Napa Valley awaits you.
Napa Valley’s stunning natural beauty, diversity of wineries, restaurants and resorts, engaging personalities and hidden adventures wait to be explored. A mere 30 miles long, from San Pablo Bay to Mt. St. Helena in the north, and five miles at its widest, the narrow stretch of land is embraced by two mountain ranges. Windswept estuarine flats and gentle hills characterize Los Carneros in the southernmost end of the appellation. Further north, the topography changes as the craggy, volcanic profile of the eastern Vaca Range provides a dramatic backdrop, spanning most of the vine-covered valley until its narrow conclusion in the town of Calistoga. The forested Mayacamas Mountains to the west reach up to 2,700 feet in elevation and are home to many small, mountain vineyard estates, from ancient stone wineries to castles peaking through the wooded hillsides.
A magical place of geographical splendor and temperate climate, the Napa Valley is perfectly suited to growing grapes for world-renowned wines, especially the mighty Cabernet Sauvignon. The idyllic valley was called Napa, meaning land of plenty, by its original inhabitants, the Wappo Indians, more than 4,000 years ago. Wild grapes grew in abundance, but it took early settlers to recognize the potential for growing wine grapes. In 1836, George Yount was the first to establish a home site and plant vineyards in what is now the town of Yountville. The first commercial winery was established in 1861, and by 1889 there were more than 140 wineries in operation. The arrival of phylloxera, a root louse, and Prohibition in 1919 dealt a disastrous blow to the burgeoning wine industry. Only a handful continued operating, until a renaissance began with Repeal in 1933. Today there are more than 400 wineries in Napa Valley, producing only four percent of all the wine made in California.
The variety of Napa Valley wine and food experiences available to the well-guided visitor is spectacular. There are untold benefits of traveling with a professional who can handcraft a customized Napa Valley experience. The region offers and array of experiences, from the visually diverse architecture to the captivating histories and stories that reveal the authentic personal style of owners and winemakers. Cult wineries sit alongside historic properties and new estates. Elegant Victorian homes and farmhouses, mission-style architecture, ancient stone buildings, 19th century chateaux and regal castles can be discovered along the valley floor, or nestled in the hillsides and canyons. Rustic barn-like structures offer artisan, small lot wines. Lush vibrant gardens are as prevalent as the winery mascots. Lavender, grapevines and olive trees mingle with the opulence of newly built villas, entice wine lovers.
A unique sense of place and history is evident. Many Napa Valley principals are fourth and fifth generation winegrowers, following their family’s pioneering legacy into the present. Others arrived 30 or 40 years ago, seeking a rural way of life, and were seduced by the “wine bug.” Numerous newer arrivals are wine connoisseurs of outstanding achievements who have relocated to pursue a long-held dream. Each winery is a reflection of the owner’s visions and passions. The wines are equally diverse in their taste and style. Excellence is the continuum. Since the pioneers of the early 1800s, Napa Valley has attracted talented winegrowers, winemakers, artists, chefs and a myriad of visionaries. Their legacies are the fabric that creates the depth of the authentic Napa Valley experience. Guests can appreciate the essence of a particular winery with a personalized visit—share stories and histories with owners and winemakers, partake in wine and food tastings, delve into ancient and newly formed wine caves; all while enjoying vineyard excursions and panoramic views.
Within the greater Napa Valley appellation, fourteen (14) sub-regions have emerged that share distinct microclimates and terrain, and are also designated appellations. The legendary Oakville and Rutherford districts bring superb quality Cabernets. Los Carneros at the southern end of the valley is recognized for the high quality Pinot Noir, Merlot and Chardonnay wines that are made from grapes grown in this cool region with prevailing maritime winds. The renowned Stags Leap District is a much warmer appellation located along the eastern rocky cliffs. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sangiovese are distinguished by lush, velvety textures and perfumed cherry and red berry flavors. The higher elevations of Howell Mountain to the north are characterized by shallow, volcanic soils, creating powerful, firm blackberry-currant flavors in the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot wines, often richly tannic with excellent aging potential. Equally as distinct are the appellations of Atlas Peak, Chiles Valley District, Mount Veeder (2,700 ft elevation), Oak Knoll District, St. Helena, Spring Mountain District, Wild Horse Valley, and Yountville. The Calistoga AVA is still pending approval.