Larkmead Vineyards in Calistoga was founded in 1948 by Bruno Solari and his wife Polly. Bruno was the son of Tuscan immigrants and after graduating from UC Berkeley in 1933, he bought the vineyards that would become Larkmead and also worked as president of United Vintners, which owned Inglenook, Beaulieu and Italian Swiss Colony. Bruno continued to work as a wine industry executive during his life and Polly ran the estate. Today Larkmead includes 113 acres of vineyards planted to seven kinds of grapes and it is still operated by descendants of Bruno and Polly Solari. Larkmead’s wines are 100% estate grown. The estate produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cab Franc, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and several blends. The Wine Advocate generally rates the estate’s wines in the mid to high-90s, and notes that Larkmead “has enjoyed a reputation for high quality for well over a century.”
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,
One of the most widely grown grape varieties, it can be found in nearly every wine growing region. A cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. It’s a hardy vine that produces a full-bodied wine with high tannins and great aging potential.