October 22, 2014

Learn ›   Mokelumne River ›   Region ›   Wine ›  

Mokelumne River

Most of the Lodi sub-appellations are growing regions almost exclusively and have only a few, if any wineries. The Mokelumne River AVA is the exception. It contains almost 90 wineries as well as the vineyards to support them.

The name of the region comes from the river that forms the boundary and flows through the area. Mokelumne means people of the fishnet in the Miwok language and has been cited on maps of California since John C. Fremont marked it in 1848.

The boundaries of this appellation are defined by the young alluvial fans of the Lower Mokelumne as well as the creeks and sloughs that feed into the river. The soils are fine, sandy loams of the Tokay and Acampo series. These soils are young and deep (6-12 feet) with good drainage and a low ability to hold moisture.

The elevation is the lowest in the region, being only five feet above sea level in the southwest corner. This allows cool Pacific air to move up through the Golden Gate to the Carquinez Strait into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and finally into the Mokelumne River. The constant inundation of cool air makes this appellation the coolest in the area and increases the degree days required to grow vinifera grapes from 50 to 450. The extra time required to harvest the fruit gives the grapes more time to develop richer flavors.

This cool air is prevent from forming frost on the vineyards by the winds moving down from the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the east. These winds keep the air circulating instead of forming ice crystals.

This area of the Lodi region has been producing wine grapes since the 1880 when George West started a vineyard near the southern border of the appellation. The most common grapes in the 19th century were Zinfandel and Flame Tokay whose’s vines would grow old in the poor soils searching for water and nutrients. In other regions the designation of “old vine” might be given to plants of 30 years. In the Mokelumne River area, the vines might be over 100 years old.

Being the largest of the of Lodi sub-appellations, Mokelumne River is also home to the lions share of the wineries.
October 22, 2014

Learn ›   Region ›   Sloughhouse ›   Wine ›  


The last of the Lodi-area sub-appellations, Sloughhouse is located in the most north eastern portion of the region. Named for a famed stage coach stop and restaurant, the name Sloughhouse has been used in the area since the 1850. This sub-appellation is the warmest and wettest micro-climate in the area.

The AVA is drained by the Cosumnes River and its tributaries Deer Creek and Laguna Creek that cut through plains and rolling hills. The soils as a result are alluvial and of low fertility as well as old. The are formed from a mixture of rocks including granites from the Sierra Nevadas Mountains.

The climate of Sloughhouse is warmer and wetter than the other Lodi appellations. The elevations in this area are the highest in the region and because they are next to the relatively high table lands from Alta Mesa, Sloughhouse does not get the cool air from the Pacific that the other nearby viticultural areas enjoys. The additional precipitation in the region is due to orographic or relief rain. This sort of rain occurs as clouds rise in elevation following landforms such as hills and mountain, cooling the water vapor and forming rain.

Like several of the Lodi appellations there are no wineries in Sloughhouse but it is home to several vineyards that provide fruit for wineries outside the area. Additionally, there are currently no wines that are labeled using the Sloughhouse designation.
October 18, 2014

Atlas Peak ›   Learn ›   Wine ›  

Atlas Peak

One of sixteen sub-appellations found in the Napa Valley AVA, Atlas Peak is located between the towns of Napa and Yountville within Soda Canyon and Frost Valley in the western slopes of the Vaca Mountains. The region is distinctive from the surrounding valley due differences in elevation, climate and soils.

Named after the highest mountain in the area, the Atlas Peak appellation gives one an indication of both location geographically speaking. The elevation of the area ranges from 760 feet to 2,663 feet above sea level. With this change in elevation comes climate changes as well. Temperatures drop as one goes up and elevation.

The area receives full sun during the day including sun reflected off the nearby ocean. The afternoons bring cooling breezes from San Francisco Bay but not the fog that is more common at lower elevations. After sunset the temperature in the appellation drops quickly with temperatures dropping as much as 30 degrees.

Soils on the peaks of the Vaca Mountains are then well drained volcanic soils (primarily) mixed with upland soils and alluvial gravelley loam. The rainfall in the region averages 38 inches per year with the majority of the precipitation falling during the cold season.

The history of viticulture in the appellation began in 1870. James Reed Harris planting 1,000 vines on his property eventually expanding to 45 acres of wine grapes (the property is still under vine and owned by Elan Vineyards). Other early winemakers include Christian Moser, Sebastian Raymond Dickey and Francis Varty. Many of these early pioneers moved into the area after finding disappointment in the gold fields of Sutter’s Mill.

Currently there are over 1,500 acres under vine in the Atlas Peak AVA and is home to fifteen wineries including:

Antica Napa Valley
Ardente Winery
Astrale e Terra
Atlas Peak Vineyards
Bialla Vineyards
Cobblestone Vineyards
Elan Vineyards
Jocelyn Lonen Winery
Krupp Brothers
Pahlmeyer Winery
Rivera Vineyards
Veraison / Krupp Brothers Estates
Vin Roc Wine Caves
William Hill Estate