About the Altamura Ranch
The 400 acre Altamura Ranch in Wooden Valley is host to 65 acres of hillside and valley floor vineyards at elevations of 700 to 1,000 feet. The approximately 12 different soil types and microclimates carry distinguished traits found in other areas of the Napa Valley and required a rigorous site selection process prior to planting. Using the U.S. Department of Agriculture Soil Survey of Napa County as a guide, Frank identified soil types on his ranch that were similar to the Rutherford Bench and the mountainous regions of Howell Mountain, Pritchard Hill and Mount Veeder. As a result, several different clones of Cabernet Sauvignon on a number of different rootstocks were utilized for the initial planting and replanting of existing vineyards in 1986. The 5 acre Sangiovese vineyard was also planted in 1986 on a western facing hillside in nutrient-poor soils perfect for the vigorous varietal. In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese, a small amount of Sauvignon Blanc and Nebbiolo are grown on the Ranch.
About Wooden Valley
Wooden Valley is a small, almost round valley, approximately two miles wide at its widest point and located 9 miles northeast of the town of Napa within the Napa Valley appellation. Formed by volcanic activity, Wooden Valley boasts a number of soil types and a rolling topography. It is reached by driving a winding mountain road that was originally carved into what was called Napa Mountain by Chinese laborers in 1800’s. Wooden Valley is bordered by the Vaca Range to the east and “Napa Mountain” to the west.
The warm summer days in Wooden Valley are cooled by dramatic fog banks that pour over the palisades and mid-afternoon breezes, which can produce temperatures as much as 10 degrees lower than the Napa Valley average resulting in a long growing season.
In 1985, the Altamura Family began planting 65 acres of their 400 acre Ranch to vineyards with a clear emphasis on Cabernet Sauvignon. The five main soil types on the Altamura Ranch lay the foundation for six distinctive Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards varying in texture and flavor profiles all of which are blended into one wine. Also planted are Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Negroamaro and Sauvignon Blanc in optimal soils for each varietal. The Altamura Vineyards sit at an elevation range of 800 to 1,000 feet.
Wooden Valley was named for John Wooden, a giant among men at 6’8″ tall, who purchased the area in 1852 from Jose Ignacio Berryessa and became its first resident owner. Originally from Virginia, Wooden traveled west in a wagon train that embarked from Missouri in 1846 and ended up in Oregon. Interestingly, a portion of this same group became the ill-fated Donner Party.
Today, Wooden Valley is reminiscent of an earlier age where cattle roamed the hillsides, orchards, grain and hay grew in the fertile soil and the children were educated in a one-room schoolhouse. Wine grapes were planted in 1905 but pulled out thirty years later during the Great Depression.
With special thanks to Redwood Rancher, “Old California Still Lives in Wooden Valley”, July 1971.
Napa County Historical Society Gleanings, Vol 2, Number 1, January 1977 “History of Wooden Valley” by William Albert Lyons