Napa Valley is the home of some of the best wines in the world. This small valley produces 4% of California's wine but the demand for the Napa Valley seal of authenticity is the most sought after brand around the world. How did Napa get its prestigious reputation? What makes Napa Valley wine different from all rest?
The History of Napa Valley
Wild grapes grew naturally and in abundance in the valley for centuries before the Gold Rush brought travelers west. George Calvert Yount was one of the first homesteaders to put his roots down in Napa Valley in 1839. He planted the first vineyards in the valley and many others soon followed. John Patchett opened the first winery and cellar in 1859 and was the first producer to have his wines reviewed and published in “California Farmer Magazine.” The formative years of Napa Valley were an uphill struggle for many who tried and failed to harvest grapes in the region. As producers learned more about the land and the weather, more grape varietals were planted like Riesling, Malbec, Semillon, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Napa Valley Secret
In truth, Napa Valley’s success is largely due to sheer luck. Yount, Patchett, and many early pioneers realized early on that the valley’s unique climate and soil were the perfect combinations for growing grapes. The fact that wild grapes were discovered here is proof that the Napa Valley formula is a feat of nature. Grapes themselves are hardy little plants and not picky about soil conditions so long as they are well drained. Various different mixtures of soil and rock are prevalent in the valley and no two vineyards are the same. Over millions of years, volcanic ash, clay, and sand have moved across the California landscape, forming the perfect mixtures in the Napa Valley.
Can you taste the difference? For more on Napa Valley vineyards and the best cheap wine in California, contact your local sommelier.
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