Tastes like Napa, Smell like Napa, Must be…

I’m a big believer in the ability of sub-appellations to help better define my expectations of a wine’s character. I also believe they are great marketing vehicles in a world where the ever growing number of wineries makes it difficult to stand out.

Sub-appellations are those smaller, better defined regions that are carved out of larger, generally useless  appellations that found their origin more as a result of political wrangling among an area’s vintners than in any concern for a consistent terroir that helps define the character of the appellations wines. Examples of the sub-appellations I like are Green Valley inside the Russian River Valley, Atlas Peak inside Napa Valley, Yorkville Highlands inside the Mendocino appellation.

A new, but old, sub-appellation has emerged on the promotional scene and it’s doing a great job of getting out the world about its potential and its members: St. Helena.

The St. Helena Appellation was approved in 1995. It’s pretty new. Yet it’s promotional arm, the St. Helena Viticultural Society, was first founded in 1876. It was founded way by when by some great Napa Valley pioneers including Charles Krug and H.W. Crabb. The organization eventually faded away but has been resurrected by a number of current day St. Helena vintners and growers.

Now, of course the question is, what does it mean when you see "St. Helena" on a bottle of wine? What can you expect from the wine. The only way to determine this is to taste through a number of such wines and look for that common thread.

Here is your chance:


When:             Sunday, June 5, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Where:            The historic Crocker Estate in St. Helena, 415 Dowdell Lane
Who:               Thirty wineries who produce wines grown within the St. Helena appellation

How:               Tickets are $25.00/person and can be purchased online at www.sthelenaviticulturalsociety.org or at the door of the event. The $25 cost includes a $10 tax-deductible donation to St. Helena youth groups, including the St. Helena High School’s Future Farmers of America program and Boy and Girl Scout troops.

The line-up of wineries that will be on hand to pour at the Open House is impressive:

Abbey-Luce Wines, Anomaly Vineyards, Ballentine Vineyards, Beckstoffer Vineyards, Bressler Vineyards, Broman Cellars, Calafia Wines, Casa Nuestra Winery, Chateau Boswell, Corison Winery, Crocker & Starr Wines, Duckhorn Wine Company, Edge Hill, Ehlers Estate, Freemark Abbey Winery, Fulton Winery, H. Posert & Son, Hall, Hayne Vineyards, Heitz Wine Cellars, Hourglass Wine Company, James Johnson Vineyards, Leaf & Twig Vineyard, Leonardini Vineyard, Milat Wine Company, Napa Valley Reserve, Parry Cellars, 1275 Vineyard/Allen Price, Rancho Otranto), Red Wing Vineyards, Revana Family Vineyard, Ruston Family Vineyards, Rutherford Grove Winery, S.E. Chase Family Cellars, Salvestrin Vineyard & Winery, Schrader Cellars, Sequum, Spottswoode Winery, Stanton Family Vineyards, Titus Vineyards, Trinchero Family Estates, Vineyard 29, William Cole Vineyards and Wolf Family Vineyards.   

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