High altitude vineyards have always had a unique place in the history of viticulture, and with virtually all the usable bottom land in the Napa Valley planted to vines, the search has headed to the hills, according to Wine Business.
One of the last frontiers to see this explosion in growth is Atlas Peak. It is situated on the western slopes of the Vaca Range and just over the hill from the Stags Leap AVA.The 11,000-acre Atlas Peak region boasts elevations of 1,100 to 2,400
Just north of the city of Napa, its unique mountain climate is also influenced by its proximity to San Pablo Bay. This gives it cooler temperatures and a longer growing season, longer hang time, and less vine vigor — ideal conditions for premium winegrape growing.
What started with a single development in the early 1980s by Bill Hill has blossomed into a dozen wineries, all seeking to compete in the high-end market, and some already receiving ratings in the 90s for their bottlings. The region has attracted such notables as Caymus, Michael Mondavi, Pahlmeyer and Italy’s legendary Piero Antinori.
According to spokeperson Kim Flowers, the AVA now has 29 members,
including 10 wineries and a half-dozen growers.
Vineyard sizes run from a minuscule one-and-a-half-acre site to Atlas Peak Winery’s 496 acres. The region encompasses 1,500 acres, with a potential to grow to 3,000 according to Hill, the grower, winemaker and developer instrumental in returning the region to prominence as a prime winegrape region.