Aside for its wines (especially Cabernet Sauvignon wines), Napa Valley is also renowned the world over for its picturesque sights of the rolling hills, deep valleys and neat rows of grapevines. It also boasts fine diversified cuisine, dynamic arts and culture, and tourism. Check out more interesting facts about this Californian wine country.
Napa Valley also produces only about .04% of the world’s total wine production, mostly because the area is tiny compared to the other wine regions of other countries. But the quality of Napa’s wines has made it really famous the world over, even beating the snooty French wines.
It was in 1861 where pioneer winemaker Charles Krug founded the region’s first commercial winery.
It’s likely that you will discover interesting tales about the rich family history and traditions in every Napa winery you visit.
Napa Valley was once a little-known wine region, and nobody thought that its homegrown wines could beat the dominant, classic French wines. That all changed though in the Judgement of Paris, a competition where wines were judged through blind-tasting. Two Californian wines — Chateau Montelena Chardonnay and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon — overwhelmed the renowned Bordeaux and Burgundy, and won the top honors.
The surprise victory at the competition ultimately put Californian wines on the map, and transformed Napa Valley into one of the premiere wine regions in the world.
A Mediterranean climate is characterized by long hot, dry summers and warm, wet winters, where rainfalls are mostly scarce. Only 2% of the world’s landmass has a Mediterranean climate, and 60% of those is in the Mediterranean Basin, 22% is in Australia and 10% in California, USA. The rest is in Chile and South Africa. This type of climate is conducive to growing wine grapes
There are about 430 wineries in Napa Valley, most of them having tasting rooms. These wineries produce about 815 different wine brands.
The wine industry in the Napa Valley has been existing for over 300 years, save for the Prohibition era in the early 20th century where the wineries and vineyards were shut down for 14 years. Today Napa Valley’s wine industry has generated more than 300,000 jobs in the US.
After the California wines beat the famous French wines at the 1976 Judgment of Paris, Napa Valley came to be seen as one of the world’s premiere wine destinations. Enotourism (wine tourism) has greatly helped the region’s economy, bringing in $1.65 billion in revenues. It welcomes about five million visitors a year, most of them coming from the United States.
The most popular grapes in Napa Valley include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, but Cabernet Sauvignon is clearly the king of all Napa wine grapes.
If you’re planning to visit wineries in Napa, you may want to check out the top wineries in the region:
- Chateau Montelena
- Castello di Amorosa (pictured)
- Robert Mondavi Winery
- Domaine Carneros
- Artesa Vineyards and Winery
- Beaulieu Vineyard
- Clos du Val
- Domaine Chandon
Apart from the wines, Napa Valley is also famous for its fine and diverse cuisine. In fact, the region’s 100-plus restaurants have won more Michelin stars per capita than any other wine country in the world. Among the popular Michelin-starred restaurants include La Toque, The Restaurant at Auberge and The French Laundry.
There are a lot of things to do in the Napa Valley even if you’re not into drinking wines or you’re bringing the kids around. You can sample its diversified cuisine, go around the valley by biking or hiking, sip beer and spirits, see the Old Faithful geyser in Napa city of Calistoga, attend museums and music festivals, go shopping, and ride a hot-air balloon at sunrise.