Wine experts are in awe of the diversity of excellent wine-producing grape varieties that thrive in the Napa and Sonoma Valley regions. Because of the varied soil types created by both tectonic and volcanic activity and the multiple microclimates, ideal conditions exist for the high-quality production of nearly every favorite winemaking varietal.

Napa and Sonoma Valleys have over 600 wineries producing the highest rated wines in the United States. The total production of red wine Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon grapes led California in 2016 with 20,759 acres equalling over 20% of the state’s output of this variety.

World-class red wine Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon includes the unique and highly rated Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon and the uniquely refreshing Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon. Other esteemed varietals of Napa Valley are their highly esteemed Merlots, Cabernet Francs, Malbecs, and a host of delicious blends produced from these grape varieties.

Napa Valley: Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon

While so many grape varieties are grown in the region, red wine Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is king. A standout, the Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon varietal, produced from grapes unique to that Napa Valley  community, is renowned for its unique volcanic quality termed “Rutherford dust.” The grapes here impart a particular flavor or mouthfeel to the Cabernet Sauvignon varietal that is not prevalent elsewhere.

Winemaker Joel Aiken described the phenomenon as a “combination of soils aspects, climate, and other environmental elements that make Rutherford unique.”

Winetasters have confirmed that the red wine Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from Rutherford has unique tones suggesting chocolate, cocoa, or chocolate. Others have noted a singular mouthfeel of the tannins. Whatever the reason, Rutherford red wine Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a clear leader in wine tastings worldwide.

Napa Valley: Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon

Grapes for another standout red wine Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon are grown nearby in the Oakville area of Valley. The dominant growing condition here that creates the unique finished product is the above-average sunlight that produces a deeper color and refreshing acidity. The volcanic soils are ideal for the red wine Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon grape.

Sonoma: Best Pinot Noir

In Sonoma, the most popular wine varietals produced are Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, although the latter is the standout varietal for the region. A leading winemaker, Joel Aiken of Aiken Wines, prefers Sonoma’s Pinot Noir grapes for this varietal production because the area offers high elevation vineyards endowed with rich, loamy soils, 250 days of sunshine and the right amount of precipitation. With high temperatures in the 70°F range and lows in the 50s, plus a late afternoon cooling fog from the Pacific, conditions are perfect for the delicate Pinot Noir grapes.