Dalla Valle was founded in 1986 by Gustav and Naoko Dalla Valle, who purchased 21 acres on a plateau overlooking Oakville, in Napa Valley. They planted the vineyards in Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc and had their first harvest and crush in 1986. Since then the winery’s wines have become synonymous with quality and excellence. Dalla Valle produces a Cabernet Sauvignon Estate, and a very limited amount of a proprietary red named Maya, after the couple’s daughter. Maya usually contains 45-55% Cabernet Franc, and Robert M. Parker Jr., for one, has written that the finest Cabernet Franc in “the New World is from Dalla Valle’s vineyard.” Though Gustav Dalla Valle died in 1995, Naoko has continued to run the winery. Dalla Valle wines are generally available only through a mailing list. The average age of the vines is 14 years. Annual production of the Cabernet Sauvignon Estate is 2,000 cases. Annual production of Maya is 400 cases.
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,