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What makes Los Carneros AVA suitable for sparkling wine? – ask Decanter

In partnership with the California Wine Institute

Los Carneros AVA in California produces top quality sparkling wines – but why…?

In partnership with the California Wine Institute

Los Carneros sparkling wines

Los Carneros AVA crosses over Napa and Sonoma Counties, at the southern end of the areas. It produces high quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Champagne house Taittinger produce a sparkling wine in Carneros, at ‘Domaine Carneros by Taittinger,’ – as well as some still wines.

Anderson Valley AVA also produces high quality sparkling wines – which is where Champagne house Roederer also produce a Californian sparkling.

Cooling influences

One of the main reasons Los Carneros sparkling wines are of such high quality is due to a number of cooling influences in the climate.

The San Pablo Bay produces cooling morning fogs and afternoon breezes to the Los Carneos area, bringing down the average temperature.

Cooler temperatures mean the grapes ripen slower and retain the high acidity levels needed in sparkling wines.

It’s also best for producing Pinot Noir grapes, and cool-climate Chardonnay, to make sparkling wines in the Champagne style.

‘During the growing season, Carneros is slightly warmer than the Champagne region and slightly cooler than Burgundy,’ said Eileen Crane, winemaker at Taittinger’s Domaine Carneros.

‘In terms of Napa and Sonoma, Carneros is the coolest part of both Valleys, and is used for sourcing their best Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.’

‘The Carneros climate benefits from the marine cool breezes coming from the San Pablo bay and the Petaluma gap.’


‘The soils of Carneros contribute to the quality as well,’ said Crane.

‘The heavy soils mean that the vine roots in Carneros do not go deep and hence can not source water from underground reserves. As a result the vines in Carneros remain small limiting crop size.’

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