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Spring Mountain Wineries

Spring Mountain Wineries are located in a unique and beautiful microclimate of the Napa Valley. The Spring Mountain AVA is located in the western hills of Napa County and borders Sonoma County.

There is no actual peak named, “Spring Mountain”, rather the name refers to a region. There are approximately 20 wineries and 25 vineyard owners in the region. It was granted AVA status in 1991.

History

In 1874, Charles Lemme established the first of the Spring Mountain Wineries. Jacob and Frederick Beringer planted a vineyard in the region in 1880. Tiburico Parrot was another early vintner who arrived in the early 1890s. He made distingushed wines that won several national and international awards.

As with most California wine regions, Phylloxera and Prohibition devastated the region’s wine industry. The renaissance was led by Fred and Eleanor McCrea whom established a vineyard on the mountain in 1946. They started the renowned Stony Hill Winery in 1953. Several quality Spring Mountain Wineries were started in the 1960s including Robert Kennan, Spring Mountain Winery, and Ritchie Creek to name a few.

Spring Mountain Wineries

Terroir

Spring Mountain Wineries and vineyards receive abundant precipitation compared with other mountain regions in the Napa Valley. The area is extremely lush and beautiful and is almost reminiscent of a rainforest in some parts. York Creek is the main watershed in the area.

Spring Mountain has cooler days and warmer nights than the valley floor . Although afternoons and evenings are generally brisk and chilly, as cold air settles in the valley overnight, the temperatures on the mountain are relatively warm.

Because of its elevation, the fog on the valley floor does not normally affect any of the Spring Mountain Wineries and vineyards. The region is also not baked by afternoon sun. The moderate temperatures allow for a longer than average growing season.

Located approximately 30 miles from the Pacific Ocean, Spring Mountain is mildly affected by oceanic influence. Cool air enters the Napa Valley over the relatively low Spring Mountain AVA between the taller Bald and Diamond Mountains. This cool air affects the wines produced in the AVA.

The soil of Spring Mountain is deep compared to other mountainous AVAs in the Napa Valley. The soils are geologically very old, and the AVA is on some very steep slopes. Typical Spring Mountain Wineries and vineyards have access to soil that is a fusion of sedimentary and volcanic material.

The AVA contains a combination of the sedimentary soil that dominates Mount Veeder to the south and the volcanic soil of Diamond Mountain to the north. The soil is quite poor and shallow leading to stressed vines and concentrated, flavorful fruit.

Wineries, Wines, and Varietals

Over 80% of the vineyards grown by Spring Mountain Wineries produce red varietals, primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, and to a lesser extent, Merlot. The typical Cabernet Sauvignon produced from a Spring Mountain Winery generally has soft tannins, low acidity, and strong fruit aromas and flavors.

My favorite red wine from Spring Mountain is the Newton 2000 Claret. This is a truly suberb blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot that is also quite affordable. It was named one of the top 100 wines by Wine Spectator in 2002. When you taste this opulent, yet approachable wine, you will see that the accolades it has recieved are justified.

Chardonnay dominates the smaller amount of white varietals that are grown. One of the Spring Mountain Wineries that I am very impressed with is Smtih Madrone. They makes a delicious Chardonnay grown on the ridge of the AVA. The cool temperatures give the Smith Madrone Napa Chardonnay just enough acidity to balance its appealing fruit characteristics.

In addition to the Spring Mountain Wineries mentioned earlier, Cain Vineyard, Togni, and Pride Mountain are some of the more distinguished producers from the region.