Winemaker Igor Sill is Ambassador of Wine and Health –
Atlas Peak Winemaker Says Grapes in Wine Are Naturally Healthy Magic
By Igor Sill, Winegrower and Winegrower
Napa Valley is well known around the world for its fine wines, and the wine country that surpasses all others is the famous Atlas Mountain region of Napa, the most sought after wine region. In addition to its volcanic roots, the high altitude terroir, the artisanal production process and the ultra-quality wines give these charming vineyards and cellars their incomparable and naturally healthy magic.
Most of us are familiar with the many tourist-rich wineries in Napa Valley. Less well known are the small winemakers and artisanal winemakers located above the valley floor of the Atlas Peak volcanic region in Napa. Located just minutes north of downtown Napa on the Eastern Ridge of the Mountain, a getaway to Atlas Peak inspires exploration, curiosity, daring adventures while ensuring an unparalleled wine-making experience. The winding, winding road to Atlas Peak remains fringed with burnt oaks and rocks blackened by the Napa fires in 2017. Between the trees are modest-looking estates and pristine vineyards rescued from the ravages of the blaze. Even though it’s only minutes from the hustle and bustle of tourist-rich Napa, it remains an oasis of calm, the hidden beauty of the wine country.
Atlas Peak is Napa’s highest point at 2263 ′ above sea level. Its main artery, Atlas Peak Road, takes you to new heights with its purity of air, serenity and diverse wildlife that offers breathtaking views and heartfelt experiences that transport you back in time. You’ll discover local artisanal winemakers and ruggedly elegant wineries offering award-winning, artisan mountain wines that express a genuine sense of place. Throughout the climb, cyclists ride up and down the mountain through endless acres of scenic countryside with majestic old oak trees guarding the road that protects them.
These mountain vineyards survived the fire of 2017 and have remained home to generations of winegrowers whose passion for creating the exquisite wines of the world remains their sole focus. The majority of Atlas Peak winemakers cultivate organically, which better promotes grapevine health and may have saved much of the Atlas Peak vineyards from the ravages of fires. Harnessing these soils is extremely difficult, but well worth the effort to respect Mother Nature and allow Atlas Peak to produce exceptionally fine wines as they have been since 1870.
The purity of the cool mountain rain is why some high altitude vineyards are awarded year after year. Valley-bottom vineyards absorb their water from rivers, lakes, runoff and, in some cases, municipal water sources. No two water sources are the same and they do not have the same levels of purity and nutrients. I doubt anyone who prefers to drink raw river or lake water rather than water from a Fijian bottle (known to “bring The best of the earth From water to World”!). Most of Atlas Peak’s vineyards are dry grown due to its volcanic soil’s ability to hold cool rainwater and hold moisture for months. So they don’t irrigate much, relying on the purity of direct precipitation from the sky to nourish the vines for much of the growing season.
Dr. Miranda Hart of the University of British Columbia Okanagan studies soil biodiversity to better understand soil microbial communities. “Soil biodiversity can be an important part of the terroir, which is everything for a winegrower,” she said.
“The microbes in the soil of the vineyard stimulate the defense mechanisms of the plants,” adds Dr Hart, explaining that this is especially important for wine grape vines, because “the flavor elements that people get excited about – flavonoids and antioxidants – are secondary metabolites, ‘produced when plants experience stress. “Plants have a very sophisticated immune system and they deter herbivores or create antimicrobial agents, and the chemistry of this is very important to the sensory profile of the grape.”
In the afternoon, the heat from the valley floor begins to drift towards the mountain sides as the grapes soak up the sun. As night falls, the grapes close together, interrupting photosynthesis, sugar formation and acidity, locking their structure and backbone. They warm up the next day, begin their photosynthesis, and the cycle continues. From the rhythm of nature and the diurnal changes, the grapes have more balance, structure and complexity.
The mountains are more exposed to the prevailing breezes, which adds more stress to the vines. Essentially, upper mountain vineyards benefit in several ways compared to valley bottom vines. They receive more concentrated sunlight, greater temperature changes, and much better drainage that creates natural stress for the vines as they struggle to develop a greater concentration of pigment. As a result, they produce less grapes, but with more intense aromas, flavors, colors and tannins. The elements of the grape evolve more slowly and age much more gracefully. This high altitude stress is directly correlated with better quality wine grapes.
It is easy to see that there are certain places on our planet that are more ideal for growing the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. As they say, “great wine is made in the vineyard, not in the laboratory. Location, location, location is everything.
Every year there is a flurry of headlines announcing the health benefits of mountain red wine, as if ripe berry flavors and perfect structure weren’t enough reasons to seek out high altitude wines. Evidence continues to support that red wines grown at higher altitudes possess higher levels of healthy antioxidant properties, gaining a reputation as the elixir of life. This growing body of evidence suggests that drinking red wine in moderation may reduce oxidative damage responsible for the aging process and many degenerative diseases.
“Red wine has been shown to have a beneficial effect on preventing heart disease. The mechanism of this benefit is not yet known, but we have been drinking wine for many centuries and, in addition to the joy it brings, scientists are working with winegrowers to better understand its effects on health, ”he said. said Dr David Agus, professor. of Medicine and Engineering, University of Southern California. He is also the author of several books, including “The End of Illness”, “A Short Guide to a Long Life” and “The Lucky Years: How to prosper in the brave new world of health”.
For decades, Dr Chris Cates has worked as an interventional cardiologist, recommending that heart patients keep their hearts healthy by enjoying a glass of red wine every day. “Ever since we learned that wine was beneficial in a study group called ‘The French Paradox’… .. it really showed that the French live longer than the Americans,” Cates said. “What really rocked all of this was the importance of red wine and the polyphenols and antioxidants in wine.”
Basically, plants synthesize the antioxidant resveratrol in response to natural UV light from the sun. Resveratrol is a natural polyphenolic antioxidant found in certain plants, such as grapes. These phenolic acids provide some of the most important building blocks in wine quality and are, quite possibly, responsible for the health benefits of red wine.
Ffrom Harvard Medical School, online guide: Foods that fight inflammation: “Grapes. These succulent fruits are packed with fiber, vitamins C and K, and powerful phytochemicals, especially the resveratrol found in red grapes. It’s no wonder that moderate consumption of red wine has been linked to heart health. The results of a seven-year multi-ethnic study of 3,300 middle-aged women linked moderate wine consumption to significantly lower levels of inflammation, compared to women who drank no or less. wine. Some more recent studies, however, have questioned some of these benefits. It’s important to note, however, that even moderate alcohol consumption (including wine) has been associated with a higher cancer risk. Top tip: If you already love wine, drink it in moderation (one glass per day maximum for women, two glasses for men), but don’t start drinking it for purported health benefits.
So, I claim that some of the finest and healthiest wines produced are high altitude mountain wines. Pour a few ounces of red wine grown in volcanic tuff into a tall wineglass, swirl it around, put your nose into the glass and inhale deeply to fully absorb its aromas and flavors. You will be greeted with a large bouquet of floral sensations, followed by notes of berries, spices and earth dancing in your nose. These wines are much more expressive, pure and aromatic due to the higher altitude, cleaner air, volcanic soil and the soil’s natural nutrient content, ”says Atlas Peak winemaker Igor Sill . “These vines are healthier, fresher and, despite their stress, happier and potentially healthy for you.”
Igor Sill living his dream by pursuing his passion for perfection by cultivating a mountain vineyard on Atlas Peak Mountain in Napa. He is a naturalist, wine enthusiast, winemaker, wine grower, writer, Court of Master Sommeliers, participated in the UC Davis winemaking program, member of the Napa Valley Wine Technical Group, judge for the International Wine Challenge, London; and holds a Masters degree from the University of Oxford. Many thanks to Dr David Agus, Dr Miranda Hart, artHartDr. Chris Cates, Harvard Medical School and the genius Laura Pauli for their help, ideas and much appreciated contributions to this article