There’s a unique character to wines made from mountain-grown fruit. In fact, of the 16 nested AVAs in Napa Valley, five are mountainous regions. But there’s more to Mount Veeder than just steep terrain and rocky soil. Though it’s one of the premier hillside appellations in Napa, it’s also one of the most diverse regions in the area.
That’s why Cultivar Wine decided to release two new wines this year from this acclaimed area: the 2020 Cultivar Cabernet Sauvignon, Mt. Veeder, and the 2020 Cultivar Merlot, Mt. Veeder. In celebration of these releases, we thought we’d take a deeper look into the Mt. Veeder appellation to discover what’s truly different about this region.
Mount Veeder History
Mount Veeder was named for Peter Veeder, a Dutch Presbyterian pastor. Veeder lived in the area during the Civil War era. Veeder enjoyed hiking on the mountain, where the Douglas Firs and Knobcone Pines reminded him of the forests of home. In 1864, Captain Stelham Wing created the first bottling from the region and presented it at the Napa County Fair.
Commercial-scale production came to Mt. Veeder in 1900 when Theodore Geir, a flamboyant liquor wholesaler living in Oakland, bought the property that would later become the Hess Collection Winery. By the late 1890s, there were some 20 vineyards and 6 wineries on the slopes of Mount Veeder. Prohibition all but wiped out winemaking in the region until the early 1950s. It wasn’t until 1973 when a Cabernet Sauvignon was produced that bore the Mount Veeder designation on the label.
Fun fact: Petit Verdot first came to California in 1975 via Mount Veeder! Cuttings from the original vineyard site are the origin of most Petit Verdot in Napa Valley today.
Mt. Veeder is an incomparable mix of steep slopes, seabed soil, and cooling winds from San Pablo Bay. Mt. Veeder was granted AVA status in 1990.
The Mount Veeder Terroir
Often called “The Mountain By The Bay,” Mt. Veeder produces wines that reflect the independent spirit of its mountain growers and vintners. These are wines borne of rugged conditions that demand hand craftsmanship at the highest level. Mount Veeder is an island of ancient seabed pushed up into a mountain, surrounded by volcanic soils that typify the rest of the Napa Valley.
Here are some other amazing facts about this appellation:
- It has the longest growing season and the lowest yields in Napa Valley.
- Virtually all vineyard work is done by hand, due to the rugged conditions and steep slopes.
- Extremely steep slopes rising above the fog line create shallow topsoil and minimal water retention. This results in tiny berries with intense flavor concentration but soft tannins.
- It is the only hillside appellation in Napa Valley that adjoins the cool, bayside Carneros, benefiting from the cooling influence of San Pablo Bay.
Cultivar Wine From Mount Veeder
Our debut Cabernet Sauvignon from the storied Mt. Veeder appellation in Napa Valley is a stunner. With a hue between deep ruby and deep purple, you can see right away that this is a concentrated, mountain-farmed wine. The nose reveals Bing cherries, black currant, and dry earth, while interwoven layers of blueberry, cassis, vanilla, and mellow oak roll across the mid-palate.
As young as this wine is, the finish has a surprising smoothness, with flavors of cigar wrapper, plum, and eucalyptus. There’s no doubt the mountain fruit tannins are bold, but this is a wine that’s drinkable now and will only get softer with age. Enjoy it with grilled New York steak, pork chops with a peppercorn sauce, or lamb kabobs.
2020 Cultivar Merlot, Mt. Veeder
If you love a Merlot that’s deeply concentrated but retains its signature softness on the finish, then you love Merlot the way it comes from Mt. Veeder. We sourced this 2020 vintage from one of the most acclaimed vineyards on the mountain. the nose is presented with Bing cherries, blueberry, black currant, and the aroma of minerality that comes from the appellation’s unique soil.
The palate is greeted with sarsaparilla, cocoa dust, cherry cola, and black peppercorns, all drifting beautifully on a wave of soft, new oak. the longer growing season on Mt. Veeder is immediately apparent in the flavor profile: the fruit is forward and juicy without being jammy. On the finish, you’ll find equal amounts of cigar smoke, cola, and tannins that start out soft and will only become more balanced with age.
Enjoy this wine with mushroom risotto, meatloaf, wagyu beef sliders, Muenster cheese, or Prosciutto with melon. This wine will be released on the Cultivar Online Store in the fall of 2022.