Coombsville has long been known as one of the best and most diverse grape growing regions in Napa Valley by winemakers and insiders, and it’s about to become the next hotspot for visitors in the know. The closest point in Napa Valley to San Francisco (bordering downtown Napa and only 14 miles from the bay), Coombsville is made up of vine-covered hills called “rolling benchlands," and is on the cusp of officially being deemed its own AVA (American Viticultural Area).
Why is it important that the land on which these historic (prior to 1870), family owned wineries get certified as an AVA? Because it will provide a powerful and unique identity in the industry, grant specific recognition to their volcanic soil and history and officially put them on the map of respected grape growing regions worldwide. The distinction between Coombsville and other Napa sub-AVAs like Rutherford may not be quite as clear as that between Bordeaux and Champagne in France, but is equally important.
The variances in climate and soil, from region to region, gives grapes and wines entirely different characteristics and flavors and have as much to do with the finished product as any winemaker or winemaking process. Many consumers choose their wines based on the area where the grapes are grown, while others choose wines based on winery, winemaker, flavor or even price. But in the end, whether it’s higher prices or more complex flavors, it all comes back to the vine and the dirt where it was planted… the AVA.
For San Franciscans, Coombsville means saving time, driving less, tasting a ton of different wines and coming home with the bragging rights to say that you knew the families in Coombsville and were drinking their wines before they were even an AVA. Be sure to call ahead as all tastings are custom and private and although everything in Coombsville is close together, you should consider getting a limo or driver, as these country roads are not as easy to navigate as Highway 29.
Here's a list of wineries to visit in Coombsville, only a few of many in this soon-to-be Napa AVA.
Meteor Vineyard is sharp, architecturally stunning and makes high-priced but luscious wines. It's been selling the finest grapes to the most famous winemakers for many years.
Sciandri Vineyards is the essence of a family vineyard. This small winery boasts amazing views, a killer cab at a reasonable price, and will treat you like family as you sit at the picnic tables outside their house and look down at the ponds, rolling hills, and picturesque expanse of Coombsville.
Porter Family Vineyrds makes a bold Cab and popular Chardonnay, among other tasty varietals, and has an elegant tasting room deep in their hillside caves.
Sodaro Estate Winery: has a brand new tasting room in their caves with a Tuscan feel, Italian architecture, beautiful valley views and a very relaxed and subtle nature. The wines and branding are sharp yet playful.
Farella Vineyard is owned and operated by mover and shaker, Tom Farella, the main man behind the Petition to get Coombsvelle it’s own AVA certification. He is well known for his wines and this is a backwoods, down to earth tasting room, which is surrounded by barrels stacked to the ceiling.
Palmaz, which we covered in January, should not be missed.