Northern California is home to one of the world's great wine-growing regions, and this breathtaking valley is filled with some serious surprises. Time to pour a glass and plan a wine tour! Here are some facts about Napa you'll want to know before you head out on your tasting.
1. Mountainside Grapes Have A Distinct Flavor
Vines that grow along a mountain tend to produce grapes with a much fruitier taste. This isn't vineyard magic: it's due to the roots being much shallower and getting less water on an incline. This causes the grapes to grow smaller, and less skin means a more vibrant, fruitier taste with each and every drop. Popular wines such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Merlot are all crisp, sweet vintages that many of us have grown to love - especially when we're looking for something light and refreshing.
2. One Man Started A Wine Revolution
Napa never would have claimed its place in the wine pantheon if it weren't for one man who decided to use the land to grow grapes. George C. Yount - a trapper from New Mexico - ventured north to California in 1831. In 1836, he planted the first vineyard in Napa County, claiming: "In such a place I should love to clear the land and make my home. In such a place I should love to live and die." The first winery planted for commercial use was created in the year 1861 by Charles Krug. And the rest has become history.
3. A Rare, Ideal Climate For Grape-Growing
It's really no surprise that Napa Valley has had such astronomical success when it comes to producing some the world's finest wines. This region in Northern California is pretty much the perfect environment for growing flavorful grapes - and vineyards are taking full advantage of these conditions.
Napa is described as having a Dry Mediterranean climate, which can only be found on 2% of the entire earth's surface. The average high temperature during the summer months is around 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the southern portion of Napa Valley and 95 degrees Fahrenheit in the north. Overnight temperatures during the summer rarely exceed 53 degrees Fahrenheit, thanks to the abundance of fog. This temperature range is perfect for enabling grapes to grow plentifully, and with an ideal character for fermentation.
4. Your Favorite Vino Boosts The American Economy
Most people savor a glass of their favorite wine, and brands that come from Napa Valley have had a pretty significant impact on the United States economy. The wine industry of Napa Valley contributes more than $50 billion to the state's GDP every year. Napa County also provides more than 300,000 jobs, making Wine Country one seriously lucrative piece of California property. Here's to enjoying some adult grape juice and creating jobs, all at the same time!
5. Grapes Come In Almost Endless Varieties
Although your main concern with wine may be choosing between your favorite red or white, it obviously gets way more complicated when you start talking about different strains of grapes. Napa Valley is home to more than 34 different varieties of grapes, and their individual attributes have a big impact on the finished product. Your favorite glass is probably dependent on one a very specific type of grape.
White wine grapes take up around 23% of vineyard space, whereas red wine grapes dominate 77% of the average vineyard. The specific wine that takes up the most acreage? Cabernet Sauvignon - a wildly popular red that pairs well with a juicy burger or steak.
6. Wine Country Houses Hundreds Of Wineries
Many are surprised to learn that only a mere 4% of California's wine comes from Napa Valley, but this doesn't mean Napa County isn't bustling with a ton of vineyard activity. For an area of only 45,000 acres, Napa Valley is home to more than 420 individual wineries. This equates to over 800 brands of wine produced --- making Wine Country a definite powerhouse in the world of fine wines. Small, but undoubtedly mighty, Napa Valley is a top tourist destination for a reason. There are a variety of vineyards to tour and a ton of tastings to partake in.
7. Patience Is A Virtue On The Vineyard
Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither was a successful, thriving vineyard. Growing ripe, delicious grapes doesn't happen overnight. Vines take an average of six to seven years to grow grapes suitable for making wine. Although this may seem like a stretch when it comes to keeping the finest vino flowing, vines are known to produce good fruit for up to 30 years before needing to be replanted. Good wines come to those who wait, and they stay for the long haul.
Whether you consider yourself a wine-enthusiast or you just like to sip on something tasty once in awhile, we hope these facts encourage you to think about taking a wine tour. Napa is waiting for you: time to pop a cork and see all that Northern California has to offer. Cheers!