Wine Tips

Wines of Napa Valley

There are some places in the world whose names have become synonymous with wines. Just the mention of the name, and there you see it, in your mind’s eye, vineyard upon vineyard stretching as far as your eyes can see.

The epicentre of Californian wine making, Napa Valley, is one of such distinctions. “Napa” means the land of plenty in the native American language of Wappo. Its certainly living up to its name, not only in terms of its wine, but along with it many booming industries such as its elegant restaurants and its luxurious hotels.

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What makes Napa Valley so special?

The Valley couldn’t have asked for a better location as its blessed with a perfect combination of climate, soil and terrain. The unique terrain has been a main reason for its excellent wines.

The climate is very rare – warm summers with mild winters and it only rains for a few months per year.

This gives the vines a long growing season. The warm day allows the fruit to develope deep flavour and sugars, while the cool morning fogs allows the vines to rest and to preserve the fruits’ acidity.

The Terrain

Napa Valley is a small winemaking region – just 30 miles long and 5 miles wide. As a comparison, Bordeaux of France is about 8x larger than Napa. What Napa lacks in size though, it more than makes it up in terms of the bio-diversity in the Football is played.

Napa Valley is home to mountain terrains, valley floors and beachland – flat terrain surrounded by high slopes.

These landscapes allow wineyards to grow a variety of grapes, from the Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noirs  to the Sauvignon Blanc, Sangiovese and Zinfandel.

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For the month of June, Wine Talk is excited to be able to bring you two distinguished names of the Napa Valley to you at promotional prices!

Beringer Wines

The first is a name that is no stranger to wine lovers – Beringer wines. Jacob Beringer and his brother, Frederick, sailed from their native land of Mainz, Germany to New York in search of adventures anew. However, after hearing about how the rocky hillside soil and fertile valley floor resemble those of the vineyards in Germany, they both made their way to California in 1869.

Jacob became cellar foreman for Charles Krug, one of the first commercial winemakers in Napa Valley. A few years later, in 1875, the brothers purchased 215 acres, right next door to Charles Krug in St. Helena, for $14,500. This parcel of land, known as Los Hermanos (the brothers), became the heart of the Beringer estate.

On this estate, the Beringer Brothers oversaw their first harvest and crush in 1876. With Jacob serving as winemaker and Frederick as financier, the brothers made approximately 40,000 gallons of wine, or 18,000 cases, that first year. In order to make room for the fermentation tanks, the first two floors of the Old Winery were completed and Chinese workers began digging a 1,200 linear feet tunnel to store the wine for aging.

The Beringer story continued thru the prohibition era of US in the 1920s, where they continued to operate during Prohibition under a federal license that allowed them to make wine for religious purposes (most of the wineries shut their doors at the beginning of Prohibition).

After Prohibition, Beringer was the first winery to offer public tours, sparking wine tourism in Napa Valley. This was further expanded in 1939 when winemaker, Fred Abruzzini, distributed flyers and maps at the Golden Gate Exposition on Treasure Island. Hollywood stars, like Carole Lombard and Clark Gable, also made the trek up to Beringer. Because of the gorgeous estate and the award-winning wines, it became, and has remained, a favorite destination for travelers.

Today, continuing with its tradition of excellence and in investing in its winemakers, Mark Beringer (Jacob’s great great grandson) together with Ryan Rech are responsible for crafting the wines of Beringer.

100 years of Quality

The winemaking legacy at Beaulieu Vineyard remains unbroken for more than a century. The story as one of the longest continually operating winery in the Napa Valley is written by the remarkable place and the extraordinary people who shaped winemaking in America.

In 1900, when Georges de Latour’s wife, Fernande, first laid eyes on the land that would become our original Rutherford vineyard, she said “Quelle beau lieu!” or “What a beautiful place.” Shortly thereafter, de Latour sold his thriving cream of tartar business, bought the four-acre ranch, and founded Beaulieu Vineyard with the vision of making Napa Valley wines that would rival those of his native France.

Georges and his wife expanded their land holdings over the next several decades, many of which are still part of the BV portfolio today. In 1903 they purchased 127 acres in Rutherford, which they named “BV Ranch No. 1.” In 1910 another land purchase was made, known as “BV Ranch No. 2.”

Similar to the Beringer during the prohibition years, Beaulieu Vineyards were able to continue operating during this pperiod – years before Prohibition began, de Latour had the foresight to obtain a warrant to produce altar wine for the Church and was thus positioned to become the first nationwide supplier of altar wine to Catholic churches across America.

Beaulieu Vineyard continued to make several investments in the early 2000s. First, a new state-of-the-art winemaking facility was completed in 2008, which is dedicated to the production of our flagship wine – Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. This facility utilizes the latest technology in combination with time-honored traditions to produce this exceptional wine that has been widely recognized as the benchmark Cabernet Sauvignon from Rutherford since its inaugural vintage. And in 2010, legendary winemaker Michel Rolland joined Beaulieu Vineyard as a blending consultant on our reserve wines.

As mentioned earlier, we’re pretty excited to bring you several bottles, three from each winery, with great promotional prices for your tasting pleasure. Come savour the famed wines of two distinguished names of the Napa Valley for yourself here.

Its an experience not to be missed!