Description 1 of 3

 

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.~Amanda Schuster
 
– Description from Amanda Schuster

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Description 2 of 3

Although the most renowned in the U.S., the Napa Valley appellation is one of the smallest yet one of the most diverse winegrowing regions in the world. Located approximately 60 miles north of San Francisco, Napa Valley is bounded to the west by the Mayacamas Mountains and to the east by the Vaca Range. The appellation stretches 40 miles, starting with the windswept flats and gentle hills of Carneros at the southern end—which is near sea level—and rising quickly above the Valley floor to Mount St. Helena at 4,339 feet at the head of the Valley. The Napa Valley appellation, which is one-eight the size of Bordeaux, is planted to approximately 45,000 acres of wine grapes, covering a mere 9% of the appellations total acreage. The area’s topography, which includes flat valley floor, sloping alluvial fans, steep mountain slopes and high plateaus, support more than 100 variations of soil—half of all the soils found in the world can be found here. Napa Valley also enjoys a Mediterranean climate, which covers only 2% of the earth’s surface. It features a long growing season marked by sunny, warm days and cool evenings, thanks to the marine breezes that sweep through the Golden Gate and across San Pablo Bay. All in all, it’s an ideal combination for grapes to ripen slowly and evenly.

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Description 3 of 3

By far the most famous appellation in California, and for that matter in the USA is the Napa Valley. Encompassing virtually all of Napa County as well as 14 distinct AVAs (American Viticultural Area), this extensive valley system, about an hours drive north of San Francisco, is home to the cradle of California’s viticultural history. While Cabernet is king in Napa each of the AVAs was recognized for the specific qualities that made it a distinctive region for the grapes best suited to it’s micro-climate and soils. Napa Valley opens to the south where the climate is heavily influenced by the maritime influences of the great San Pablo bay. This regular influx of cool, damp air creates a meso-climate that is significantly different from that of the Northern reaches of the valley where a days heat can remain trapped and accumulates over the course of the summer growing season. The other great influence on the climate of the valley is the mountains that frame it’s contours. With the Mayacamas Range separating Napa from Sonoma on the west and the Vaca range defining the valley’s eastern boundary there are many varied exposures, elevations, and soils here that have been deemed worthy of special attention. – Description from Gregory Dal Piaz

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