Description 1 of 3

 

St. Helena is known as the “heart of the Napa Valley” wine region of California. Ironically, this thriving town built on the wine industry gets its name from the 1850s St. Helena Chapter (named for the mountain in the distance) of the Sons of Temperance, an organization dedicated to the reform and prevention of “drunkards.” 
 
In 1861, German immigrant Charles Krug established the first winery in his name. He not only pioneered European varietal plantings, but also fermentation techniques and the careful selection of root stocks. In the mid 1870s, the Beringers followed in his footsteps, establishing what would become the longest continuous winery in Napa. The Phylloxera crisis at the end of the century hit the region hard, and Krug had to file for bankruptcy. A year after his death in 1892, James Moffitt purchased the land and began replanting vines using the Phylloxera “cure” of graftings onto American roostock. The Beringers, meanwhile, were able to keep things going and introduced their own innovations, including hiring Chinese laborers to dig caves into the hills behind their winery for cool storage. Eventually St. Helena and surroundings became a popular place for European immigrant settlers and a wealthy tourist destination for its wines, now in full expansion, and also the hot springs industry. 
 
But Prohibition put a halt to everything between 1920 and 1933 and most wineries abandoned their vineyards and turned to other businesses (although Highway 29 was one of the most traveled roads during that time for bootleg brandy running). Among those that survived were the former Krug vineyard and the Beringers. In 1943, Krug was sold to Cesare Mondavi, who employed his two sons Robert and Peter to run the operation. (The Mondavis are still at Krug, although Robert branched off on his own to Oakville in the 1960s). 
 
The 1970s saw a full resurgence in Napa wines and the St. Helena region. Today, St. Helena is a thriving wine region with boutique and commercial wineries sharing the land and producing wines in a vast range of styles. ~Amanda Schuster
 
– Description from Amanda Schuster

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Description 2 of 3

Densely planted with vines, St. Helena has over 30 wineries and is widely known to be a quality winegrowing region. Covering just over 9,000 acres, the appellation is located where the Napa Valley floor narrows, between the Mayacamas and Vaca mountains. St. Helena is considered to be the centre of quality viticulture in Napa Valley. The history of winemaking here is legendary and St. Helena’s wines are unique. Charles Krug, who opened his celebrated winery in 1861, is considered the father of Napa viticulture. The area’s wines still rank among the valley’s best. This AVA is located in an up-valley area, where the climate and soils are quite different from the surrounding regions. A marine air incursion that affects the lower areas of the valley is not so dominant here. However, cool Pacific breezes from the north reach St. Helena earlier, cooling vines quickly and delivering graceful, intense fruit with concentration and depth. St. Helena has become the cultural, social and economic heart of the Napa Valley. – Description from Appellation America (view original content)

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Description 3 of 3

Just to the south of Calistoga one comes to St. Helena. Sharing much the same features as Calistoga, St. Helena is a warm region, benefitting from the narrowness of the valley here and its limited exposure to the maritime influence of more southerly AVAs. Temperature swings between day and night, (Diurnal shift) are pronounced here frequently exceeding 30F. This allows for the grapes to easily achieves ideal ripeness while retaining bright, natural acidity. This is a true valley floor AVA and the soils here represent a transition from the decayed volcanic material found in the north to the sedimentary clays and bands of gravel that makes up the majority of the southern half of the region. This relatively flat area ranges roughly between 600 and 150 feet in elevation and opens to the broad plain of Napa Valley to the south. St. Helena represents the northern end of the broad valley floor and it is here that the Silverado trail veers towards the eastern side of the valley offering wine travelers two distinct routes for travelling North to South through the valley. Cabernet remains king here but faces some tough competition from great Zinfandel and Petite Sirah as well. The cooler hillsides produce fine Sauvignon Blanc, which are much more common than Chardonnay here. Emerging varieties such as Syrah and Cabernet Franc have also found a home in this ideal, and flexible AVA. The combination of warmth days, cool nights and varied soils allows for wine to be rich and ripe yet layered and complex with very fine tannins. – Description from Gregory Dal Piaz

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