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Napa’s Hidden Valley: Coombsville

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Coombsville was named the 16th Napa Valley AVA on December 14, 2011. It’s a small valley just East of Downtown Napa, comprised of small-production, family-owned wineries that are appointment only. Here is a blurb about the area’s wines from the Coombsville website:

Coombsville vintners production mirrors that of Napa Valley at large, with a focus on Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordelais varietals. Due to its varied soil types and the numerous meso-climates spread throughout its rolling landscape, excellent examples of Syrah, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir are also produced. Coombsville wines can be recognized by their typically soft but significant tannins, which provide excellent structure and mouthfeel, along with underlying layers of earth and mineral flavors. They are quite often approachable yet sophisticated and layered and not at all simplistic.

napa map 275

I’ve been following the growing popularity of Coombsville Cabernets since JAQK Cellars released the 2009 High Roller Cabernet, of which 30% of the grapes came from a vineyard in Coombsville. Then a few months ago at an industry event I was introduced to a Coombsville winery by the name of Ackerman Family Vineyards; and even more recently it was recommended to me by a staff member at Freemark Abbey in St. Helena. I finally contacted them and set up an appointment for the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and I am so happy I did.

mini donkey

After following the directions to the property, Annie P. and I reached a beautiful iron wrought gate with their “A” logo, and we knew we were at the right place. As we drove down the road towards the house, we were surrounded by gardens, hillsides of vines, horses and two miniature donkeys! Karen was waiting for us outside the carriage house with two glasses of their Cabernet-Sangiovese blend, the 2010 Alavigna Tosca. Annie P. – a big fan of Super Tuscans – was instantly won over.

view from Ackerman

view from Ackerman

Karen walked us up to the main house where the owners live and told us the story of how the vineyard came into ownership. Bob Ackerman originally went to the property to purchase a horse for his wife, but discovered the entire estate was for sale along with the horse. He and his wife were already big fans of Napa Valley, and they knew it was meant to be. They eventually started making wine for their own consumption, and after a while they decided to increase production and bottle their delicious Cabernet for others to enjoy. They released their first vintage, a 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon (100% Cab), in 2007 and since then they have released a new vintage every October.

Ackerman wines

After touring the property, Karen brought us back to the Carriage House where we tasted the 2009 and 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, paired with a delicious selection of cheese, pistachios, and crackers. Both wines were bursting with dark and silky fruit, with smooth tannins and a soft yet powerful finish. I preferred the 2008 because it was slightly smoother, but only because it had an extra year in the bottle. The vintages were actually very similar in terms of climate, and I’m sure the 2009 will be just as delicious in a year. Annie P. and I very much enjoyed chatting with Karen about the Coombsville area, the changing valley, and what it means to have good customer service in a tasting room.

It was a wonderful experience, and I can’t wait to bring back my family! I highly recommend Ackerman Family Vineyards to anyone looking to experience a different kind of Napa Valley.

About Kelsey

Kelsey is a food and wine lover residing in Napa, California, where she does marketing for a boutique wine collective. She previously lived in San Francisco for over six years, where her blogging journey began. She loves to cook seasonal meals and experiment with new wine pairings. She has been drinking and learning about wine with her father since she was 14, and cooking in the kitchen with her mother since she was 6. Both of her parents taught her well about seasoning and flavors, and she continues to learn more with every meal that is made.

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