An ‘American Viticulture Area’ is a designated wine grape-growing region distinguishable by geographic features, and one of these areas exists right under my feet, as I live smack dab in the middle of an appellation which sits at the tail end of the Mayacamas Mountain Range, in Northern California. The boundaries of this appellation include twenty-five square miles, with a thousand acres, planted on thin volcanic soil, and on steep mountain faces, some as steep as thirty percent! The steepness of the angle gives the vineyards benefits of more direct sunlight and better drainage, and well, as you know, that steep and rugged terrain personally means nice walking for me. Knit-walking in particular.
The unique sense of place of the mountain appellation, with a contributing factor that some of the oldest mountain vineyards are dry-farmed (that means without irrigation, that the only water the vines receive in the dry season are by their deep roots) produces wines that are ‘typically powerful in structure’. For example, cabernet sauvignon grown on the mountain commonly shows “briary flavors, moderate to bold tannins and herbal, floral aromatics ” … which translates into laymen’s words as ” Brace yourself, but oh boy is it tasty! ”
Near the Autumnal Equinox this year, at the beginning of chardonnay harvest, the mountain hosted its fourteenth annual Appellation Wine Tasting, and so it is, the grapes grown in this region are making wines that are gaining world-wide recognition for their unique sense of terroir, and sought after for connoisseurs’ collections. Might I add, the vineyards nearby where for years I have enjoyed walking, their historic chardonnay & cabernet sauvignon vines had produced wines that placed in Paris blind tastings that along with other Napa Valley vintners, turned eyes of the world (you simply must see the film “Bottle Shock” to get this historic pivot point) .
In the more expansive Napa Valley, wine is exalted to levels beyond passion, thoroughly infused into the culture of the area, and lifestyles of our greater population. Here we are visited year-round by those who flock to immerse themselves in wine, and to pair it with five-star cuisine, simply put, this picturesque countryside of vines draws ’em in, and the wine has them spending money.
To drive Upvalley along Highway 29, and along many a back road of this county, one can’t throw a stone without hitting at least a couple of vintners’ mailboxes, and there are many to be passed along the drive of endless vine rows. One might see new & old stone wall facades along the roads to emulate old Italy & old France, but really, these California neighbors know their stuff !
In 1800’s vintners claimed stake of this fertile valley & volcanic mountains and never let go. Why would they? Just look at it !
Now, you might be wondering what all this about a mountainous grape-growing region has to do with knitting ? Well, actually. . . I can’t wait to show you !
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A California Highlands Bonnet if there were to be one . . .
“Vineyard Rows” Tam pattern is HERE
all posts about vineyards (including this one) are here.