Established in 1983, the Carneros AVA, or American Viticultural Area, which is a designated wine grape growing region in the United States, is the coolest of all the nearly 140 California AVAs.
Straddling the Napa-Sonoma County line, Carneros’ cool-to-moderate climate takes winemakers on a journey that requires holistic craftsmanship to achieve a successful outcome. And we love a challenge.
The History of Carneros
In 1872, there was at least one documented vineyard and winery in Los Carneros.
By 1880, there were more than twenty wineries and approximately 350 acres of vines.
The name, Los Carneros, which is the official name of the AVA, dates to one of the original Spanish land grants in the area.
There are two possible origins of the name, including a nearby creek named Carneros, and a parcel, Rincon de Los Carneros, translating to the corner of the rams. While few can agree on either derivation, we think it adds to the allure of the region to choose which beginning you like best.
Los Carneros or Carneros are both acceptable labeling locations for wines from the AVA; it is simply a preference of the winemaker.
The Climate of Carneros
Like many of California’s wine-growing regions the primary moderating influence is the Pacific Ocean, which reflects a Mediterranean climate that allows the Carneros AVA to flourish.
With extended sunny growing seasons, mild springs and fall, and minimal rain—registering the least amount of any of the California AVAs at 18–27 inches per year—the cool winters help the grapes thrive with the even ripening, that slowly develops the color, tannins, and fruit flavors, leaving the perfect amount of acidity behind.
The Soil of Carneros
There is variation in soil from place to place within the Carneros AVA, but most are primarily clay that is covered in rich topsoil that is derived from the erosion of nearby hills and accumulations carried downstream by the Napa River.
At Ram’s Gate Winery, we dedicate our time and resources to understanding the soil of each site and closely monitor the growing conditions of each vine, so our vineyards can thrive with a holistic approach to embracing their natural conditions.
The Wine Styles of Carneros
The evolution of grapes in Carneros can achieve the well-developed flavors expected from wines that range from medium body to full and from medium alcohol to high, like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, thanks to the relatively cool climate and potentially long growing season.
At Ram's Gate Winery, our Carneros vineyards take both new and experienced wine enthusiasts on a journey of these two exceptional wine offerings, so they can fully understand how the land and terroirs influence our fruit—long before it reaches our cellars.
If you would like to learn more about our exciting wine collections, reserve your open-air wine tasting experience today, or enjoy an informative virtual experience without leaving your home, so you can get to know us and our wines.