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History of Napa Valley Wines

Long associated to American vino, Napa Valley is one of the United States’ premier winemaking regions in the nation. The region, which is mostly predominantly dominated by family-owned wineries is a magnet for all kinds of drinkers from beginners to collectors. Here’s an overview of this wine region with a long history and its best varietals which are best enjoyed with a glass of no more that Napa Valley wine.


George Yount first planted grapes in 1839, and was later followed by other new settlers who introduced Vitis Vinifera into the area. The year 1861 was when Charles Krug established what is believed to be to be the first commercial winery. It also was the pioneer for new companies to follow that still in operation today, including Beringer, Inglenook, and Schramsberg.

The boom in wine soon slowed down due to a glut of grapes, an outbreak of phylloxera, an insect that destroys vineyards vineyards and Prohibition nearly destroyed nearly 100 years worth of work. Fortunately, the resilient winemakers started building Napa Valley once Prohibition was lifted.

Although Napa Valley was gaining recognition nationally, it was ignored by the rest of the world. The famed Judgment of Paris, where Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars’ Cabernet Sauvignon and Chateau Montelena’s Chardonnay defeated French Bordeaux as well as Burgundies in an unblinded tasting rapidly changed the perception as well. Napa Valley cabernets and chardonnarys were put in the spotlight. These distinctive grapes remain a dominant part of the landscape, however future generations of adventurous winemakers are trying out various varieties, and bringing new life to the region that is so popular.

Landscaping of the Land

Napa Valley was established as the first Californian AVA in 1981. It is now comprised of 16 sub AVAs each with their distinct characteristics, make up the greater area. It’s surprising that Napa Valley, with its exaggerated personality, is just 30 miles long and few miles wide. And it is only one-sixth of the vineyard acres as Bordeaux.

Take follow the Silverado Trail, constructed in 1852. It links two towns, Napa and Calistoga and wineries shimmer along the wine-filled route, and you may suffer whiplash if you read the names of famous people you come across on the way. To the west from the Silverado Trail runs the St. Helena Highway as well as a major road that is lined with famous wineries, including Grgich Hills, Louis M. Martini as well as Opus One. There are over 400 wineries as well as around 700 grape growers in Napa Valley.

Being one of the most popular wine regions in the world Many wineries offer multi-sensory experiences within their gorgeous tasting rooms that appeal to a range of budgets and tastes. If you decide to follow a strict plan, or go with your gut and you’ll surely discover some new and interesting things however, keep in mind that many wineries are now asking for advance reservations.

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What Drinks to Drink?

Cabernet Sauvignon

According to the old saying, Cabernet is the king in Napa and 50% of Napa’s vineyards are planted with this famous international variety. It’s typically made in a lush and rich style that has flavors of dark brooding fruit, cocoa and leather. Tannins are often prominent, however they soften and are absorbed as the wine matures. The cooler regions, such as Spring Mountain, may produce less slack versions that are a Napa Valley favorite. The last ten years, excluding the year 2011 and its rainy harvest, have produced stunning cabernet sauvignon vintages.


The expression “California Chardonnay” is a reference to a specific style of chardonnay. Malolactic fermentation and oak use gives the wine distinctive and well-known sweet and creamy tastes. In recent times producers have begun abstaining from the malo and oak in order to let the terroir and fruits show through. Nowadays, Napa Valley chardonnay runs through the spectrum of styles; the enjoyment is in sifting through the different wineries and deciding on your preferred.


This wine was hit when it was criticized in the film Sideways (which was set at Santa Barbara County, not Napa Valley) but it’s getting a boost in the popularity. The grape is known for its rich grapes and smooth tannins, consumers are discovering how delicious this red grape is.

Sauvignon Blanc

“other” white from Napa “other” white (“other” that is, that it is 6% of all plantings as opposed to chardonnay’s 15%) This wine draws inspiration from the major sauvignon blanc regions including those in the Loire Valley and New Zealand However, the fruit is pure Napa. A very aromatic wine with good minerality, wineries discover their own distinct expressions from flinty and lean to wide and round.

Pinot Noir

While pinot noir is more closely linked to Sonoma County, vineyards in specific microclimates of Napa Valley have success with this delicate grape. The riper, more dense berry notes and a larger body create Napa pinots different from the ones you’ll encounter in cooler climates, however they possess a character that is their own.


The third most planted grape variety in California Zinfandel makes up just 3percent of Napa’s plantations. It’s huge, it’s not a big deal, but some of the most outstanding examples are found in Napa vineyards and are well worth looking for.

In addition to these six main varieties, an array of other varieties make their entrance into the landscape of vineyards including gewurztraminer cabernet-franc, and chenin blanc, to mention some.

With stunning views of the vineyard with top-quality wines and a profound feeling of warmth, it’s easy to see how Napa Valley is top of the list of wine lovers.