Mark Herold earned a Ph.D. in Ecology at U.C. Davis before starting his career in winemaking. He was a research enologist at Joseph Phelps Vineyards then in 1998 started making Merus, a cult Cabernet Sauvignon, in his Napa garage. Since then he’s been a consultant to wineries throughout Napa Valley and he has continued to make wines under his own name. He is best known for his full-throttle Cabernet Sauvignons, though he also makes blends and whites that are unusual for California. Herold’s non-Cabs include Tempranillo, Grenache, Carignan, Albarino and Verdejo blends. His Cabs, and some other wines, typically earn ratings in the low- to mid-90s from reviewers.
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.