Being early ripening varieties, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir need a cool climate in which to excel. The French have known this for centuries, which is why the Burgundy region is based on these two grape types.
...while the Carneros region, where Napa and Sonoma meet, is another great region for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay as well as varieties such as Merlot, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc.
Carneros is an American Viticultural Area (AVA) that is situated at the northern end of the San Pablo Bay, an extension of the San Francisco Bay. It is this location that makes Carneros unique, as Steve Rogstad, winemaker at Cuvaison, notes. "Because our AVA is low lying (almost sea level) and directly facing the San Pablo Bay, we get fog rolling in at night that slowly peels back during the morning hours. This limits sunshine and keeps temperatures moderate." This is an ideal situation for producing wines of very good acidity and structure, and the best Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays of Carneros - the leading varieties planted here - display heightened aromatics and excellent freshness, as well as remarkable varietal character.
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