Vinous Magic Happens on Mount Veeder

Mount Veeder was named for the German Presbyterian pastor, Peter Veeder, who lived in Napa during the Civil War era and enjoyed hiking on the mountain, where the Douglas Firs and Bristlecone Pines reminded him of the forests of home.

It was during those Wild West days that winemaking on Mount Veeder was first recorded. In 1864, Captain Stelham Wing presented the first Mount Veeder bottling at the Napa County Fair, a wine hailing from today’s Wing Canyon Vineyard.

The Germanic thread continued with the founding in the 1880s of the Streich Winery (today’s Yates Family Vineyard) by Ernest Streich, and the Fisher Winery (today’s Mayacamas Vineyards) by John Henry Fisher of Stuttgart.

Commercial-scale production arrived on Mount Veeder in 1900 when Theodore Geir, a colorful and flamboyant German-born Oakland liquor dealer, bought the property that would later become the Christian Brothers’ Mont La Salle Winery (today’s Hess Collection Winery).

By the late 1890s, there were some 20 vineyards and six wineries on the slopes of Mount Veeder. Prohibition diminished the vineyards, which revitalized beginning with Mayacamas Vineyards in 1951 and Bernstein Vineyards in 1964.

The wines from Mount Veeder–the mountain by the bay–reflect the independent spirit of its mountain growers and vintners, borne of rugged conditions that demand handcraftsmanship at the highest level.

The appellation has the longest growing season and the lowest yields in Napa Valley, and virtually all vineyard work is done by hand due to the rugged conditions and steep slopes. Those slopes, above the fog, render shallow topsoil and minimal water retention, resulting in tiny berries with intense flavor concentration and amazingly soft tannins.

Mount Veeder is the only hillside appellation in Napa Valley that adjoins the cool, bayside Carneros, benefiting from the cooling influence of San Pablo Bay.

Geologists think of it as an island of ancient seabed pushed up into a mountain, surrounded by volcanic soils that typify the rest of the Napa Valley.

Based on Mount Veeder’s incomparable mix of steep slopes, predominance of seabed soil and proximity to San Pablo Bay, official American Viticultural Area status was granted in 1993.

Posted in Wine Region Profiles
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