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The Carneros AVA straddles between both Napa and Sonoma Valleys, with distinct climates. The Napa side is warmer, more suited to varietals such as Cabernet, Syrah and Merlot, while the Sonoma side is cooler, where Pinot Noir and Chardonnay can thrive.

The history of wine-making in Carneros dates back to the 1840s, when California was still under Mexican control and General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, who was also the Director of Colonization of the Northern Frontier, secured a land grant to settle and cultivate Rincon de los Carneros and surrounding territories. This section was managed by his son-in-law, Jacob P. Leese. Grape cultivation began with Leese and as the US gained control over California, more settlers became attracted to the fertile land in Sonoma and Napa Valleys and planted their own vineyards. By the 1870s, William H. Winter purchased 1,200 acres from Leese and cultivated what became the area’s first commercial vineyard, Winter Winery.

In 1881, Winter Winery was sold to James Simonton, who renamed it Talcoa Vineyards. By this time, the Phylloxera epidemic that devastated most of Europe had taken hold in California. Simonton, with aid from Missouri oenologist George Husmann, was the first to experiment in grafting Phylloxera-resistant rootstock. By the late 1880s, the Stanly Ranch winery in Carneros was winning awards at viticultural fairs.

The Prohibition halted most of the grape production in the region between 1920 to 1933. But soon after, wineries such as Beaulieu, Bouchaine and Louis M. Martini came into prominence, with others on their heels. By the 1940s, wine-makers were discovering that varietals such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay were well suited to the cool climate region on the Sonoma side, heralding the modern era of local wine-making in Carneros. ~Amanda Schuster


– Description from Amanda Schuster

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