Duckhorn Vineyards was founded in 1976 in St. Helena, in the Napa Valley. It was started by Dan and Margaret Duckhorn after Dan, a California native, toured the Bordeaux region of France in the 1970s. In 2007 a private equity firm took a significant ownership interest in Duckhorn, though Dan Duckhorn remains in charge of the estate. The winemaker is Renee Ary. The 229-acre estate is known for its big Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots. Duckhorn was one of the first California producers to champion Merlot, and its Merlots are still highly regarded although today the estate also makes Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet France and Semillon. About 75,000 cases are produced annually. Robert M. Parker has written that Duckhorn has “a very positive style that represents a hypothetical blend of the ripeness of Napa allied with the elegance of a top Bordeaux.”
Sonoma Coast AVA runs from San Pablo Bay in the south to Mendocino County in the north. It includes 7,000 vineyard acres and earned AVA status in 1987. Its proximity to the Pacific Ocean means it gets double the rainfall of nearby inland appellations and the ocean gives the appellation a relatively cool climate. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir can thrive in these conditions, and there are numerous producers making critically acclaimed Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
This red wine is relatively light and can pair with a wide variety of foods. The grape prefers cooler climates and the wine is most often associated with Burgundy, Champagne and the U.S. west coast. Regional differences make it nearly as fickle as it is flexible.