Grape growing on Mount Veeder dates back to Civil War times, but the appellation has always kept something of a low profile. In part, this reflects the historically independent nature of its growers, determined souls who would carve vineyards into its steep slopes, trade high-volume grapes for those of superior quality, and then quietly go about their business.
Remarkable grapes and wines will stay hidden only so long, however. Even as Mount Veeder retains the rugged beauty of that time that earned it the name “Napa Redwoods,” in recent years the appellation’s profile has risen and the wine world is coming to understand and clamor for what makes Mount Veeder special.
There are five mountain appellations within the larger Napa Valley viticultural area, and Mount Veeder is notable as having the coolest temperatures of the five. It lies west of the city of Napa and town of Yountville at the southern end of the Mayacamas, the mountain range that forms the western boundary of the Napa Valley. Mount Veeder rises some 2,500 feet up from the rolling plain of the Carneros District, not far from the chilly waters of San Pablo Bay.
Soils tend to be rocky, clay seabed with areas of volcanic soils and other variations, but on that count it is dangerous to speak too broadly. Mount Veeder is nothing if not varied, with folds, drops and curves in the land that create a wide range of terroirs, and it is the rare Mount Veeder vineyard that doesn’t tilt between 10 and 30 degrees. Paratus Vineyards lays claim to such variety, as well as to a striking steepness that climbs high into the sun's rays during the growing season.
As Paratus wine exemplifies, Mount Veeder is ideal for growing cabernet sauvignon grapes that typically parlay themselves into bold and intensely flavored wines with plenty of fine-textured tannin. This is why cabernet dominates the mountain, making up just shy of two-thirds of the approximately 1,000 acres under vine.
Visit the Mount Veeder AVA site.