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Chiles Valley AVA
Chiles Valley AVA
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Chiles Valley AVA
Chiles Valley AVA
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Chiles Valley AVA
Chiles Valley AVA

Images Courtesy of Suzanne Becker Bronk

The Chiles Valley AVA is a long, skinny, high-elevation valley that boasts more vineyards than wineries and enjoys primarily volcanic soils.

Appellation Details

The Chiles Valley AVA is a sub-appellation of the Napa Valley AVA, located in the north central region of Napa County. It was originally recognized as an American Viticultural Appellation in 1999 following the petition filed by Mr. Volker Eisele, owner of Volker Eisele Vineyard and Winery.

Chiles Valley is located on the eastern side of the Vaca mountain range, far from what many would consider to be Napa Valley “proper.” It is a long, skinny, high-elevation valley that boasts more vineyards than wineries and enjoys primarily volcanic soils.

The valley of Chiles Valley is completely ringed by mountains so, while the elevation plays a cooling role, the valley’s architecture can sometimes act like an oven, trapping the hot air. And while it is hard to define the taste of Chiles Valley wines since much of the fruit is blended into larger Napa Valley cuvees, the few wines that do hail exclusively from Chiles Valley tend to be fully-flavored but with a notable elegance, due to the prolonged growing season created by the elevation.


  • 600 to 1,200 feet (183 to 366 m)
  • Chiles Valley has a relatively cooler climate than the valley floor due to the high elevations from 600 to 1200 feet above sea level and cooling breezes making their way from the Pacific Ocean.


  • Soils are mostly marine in origin
  • Valley floor features fertile alluvial soils composed of silty clay
  • Hillsides are composed of more clay-loam and stony-clay
  • Some volcanic outcropping


  • Fairly warmer summer days (mid-80s°F or 29°C)
  • Due to higher elevation and summer fog, it can be quite chilly at night (below 50°F or 10°C)
  • Colder winter and spring
  • Strong winds
  • Temperatures often result in later harvest


  • Up to 35 inches (89 cm) annually

Principal Varieties:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Merlot
  • Zinfandel
  • Cabernet Franc

Chiles Valley AVA History

Joseph B. Chiles

Joseph B. Chiles

Chiles Valley was named after the early American pioneer Joseph Ballinger Chiles, who was one of the first settlers to receive a Mexican land grant in the area in 1841. Originally called Rancho Catacula, it was given to Chiles by Mexican Governor Manuel Micheltorena, the last Mexican Governor of California. The Rancho Catacula land grant consisted of two leagues along Chiles creek in northeast Napa Valley. In 1845 Joseph Chiles erected the first American flour mill in northern California in this area.

In the 1870's, the first winery in Chiles Valley was established by Francis Sievers, a pioneer from Germany. He went on to found "Lomita's Vineyard and Winery". The original winery building still exists to this day.

In the 1890's when Phylloxera arrived, killing over 80% of vineyards in Napa Valley, the grapevines of Chiles Valley were relatively untouched due to the area's isolation. There are still some pre-phylloxera Zinfandel grapevines alive to this day, that produce low yielding grape harvests with dense and concentrated flavor.

Prohibition during the 1920's put an end to wine production in Chiles Valley and remained nearly nonexistent until the 1970's. In 1972, the Meyers family became the first to replant vineyards in the area, on land that had previously been used for raising thoroughbred horses. Since 1974, Chiles Valley has been the home of Volker Eisele Family Estate and its owner Mr. Volker Eisele was the original petitioner for the creation of the Chiles Valley AVA.


"The valley forms a perfect funnel that channels the refreshing winds from the Pacific Ocean, cooling Chiles Valley during the heat of the afternoon and occasionally settling to create a layer of marine fog; factors that contribute to slower-paced ripening. Our wines are refined and elegant, with balanced fruitiness, bright acidity and structured tannin."
- Catherine Eisele, Volker Eisele Family Estate

Notable Wines sourced from Chiles Valley AVA

Volker Eisele Family Estate
Volker Eisele Family Estate 2015 'Las Flores' Cabernet Sauvignon

The Las Flores, Cabernet Sauvignon was named for the dense expanse of brilliant yellow wild mustard that carpeted the block. The terrain itself covers the slope of the Volker Eisele Family Estate where the hillside joins the valley floor - the wine the block grows embodies this unique juxtaposition - not hillside, not valley floor - perched somewhere in between. ~Molly Lyman, Winemaker

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Nichelini Family Winery
Nichelini Family Winery 2016 Merlot

This Merlot includes 14% Cabernet Sauvignon and reflects the concentrated depth of flavor that 36-year-old vines can produce. Rich in color, it has soft and textured fruit flavors especially black cherry and raspberry. Hand-selected, harvested at night and aged in 40% French and 60% American oak, this wine stood out early, and turned out to be a wine reminiscent of the Bordeaux region in France where Merlot originated. Truly a romantic wine to fall in love with!

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Conn Creek Winery
Conn Creek Winery 2012 'Volker Eisele Family Vineyard' Cabernet Sauvignon

A dark fruit curtain of blackberries and plums draws back to reveal touches of light roast coffee and spice. Creamy texture wraps the flavors with polished tannins and notes of fresh turned earth.

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Maroon Wines
Maroon Wines 2019 'Reserve' Merlot

The grapes in this wine come from the Chiles Valley AVA in Napa, from the oldest family-owned winery in Napa Valley!

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Chiles Valley AVA Resources and References

  1. "Chiles Valley Viticultural Area (96F-111)" (27 CFR Part 9 [TD ATF-408; Re: Notice No. 858] RIN 1512-AA07 Final rule). Federal Register. Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau, Treasury Department. 64 (31): 7785–7788. February 17, 1999.
  2. "§ 9.154 Chiles Valley" (Title 27: Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; Part 9 — American Viticultural Areas; Subpart C — Approved American Viticultural Areas). Code of Federal Regulations. Retrieved October 30, 2007.
  3. Palmer, Lyman L.; Wells, Harry Laurenz (1881). History of Napa and Lake Counties, California. Slocum, Bowen & Company. ISBN 978-1363000555.
  4. Weber, Lin (1998). Old Napa Valley: The History to 1900. Wine Ventures Publishing. ISBN 9780966701401.
  5. PLACE | Volker Eisele Family Estate. (2022). Retrieved 28 September 2022, from https://volkereiselefamilyestate.com/place/.
  6. Chiles Valley Wine History | Calwineries. (2022). Retrieved 28 September 2022, from https://www.calwineries.com/explore/regions/napa-valley/chiles-valley/history.

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