October 18, 2014

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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
Sarah Toomey
Sarah Toomey