Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Majestic Mt. Veeder Is One of Napa’s Highest Sub-Appellations

When you think of American wine, you likely think of Napa. But did you know California’s most famous winegrowing valley is home to sixteen sub-appellations, all a bit different thanks to unique climates, soil types, and more?

Well, it’s true, and if our nation’s wine scene and love of terroir continues to grow, you’ll only see more appellations like these, in Northern California and beyond. These unique geographical sectors offer one-of-a-kind conditions that tend to rub of on resident grapes. In turn, those unique qualities are expressed through wines after the requisite cellar work.

Mt Veeder Winery vineyard view
Mt.. Veeder Winery / Mt. Veeder

One particular part of Napa Valley has the tendency to turn out really distinctive juice. Mt. Veeder, a southern slice of the Mayacamas Mountains just northwest of Napa proper, is that place. It touts some of the highest vineyards sites at 2,600 feet, heights only a few other appellations reach (Howell Mountain, Atlas Peak, and Spring Mountain District). Many of the sites are set above a pretty typical fog line, meaning they enjoy cooler days and milder nights compared to their neighbors below.

As the mountain in the name suggests, the terrain is pretty dramatic. As such, much of the viticultural work is done by hand as heavier equipment can’t handle the aspects. The vineyard slopes generally check in at anywhere from 10-30 degrees. The area enjoys an extraordinarily long growing season — so much so that some labels don’t even harvest until November — and a nice, cooling effect courtesy of nearby San Pablo Bay. The mountain itself is an uplifted mass of ancient seabed in the form of shale and sandstone.

German farmers took a liking to the spot in the mid-18th century. Grapes were ultimately planted, including the valley’s first rows of Petit Verdot. By 1993, these slopes of forest and vines gained official AVA credentials. Mt. Veeder continues to be lauded for its ability to produce both great classic varieties (Cab, Merlot, Chard) with a certain intensity. The elevation and climate lead to smaller, more concentrated berries, not unlike — but thanks to terroir not fully alike either — fellow appellations like The Rocks District of Walla Walla or Willamette Valley’s forthcoming Mt. Pisgah AVA.

Mt Veeder Winery vineyard view
Mt.. Veeder Winery

Mt. Veeder is home to some popular names like Hess and Chandon, but also a great many more lesser-known producers. And it remains quite small, accounting for only about 1% of the valley’s overall wine production. Mount Veeder Winery is situated in the core of the appellation. A former prune orchard, the site turned to vines by chance in the 1960s, when a farm worker planted some cuttings and hoped they’d last. Not long later, it became Napa’s first site to house all five classic Bordeaux varieties in one spot. 

The label launched in 1973 and has been honing in on the density of flavor at hand since. There’s a robust wildness to Mount Veeder’s Cabernets, which show more bramble and earth than most from the valley. Like a baby animal first learning to walk, these wines like to stretch out in the glass and eventually march to their own rhythm. In this part of the Napa Valley, they call them mountain wines and the name is an appropriate one.

Sure, there’s consistency in the Napa Valley but sometimes you covet off-the-beaten-path flavors amid well-known varietals. Mt. Veeder’s mountainous build shapes its fruit and resulting wines just so.

Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
What is a gruit, and where can you find one?
Gruit, the beer made without hops that you need to try
Beer snifter chalice glass

Most beers you know and love today have four primary ingredients: water, barley, hops, and yeast. That’s largely due to the centuries-old German beer purity law, or reinheitsgebot, which demanded that beer be made exclusively using these ingredients and set the standard for today’s brews. 
But beer is an ancient beverage — historians believe its story stretches back to 5th millennium BC in Iran and went on to be enjoyed by the likes of Egyptian pharaohs and the Greek philosophers. However, if Socrates or Tutankhamun ever enjoyed a pint in their days, the beer was likely missing one of those four critical ingredients: the hop.
In today’s hop-hungry climate of India pale ales (and hazy IPAs, New England IPAs, as well as milkshake IPAs, and others), it seems impossible that beer could exist without hops. The fact is that many other natural ingredients can serve as substitutes for the bittering, aromatic, and flavoring characteristics of hops. Today, if a beer relies on other herbs to fill the "hops" role, the beverage is classified as a gruit.

Gruit is the German word for herb. Instead of depending on hops, these brews use exotic additives like bog myrtle, horehound, elderflowers, and yarrow to offset the sweetness of the malts and create a more complex beverage.
Thanks to the creativity of modern breweries, you don’t have to travel back to the Middle Ages to find a gruit (though if you can, please let us in on your time travel technology). You can try them right now, but you will have to do some detective work.
“Authentic” gruits can be tough to find in the mainstream marketplace. That’s because some laws require hops to be present for a product to be sold as beer. Not having the “beer” title would limit distribution and sales channels for some breweries.  To illustrate how rare gruits are in the current marketplace, there are currently 32,576 American IPAs listed on the Beer Advocate database and only 380 gruits.
But don’t despair — this list will help you get started on the path toward discovering modern versions of the ancient ale. Start your gruit journey here:

Read more
Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul’s competing recipes for National Michelada Day
Smokey, fruity, or spicy - there's a Michelada recipe for every taste
national michelada day modelo x dos hombres hero image 1

Today, July 12, is National Michelada Day, so that's the ideal excuse to kick back with this classic Mexican beer cocktail. Beer cocktails aren't the easiest thing to create as beer has such a low alcohol percentage and high amount of water compared to spirits -- but when you get it right, there are few things more refreshing. As the beloved combination of Mexican lager, lime, and tomato juice proves, there's a great way to mix almost any ingredient.

Another fun aspect of the Michelada is its flexibility. You can use clamato juice in place of the tomato juice, pour in an extra shot of spirit, and add whatever combination of hot sauces or umami sauces that your heart desires. As the drink is traditionally served in a glass with a salt rim, you can also add bonus flavors here like making a chili salt or using salt and pepper. And of course you can garnish with anything from fruit to pickles.

Read more
Make a party punch in a snap with this Fancy Long Island Iced Tea recipe
Julianna McIntosh's Fancy Long Island Iced Tea with Boozy Ice Cubes
fancy long island iced tea unnamed 5

Here at The Manual, we love a big bowl of punch for a summer party when you have a bunch of friends coming round and you want to serve tasty drinks to everyone without any fuss. And with a few extra flourishes, like fresh fruit and fancy ice cubes, you can turn any simple punch recipe into something really special.

A new recipe from Julianna McIntosh, aka join_jules, makes use of ready to drink cans of Cutwater Long Island Iced Tea to make creating a punch even easier. McIntosh shows off her punch recipe in a new Instagram Reel, which includes making boozy ice cubes with edible flowers ahead of time. These cool the drink but don't water it down as they melt, which is a genius hack especially for hot summer parties.

Read more