Popularly known as one of the most famous wine-growing regions globally, the Napa Valley is renowned for producing some of the best wine. But there is more to this wine hotspot. Below are ten interesting facts about Napa Valley.
1. Cabernet Sauvignon Reigns Supreme
Iconic Napa Valley Hundred Acre’s Kayli Morgan Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 was crowned Best Wine in the World in Vivino’s 2020 Wine Style Awards —a culmination of ratings from millions of actual wine consumers.
Vivino is the largest online wine marketplace and most downloaded wine app. With more than 12 million wines in Vivino’s database, this is a rare distinction for the Napa Valley wine.
2. Napa Valley’s 15 Minutes of Fame
One moment catapulted Napa Valley to the global wine scene, and it’s stayed there since then. The Paris Wine Tasting of 1976, also known as the Judgment of Paris, was a wine competition organized by Steven Spurrier, a British wine merchant and his colleague, Patricia Gallagher.
In the competition, two Californian wines, Chateau Montelena Chardonnay and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, were put to a blind taste testing where they completely dominated over the other, world-renowned French wines.
3. 95% of Napa Valley Wineries are Family Owned
The Napa Valley is known for its numerous family-owned, boutique-style wineries. In fact, 95% of all wineries are family-owned. An example is the Nichelini Winery— the oldest family-owned winery in the Napa Valley— which is still very much of a family operation after 130 years.
The winery was started in the 1890s by Anton and Caterina Nichelini, the first Swiss settlers in Napa valley. But the first actual commercial vineyard was established in 1861 by winemaker Charles Krug. Since then, over 400 wineries have been opened.
4. Napa Valley Has a Rare Mediterranean Climate
The Napa Valley climate is so ideal for growing its world-renowned wines that vines were growing wild when the area was first settled by European immigrants centuries ago. The region experiences a Mediterranean climate (found on only 2% of the world’s surface).
This unique weather is characterized by warm, dry, sunny days followed by cool evenings. The steady rising and falling temperatures allow the grapes to grow and ripen at a slow pace, increasing their quality.
5. Napa Valley is one of the Smallest Wine-growing Regions in the United States
In spite of its international stature, Napa Valley is one of the smallest wine-growing regions in the world. In fact, it’s only just 30 miles long and a few miles wide. Less than 5% of US wine production comes from Napa Valley.
6. Napa Valley is Home to World-Class Vineyards
Napa Valley is home to some of the finest and most prestigious vineyards in the world. For example, Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa Valley was named the Best Vineyard in North America and ranked 5th in the world.
And this is only one of the numerous exquisite wineries in Napa Valley. It’s no surprise that the region is one of the top tourist destinations in California.
7. Napa Valley is Home to Most of California “Cult Wines”
Cult wines are wines that attract insane sums of money from committed enthusiasts. Cult wines are often seen as trophy wines to be collected or as investment wine to be held rather than consumed. An example of these premium wines is Screaming Eagle which goes for over $7,000 for a single bottle.
And even if you have the money laying around your bank account, getting a bottle can be painstakingly difficult. Often you have to wait for several years before you get a chance to purchase one. While many might argue against their prices, there is no denying they are of very high quality.
Every bottle is made through a meticulous process with only the best grapes Napa Valley has to offer.
8. Napa Valley Has Some of the Most Valuable Vineyard Land in the World
Napa Valley is one of the most geologically diverse wine regions in the world, which has made the value of land only go up every year. In fact, 99% of the land is used for growing grapes. Fifty years ago, the average cost per acre of land was $1,000.
Today the average reported price for top vineyard sites is about $310,000 per acre. There are speculations some land has exchanged hands for as much as $1,000,000/acre.
9. There Are More than Three Dozen Wine Grape Varieties Grown in Napa County.
There are numerous varieties of grapes grown in Napa Valley. Leading the list is Cabernet Sauvignon, the king of red grapes, accounting for 40% of the total production. The second most planted grape variety is the full-flavoured, buttery Chardonnay which accounts for 15% of the total grape production.
Other top types include Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel. Despite all these grape varieties, a wine must contain at least 75% of a specific grape to be labelled that variety (i.e. Merlot), 85% grown within a particular region to be labelled by that title (i.e. Napa Valley), and 95% grown and harvested in a specific year to be labelled that year (i.e. 2014).
10. Napa valley Offers More Than Just Wine
When you hear someone talking about Napa Valley, it is understandable to assume the discussion is about the area's award-winning wines. After all, most of the wineries allow for wine tasting. But Napa Valley has so much more to offer.
From hot air balloon rides soaring above the picturesque countryside to sumptuous cuisines as you take in the fantastic sceneries of rolling hills, deep valleys and neat rows of grapevines. There is something for everyone in Napa Valley.