Napa Valley AVA is an American Viticultural Area located in Napa County, California, United States. Napa Valley is considered one of the premier wine regions in the world. Records of commercial wine production in the region date back to the nineteenth century, but premium wine production dates back only to the 1960s.
The combination of Mediterranean climate, geography and geology of the region are conducive to growing quality wine grapes. John Patchett established the Napa Valley's first commercial vineyard in 1858. In 1861 Charles Krug established another of Napa Valley's first commercial wineries in St. Helena. Viticulture in Napa suffered several setbacks in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including an outbreak of the vine disease phylloxera, the institution of Prohibition, and the Great Depression. The wine industry in Napa Valley recovered, and helped by the results of the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976, came to be seen as capable of producing the best quality wine – equal to that of Old World wine regions. Napa Valley is now a major enotourism destination.
Hotels and lodgingEdit
- Blackbird Inn is a wonderful bed and breakfast in downtown Napa. The inn staff are very friendly and your stay includes: a full signature breakfast, afternoon wine and hors d’oeuvres, and very yummy home-baked cookies!
- Embassy Suites Napa is located near downtown Napa off Highway 29. The hotel features an on-site spa.
- Hilton Garden Inn is located in North Napa off Highway 29.
- John Muir Inn is located in North Napa just off Highway 29. From the hotel it is a short walk to Fume Bistro—a local favorite.
- Meadowwood is a high-end resort located in St. Helena. The property includes a nine-hole golf course, tennis courts, championship croquet lawns, a full-service spa, on-site dining and much, much more.
- Marriott Napa Valley is located in North Napa off Highway 29. The hotel includes access to the Amadeus Spa. (Note: from late July - late August, this hotel is home to the Oakland Raiders training camp).
- Napa River Inn is located in downtown Napa at the historic Napa Mill. The hotel has an on-site spa and is within walking distance to several nice restaurants, including Sweetie Pies, *Angele, Celadon, *The Napa General Store and more.
- The Silverado Resort is located slightly east of Silverado Trail. The hotel features an on-site spa, 36 holes of championship golf, lighted tennis courts, on-site restaurants and more.
- Villagio Inn & Spa is located in Yountville, a small town just north of downtown Napa. The hotel is within walking distance to at least 15 different restaurants and the specialty shops and galleries at Vintage 1870.
- The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort & Spa Sonoma Hotel offering vibrant charm in a tranquil setting.
The Napa Valley is synonymous with the wine industry. Here's a start on some of the wine-related attractions for visitors to the valley. It would be great to develop an interactive map showing where each of the wineries are located, etc.
- Beringer is one of the big, touristy wineries in the valley. It features a great building with a long, rich history and a decent tour. Walk-in tastings are OK
- Cakebread Cellars offers tours and tasting by appointment only
- Caymus offers tastings by appointment only
- Chateau Potelle Winery is a small winery nestled high on Mt. Veeder. It offers beautiful views of the valley and great Zinfandel blends (be sure to ask what VGS stands for)
- Duckhorn provides a winery tour at 12pm daily and reservations are recommended. If you're only looking to taste wine, walk-ins are generally OK
- Hess features a nice art gallery (free) and walk-in tastings are welcomed. The winery is located on Redwood Road in the Mt. Veeder region. Hess makes excellent Cabernet Sauvignon and has both low-end ($10–$12 range) and high-end ($100+) offerings. The winery makes a great first stop for those looking to avoid the traffic on the main wine-tasting roads (Highway 29 and Silverado Trail) in the valley. After Hess, head back out to Mt. Veeder Road, make a left and enjoy the winding drive up to Chateau Potelle Winery
- Palmaz Vineyards is located at the foot of Mount George in east Napa. The winery is not open to the general public, but you can make arrangements with the owners, Julio & Amalia Palmaz, for a private tour and tasting that will absolutely blow you away. Amalia drove us around the property in her own car, gave us the tour of the winemaking area (equivalent to 18 storeys, built completely underground) which was still under construction and then invited us in for a sampling of her wines (everything from Cabernet to Chardonnay). She was the most gracious host, provided amazing details on each of the wines we were tasting and tells a great story. This is THE place to go if you fancy yourself a wine buff and want to spend a few hours at one location
- Paraduxx is located along the Silverado Trail on the eastern side of the valley. The winery is known for its unique blends of the Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel varietals
- Rutherford Hill Winery is a good place to visit if you're a Merlot fan. Located off the Silverado Trail, this winery has a great cave tour and walk-in tours/tastings are accepted
- Silver Oak Cellars allows walk-in tastings, but is closed on Sunday. For Cabernet Sauvignon fans, this is one place you don't want to miss
- Stag's Leap Wine Cellars allows walk-in tastings, however appointments are required for tours. While the Cabernets are great, the tasting room and actual winery itself give off a very corporate vibe. This is not the place to go if you're looking for that family owned/operated feeling
- Sterling Vineyards allows walk-in tours and tastings. You can also take short tram-ride (fee required) up to the winery, which overlooks the valley. Due to the tram, this winery is typically very crowded (especially on weekends) and many people bring their kids along as if it were Disneyland
There are a wide variety of shopping options in the Napa Valley, including everything from small mom-and-pop shops, to specialty retailers to larger chain stores.
- Napa Premium Outlets are located in the heart of the city of Napa. The complex has some 50 stores, including Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, J. Crew and more. Take the First Street exit off Highway 29.
- St. Helena Premiere Outlets are located in the northern Napa Valley between the towns of St. Helena and Calistoga, off Highway 29.
Maps and transportationEdit
Getting to Napa ValleyEdit
Exploring Napa ValleyEdit
Major Cities Include Napa, California,
Practical information and resourcesEdit
- The Grape Crusher statue along Highway 29 as you enter Napa County from the south was sculpted by Gino Miles and erected in 1987. It is dedicated to the workers who labor in the vineyards
- The first vines planted in the Napa Valley were 1838-1839 by George Yount. The first wines were produced in the 1840s
- In the 1850s, Los Angeles had 10 times as many vines as Napa
- Only 9% of the Napa Valley is planted in vineyards
- Napa County has 45,275 acres planted in vineyards
- Napa Valley accounts for only 4% of California's total wine production
- Visit Napa Vintners for more information
There are a ton of amazing restaurants located in the Napa Valley. Here are a few.
- Bistro Don Giovanni serves Italian cuisine in casual, lively setting. It's always nice when you can visit a restaurant and talk to the owner/operator—so be sure to say hello to Giovanni, who is typically at/near the front door to greet you when you enter. The restaurant is located just off Highway 29 in North Napa and features indoor and outdoor seating. The menu changes daily, but try the Frito Misto to start and the risotto is always amazing. Phone: 707.224.3300
- Bistro Jeanty is a small French bistro. Phone: 707.944.0103
- Bouchon is a French bistro operated by famed chef Thomas Keller. It's loud, lively, and you sit close to everyone. Open late. Phone: 707.944.8037
- Fume Bistro is a local favorite serving American cuisine. Sunday evenings are $5 pizza and pint nights if you sit at the bar. Chat with the friendly bartenders, Cubby and Adam, while watching sports on a small television. Phone: 707.257.1999
- The French Laundry is an award-winning restaurant operated by famed chef Thomas Keller. Reservations are taken 2-months in advance and seating is extremely scarce. If you are able to reserve a spot, come prepared to graze on absolutely amazing food, sip outrageous wines and spend big $$$. For most, this is a once in a lifetime-type place. Phone: 707.944.2380
- Gillwoods Cafe is a local favorite. This cafe has two locations in the Napa Valley, one in the heart of downtown Napa and one in the small town of St. Helena to the north. Gillwoods is known for its amazing breakfast menu (served all day)-- on the weekends, it's better to get there early or you'll have to wait for a table. Coffee is available while you wait and at the downtown Napa location, you're free to roam around the Napa Town Center. Phone: 707.253.0409
- The Martini House serves modern/contemporary cuisine and has an amazing downstairs bar. The restaurant is located just off Highway 29 in St. Helena. Phone: 707.963.2233
- The Red Hen Cantina is the local favorite for Mexican food. Located just off Highway 29 in North Napa, Red Hen is an always bustling restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating and a full bar. You'll notice several motorcycles parked in front—Red Hen is a favorite stop for the bikers traveling through the valley. Phone: 707.255.8125
- Rutherford Grill is Napa's version of the "Houston's" restaurant chain, serving American cuisine. Phone: 707.963.1792
- Sushi Mambo is a low-key restaurant located in the heart of downtown Napa on Frist Street. It's a small place that gets crowded quickly, but the sushi is solid and the atmosphere is lively. Try the 'Nutty Professor' or the 'Phoenix'. Phone: 707.257.6604
- Tuscany is a casual restaurant in downtown Napa, featuring affordable California cuisine with a Mediterranean slant. Phone: 707.258.1000
- Zinsvalley Restaurant is a casual, local establishment located in the Browns Valley neighborhood of Napa. The restaurant features indoor and outdoor seating and is a good place to go if you're looking to kick-back, relax and not be overwhelmed by the cuisine or service. Phone: 707.224.0695
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