Learn About the Different Napa Valley Appellations

The scenic Howell Mountain is one of 16 Napa Valley Appellations

Did you know there are 16 wine growing regions in Napa Valley and that each one has a specific microclimate that caters to specific grape varieties? Did you know that Napa Valley was designated as the first American Viticultural Area – or AVA – in California (and the second in the country)? Well, knowing a little more about the Napa Valley appellations will be important to your next trip. It will help you decide where you’d like to concentrate your tastings, or maybe it will help you decide to stay longer to experience even more of our beautiful wine country!  

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Napa Valley Wineries 

Hundreds of Napa Valley Wineries dot our California landscape, and your drive through the region will be breathtaking no matter which season you visit. It’s quite incredible to think that hundreds of wineries span the Napa Valley boundaries that only stretch 30 miles in length and 5 miles across at the most. Whether you prefer to visit prominent household name like Hess or Chandon or you would rather discover a few new locally known favorites, you’ll enjoy every delicious sip of your journey! 

A Look at the Napa Valley Appellations 

Napa Valley’s unique landscape creates these small agricultural pockets, with each having unique scenery and wines. Discover how terrain, climate, and soil create diverse flavors. Don’t forget to download our complimentary vacation guide for all the Napa Valley information you’d need to start planning an unforgettable wine country getaway! 

Los Carneros 

The Los Carneros AVA enjoys a cooling breeze from the Pacific Ocean and boasts a consistently moderate climate. Due to the long growing season, Los Carneros grapes achieve sought-after color and texture to create flavorful and juicy wines. Grape varieties from this region most notably include Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for crisp sparkling wine, but Syrah and Merlot are also superb. 


This charming Napa Valley AVA is known for its leisurely pace, family-friendly atmosphere, and seclusion. Coombsville grapes are recognized for their silky and smooth tannins and complex, yet earthy flavors. This region produces excellent Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. 

Wild Horse Valley 

Nestled in the Vaca Mountains, this quaint area experiences a warmer climate and is saturated in plentiful sunshine. Consistent breezes from the San Pablo Bay result in ripe and well-balanced Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. 

Mount Veeder 

Mount Veeder is a rugged Napa Valley AVA with rough terrain, forcing all vineyard work to be done diligently by hand. The area produces intensely spiced and rich Napa Valley wine, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Syrah. 

Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley 

Known as the “sweet spot” of Napa Valley, Oak Knoll enjoys a long and leisurely growing season. The long growing season allows the region to produce perfectly ripe red wine varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Zinfandel, as well as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. 


Encompassing a rich history of Napa Valley, Yountville is an exceptional area for great food and noteworthy Napa Valley wine. With a heavy marine influence, this region specializes in airy Sauvignon Blancs and full-bodied Cabernets. 

Stags Leap District 

Stags Leap sits the Silverado Trail and is recognized for its rocky peaks. This Napa Valley AVA is home to numerous world-renowned wineries and is dominated by rich and flavorful Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Atlas Peak 

Atlas Peak has experienced rapid growth since it was first named an AVA in 1992. Winemakers from this region tout their vineyards’ high altitude and the distinctive flavor of their wines. This rugged area has added its own flair to Napa Valley Viticulture and produces Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. 


With an unrivaled winemaking reputation, Oakville creates top-notch wines attributed to the unique soils and favorable climate. This AVA is known for distributing the first class Cabernet Sauvignon and home to some of the most respected pioneers in the winemaking industry. 


The Rutherford AVA has a moderately warm climate and produces flavors that are associated with “Rutherford Dust”. The region is known for its sophisticated and robust Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Zinfandel. 

St. Helena 

The St. Helena AVA is a world-class wine-making region with some of the most well-known wineries in Napa Valley. One of the warmer appellations, St. Helena produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, and Viognier. 

Spring Mountain District 

With unique topography and soils, Spring Mountain grape varietals are complex and diverse in flavor. The region specializes in Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, and Zinfandel. 

Chiles Valley District 

Chiles Valley is a quaint Napa Valley AVA regularly covered in fog. Although the area doesn’t receive as much recognition as other appellations, Chiles Valley was officially named an AVA in 1993. This cool region harvests red varieties such as Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. 

Howell Mountain 

The Howell Mountain AVA sits “just above the fog” and is known for growing fruit that is perfectly acidic and sweet. The area distributes excellent Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, and Viognier. 

Diamond Mountain District 

This beautiful area experiences warm days and cool nights. Located in northern Napa Valley, Diamond Mountain develops grapes with a perfect blend of sugar and acidity. Bold in flavor, the region is known for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. 


The historic Calistoga AVA experiences extreme temperature changes which results in well-balanced wines. This beautiful area is the perfect spot to enjoy a relaxing getaway or sample excellent Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Syrah, or Petite Sirah. 

Napa Valley AVA Rules 

While there is an art to winemaking (ask any vintner), there are a few rules that wineries must follow in order to list a particular region on a label. For example, if a bottle of wine says that it hails from Atlas Peak, it’s required that 85% of the wine must be made from grapes grown in that AVA.  

Napa Valley AVA Map 

Getting a visual of the area is really important and helps you understand the geography of Napa’s AVA districts. Napa Vintners has a wonderful Napa Valley AVA map for you to explore. Visit Napa Valley also has a great map that also features locations of wineries and vineyards.  

Other Facts You Need to Know:  

  • Napa Valley was designated as the first AVA in California in 1981.  
  • Only 2 percent of the world boasts a Mediterranean climate which is so amenable to high-end grape production. The Napa Valley climate falls into that 2 percent! 
  • About 95 percent of Napa’s wineries are family owned!

The Advantages of Staying at Churchill Manor Bed & Breakfast 

Stags Leap Room InteriorThere are a number of Napa Valley hotels in town. However, our bed and breakfast in the heart of downtown Napa provides a unique experience that will only enhance your stay in Napa.  

After exploring the wonderfully diverse Napa Valley appellations, relax at Churchill Manor, a lovely 19th-century mansion with elegant accommodationsAs an homage to the wonderful wine regions, we named each one of our 10 luxurious rooms after a Napa Valley appellationStay in Stags Leap, Atlas Peak, or Howell Mountain, just to name a few. 

Located just one block from historic downtown Napa, our elegant Bed and Breakfast is the perfect spot to rest your head after touring the unique vineyards and sampling excellent wine. Wake up to a mouthwatering gourmet breakfast and get energized for your next day exploring the Napa Valley appellations! 

Discover the Best Wineries in Napa Valley 

If you’re looking for an overview of some of the best wineries in each Napa Valley AVA, be sure to check out our helpful list. If you want to know more about the best wineries in Napa Valley, our knowledgeable staff would be happy to help answer any questions!