Matthiasson is owned and operated by Steve and Jill Matthiasson, who run their Napa Valley micro farm as a true family operation, producing a myriad of agricultural products and wine. They make very small batches of some of the most admired – and unusual -- wines coming out of Napa. The Matthiassons have championed the white grapes of northern Italy, such as Ribolla Gialla, and the ancient Italian red grapes Refosco and Schioppettino. They also produce Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and blends. Reviewers have been impressed. Matthiasson was a semi-finalist in the 2015 James Beard Foundation’s award for winemaking, and the San Francisco Chronicle named him 2014 Winemaker of the Year. Steve was a philosophy major who returned to college to study horticulture and then worked for years as a consultant in sustainable agriculture and winemaking before focusing on the family winemaking venture. Jill majored in botany and earned an advanced degree in agriculture. The couple are part of what’s been called the new DIY winemaking movement. They make artisanal wines with grapes sourced from leased vineyards, and they make styles and varieties that defy Napa winemaking conventions. Matthiasson source grapes from Oak Knoll, Dry Creek, Rutherford and Coombsville.
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,
This white variety originated in Burgundy, but is now grown around the world. Its flexibility to thrive in many regions translates to wide flavor profile in the market. Chardonnay is commonly used in making Champagne and sparkling wines.