St Helena Wine Region

Napa Valley’s Key Sub-Region

As a wine lover, you will be certainly aware of the Napa Valley, one of the world’s premier wine regions.

Napa Valley, located in the Napa County of California in the U.S. has sixteen sub-regions which are called as sub-AVAs.

The term AVA here represents the American Viticultural Area. Of the 16 sub-AVAs of the world-famous Napa Valley St Helena which is located in the North Bay region is considered as one of the key sub-regions.

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With a total of 416 vineyards covering almost 9,000 acres of land, this region is the home to several prestigious vineyards and wineries of the world.

Now, let’s see about the viticulture and viniculture of St Helena here in detail…

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Remember to read the Wine Tasting guide…

History of Viticulture in St Helena

St Helena of Napa Valley has the pride of being the birthplace of Napa Valley’s wine industry.

The first winery in Napa Valley was established just north of St. Helena in the year 1861 by the German-American Charles Krug, who is considered to be the Father of Napa Wine.

This area has soon become one of the finest vineyard areas in the world and by the year 1880, there were more than 100 winemakers in St Helena.

Right from the start till today, St Helena AVA continues to be a key historic wine community in the Napa Valley.

St Helena Appellation in Detail

This sub-region was awarded the official AVA appellation during the year 1995. The boundaries of St Helena AVA were defined by:

  • Zinfandel Lane to the South
  • Bale Lane to the north
  • Intersection of Howell Mountain and Conn Valley Road to the east
  • Elevation line to the west

It has been noted that the St Helena appellation is having lots of distinctive features in terms of:

  • History
  • Community
  • Geographic conditions
  • Climatic conditions
  • Number of growers and wineries
  • Diversity of the varietals

Looking at the Climatic Conditions of St Helena

In general, the St Helena AVA is found to experience cooler and wetter winters and hotter summers.

But, we can observe that the northern and the southern ends of the Napa Valley are showcasing the climatic differences.

The valley is seemed to be getting progressively cooler as it comes southwards on Mount St Helena. Therefore, the vineyards of St Helena are found to be warmer than those of the Carneros wine region that is lying nearby San Pablo Bay.

This temperature difference may be due to the cooling influences of the water bodies that are lying to the south. In addition, we can find that the cold air and the fog are forming a significant part of the St Helena’s climatic conditions.

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Vineyards and Winemaking in St Helena

Located in the shadow of the Mount St Helena, the region has its town, as well as its vineyards, in the place where the valley narrows down substantially.

We can say the vineyards of St Helena are at about 25 kilometers north of the Napa town.

With the densely packed vineyards, the St Helena is home to over 30 wineries. Just like its neighbor AVAs Rutherford and Oakville the world-famous wine regions, St Helena is also specializing in the richer red wines being produced from Cabernet Sauvignon variety. The Cabernet Sauvignon is making up to two-thirds of the wines produced here.

Apart from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot varieties can also be found here. And, because the region is slightly warmer than its neighbor AVAs and due to the cooling fog, it is also favoring the growth of another grape variety called Zinfandel. From Zinfandel, we can produce a rich range of robust red wines.

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Author

Tharani Rajamanickam

Tharani Rajamanickam

Winewriter

I am Tharani, I have Bachelors degree in Biotechnology. I am passionate about the wine industry and continue to explore, learn and share and I bring in a wealth of knowledge and expertise to help you keep updated with best wines in the world. Stay tuned..

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