The Napa Valley
This will be a difficult one! Compiling a small blog piece about one of the world’s most lauded viticultural areas, producing a consistent array of compelling wines that either age gracefully for decades, or provide immediate enjoyment. So, I think for this time, we’ll concentrate on facts and figures…
Fly in to San Francisco airport, head north through the city over the Bay Bridge (Golden Gate if you want but it’ll take you longer ), drive for around 1 hour and you’ll find yourself in Napa County. Napa Valley itself is totally formed by volcanic activity. It’s roughly 25 miles running north-south, and 3 miles east-west. The valley floor is flanked by the two mountain ranges of the Mayacamas and the Vaca, with vineyards heading up in the hills on either side. There are over 400 wineries in this relatively tiny piece of land, but only produce about 4% of California’s wine. This however is the 4% of extreme quality. You will not find Blossom Hill or another one that I can’t name for fear of legal reprisal (!!) anywhere near this spot.
Cabernet Sauvignon rules here, but Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and others are also successfully cultivated. However its the Bordeaux Blend-style wines that really work. Any uber-sexy bottles that I’ve preached about before – Dalla Valle, Harlan, Screaming Eagle, Scarecrow etc are all here, nestling alongside famous vineyards such as To-Kalon, Inglenook, and Backus. Don’t forget the well-established icons of Heitz, Schramsberg, and Freemark Abbey also. The visitor will see that almost every piece of land is taken over by grape-farming on a impressive scale.
I’ve skipped around here and will cover some individual regions within the valley in more depth, however when you visit the valley and drive either Highway 29 or Silverado Trail that run through this hallowed ground, you will love it. Oh, and make time to stop at Joel Gott’s Roadside Diner in St.Helena whilst you are there. The best burger in Napa and have a glass of the local brew whilst there…
Director of Wine