Napa Valley is a viticultural area located in Napa County, California, United States. Napa Valley is considered one of the premier wine regions in the world, with records of commercial wine production in the region dating back to the nineteenth century, but premium wine production only began in the 1960s.
Napa Valley has an ideal growing climate that provides vintage-to-vintage consistency and exceptional quality that few other winegrowing regions can boast. Napa Valley has a remarkable diversity of micro-climates, weather and geography, as well as some of the most diverse soils. As a result, a number of premium grape varietals thrive, and it was a John Patchett who in 1858 established the Napa Valley's first commercial vineyard.
Viticulture in Napa then suffered several setbacks in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including an outbreak of phylloxera, then Prohibition and the Great Depression. In 1976, the region received a boost from the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976, which featured a Napa Valley Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon besting several famous French wines in a blind tasting format. The results of this tasting cemented the region's reputation as a producer of world class wines.
Napa Valley features more than 450 wineries - though just 48km long and a few km’s wide, the valley vineyards are flanked by the Mayacamas Mountain Range on the western and northern sides the Vaca Mountains on the eastern side, with several smaller valleys within these ranges.
The main valley floor gradually rises from sea level at the southern end to 110m above sea level at the northern end in Calistoga at the foot of Mount Saint Helena. The soil in the southern end of the valley consists mainly of sediments deposited by earlier advances and retreats of San Pablo Bay while the soil at the northern end of the valley contains a large volume of volcanic lava and ash.
Among the acclaimed wines produced in this small region are; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel and Cabernet Franc, to name a few. In spite of its international reputation, Napa Valley is one of the smallest wine-growing regions in the world. The region’s established viticultural practices result in low yields of high-quality grapes, from which skilled winemakers craft Napa Valley’s renowned wines.