Vigorous, high yielding vines, late to ripen, its small, thick skinned, firm, deeply colored, intense flavored grapes produce rich, tannic, long lived wines. It is a hardy variety, resists rot and Pierce disease, stands up to late season rains. It is the backbone of many of the most exciting wines of Bordeaux and the Napa Valley. In France it is planted on the best, most well drained soils where it has the best opportunity to ripen. For this reason many of the warmest, best drained, vineyard soils in Bordeaux have evolved with a high percentage planted to Cabernet Sauvignon. In the Napa Valley, it is grown on a wide range soils and micro-climates. In the cool southern valley floor locations it does best on well drained and gravelly soils. It produces ordinary wines in the cooler areas on deeper more fertile sites. On Spring Mountain it produces powerful wines in the warmest, most stressful exposures.
Because of Cabernet Sauvignon's vigor it is planted on rootstock choices that serve to hasten ripening and mitigate harvest rainfall. In dry conditions, warm climate, and dry farming more vigorous rootstocks are often recommended. In France there are about 20 certified clones, of which about eight are used today.