The Coombsville Vintners & Growers group is celebrating because the federal government has approved the eastern Napa region as the valley’s newest sub-appellation.
The news, announced Wednesday by the appellation the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, makes the 11,000-acre region the valley’s 16th American Viticultural Area (AVA).
Being a distinct appellation allows vineyards to use the Coombsville name on wine labels.
The Coombsville AVA is a sub-appellation of the larger Napa Valley AVA and the multi-county North Coast AVA.
“It’s a great day for all of us that have been growing grapes in Coombsville for decades,” said Tom Farella, co-author of the AVA petition with vintner Brad Kitson.
Farella, owner of Farella Vineyard, added, “Coombsville now has its proper place in the Napa Valley lexicon and on the appellation maps. Since the Coombsville name has been in use for so many years, having it placed among the great wine regions of the world feels a little like coming home.”
The Coombsville Appellation is bound by the Napa River to the west, to the rim of Vaca Range on the east. The altitudes range from near sea level at the western edge of the city of Napa, to about 1,900 feet. at Mount George in the north.
The horseshoe-shaped west-facing ridge of the Vaca Range partially encircles the Coombsville area, helping define boundaries of this newest viticultural area.
“I think when people see it on the map they will wonder why it wasn’t there all along because of how it fits into the puzzle pieces of the Napa Valley as a whole,” Farella said. “It may have taken awhile to happen, but now it’s locked in and we are very proud of that.”
The Coombsville Vintners & Growers include 25 wineries, all small, family-owned producers and 15 growers. Visits to the wineries are by appointment only.
The main varietals grown in the Coombsville appellation are cabernet sauvignon and other Bordeaux varietals, syrah, chardonnay and pinot noir.
One reason for the effort to designate Coombsville as a separate appellation is that its soils, geography and climate differ distinctly from nearby regions, according to a news release from the group. It noted that the Coombsville soils are dominated by the volcanic rhyolitic tuff — sedimentary rock and lava flows — of the Vaca Range on the eastern side of the Napa Valley.
Most of Coombsville’s vineyards are located in the wide alluvial deposits created by the wearing down of the hillsides, it noted. “These soils are abundant with rock and gravel and, in some areas, are also layered with volcanic ash deposits from Mount George.”
The proximity to the San Francisco Bay contributes to the temperate climate of Coombsville. The cooling effects of marine fog occur earlier and last longer than in the more northern regions and temperatures are less extreme during the winter frost season. Bud break is often sooner and harvest is usually later, leading to a longer growing season.
“The members of Coombsville Vintners and Growers welcome the newfound attention to our little corner of Napa Valley,” said Coombsville Vintners and Growers President Rebecca Sciandri Griffin, from Sciandri Family Vineyards. “We are excited to showcase the amazing vineyards in Coombsville and the distinct and beautiful wines that are being made in the 16th AVA of Napa Valley.”