Rombauer Vineyards is a 10-acre estate in St. Helena, in the Napa Valley. It was founded in 1980 by Koerner and Joan Rombauer. Koerner was a commercial airline pilot for many years and is also the grand nephew of Irma Rombauer, who in 1936 wrote the Joy of Cooking cookbook, which is still considered a classic cookbook. In 1972 the Rombauers bought 40 acres of hilltop land on the Silverado Trail, establishing the winery eight years later. Today the family still owns and operates the estate, which produces Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and dessert wines. Rombauer is particularly known for its Chardonnay.
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,
Zinfandel is a black-skinned grape, but 85% of the wine produced is made into a rosy “White Zinfandel.” Red Zin is far more complex and bold, while still being light-bodied. It grows in popularity as winemakers continue to experiment with new styles and blends.