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The Distinguishing Characteristics of Atlas Peak

The wineries of Atlas Peak in Napa Valley are situated along the eastern hills. This region has become revered for red grapes that are full-bodied such as Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese. Within Atlas Peak, you will find a number of premier wineries including Cobblestone Vineyards, Dominari, Ardente Winery and Atlas Peak Vineyards. The sunny, elevated climate of Atlas Peak has allowed the wineries in this region to be less affected by the morning fog that is quite common to the valley floor. The cool winds that come in from the Bay ensure that the acidity in the grapes in Atlas Peak is high. When visiting the area, you will find that the temperatures in Atlas Peak are somewhat cooler than on the floor of the valley.

This is due to the southern location and elevation of Atlas Peak. As a result, Atlas Peak wineries are able to enjoy an extended growing season. Compared to other regions in Napa Valley, harvest time in Atlas Peak can be as much as two weeks later. Still, in spite of the cooler temperatures in Atlas Peak, the vineyards are still treated to plenty of sunshine. The Italian varietals planted here, in particular, soak up the sunshine; especially the Sangiovese vineyards.

Atlas Peak Vineyards, owned and operated by Piero Antinori of Tuscany, is by far the largest vineyard in the Atlas Peak region. During the afternoons fog frequently rolls into the southern region; however, the elevation of Atlas Peak shelters it from most of the fog. The evenings can still be quite cool compared to the days; however, which is beneficial to the vines. More so than in many other sub-regions in Napa Valley, the influence of volcanic activity is quite apparent in Atlas Peak. The soil here is perfect for the growth of Cabernet Sauvignon as well as a variety of other red grapes. You will note when touring the vineyards in Atlas Peak that the majority are grown on mountain slopes that are decidedly rugged. The elevation in Atlas Peak varies considerably, ranging from 1,200 feet above sea level to 2,600 feet above sea level. Vintners in the region have discovered that this rough, rugged terrain is somewhat difficult as well as expensive in terms of development. In addition, a significant portion of the soil in Atlas Peak is shallow, unfertile and unable to retain irrigation. As a result, Atlas Peak is not as developed as many other regions.

Although the region is comprised of more than 11,000 acres only a small portion is actually planted with vineyards. While only 1,500 acres are actually planted with vineyards in Atlas Peak, the small area that is planted produces outstanding wine. The first grapes in Atlas Peak were planted more than one hundred years ago by Italian immigrants. This was the beginning of a long and successful wine industry in the area. Most of the vintners during this early time period were attracted to the local region because it so closely resembled their hillside vineyards back in the Old Country. Considering the lack of modern technology at the time, the successful planting of these rugged slopes is even more amazing. Today, Atlas Peak is home to approximately 1,500 acres of planted vineyards. Most of those vineyards are planted in Bordeaux, Rhone and Italian varietals; all of which do quite well here. PPPPP Word Count 558 .


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