Founded in 1968 by Al Brounstein, an entrepreneur and pharmaceuticals wholesaler, Diamond Creek Vineyards was one of the first vineyards in Napa Valley to take advantage of the area’s numerous microclimates and soil types. Located near Calistoga in the Diamond Creek district, Diamond Creek was the first California estate to produce only Cabernet Sauvignon. Brounstein was also an early American adopter of the European practice of bottling wines according to which vineyard had produced the grapes. By the early 1990s he was bottling by even smaller “microclimates” within the various vineyards. Diamond Creek wines are known for their concentration, austerity and deep color and they consistently earn high marks from reviewers. Though Brounstein died in 2006 the wines remain highly collectible. Today the vineyards are planted to Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. About 3,500 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon are produced annually.
Napa Valley AVA is the most famous winemaking region in the United States and one of the most prestigious in the world. With nearly 43,000 acres of vineyards and more than 300 wineries, it is the heart of fine wine production in the United States. Winemaking started in Napa in 1838 when George C. Yount planted grapes and began producing wine commercially. Other winemaking pioneers followed in the late 19th century, including the founders of Charles Krug, Schramsberg, Inglenook and Beaulieu Vineyards. An infestation of phylloxera, an insect that attacks vine roots, and the onset of Prohibition nearly wiped out the nascent Napa wine industry in the early 20th century. But by the late 1950s and early 1960s Robert Mondavi and other visionaries were producing quality wines easily distinguishable from the mass-produced jug wines made in California’s Central Valley. Napa Valley’s AVA was established in 1983, and today there are 16 sub-appellations within the Napa Valley AVA. Many grapes grow well in Napa’s Mediterranean climate, but the region is best known for Cabernet Sauvignon. Chardonnay is also very successfully cultivated, and about 30% of the AVA’s acreage is planted to white grapes, with the majority of those grapes being Chardonnay,