Friday, May 4, 2012

Oakville… Stags Leap…. Rutherford…. Yountville…. Calistoga…. Coombsville? HUH?

Oakville… Stags Leap…. Rutherford….  Yountville…. Calistoga…. Coombsville? HUH?

Yes last December Coombsville can stand be added to the AVAs of the Napa Valley.

This, 11,000-acre rural region just east of the city of Napa recently became the 16th AVA in Napa County. Named for Nathan Coombs, a prominent community leader and founder of Napa (1847), Coombsville has long been regarded as a superb spot for growing grapes but was somewhat out of the way from the mainstream wine-making centers.

Today more than 20 wineries are producing wines in Coombsville.

Generally hilly with vineyards at varying elevations, the area is protected from the wind by ridges, knolls and mountains, and the soil is a mix of ancient volcanic ash and rocky alluvial soils. The microclimates appear ideal for the production of elegant red wines.

You won't find big hotels, restaurants, shops or wineries in Coombsville. Instead, they will discover pastoral winding roads, a few houses dotted here and there, and select vineyard-wineries hidden from view.

There are also no crowds, lines of cars or limos — it's just Napa's backyard. The few visitors who discover Coombsville will be rewarded with a very mellow wine-tasting experience — by appointment only.

Here are some of the wineries in Coombsville to check out.

Meteor Vineyard is a gorgeous vineyard property off Third Street and produces some of the most outstanding cabernets in Napa Valley. Walk through the vineyards and experience the breadth and scope of Coombsville; you can see Mount George in the north, the Vaca Mountain range to the east and the Carneros region to the southwest.

Black Cat Vineyard, run by irrepressible owner/winemaker Tracey Reichow, is a spot to slow down and enjoy wine and conversation with the winemaker. It's her house, after all, and she treats visitors like long-lost friends.