Napa Valley: The center of the California wine industry, and the U.S. wine industry. Amazingly enough, Napa Valley wineries
produce only 4% of the wine from California. So how is Napa Valley the center?
The first winery in Napa Valley was established in 1861, and the wine industry there did the same as everywhere else: ramping
up until Prohibition started in 1920, coming to a grinding halt, then restarting slowly after the end of Prohibition. While
good wines were produced in Napa Valley, the turning point for the industry came in 1976, at the Judgment of Paris. In this
blind tasting of Cabernet Sauvignon (French Bordeaux) and Chardonnay (Burgundy) wines, a Napa Valley wine won both categories,
as judged by 9 French wine experts. The winning wines were a 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay and a 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine
Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon. This (very reluctant) recognition by old world experts gave the Napa Valley and California wine
industries a huge boost.
Currently Hollywood is producing two movies based on the book by George Taber, “Judgment of Paris: California vs. France.”
One is to be called “Judgment of Paris” and the other “Bottle Shock”, and both should be released sometime in 2008.
Napa Valley was formed from seismic and volcanic activity, and from the Napa River which flows into the San Pablo Bay at the
southern end of the valley. The combination of this geographical history and the climate of the area, warm days and foggy, cool
nights, has produced some of the best wines the world has tasted. And you can too, in one of the many tasting rooms in the valley,
or in one of the world-class restaurants in the area. Afterwards, relax in a natural hot springs spa in Calistoga, play a round of
golf, or take a hot-air balloon tour of Napa Valley for a different perspective.
Napa Valley map
Napa Valley events
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