California approves new AVA

The US government has approved a new American Viticultural Area in Napa Valley as Californian wines look set to break new sales records after a strong 2011.

The new Coombsville AVA was registered last week and becomes the 16th appellation in the county, comprising some 4,484 hectares split between roughly 40 wineries and growers.

The petition to the Federal Tobacco, Tax & Trade Bureau for AVA status used articles from the US wine press praising the region’s wines in an effort to show that it “has national name recognition because of its renown as a wine region in Napa Valley”.

The region lies east of the city of Napa and is bordered to the southwest by Los Carneros and Wild Horse Valley AVAs in the east and Green Valley to the southeast.

Tom Farella, owner of Farella Vineyard and co-author of the petition with fellow vintner Brad Kitson said: “It’s a great day for all of us that have been growing grapes in Coombsville for decades.

“Coombsville now has its proper place in the Napa Valley lexicon and on the appellation maps. Since the Coombsville name has been in use for so many years, having it placed among the great wine regions of the world feels a little like coming home.”

Coombsville is distinct from many surrounding regions due to its geology and climate. With large alluvial deposits, the vineyards are rich in rock and gravel and in some places volcanic ash from Mount George.

The proximity to San Francisco Bay also means that it is significantly cooler than other Napa AVAs, with greater exposure to marine fog and a longer growing season but conversely less extreme temperatures during the winter.

The main grapes are Bordeaux varieties, as well as Syrah, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Meanwhile, overall Californian exports look set to break record levels in 2011 as shipments rose 23% in the first 10 months of the year.

The Wine Institute of California reported that by the end of October, total US wine exports (90% of which were Californian) had matched the US$1.14 billion reached last year, thanks to a weak dollar and demand from China – where exports have grown by 35%.

Canada too has increased its exports since 2010, with last year’s total rising from US$240m to US$300m in the year to date.

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