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Have you ever wondered what makes mountain fruit so unique? Where does that incredible complexity come from? Spring Mountain, perched above St. Helena in the Mayacama range of Napa Valley, offers an enchanting glimpse into mountain vineyards. Let’s dive into the story of Spring Mountain and discover the secrets behind its extraordinary wines.

One of the most remarkable aspects of Spring Mountain is its abundant rainfall. As the highest mountain range inland from the coastline, it serves as a rain shadow, capturing more rain than anywhere else in the Napa Valley. This generous rainfall transforms Spring Mountain into a lush, diverse ecosystem, home to redwood trees, ferns, and grape varietals that thrive on moisture, like Merlot.

While the extra rainfall creates this wonderfully unique environment that has many positive impacts on the vines growing on Spring Mountain hillsides, it can also be a double edged sword. Merlot, the same varietal that thrives on moisture from a growing and ripening standpoint, also struggles with shatter during the flowering season. Simply put, wet Merlot flowers have a harder time opening and producing berries. This tradeoff is a great example of the beauty of farming; mother nature has a way of balancing things out.

Compared to other Napa Valley regions such as Howell Mountain, Mount Veeder, or Rutherford, Spring Mountain enjoys a milder climate. Summers are not as scorching and winters are less severe. This gentle climate—which is particularly good for growing Merlot— contributes to a balanced acidity in the wines, resulting in a smooth and harmonious taste. While still warm enough to develop rich fruit flavors and tannins, Spring Mountain wines naturally achieve a smoother profile than those from hotter regions.

Each American Viticultural Area (AVA) in Napa Valley is unique, and Spring Mountain is no exception. The diverse soil types in the region necessitate various trellising systems, each influencing grape growth and flavor development. On the valley floor, vines often use the Vertical Shoot Position system, which helps ripen fruit faster by allowing UV rays to reflect off the ground. Conversely, on Howell Mountain, Head Trained vines grow with more natural spacing, providing shade to protect grapes from sunburn. Spring Mountain hillside vineyards frequently employ cane-pruned and spur-pruned systems to suit their specific conditions and goals, whether they prioritize flavor, yield, cost, longevity, or harvesting methods.

The soil on Spring Mountain is a rich tapestry of volcanic and sedimentary layers, featuring a mix of clay, loam, and gravel. These well-draining soils vary in size, affecting how grapevines absorb water and guide farmers in decisions about row and vine spacing.

So, what kind of wines emerge from the grapes grown on Spring Mountain? Generally speaking, they are smooth-bodied and well-balanced, offering a taste that embodies the magic of this unique and enchanting region.