Cuvaison was founded in Calistoga in 1969 by two engineers from Silicon Valley. In 1979 the Schmidheiny family purchased the then-27-acre estate, along with 400 acres in the Carneros appellation. The name of the winery is the French word for the period when the grape juice, skin and seeds are altogether during fermentation and maceration. Cuvaison makes Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc. California wine writer James Laube has noted that Cuvaison wines “share a distinctive house style with ripe, focused, supple fruit flavors, good intensity, fine balance and a sense of harmony and finesse.”
Carneros AVA, also known as Los Carneros, is at the southern end of the Napa and Sonoma Valleys at the top of the San Francisco Bay. The 8,000 vineyard acres are mostly planted to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, both of which thrive in the district’s cool, marine climate. Carneros became an AVA in 1983 and it has attracted foreign wine companies along with local producers. It has been especially appealing to European producers of sparkling wines including the giant Spanish cava producers Codorniu and Frexinet, and the French Champagne house Taittinger. Codorniu in Carneros is called Artesa, and Frexinet’s Carneros brand is Gloria Ferrer. Taittinger calls its Carneros winery Domaine Carneros. The European producers also make still wines in Carneros.
This crisp, dry white wine hails from France but is grown in wine regions around the world. In California, it is sometimes called Fume Blanc; while in Sauternes, it is a component of their famous dessert wines.