Many regions can lay claim to offering great wines, beautiful scenery, artful cuisine and a wonderful visitor experience. What makes Northern California’s Napa Valley such a special place?
Beyond Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley is famous for its signature grape, Cabernet Sauvignon. In fact, Cabernet makes up 40 percent of the region’s annual wine grape harvest by volume and 60 percent by value. But there’s so much more to Napa Valley’s wine scene: some three dozen different grape varieties thrive here. The top five most planted, after Cabernet, are Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel. Napa Valley’s winemakers are committed to producing some of the world’s finest quality wines, so no matter what variety you choose, you can count on something magical happening in your glass.
It’s the Climate
Whether you’re a human or a grape, it’s hard to beat Napa Valley’s ideal Mediterranean climate. Warm, dry summer days, with temperatures typically peaking in the high 80s or low 90s, are moderated by cool marine fog from the Pacific Ocean that ebbs and flows from both the northern and southern ends of the valley nearly every day from May to September. As a result, nights can be cool – with temperatures in the 40s and 50s. These diurnal swings help Napa Valley’s wine grapes become fully ripe in the generous summer sunshine while still maintaining balancing acidity thanks to cool nighttime temperatures. Rainfall is generally limited to the months of November through April, making what’s known in the region as “Cabernet Season” that much more cozy and romantic.
Come to Napa Valley once and you’re sure to come again. More than 90 percent of the region’s 3.5 million annual visitors say they loved their Napa Valley experience so much, they’ll be back. Lodging choices range from quaint B&Bs to some of the world’s most luxurious resorts. There are dozens of restaurants and more Michelin-starred restaurants per capita than any other wine region in the world whose chefs create meals in an array of styles, from farm-to-fork perfection to custom burgers to fantastic food truck fare. Even if wine isn’t your thing, you can still have an incredible visit to Napa Valley and enjoy hiking in the hills, biking on the Napa Valley Vine Trail, taking an excursion on the Napa Valley Wine Train, visiting an art gallery (many which happen to be inside wineries) and seeing live musical entertainment that rivals the biggest of cities.
Commitment to Agriculture
America’s first Agricultural Preserve was established in Napa Valley in 1968 by a thoughtful group of land owners and community leaders who knew they had something special worthy of the highest level of protection. This land-zoning ordinance established agriculture and open space as the best use for the land in the fertile valley and foothill areas of Napa County. Today, Napa Valley’s rigorous land-use policies, including the Ag Preserve, keep nearly 90 percent of the region under permanent or high levels of protection from development. Without the Ag Preserve, a major divided highway would run through what are now some of the world’s finest vineyards. Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga would most likely be a sea of housing development and their quaint downtowns would be bypassed and largely unused.
The Napa Valley Spirit
In good times and bad, through floods, earthquakes and wildfires, one thing shines in Napa Valley more brightly than the glint of a crystal wine glass: it’s the Napa Valley spirit. It’s the belief that no matter what happens, a rising tide will lift all boats and that our community together is far greater than the sum of its parts. Collaboration and camaraderie are the rule, not the exception. Vintners, hoteliers and restaurateurs see their peers as the “coopetition,” not the “competition.” The Napa Valley spirit was pioneered by legends like Robert Mondavi and lives on today in a valley where friends help friends, neighbors help neighbors and those who can give generously to those in need.
To learn more about traveling to the Napa Valley, go to visitnapavalley.com. For wine industry information, visit napavintners.com.