California’s Napa has a rich history since it was settled back in the 1800’s. The area boasts a completely distinctive combination of climate, geology, geography – unlike any other part of the world. Beyond that, Napa Valley's commitment to its land and its community make it simply unlike any other place across the globe. So, what makes Northern California’s Napa Valley such a special place? In this next installment of “Positive Vibes” we are thrilled to share the top reasons Napa Valley is such a unique wine growing region in the world...
Top 5 Reasons Napa Valley is so Unique for Winegrowing:
1. Mediterranean-Style Climate
Enjoying a remarkable Mediterranean-style climate, Napa’s year-round weather is simply exceptional. From the warm days to the cool evenings and dry summers, this mix makes for a fantastic grape growing environment. Just imagine, only about three percent of the planet experiences a true Mediterranean climate. The valley’s proximity to the coast brings cool ocean breezes to the land in the evenings – a perfect temperature change from warm days that allows for the ultimate balance of sugar and acid to develop in the grapes. Since there are several climate zones and many micro-climates in the valley, on any given day temperatures in the North can be 15 degrees warmer than in the South. These vastly varying climates allow for creating wines of a wide diversity of grapes and flavor profiles.
2. California's Geology
Formed approximately 150 million years ago, Napa Valley is geologically a relatively young wine region. The area was created when the ocean floor was pushed up by a confluence of geological events. These events, along with volcanoes that were erupting, formed the valley floor and mountain ranges. The erosion and subsequent intermingling of volcanic and marine soils has bestowed upon Napa half the world’s soil types, enabling the region to grow a wide variety of grapes and make many different styles of wine.
3. Complex Geography
Napa runs north to south, parallel to the Pacific Ocean. To put it mildly, region is exceptionally geographically complex and diverse. Encompassing only five miles in width and 40 miles in length, it is quite small. In fact, it is only one-eight the size of Bordeaux, yet the differences in soil, topography, and climate are much more diverse in Napa. It is flanked by the Mayacamas Mountain to the west and the Vaca Mountains to the East with the valley floor in between. This allows the cooler southern end of Napa Valley in Carneros to effectively grow Chardonnay and Pinot Noir amid its mostly clay soils. Further, the valley floor produces more velvety, soft, fruity-flavored wines compared to the mountains that have more minerality and higher acidity.
4. Diversity of Grape Varietals
Napa Valley is also said to feature a great diversity of grape varietals – even though Cabernet Sauvignon grapes make up 55% of the grapes harvested here. So where is the diversity? The diversity actually lives in the styles of Cabernet Sauvignon produced. With such a wide variety of soils, elevations, and climates you get wines that are distinctively unique. Cabernet from the valley floor can be more tannic with bold flavors and concentration of fruit, whereas the mountain Cabernets can have more purity of fruit, great structure, and are highly age worthy. Additionally, as mentioned previously, you will find Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes widely harvested in the Carneros region. On from there, due to its many micro-climates and soils you can also see Merlot, Malbec, Grenache, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, as well as more rare grape varietals like Barbera, Mondeuse, Ribolla, and Pinot Meunier.
5. Strong Commitment to Land and Community
Did you know that America’s first “Agricultural Preserve” was established in Napa Valley in 1968? This landmark set of zoning laws, which encompasses Ag Preserve and Ag Watershed lands, established agriculture as the highest and best use of the land in Napa County
Additionally, the fact that Napa has many multi-generational family-owned wineries keeps the commitment to community clearly evident. 95% of the vineyards are family owned and 80% of the wineries make less than 10,000 cases. There are many wonderful hidden gems with unique stories that are often told directly by the owners or family members that greet visitors with open arms.
For all these reasons and so much more, Napa Valley has become one of the world’s most acclaimed wine regions. From its breath-taking vistas, verdant swaths of vineyard lands, and the unparalleled welcoming warmth of its locals – It’s no wonder Napa Valley is a vacation destination on just about every traveler’s “life list” of places to see and enjoy.
How about coming to savor the flavors of this spectacular wine region and its surrounding areas for yourself? We invite you to embark on Aventura World’s 7-day California Gold vacation that takes you to explore all kinds of West Coast gems, from the modern-day allure of San Francisco and California’s world-renown wine region of Napa Valley, to the popular resort area of Lake Tahoe and Bonanza days of Nevada’s Virginia City. This splendid travel experience includes the opportunity to travel by rail through scenic wine country on a Napa Valley Wine Train excursion that includes delectable wine tastings and lunch. It’s the adventure of a lifetime waiting right here for you!