Napa Valley, although approximately only 30 miles long and 5 miles wide, it’s the United States’ most famous AVA. It was granted AVA status in 1981 to become the second American Viticultural Area in the United States and the first in California. Only about 4% of California’s grape harvest comes from Napa Valley and the two most recognized grapes coming from the region are Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.
More than 500 wineries call Napa Valley home, most of them being family wineries. This array of wineries is spread out throughout 16 total AVA’s within the Napa Valley AVA, each of them with it’s unique characteristics and microclimates.
In 1861, Charles Krug established Napa’s first commercial winery, which to this day, continues to operate. Some other pioneering wineries are Schramsberg which was founded in 1862, Beringer founded in 1876 and Robert Mondavi founded in 1966.
Napa Valley was catapulted into the world spotlight at the 1976 Paris Tasting when Chateau Montelena’s Chardonnay and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars’ Cabernet Sauvignon received top honors at the event, giving Napa the boost that it needed to become the world famous wine growing region that it is today.
For more Napa Valley details you might want to check out our features, A Few Suggestions for Your Napa Valley Adventure and A Guide to Enjoying Napa Valley’s Calistoga in Twenty Four Hours.