Pahlmeyer, in St. Helena, was founded in the mid-1980s when Jayson Pahlmeyer, a Bay Area lawyer, found he preferred thinking about wine to reading legal briefs. Pahlmeyer produced its debut vintage in 1986, and Robert M. Parker Jr. gave it 94 pts. Today the winery owns 88 acres near Atlas Peak and 30 acres on the north Sonoma Coast and and grows Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Randy Dunn was in charge of winemaking for the first few vintages and in 1993 Helen Turley became Pahlmeyer’s winemaker. Today the winemakers are Kale Anderson at the Napa Valley vineyards and Bibiana Gonzalez Rave is the consulting winemaker for the Sonoma Coast vineyards. Pahlmeyer is known for its Bordeaux-style blends as well as Chardonnay, Merlot and Pinot Noir. The wines earn consistently complimentary reviews.
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,