In 1879, Finnish explorer and adventurer Gustave Niebaum searched the Napa Valley with the goal of establishing a wine estate to rival the finest chateau of France. For decades his wines won acclaim and remain some of the most admired in American wine history's classic period. By the mid-1960's, his property was divided, and estate-wine production ceased.
A decade later, Francis Ford Coppola purchased 1,500 acres of this historic property and revived Captain Niebaum's fine winemaking tradition. In 1995, Niebaum-Coppola acquired the remainder of the property and restored the Inglenook Estate to its original dimensions.
Learn More About Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Franc (cab-uhr-NAY frahnk)
Right Place, Right time
You won't often find this grape bottled as a single variety as it can lean towards
earthy, vegetal tendencies (think green pepper & olives). Its typical place
is in a blend with Cabernet
or both. Cabernet Franc's home is the right bank of
It is an integral part in the blends of
adding structure and backbone to the softer Merlot. Yet some feel its potential
has been overlooked. If Cabernet Franc has the right soils and it's harvested
at the right time- it can produce a delicious wine all by itself.
Luckily, certain areas are creating wines that let this grape shine on it's
own. Cheval Blanc, one of the top Bordeaux wines in St-Émilion, consists
of 60% or more of the Cabernet Franc variety. Loire Valley red wines made with
Cabernet Franc often come from Chinon and Bourguil - they are deliciously balanced
and subtle examples of Cabernet Franc at its best, showing smooth tannins and
good fruit with herbaceous undertones. Long Island and Virginia have also had some success
with this grape.
Summing it up
Successful sites: Bordeaux, California (mostly for blends), Loire Valley,
Long Island, Virginia
bell pepper, violet, raspberry, cherry, cedar
Learn More About Napa Valley, California
It's hard not to think of Napa Valley when thinking of California wines. The region is, after all, the one that brought world recognition to California wine making. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux Blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Within the Napa Valley lie smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two is St.-Helena and finally, just grated an AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap and Mount Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.