Stretching between the southern points of Napa and Sonoma counties along the edge of San Pablo Bay, Carneros is known for dense clay soils, foggy mornings, moderate daytime temperatures, and strong winds in the afternoon. Until the early 1980s, theStretching between the southern points of Napa and Sonoma counties along the edge of San Pablo Bay, Carneros is known for dense clay soils, foggy mornings, moderate daytime temperatures, and strong winds in the afternoon. Until the early 1980s, the region was mainly known for its rolling hills, pear orchards, dairy cows, horses, pigs, goats, and sheep ranches (“Los Carneros” means “the ram” in Spanish). Today, the new renaissance in the region has led to concentrated plantings of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes used to make still and sparkling wines with unique character and flavors.
Whites: Chardonnay; with smaller portions of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Albarino, Roussanne, Viognier and Vermentino.
Reds: Pinot Noir is widely planted in the region. Other tasty wines are made with Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Franc grapes grown in the region.
White Wines: The flavor profile of Carneros Chardonnay is highlighted with delicate notes of lemon, lime, grapefruit, green apple, pear, white peach, and a suede-like texture. The younger wines often have fresh floral aromas, elegant fruit flavors and crisp acidity; whereas the more expensive vineyard designates have more intense flavors, rich texture, and layers of spice.
Red Grapes: Pinot Noirs from the region feature lovely aromas of ripe red fruits, rose hips, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, and other sweet and savory spices. On the palate, concentrated flavors of cherry, plum, cranberry, strawberry jam, raspberry, ruby grapefruit, and high-tone fruits. The cool-climate conditions allow Merlot grapes to develop slowly on the vines. The result is wines with concentrated flavors of dark fruits, chocolate and spice; balanced tannins; and smooth texture. Syrah is also aromatic with notes of lavender, ripe cherry, blueberry, plum, and smooth tannins.
The expressive flavors and natural acidity of Carneros Chardonnay pair nicely with salads with citrus-based dressing, medium-bodied cheeses, seafood, chicken, and pasta. Pinot Noirs from the region are brilliant with complex cheeses, salmon, pork, and roasted meats. Merlot works with gamey meats, stews and olive tapenade. Syrah is great with dishes featuring wild mushrooms, olives, lamb and grilled meats. The sparkling wines from the region are ideal with a wide range of appetizers, oysters, soups, Asian cuisine and roasted meats with a nice touch of salt.