Approximately 20 miles north of the San Pablo Bay, nestled between the Mayacamas and Vaca Mountain ranges, lies Appellation St. Helena (ASH), Napa Valley’s reigning epicenter of wine. The shape of this appellation’s geography and distance from the cool waters of San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean set this historic location apart from any other growing region in the world.
Vineyards are located on mountain bench-lands, ancient alluvial fans, and on the valley floor that sweeps toward the Napa River. Consistent sunshine and the unique hourglass shape of the region contribute to a wide fluctuation of temperature during the growing season. Heat is locked in during the day and is amplified by the hillsides, and at night, that same slender width funnels moderating breezes to dramatically cool the vines by 40 to 50 degrees. This helps the fruit develop ideal balance and acidity – our appellation’s trademark. Centuries of mountain runoff on both sides of the Valley have created numerous active and retired waterways that eventually contributed to the 21 different soil types that define our world-class vineyards.
These ideal growing conditions caught the attention of early winemaking pioneers who founded Napa Valley’s first commercial wineries. With a shared goal of establishing St. Helena wines as being of the highest quality, the vintners and growers of those early days (e.g. Charles Krug, George Belden Crane, Henry Pellet, David Fulton) joined together to share knowledge, innovations, and outreach efforts. Their unrelenting spirit of excellence and collaboration remain the heartbeat of this appellation, which has become a magnet for world-class talent today. Listen to a recent interview by Ray Fister with a few of our members:
Some of Napa Valley’s most historic, recognizable, and collectible wineries and vineyards are in the St. Helena appellation: Spottswoode, Duckhorn, Edge Hill, Beringer, Rombauer, Raymond, Trinchero, Beckstoffer’s Dr. Crane and Las Piedras vineyards, as well as wines from contemporary producers like Melka, Realm Cellars, Memento Mori, Vice Versa, Vineyard 29, and more.