The Cool in Coombsville

The most distinctive feature of Arietta’s vineyard sites is that they are all in the southern part of the Napa Appellation, close to San Francisco Bay.  While the soils vary, the sites have one thing in common—they are more heavily influenced by the cold waters of the Bay than the rest of Napa.  .

This translates to cooler average temperatures in the summer, which results in a longer growing season, and a better chance of equalizing the pace of sugar and phenolic maturation in the grapes.  Such is true of both Carneros, where the Hudson Ranch team farms brilliant Merlot and Cabernet Franc for us, and Coombsville, the location of Arietta’s two sources of Cabernet Sauvignon.  The shallow caldera in the shadow of an extinct volcano gives shape to the Coombsville Appellation, and the porous, water deficient volcanic soils challenge the Cabernet vines to grow deep in search of moisture.  The combination of moderate temperatures and rugged soils helps us make Cabernet Sauvignons that are intensely flavored but not overweight.

Although Cabernet Sauvignon did not take its place in the Arietta wine portfolio until eight years after Arietta’s founding, it now occupies a significant position.  Three of Arietta’s seven red wines are all or mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, and all our Cabernet Sauvignon grapes come from Coombsville.  At the apex is the Arietta Cabernet Sauvignon “88 Keys,” a two or three barrel selection made in top vintages.  The 88 Keys Cuvee is given an extra eight months’ aging to further concentrate the wine, then dressed in gold painted and engraved bottles and packed in three-bottle custom wood cases.

The source of the grapes for this wine is the Meteor Vineyard, located in the very heart of the Coombsville Appellation.   Planted in 1999 by noted viticulturist Mike Wolf, the Meteor Vineyard is as good as it gets in Coombsville.  The Vineyard rolls gently to the Southwest, giving it superb drainage and exposure to the afternoon sun.

You are more likely to encounter Arietta’s Cabernet Sauvignon, a 250-300 case production combining fruit from the Meteor Vineyard with Cabernet Sauvignon from the Two Belles Vineyard at the northern edge of the Coombsville Appellation.  Like the Meteor Vineyard, the five acre Two Belles planting also gently slopes to the southwest, with similarly superb exposure.

The balance of Arietta’s Cabernet from Two Belles is the foundation of the Arietta Red Wine Quartet.  The typical Arietta Quartet is composed of 50-60% Cabernet Sauvignon, blended with Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot.  At 1,000 cases the Quartet is Arietta’s most widely distributed wine

There is much more to the “cool” of Coombsville than the climate.  Coombsville is immediately adjacent to the city of Napa, but closed off by a ridge that separates the two.   The vibe and the views are entirely rural.  There is a sense of privacy and intimacy.  This is old Napa, farmed since the mid-1800s but devoid of grapes until the 1960’s.  The “new” vineyards have taken their place in a patchwork quilt of horse farms, ranchettes, and backyards littered with old and abandoned equipment.   The landscape unfolds organically, and magically.

The Arietta Team: Associate Winemaker, Patrick Nyeholt, DTC Sales Director, Sara Nicole Hitchcock, Proprietors, Fritz Hatton and Caren Frutig Hatton, Winemaker, Andy Erickson and Grower, Lee Hudson. Winery Dogs: Tito (Hudson), Maisie and Bear (Arietta)..

The guiding hand in Arietta’s venture into Coombsville has been Arietta Winemaker Andy Erickson, who has lived there since the early 2000’s.  Arietta co-proprietors Fritz Hatton and Caren Frutig Hatton explored Coombsville for property on and off for fifteen years before Caren discovered a beautifully sited eight acre ranch which we purchased in 2022.   The site is mostly undeveloped, and we plan to leave it essentially as is.

To explore Arietta’s Cabernet Sauvignon based wines in the bottle at home please click the buton below

Here’s to the advent of spring!

Fritz Hatton and Caren Frutig Hatton, Proprietors
Sara Nicole Hitchcock, Director of Hospitality and Direct Sales