Chardonnay’s legacy in Napa Valley is firmly established, but winemakers have long known that this warm, Cabernet-driven region has a rare number of cooler spots that produce superlative Chardonnay. These include higher elevations and the sections closer to the San Pablo Bay. Carneros in particular has long been a go-to AVA for Chardonnay and sparkling producers alike. Regions like Coombsville and Howell Mountain along the Vaca Range, are dominated by rhyolitic tuff in its soils. The other longstanding practice that sets Napa Chardonnays apart is the suppression of malolactic, or secondary fermentation, which preserves natural acidity.
“We have such distinct microclimates here that we really can make any style of Chardonnay we want – it brings out the creativity in everybody. – Kristy Melton, winemaker, Freemark Abbey