Meaning 'land of plenty' by the natives that inhabited this area originally, Napa Valley's fertile lands provided everything needed for survival. The mountain ranges on either side of the Valley shielded it from coastal influences and its' rivers provided fresh fish and water that supported an abundance of wild animals and berries, including grapes.
It wasn't until early pioneers settled in the Valley that it's potential for growing and producing grapes for winemaking was realized. People like Jim and Bo Barrett, Charles Krug, the Beringer brothers and Robert Mondavi brought attention to Napa and showed that world-class wine could be produced in California.
Napa Valley is unique in that it possesses over 300 different soil types, mainly due to the proximity to major fault lines and dormant volcanoes. It is this variation in soil composition that helps contribute different characteristics to the grapes growing on the vines.
While Napa Valley is its own AVA (American Viticultural Area), there are currently 15 subappellations throughout the Valley and this number is continuing to grow. From the warmer, wetter North to the cooler, drier Southern end of Napa, many different varietals can be planted and thrive in the multitude of micro-climates that exist here.
Napa Valley's most predominant grape is Cabernet Sauvignon, but world-class Chardonnay, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc are produced here too and entice nearly 4 million people to taste wine here each year.
Compared to France, Napa Valley is blessed with rather consistent weather which helps keep the wines themselves consistent year to year. For travelers and tasters, this guarantees a beautiful visit any month of the year! Our personal favorite times in the Valley are February and March when the Mustard is blooming or during the Harvest in Fall.
For more information about Napa Valley, check out the Napa Valley Vintners website!