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There is some debate over how this famous wine region got its name. Spanish settlers named the Native American tribe that originally inhabited the area “Wappo,” and some say this is a derivation of “guapo” meaning “handsome,” while others say it means “brave,” with Napa being a further spin-off. Another legend is that Napa is a Wappo word for the land itself. Regardless, with its Mediterranean climate and diverse terroirs, this land eventually became one of the most important wine regions in the world. 

The first vineyards in Napa were planted in 1836 by George Calvert Yount in what is now the town of Yountville. In the 1850s, Thomas Rutherford, who married Yount’s granddaughter, Elizabeth Yount, established the first vineyard in what would become Rutherford town. The first commercial winery was established by Charles Krug in the 1860s. Soon, the likes of Inglenook, Beringer and Schramsberg and many others set up their wineries and the region continued its expansion. At the time, silver mining was the most important industry in the area and by the 1870s, a scenic road known as the Silverado trail linked the towns of Calistoga, St. Helena, Oakville, Yountville and Napa, with most wineries easily accessible off the trail. 
The Phylloxera crisis in the late 1800s and the Prohibition from 1919 - 1933 had profound effects on the local wine industry, but it was able to rebound by the 1940s. By this time, a group of wine-makers and enthusiasts who shared a love of the area’s resources founded the Napa Valley Vitners, dedicated to expanding the reputation of Napa wines to the world beyond. The 50s and 60s saw even further growth as wine-making became more sophisticated. The critical turning point arrived in 1976 at the infamous Judgement of Paris where wines from several Napa wineries bested their Bordeaux counterparts in blind tastings. 
Aside from the famous French varietals of Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhone, vintners are experimenting with plantings from Spain, Italy and Germany with great success. Today, Napa is considered one of the foremost wine regions with boutique and cult wineries continuing to find their niche alongside the big production estates. 
– Description from Amanda Schuster

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