As we've all witnessed from afar, there are not sufficient words to express how sad and devasting the fires in northern California have been for that tight-knit community. Everyone living in the region has been affected, some losing everything. I encourage visiting this page to see various options for donations to assist the efforts.

I've been reluctant to speak about and offer wines from the region this week, not knowing just how to start. However, it's clear that the wines and people of Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino will need support throughout the country for many, many years to come. One of the great fortunes I have is to shine a light on some of the smaller producers who tirelessly work their land to bottle authentic reflections of the place they live. 

Today, we turn to Snowden Vineyards and their new release, the 2016 Napa Valley Sunninghill Sauvignon Blanc.

The story behind Snowden Vineyards is one derived from a distinct sense of place. However, the background of the estate cannot be told without mentioning its winemaker. Diana Snowden Seysses's other job is working alongside her husband Jeremy in producing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay at Domaine Dujac in Burgundy.Without question, Diana's life in France has passed along a thoughtfull aproach to viticulture and vinification that put expression of terroir at the forefront.

Diana aims to produce wine from her family estate that she wants to drink. And of the entire lineup, it's the one acre of Sauvignon Blanc that really drives this point home. At 13.3% alcohol, the Snowden Sauvignon Blanc is a perfect reminder that the racy, mineral, and cool-fruited elements of the variety do have a home in Napa. The 2016 vintage, and its unusually cool August, has played perfectly into the house style here, turning out the most mineral-drenched wine of the past several years.

In east Saint Helena's Lost Orchard vineyard, one acre of vines are planted on volcanic Rhyolite and sand at 830 feet looking down on Lake Hennessy. Barrel-fermenting and aging in a combo of neutral oak and stainless steel endow a striking verve that balances Napa's sun-kissed fruit brilliantly. And as you can imagine, like the approach at Dujac, only native yeasts are utilized here for fermentation.

While I lived in Saint Helena in 2011 it was a challenge to find Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc that appealed to me the way the Loire Valley can. Tropicality is often taken to the extreme, with the citrus and crushed rock characteristics falling by the wayside. If one example from the valley exhibits the qualities that make you reach for pour after pour without tiring, it's Snowden's micro-production Sauvignon Blanc coming from above Lake Hennessy.

2016 Snowden Sunninghill Sauvignon Blanc
$33 per bottle.

Also available:

2012 Snowden Lost Vineyard Napa Valley Merlot
$38 per bottle.
The most forward and open-knit of the wines. Soft, approachable, and silky.

2014 Snowden The Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon
$53 per bottle.
A blend of three vineyards showing a Napa Valley Cabernet at it's most diverse, honest and graceful.

Antonio Galloni of Vinous drives the point home,

"The Ranch is one of the best values readers will find in Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Don't miss it!"

2014 Snowden Brothers Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
$85 per bottle.
From uniform volcanic soils at 850 feet on the mountains of east side of the valley. From a parcel on Palomino Hill. Structured and supremely age-worthy.