WineCollective was fortunate enough to visit Spring Mountain in September, and partake in their annual Touch the Terroir. Amber joined a handful of wine professionals who were given a comprehensive and exclusive experience with the people and vineyards of Spring Mountain.
Touch the Terroir is a program created by the Spring Mountain Association for wine professionals to be able to live and learn directly through the people creating the wine. A rare peak behind the curtain, where we were given the opportunity to get our hands dirty!
Spring Mountain is a small AVA within Napa Valley. Napa covers 225,000 acres and about 8,600 acres are within Spring Mountain’s borders. Napa Valley is broken down into 14 sub-appellations, including Spring Mountain. The mountain vineyards of Spring Mountain are a short distance from the town of St. Helena, about a 10 minute drive. Spring Mountain neighbours Sonoma to the south-west (on the western slopes of the Mayacamas range), Diamond Mountain to the north, Calistoga to the north-east and St. Helena directly east and south.
The larger Napa Valley was officially recognizes in 1989, not long after in 1993 Spring Mountain was established as an AVA. There are 1,000 acres under vine that are home to 27 vineyards. Approximately 30% of the wine producers are exported, or have been exported to Alberta. You can find small quantities of Paloma, Cain, Frias, Terra Valentine, Vineyard 7 & 8, and Barnett at boutique wine shops and restaurants. We have previously featured wines from all of these producers on WineCollective and Tannic.
Vineyards in Spring Mountain are found hugging the mountain on steep slopes, where tending to the vines and harvest can be difficult, if not dangerous. The area is planted mainly to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, but you can also find Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and a few white varietals (only 10% of the total plantings).
AVA’s are created to further distinguish an area’s terroir, grouping together vineyards that have similar soil, elevation and climate. Spring Mountain’s elevation above the valley floor gives a temperate climate, with less temperature fluctuations from day to night. Vines are planted on rugged hillside terrain between 400-2,300 meters in rocky soils. Resulting wines are pronounced and distinguished due to the vine’s plight for nutrients and sun. The majority of vineyards are located above the fog line, where they are exposed to morning heat earlier in the day and cool earlier in the afternoons. The mountainous vineyards also receive more rainfall than the valley floor. However, the past couple of years have been drier than normal. Even within such s small growing region like Spring Mountain, there can be many differences from vineyard to vineyard. Neighbouring vineyards are composed of varying soil, deep or little impenetrable bedrock, and depending on the aspect receive more wind, rain or sun.
Further defining Spring Mountain from the rest, are the people. Home to a ‘everyone knows everyone’ small town community, the residence of Spring Mountain are welcoming and down-to-earth. Not only were the participants of Touch the Terroir invited to participate in harvest, the busiest time of year for winemakers, members of Spring Mountain opened their homes and were gracious hosts.
We look forward to sharing more of our Spring Mountain adventure, stay tuned for a sneak-peak of Cain Vineyards!