"When the Carneros American Viticultural Area, or AVA, was approved in 1983, it was a chance to capture the region’s distinct coolness, its ability to grow chardonnay and pinot noir - initially, in many cases, for making sparkling wine.
Like so much of the North Coast, Carneros is affected by the proximity of the Pacific Ocean. In its case, the within-view San Pablo Bay brings fog, wind and cooler temperatures to the AVA. Covering 37,000 acres overall, about 6,000 of them planted to wine grapes, Carneros is also the only AVA to span both Napa and Sonoma counties.
This year, the Carneros Wine Alliance, a collection of the region’s wineries, celebrates its 30th anniversary, established two years after the official AVA designation to bring together wineries and grape growers in a collective mission to up the quality of that which is grown and made in Carneros.
Today, so much has evolved in Carneros and yet it remains the home of mostly longstanding producers, household wine names that have earned their reputations over decades — Etude, Saintsbury, Donum, Schug, Bouchaine and Cuvaison — as well as many distinguished vineyards regularly designated by wineries within the region and beyond.
Some of these marquee vineyard sites include Hyde Vineyard, a historic source of Old Wente clone chardonnay; Grace Benoist Ranch, a sprawling hillside estate farmed by Etude; Stanly Ranch, a pinot spot long associated with Saintsbury; and many of the Sangiacomo family’s sought-after vineyards, including Green Acres, the family’s first parcel in Sonoma, purchased in 1920, which Saintsbury sources for chardonnay, also Old Wente clone.
Cuvaison was selected as one of the 7 wineries to be 'discovered' in Carneros.