Carneros, Again

Forty years ago, the Carneros had hopes of becoming the Burgundy of California. It didn’t – but neither did anywhere else. Now, it’s back in the limelight just by being itself.

Los Carneros, late 1970s. Duhig Road veers off from Route 12 and heads south, splitting in half this hilly region where Napa and Sonoma valleys come together at the foot of the Mayacamas Mountains before both fizzle out into the marshlands bordering San Pablo Bay. It is an early fall afternoon, and a drive down Duhig and its side roads is mostly a serene one. Here and there, rectangular patches of vineyards, now green but turning red and yellow, stretch across dune-like rolling hillsides. From time to time, a truck full of grapes makes its way north...