By Lisa Rowlands

Historically an area of livestock farming rather than viticulture, Coombsville only became synonymous with grape cultivation and winemaking in the middle of the twentieth century. Its origins though date back to the 1840s when Massachusetts born businessman Nathan Coombs, purchased a plot of thirty or so hectares at the southern end of Napa Valley, on which the city of Napa was built a few years later. The geographic area and the AVA established in 2011 are both named in his honour.

Characterised by gentle rolling hills, mineral-rich volcanic soils, and a climate that is slightly cooler than the Napa Valley average, Coombsville’s terroir has proved the perfect match for the slow ripening Cabernet Sauvignon variety along with Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Zinfandel and Chardonnay. Even before its own AVA designation, Coombsville’s vineyards were consistently a source of well-balanced, flavoursome grapes for producers in other prestigious Napa appellations.

Elevation diversity within the AVA creates a number of distinct climate zones leading to wines being produced in a range of styles. Grapes are planted on both low lying vineyards near the Napa River as well as plots close to the Vaca Mountains at around six-hundred metres above sea level. Proximity to the Petaluma gap and the impact of the afore mentioned fog takes the edge off the temperatures during the growing season and reduces the intensity of the Californian sunshine. Subsequently Coombsville’s grapes enjoy an extended hang time developing balanced flavours whilst retaining a refreshing acidity. Those occupying more secluded spots which are sheltered from the cooling impact of the ocean tend to deliver softer, lusher wines.