If you’re from Northern California you’re well aware of one of our crown jewels: Napa Valley. It’s that sweet spot where rolling hills and stately vineyards grow some of the best wines in the world. When was the last time you gathered a group to go wine tasting? Or, even brought along your significant other for a country drive and enjoyed the scenery of the beauty that we call the Napa Valley? Whether you’re coming to enjoy the 5-star cuisine or catch a ride on the
world-renown wine train, this is a trip you must stop putting off and mark on your calendar. There’s more to do here than you can imagine.
There is much history here. While the town of Napa was officially recognized in 1847, three years before our lovely state of California -- there were six different American Indian tribes who spoke six different dialects even before the first anglo-saxon settlers arrived. The first log cabin in the state was said to have been erected by early settler George C. Yount, who would go on to found the adorable town of Yountville.
The Wine Industry
The wine industry in the U.S generates over 300,000 jobs. The Napa Valley is estimated at a $50 billion a year enterprise, with over 430 physical wineries here and 815 different wine brands.
The Napa Valley Wine Train
Over 2 million passengers have enjoyed this 36 mile ride through the valley since it began in 1989. Step onto this train and enjoy a gourmet meal while passing through some of the most beautiful countryside in Northern California. The Wine Train is evolving as it ages and now stops in St. Helena and has plans to make stops at a few special wineries beginning in June of this year. We really hope that happens!
Bale Grist Mill Historic Park
Built in 1846 by Edward Turner Bale, this fully restored water-powered grist mill still grinds grain. You can purchase grain milled here like
polenta, cornmeal, spelt, buckwheat, rye, and whole-wheat flours - all organic.
Located 3 miles northwest of St. Helena off CA 128, St. Helena, CA
Visitors to Napa Valley
Each year over 5 million visitors head to the Napa Valley - generating over $1.5 billion into the local economy here. If you come strictly to enjoy a day of wine tasting with your friends, you might want to rent a limo like these folks did. It's a smart way to enjoy an afternoon and evening in this gorgeous valley.
The Napa Valley spans approximately 30 miles with Napa to the south and Calistoga to the north. But, let's not forget Yountville and St. Helena - towns that cater to the rich and famous. If you want to enjoy a day of pampering along with some wine tasting, you've just discovered a little slice of heaven here.
What's the most notable grape in the Napa Valley? That would have to be the Cabernet Sauvignon. There are LOTS of other wines produced here but the Cabernet is definitely KING. You might be surprised to know that Napa might produce some of the best wine on the planet, but it does NOT produce the most. This tiny spot on the map is responsible for only only 4% of California wine and just .04% of the world’s total wine.
Seasons in the Valley
Can we just talk about the seasons here? Oh. My. Heck. This dry Mediterranean climate covers only 2% of our planet. It's visual eye-candy at its best. Crush is in the fall and that's when the grapes are harvested. This time of year is busiest for the vintners and the backdrop of the fall colors makes it a lovely time to visit.
Let's talk about wine tasting. Head to the valley and have your map ready. Tasting rooms have different days and hours they're open to the public. Ranging anywhere from $10 to $40 each stop to taste a few...do your homework, people. It's definitely worth your time but don't arrive unprepared. And, please read up on tasting room etiquette. You don't want to look like a visiting buffoon. Show a little class and research the do's and don'ts of tasting in the valley.
What are some of your favorite places to go in the Napa Valley? Share in the comments below!