexpensive california Wines were sometimes called chablis or Burgundy of course we don’t do that Anymore But similarly sauvignon blanc was often Referred to as so-tern during this Period but fortunately around 1965 around respect Out of respect for these great wines Regions in europe this trend started to Change and american wines are almost Always now named for their variety What’s in the bottle itself So we had a period here in the united States called prohibition and this is When it was actually uh illegal to make Wine except for medicinal or sacramental Purposes and it had quite a big lasting Effect on the wine industry here and in Regards to stevia blanc so prohibition Was repealed in 1933.

The sauvignon blanc plantings at that Time actually exceeded chardonnay in California but we’ll talk about Chardonnay a little bit later and you’ll See that that has reversed uh in the Interim So silvia blanc in the united states it Continues to gain popularity um it’s the Third best-selling white wine in the u.s And here in napa valley it’s the second But gaining on chardonnay very quickly And it’s also the second most widely Planted grape with 3 000 acres about Half the size of chardonnay’s acreage Something um that we coined here is this Fume blanc so this is actually robert Mondavi um so at that time uh many of The sauvignon blancs that you would find Were actually sometimes had a little bit Of sweetness to them And they generally didn’t have oak and So this fumey blanc was a proprietary Name that robert mondavi called his dry Sauvignon blanc that he aged in oak so Fume meaning smoked so smoked white and To this day it’s still quite a famous Style and you will definitely see this At robert mondavi winery if you Visit sophia blanc is a great variety i Mentioned earlier it’s very expressive It really speaks to you right out of Gate so it’s a very aromatic body on This slide it’s medium it can vary a Little bit it can be lighter bodied uh

But generally kind of right down the Middle and then as i mentioned very high In acidity it has sort of a jagged Acidity that when i taste it it’s almost Like this instant mouth watering us that Happens very very refreshing And in terms of flavors again it’s going To depend on where it grows and how long It ripens but you can get a variety of Styles from napa valley from very much Like what you might find in the loire Valley sort of citrus and grass to that Kind of ripe Apple and pear and then all the way into Tropical fruits And some people as i mentioned beginning With robert modavi Actually Age their wine in oak So just to talk a little bit more about Vessels um so there are two vessels uh In particular that we often see in Winemaking that are what we call neutral And those will be um Uh concrete and stainless steel so Really what you’re gonna find is you’re Gonna get a very pure expression of the Variety in your glass without any other Influences from from oak But some of course will choose to use Oak this can add complexity it can add Texture barrels can actually breathe a Little bit Through you know through the um through

The wood itself so it can also add what I kind of call a breadth of palette and Can just sometimes if it’s let’s say um Not new oak you might not detect any Aromas or flavors in the glass but you Can oftentimes actually feel it on the Palate So if you’re talking to a consumer If they like a wine that’s very intense Has intense aromas if they like acidity If they like very crisp styles of wine This is for them and again it can range From an oat to oat So if you know anyone who likes that Those types of wines uh definitely like Sauvignon blanc and also i like it as um It’s very because of the acidity it’s a Great food pairing with other high acid Foods so things like goat cheese of Course the lower valley with sun serum Goat cheese is quite famous but you can Do this with sophia blanc from napa Valley as well and other high acid Things like a vinaigrette Or certainly anything with tomatoes So I do see some questions popping up so I’ll try to get to those as much as i Can but let’s move on to chardonnay So chardonnay um so chardonnay is the Offspring Of pinot noir and now what’s almost Extinct which is called gui blanc uh but These are both widespread in the

Northeast france in the middle ages so The earliest known reference to Chardonnay is was written by monks in The year 1330 And because of its famous pinot parent It was once misidentified as white pinot But chardonnay name actually traces back To its heritage in the middle ages and a Small village of the same name in france Making a region in southern burgundy So again this is a variety that i would Call international meaning it grows many Many different places But its particular history in napa Valley is this so it found its way to The new world in the late 19th century And it’s hard to track the first Plantings in california because it was As i mentioned confused with pinot blanc Milan and other great varieties but in Fact pinot blanc was the cause of cherny Being called pino chardonnay in California up until a few decades ago But we know for certain that in 1882 a Man by the name of charles latmore as You’ll see on the slide he was a President of the california state Viticultural commission and he imported Chardonnay budward budwood from marceau In burgundy and then he distributed it In california It later appeared in h.w crabb another Very famous uh an influential person Here in terms of napa valley history in

His nursery list as white pinot chojne Whatever that means They were still figuring it out but Around the same time inglenook had a Great variety they were still referring To as white pinot noir but westwood Budwood provided this sort of integral Component of the wente clone and plant Material that became the main chardonnay Plantings around the state To go back to prohibition as i mentioned Earlier this time in history where it Was very difficult to make wine When it ended in 1933 there was almost no chardonnay left In california Um it one of the reason was it didn’t Travel very well so you could get around These laws of prohibition if you did Home wine making but it didn’t travel Well because of this sort of thinner Skin Um but as i mentioned it’s now the Number one planting here in napa valley And someone that i definitely want to Mention is the family called the mcraes They planted chardonnay on spring Mountain there’s a very famous uh winery That still exists called stony hill and Really showcases some of the best Chardonnay i think in napa valley and Can also showcase that chardonnay can Age So a little bit more history on this

There was um this judgment of paris in 1976 where of course wine from from California was blind tasted against some Of the great wines from around europe And Lo and behold some of some of these Wines from california actually you know Beat these french wines it’s a sort of Upstart california region and there’s a Winery called chateau montelena and of Course this became very famous because It actually won uh at that tasting and This in turn really just sort of Skyrocketed chardonnays Acreage planting in the united states And of course this popularity as well So what might you expect in the glass so It’s not as aromatic as something like a Sauvignon blanc so mostly the aromatics Come from uh the wine making it’s sort Of known as the winemaker’s grape Because it’s a beautiful blank Canvas now that doesn’t mean you won’t Find any fruit character in it of course But generally a little bit more neutral Than other varieties in body you can Range um here it says it’s on the closer To the full but of course we know Chablis can be very light body let’s say In a cooler region and acidity is about Medium Again it can change depending on where It’s grown if you’re going to have a Much more sort of linear citrus note to

It or you can start to get riper flavors Like peach and mango all the way up to Very very tropical if it’s grown in warm Areas and i’ll talk a little bit more About wine making with this but as you Can see in this slide chardonnay very Often not always but very often Is either fermented or aged in some Version of oak which you can definitely Detect in the glass when that happens So um as with other varieties again You’ll see a range but um there is often A Thing that happens called malolactic Fermentation or you can see on this Slide you can just call it mlf for short But it’s actually a misnomer It’s not from another fermentation it’s A conversion of malic acid into lactic Acid And this is much more understood these Days so a wine maker can Inhibit it or encourage it but it can Happen just naturally of course but what Happens is the malic acid in a grape Which is that sort of tart kind of acid That you would find in let’s say a green Apple is converted by lactic acid Bacteria into lactic acid which is much Softer that’s like the acid in milk so It gets a softer edge to the texture of It as well and then often um either Fermented and or aged in oak and again Because it is sort of this blank canvas

Or this wine grape you can also very Easily taste chardonnay and know what The winemaker has done even if you Haven’t read about it what they did or Have the knowledge you can often just Sort of detect it in the glass and i Will say there’s often there’s a real Return here in napa valley to a much More balanced fresh style you will find Very sort of famous examples from napa Valley of rich oaky buttery um which are Very delicious to many people but often Now you’ll see that winemakers are kind Of scaling that back And as it matures some things that you Might notice is it can pick up a sort of Nuttiness to it and More dried fruit notes to it Some hay sometimes honey and sometimes Ginger and as i mentioned you will find Beautiful examples like stony hill of Chardonnay from napa that does Age very beautifully over time So if you’re talking to a consumer Who hasn’t had napa valley chardonnay Some things that you might describe And suggest are if they like a rich Bodied sort of silky white wine it has a Different texture to the acid as i Mentioned with sauvignon blanc i get This kind of jagged acidity chardonnay Can have a much sort of softer rounded Acidity often you’ll get sort of red Apple

Uh but you’ll get a range but then again If they like wines with oak um it’s Definitely something that you could that You could recommend And just a quick little side note here Let’s not forget that we also make Sparkling wines in napa valley uh and so Of course you will find chardonnay Planted here uh we have a lot of uh Traditional method here in napa valley And it’s often blended um with pinot Noir as well which we will discuss So Moving on let’s we have four red wines To get through so i want to be sure We’re staying on time so we’re going to Look at pinot noir merlot cabernet Sauvignon And zinfandel Things you might find in a red wine Often cherry strawberry blueberry Blackcurrant plum Blackberry and Of course if the wine maker chooses um To utilize something like like new oak In particular you might get things like Baking spices vanilla clove or a Toastiness depending on how uh intensely The barrel itself is toasted on the Inside Chardonnay excuse me pinot noir so the Heartbreak grape well why is it named That so it’s very fussy this is not a Great variety that makes it easy for the

Growers it can be very finicky and very Difficult to grow um so it’s possibly The ultimate oldest Cultivated vitis finiferous species um It’s first mentioned with this current Spelling is in 1375 Its true origins are are still unknown But by the 14th century it was known by Several names including pinot in Different growing regions in france And today it’s known as that heartbreak Rate by many growers in california Because it’s very delicate it’s very Delicate in both the vinegar the Vineyard and the winery in the vineyard It’s a thinner skinned variety so it’s Very easily affected by adverse weather Conditions it’s susceptible to diseases Fungus rot and in the winery itself it Requires a very gentle handling To extract maximum color from its thin Skins while still retaining the Aromatics and flavors So a little history of its rise in napa Um so there’s controversy as to exactly How it made its way uh to california but It’s associated with some very famous Names here um augustine has dorathy of Buena vista charles the frank of Alamedan vineyards and frenchman pierre Peliam So Not we don’t know everything but we do Know is that in 1880 pinot noir was

Introduced at the california Agricultural experiment station and Began Appearing as early as 1885 at gustaf me Bombs inglenok vineyards as well as Other napa valley vineyards And then in 1902 when george de la tour Began producing wine he initially choose Chose some lower end wines to make but Changed his mind and in 1907 he planted 15 acres of pinot noir along with Cabernet sauvignon And then louis martinez another name you Might know he bought 200 acres of the Stanley ranch In carneros which is a southern war Appalachian here And then in 1946 and again in 1947 andre Telechuck another very very famous Influential person here in napa valley Produced two gorgeous vintages of pinot Noir for both new vineyards that became Sort of a benchmark of the california Style So today it’s one of the best It’s the second best-selling wine in the U.s and the third most widely planted Within napa valley And to put that in perspective cabernet Sauvignon acreage which we’ll talk about Cabernet a little later is eight times Higher than pinot noir So clones what is a clone a clone is an Identical copy of a preferred bind so

This happens as a natural mutation and It can create variances you’ll hear About clones discussed often with Chardonnay as well but definitely Important to pinot noir um so it can Change the mutations can vary in the Yield size The berry size the color and sometimes And really often these variances are Desired and become so new so unique that A new name is given to it so um pinot Noir is very famous for mutating and Making clonal selection very important So that the winemaker has exactly what He he or she wants in the glass So let’s talk about what you might find Um as i mentioned it’s a thinner skin Variety so in color usually if i had the Gloss in front of me if i tipped it over Its side i could probably see through it I could probably read words on a paper Underneath the glass In body it tends to be just about medium And similarly in tannin it’s Usually just around medium again can Vary a little bit but it doesn’t have That really thick skinned dominant Tannin that you might find in something Like a cabernet sauvignon or a merlot So on the on the cooler side you can Find some very sort of tart cherry some Vegetable notes to it as a ripening Happens in sugar accumulation you’ll get More of these berry fruits that i listed

Here you know strawberry raspberry red Cherry sometimes cranberry Um and in too warm of a climate it can Get kind of excessively jammy and lose Its freshness so generally you’ll see Here in napa valley it’s grown in cooler Sites so i mentioned carneros which is An appalachian on the southern end it’s Quite close to the proximity to the san Pablo bay so it gets a lot of fog down There and it’s also because it’s a Cooler site carneros grows a lot of Fruit for our sparkling wine production Here And it’s not always happens but often You will see pinot noir um fermented and Or aged in some type of oak So pinot noir as i mentioned it’s kind Of this sweet spot here for growing it It’s influenced by the bay by the Proximity to the ocean and that kind of Mitigates uh the temperature here So as i mentioned earlier we don’t have To spend a lot of time on this slide Because we talk about it with the other Grape varieties but you can see a wide Variety of handling in the fit in the Winery itself you’ll see stainless steel You might see these large oak fermenters You might see it fermented in small Casks so um it’s very common to have oak Aging with pinot noir and it’s very very Rarely blended with other varieties um i Think that’s probably common worldwide

But i can definitely speak to napa Valley i can’t think of a single other Than a let’s say a sparkling wine you Know i can’t think of pinot noir being Blended with with anything else Um so something about pinot noir that we Do want to discuss in terms of wine Making because it’s different than what You’ll often find in other Varieties is that a lot of producers or Some producers will opt for whole berry Fermentation Uh it can be carbonic maceration or a Percentage of both And Fermenting with the whole clusters and On this on the stems themselves it Actually can give sort of a lifted Perfume note to the wine it can also add Some tannin and some structure and Because it’s a thinner skinned grape Variety it doesn’t offer up the intense Color of a thicker skinned grape like Cabernet sauvignon and so the wine maker Will have to work hard to gently extract As much color from the skins as possible But without being too harsh of course so It’s often fermented in what we call Open top fermenters and this is used for Ease of punch down so punch down is Where they’re going to push the cap back Down into the fermenting wine to break It up and of course To increase that extraction from the

Skins itself In terms of maturity um You often find very savory notes as as They mature earthy notes game i think is A great descriptor for what you might Find in an older pinot noir um and then Of course it’s sort of mushroomy or Sometimes a truffle note As pinot matures So for a customer Um if they like a softer tan and wine so Sort of more silky texture to the Tannins certainly pinot noir is a great Option for them this sort of red fruited Note i always get a lot of cherry you Know strawberry on on pinot noir Particularly from napa valley it does Have a brightness of acidity and as i Mentioned very often is matured in oak So if they like a lighter bodied silky Tannin red wine with brightness and Sometimes some oak they will definitely Love Pinot noir from napa valley And again just a reminder it’s not all Still wine here we also grow a lot of Pinot noir for our traditional method Sparkling wines again very often grown In carneros for these sparkling wines Made here and often blended with Chardonnay as well Okay so moving right along merlot um so Known as the blackbird so merlot can be Traced back to the first century in

France uh the name comes from the french Word merrell which means blackbird if You’re a french speaker out there please Forgive my pronunciation um but it is an Offspring of cabernet franc And an obscure unnamed variety it’s also A half sibling of cabernet sauvignon as Well as carmenere and malbec and it’s Often compared to cabernet sauvignon but Merlot in the vineyard is usually an Earlier budding variety and is easier to Ripen than cabernet sauvignon and it’s a Very fertile grape so it can thrive in Poor soils Moist or cold for cabernet sauvignon due To its high sugar levels it achieves a Little bit more alcohol percentage as Well And so tannins on merlot i often find Very velvety Very soft Firmer than the pinot noir i mentioned But often not as much as what you might Find in a cabernet sauvignon so let’s Talk about its history just a little bit Um so in the late um In the mid-1800s it was brought here to Santa clara valley And then in the late 1970s as these varietal wines gained Popularity several producers made moves To concentrate on merlot in Napa valley which was then very Dominated by cabernet sauvignon

Including um but some that invested in Merlot are duckhorn who of course has a Very very famous merlot and a vineyard Called three palms which is very iconic Um rutherford hill and swanson And in the 1980s merlot plantings were on the rise In napa valley and then there was a very Large crop in 1986 This brought down prices of a lot of Varieties and profits from our low along With cabernet sauvignon stored instead Because merlot was the valley’s most Profitable variety per acre at that time And today it’s the third most popular Red wine in the united states and the Second most planted in napa valley Um It is a bordeaux variety so when we talk About board override these are Five major um cabernet sauvignon Cabernet franc petit verdo and then of Course small back And what might you find in the glass so It’s definitely it’s definitely going to Have more color let’s say than that Pinot noir that we discussed more body And more tannin But these tannins as i described i often Find to be very silky very velvety is a Good word to describe it And then in terms of flavors it can have That sort of vegetal note that i Mentioned if it’s grown in a cooler site

Moving into the sort of dark plum cherry And herbs and then can take on this Almost chocolaty mocha note uh with a Lot of ripeness but for me when i was Blind tasting i always looked for this Sort of plum note of merlot which was Often a marker for me And it is very often matured in oak So it you can find 100 Varietal merlot in napa valley but it’s Really very very commonly blended like It is in bordeaux here in napa valley With other Other bordeaux varieties and in the Blend it can add the sort of softness Lushness Where if it’s blended let’s say with Cabernet sauvignon the cabernet Contributes more structure acidity and Often a darker fruited note So if you talk to a consumer about Merlot um Something some words you might use to Describe it or suggest it is if they Like wines that have a sort of rich body Texture that velvety texture sort of a Deep intensity uh and again plum is Always a good descriptor for me but you Can find the sort of red and black Cherry fruits um often with oak notes to It in terms of vanilla toast other Baking spices So if they like those things And maybe they don’t like a wine that’s

Quite as tannic as a cabernet sauvignon Merlot is merlot is the great great Option So this is a very important moment here In this presentation because cabernet Sauvignon is really like the king of Napa valley um so it got its name from The fact that it’s wood and leaves Resemble those of sauvignon blanc Which was later revealed to be one of Its parents so it’s a natural cross Between sauvignon blanc and cabernet Franc And it is the most planted and most Important and most expensive Variety in the napa valley and is really Truly the lifeblood of winemaking of Tourism and of our economy here um so Again i live right here in napa valley And i can tell you when i talk to people Who come here from around the world what They expect and want to taste when they Come to napa is cabernet sauvignon So it’s homeland of course is in Bordeaux and it’s grown in many warm Regions it’s another international Variety So here of course in napa valley but Also in sonoma and elsewhere in California and paso robles and the Central valley And of course internationally chile Australia argentina south africa many Many many places

So In the late 1800s there were several Famous people some of these names might Start to sound familiar knee bomb crab Um that’s when it was it was introduced And then in the 1900s it won uh gold at An exposition in paris And then i mentioned prohibition a Couple times here But of course coming out of prohibition The winemaking industry here was really Struggling not a lot of the wineries Were still we’re still in production but It did start to recover and you’ll Really see in the 1960s and 1970s this Is when the legacy of cabernet sauvignon Happened in napa valley and following Prohibition there were only there were Less than 100 acres Of cabernet sauvignon and now as i Mentioned it’s the top So covering sauvignon in terms of where It likes to grow here i mentioned we Have a lot of diversity of soil types Here So it’s a perfect match to this grape Because it grows particularly well on Our hillsides here But it can also grow well on that what We call the benchlands and the valley Floor and you will find different styles In your glass uh based on where it grows So Um the mountain fruit as i mentioned

Tends to have a little bit more coolness Acidity structure the valley floor can Have a little bit more ripeness and Lushness and there’s often blended too So you can find lines from a particular Ada and napa valley like you might see Oakville which is the very famous Appalachian or rutherford or howell Mountain but you’ll also just see napa Valley so Napa valley cabernet sauvignon which can Be blended from many different Appellations and that can also provide Um some some diversity and complexity as Well So now we’re really talking we’re on the Higher scale here of course it’s very Deeply pigmented in color if i had a Glass in front of me i likely would not Be able to see through it and see that There are words on a page underneath the Glass tends to be fuller bodied and of Course in terms of tannin what it’s Really known for here and around the World is that kind of great structure So when it’s under ripe it can have this Sort of vegetal bell pepper Um as it gets a little bit more ripe Over ripening time and more sugar Accumulation you get this sort of black Currant which is something i very often Use as a descriptor of cabernet Sauvignon black currant black cherry and Then of course it can even develop into

This sort of very ripe fruit blackberry And cassis And again another variety that is very Very commonly aged in oak so you will See Both single variety cabernet sauvignons From napa valley and you’ll also see Them blended into into bordeaux blends Or proprietary red blends as they’re Sometimes called here but almost always Always aged in oak as they mature you’ll Find these sort of leathery notes earthy Forest floor You can get more savoriness and again This sort of dried fruit note And if you’re talking to a consumer so This is where you can really recommend Something that has a lot of boldness to It so you know deep in color firm and Tannins fuller body those sort of Blackberry notes that i mentioned Blackberry blackcurrant i find very Prevalent and often as i mentioned oak So if they like the sort of toasty oak Um it’s a perfect recommendation and Cabernet sauvignon because it has a Great acidity and structure can age very Well um Valley cabernet sauvignon’s we’re not Always known for having long maturity in Bottle but i can tell you for sure that That that has changed and you will find Beautiful beautiful mature Napa valley companies that have just

Been Intense the complexity over time So now we’re going to talk about Zinfandel so zinfandel is uh often Referred to as the native grape of California we kind of embraced it here But that’s not actually a hundred Percent accurate so it’s been in California for a very very long time but Its origins were very elusive until Recently but dr carol meredith who makes A beautiful wine here called laggier Meredith She’s a professor At the university of california at davis At uc davis and is a very highly Respected researcher and so they Actually went on she and mike gertrude She’s another famous gentleman here they Went on what they called a zin quest to Kind of figure out where this came from [Applause] So we found that the dnl through dna Profiling that um it’s been in croatia It’s been found in italy um and so it Came over here we don’t know how But it made its way in 1850 To napa valley Um and it’s with its popularity in uh Exploding of cabernet sauvignon in the 1980s though growers often began pulling Out vines because Cabernet sauvignon again consumers are Asking for it you could often demand a

Higher price per ton as a grower so a Lot of it was pulled out but what you’ll Find out is there’s a beautiful wines And a great reverence for what we call Old vines infandel and you’ll find these Sort of heritage sites of Vines that are own rooted they’re often Not trellised and what they can do is Over time As the as the vines mature they produce A little bit less fruit but it’s very Complex and you will often find it in What we call a field blend so often when It was planted it was mixed with other Varieties maybe vedra carignon And they weren’t perfectly planted into Meat rose like you’ll see often in napa Valley they were kind of intermingled in The vineyard itself and so this field Blend is is a wine that’s picked from These all these different different Types of varieties but of course very Often bottled is the single variety as Well so what you might expect as a sort Of medium pluses and color in body and In tandem It’s a very aromatic variety for me i Always get kind of a lot of like Boysenberry blue fruit on it as well um Although you can have a mix here it’s a Great variety that doesn’t ripen evenly Always within the cluster so sometimes You’ll have a sort of more tart red high Acid fruit and then warmer lusher jamier

Within the same cluster itself And very very often aged in oak you will See some wineries here using french oaks I’m using american so i’m using a Variety of the two together but Very very commonly um blended uh or Excuse me matured in oak um and then as I mentioned you can find them both in Blends particularly these old vine Field blends but very very often a Hundred percent variety single variety As well So for a consumer something you might Like is if they like very ripe wines um As i mentioned it is kind of aromatic There can often be this sort of Jamminess to it rich soft texture a full Body Very often oaked but not as tannic as Something like a cabernet sauvignon or a Merlot so it can be this kind of middle Ground and of course if you want to have A conversation about california because We kind of adopted this as our own Native variety here it’s a wonderful way To introduce someone to a variety that They may not have had from other wine Regions in the world So just a couple other mentions here of Other varieties beyond these six that we Discussed today are cabernet franc of Course a bordeaux variety um thinner Skinned often blended with cabernet Sauvignon here but can add aromatics and

Softness to cabernet sauvignon And can demand higher prices than some Of the other varieties here grown in Napa valley and of course syrah or Shiraz if you’re in australia Also grown here beautiful examples carol Meredith who i mentioned earlier the Researcher she makes a beautiful syrah Under la jie meredith Um and it really can express terroir Here uh that’s kind of gamey you know It’s black olive pepper spice that i Really love and just my own personal um Recommendation is sometimes if someone Is uh they love cabernet sauvignon but Want to get out of a rut or try Something new i really love introducing Them to syrah so it’s definitely Something that you could you could Recommend so again honorable mention for Cabernet franc which can have a little Bit of a peppery note kind of a bell Pepper Cherry black currant but can get quite Riper over time into sort of a licorice Note And then of course syrah or shiraz i Love the northern rome personally so i Drink a lot of a lot of syrah from both Napa valley and roan but here in napa Valley you can have a bit of Herbaceousness if it’s a cooler site but Then definitely warmer you can get these Savory notes black fruits chocolate and

Often aged in oak as well So just about um you know napa valley This comes from the napa valley vintners But what we’re known here are for as a Group of relentless pioneers and Visionaries who persevered to create Wines that would rival the world’s best Remember we’re such were have much less Growing history than many other regions But if you look at the notoriety of napa Valley on the world stage we’re Definitely known for outstanding quality Wine region As i mentioned at the beginning we have A very diverse terroir which provides Growing A diverse growing area particularly city Cabernet sauvignon but all of those Other varieties i mentioned as well And world-class wine making so you’ll Find of course many napa natives who’ve Grown grown up here have made wine maybe It’s their family’s winery but you’ll Also find wine makers who come from all Over the world to make wine here you Know from france from italy from Australia and it’s also a community here That really loves to share knowledge so Really set by the great and legendary Robert mondavi um he he provided this Culture here that all ships rise with The tide meaning we should share Knowledge with each other in order to Raise the overall quality of wines from

The region and i really find that you Still see that today people are very Open they want to tell you what they’re Doing They’re they’ll invite you into the Winery and kind of make you welcome and And understand what they’re doing So with that um that is the end of my My presentation here again my name is Vanessa conlon um that’s my email Address if you’d like to reach out with Any other questions but we have just a Few minutes here if there’s anything Else we want to cover Thank you so much vanessa and thank you Again to our corporate patron napa Valley vietnamese for putting this Together We’re very appreciative of your time and And all the education you have to offer So thank you Um i do see a few questions in our Little chat box over here so um or sorry In our q a box so i’ll start from the Very top and then move our way down i Know we have just about two minutes so We’ll try to get those quick um the First one is what factors leads a Winemaker to make wine of 100 cabernet Versus the usual bordeaux mix of caberlo Petit verdo Is it just that you desire to do so or Is there more to it That’s a great question um yeah a lot of

It is just the desired style again we You know we we have a lot of freedom Here we’re not obligated by lots to do Certain things with the blend or the Aging um so often someone was wants to Showcase that single variety or often Case a single variety from a single Vineyard in other cases they want to Showcase a more diverse and it’s kind of Like um neither is better nor worse you Might get a better more clearer Understanding of cabernet sauvignon when It’s 100 But then in a blend you can also see how It can marry and play with other Bordeaux varieties in a very harmonious Way so it’s really just up to the Winemaker and the Intended style Awesome And there sure are some great examples Of that there um awesome the next one is Uh so white grape is squeezed from the Skin only whereas red is smoothies both From the skin and inner grape can you Please explain again Uh the white and red grapes and Harvesting so i guess just like yes Yeah so so very high level is um with White wines in general right great Varieties are pressed off of their skins And only the juice is fermented now you Will find You will find some skin fermented whites

Around the world so it’s not a hard and Fast rule but in general they’re pressed Off the skins and then only the juice is Fermented whereas with red wines you Want to pick up the color the tannin a Lot of the structure and the flavors Come from the skins of red grapes and so They’ll be fermented on the skins and Then pressed off off later and then of Course there are other things like rose Where we could talk about even more uh Different types but that’s that’s a very High level um summary Awesome so i know we’re right at the top Of the hour i’ll just go through one More Um and then if y’all have any more Questions you know i’m sure um y’all can Email Vanessa or the napa valley bittner’s Email as it was listed there um but is It true that in general the vineyards in Napa valley are pulled down every 20 to 25 years and replanted So i would say yes and though it depends So Yes they’re often they often are Replanted sometimes because older vines Start producing less fruit and it might Be a desired higher yield um but you’ll See less and less of that now or you’ll Often see just individual vines Replanted instead of the whole vineyard Um and then of course there are those

Exceptions that i mentioned like old Vines you know which are very prized for Being you know maybe 100 plus years and So they’re certainly not going to get Pulled out so you’ll you’ll see all of Those things happening here in napa Valley Awesome Great well thank you so much vanessa for Your time um thank you Who joined us live um we are very Appreciative for your time as well as i Know everyone’s located in in different Spots around the world um but again Uh this was all presented by the napa Valley vietnamese association and if you Are curious on learning more there was a Slide with all of their information um But also if you are curious on learning A little bit more too around the world And not just napa uh feel free to look At our website to see what Different Qualifications we have Readily available for you so thank you All very much And have a great weekend everyone Thank you