Although Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are the most widely planted, the Napa Valley holds many surprises for wine lovers looking for varieties off the beaten path. From Albarino to Zinfandel, more than three dozen different wine grape varieties flourish in the Napa Valley. Below is a description of those that are the most widely planted:
Cabernet Sauvignon is the acknowledged king of red grapes in Napa Valley, accounting for 40% of our total production and 55% of our crop value. This vine is grown throughout Napa Valley and achieves a variety of expression depending on its vineyard site.
Food Pairing: When young they are best matched with robust red meat dishes such as game and braised lamb, while older Cabs are superb accompaniments to simply prepared roasts and steaks and aged cheeses.
Chardonnay is the second most planted grape variety in Napa Valley, and grows with particular success in the calcium-rich soils and cool climate of the Los Carneros AVA, where it can ripen slowly. Barrel fermentation, lees stirring and malolactic fermentation are the main winery techniques used to create complex aromas and flavors in this wine.
Food Pairing: This wide range of styles can accompany a wide variety of dishes, from simply prepared seafood to most pork and poultry dishes.
Merlot has been a fixture in the Napa Valley since the early 1970s.Given the diversity of vineyard sites and winemaking practices in Napa Valley, Merlot has shown itself capable of producing both lighter and full-bodied, richly textured wines.
Food Pairing: Pair Merlot with food much in the same way as you would Cabernet Sauvignon, although its lighter body and tannins make it a versatile partner to a wide range of dishes.
The intense flavor profile of Sauvignon Blanc grabs your attention. Herbaceous, grassy notes and vibrant acidity are hallmark qualities of this grape, and it is capable of showing a wide variety of fruit character.
Food Pairing: Fresh and bright and perfect for warm weather, Sauvignon Blanc goes great with light summer fare and salads and is wonderful with shellfish and goat cheese.