Napa Valley is probably one of the most well-known American Viticultural Areas in the world, and receives over five million visitors each year. Many of the wineries in Napa County have long rivaled those in Italy and France and have won prestigious acclaim, awards, and competitions including the “Judgment of Paris” and the “Grand European Jury Wine Tasting.” Of course, you won’t find this caliber of Napa or Sonoma wines on the local grocery store shelves, just the mass produced varieties. In order to enjoy California wines to their fullest, you must actually go to the Napa Valley, where you can visit both the major wineries and the lesser known boutique vintners to get a sample of the word class wines that are produced in this region.
Although there is a local airport, getting to Napa County means flying into San Francisco, which is just a short drive away. There are many types of accommodations, including world-class resorts, hotels, and historic bed and breakfasts. The easiest way to tour the wineries is to take advantage of the many tours that are available, including private limousines, group tours, and a wine train. There are quite a few wineries in Napa County, so letting someone else do the driving makes it easier to enjoy all of the wineries to their fullest.
Napa County is warmer in the summer than neighboring vineyards, so the Napa wineries favor varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon. However, with the all of the different wines available including Chardonnays, Merlots, and Zinfandels, wine tasting at the different vineyards can seem a little intimidating at first if you aren’t a seasoned connoisseur. Not to worry though; all of the wineries have expert and friendly staff available to make sure that your wine tasting experience is enjoyable and educational.
The Napa Valley has more than three hundred wineries to visit, but The Robert Mondavi Vineyards is a great place to start when it comes to wine tasting. This winery was founded in 1966 by Robert Mondavi with the goal of producing wines that would rival those in Europe. It is one of the largest and oldest wineries in Napa County and the guides are locals who are both knowledgeable and happy to help novices learn the subtleties of the different varietals. This is a great place to learn the basics of wine tasting which can be used at the other wineries. It also a great place to learn the history of winemaking in Napa County because Robert Mondavi was one of the great pioneers of modern day Napa Valley winemaking as well as one of the most recognized vintners in the world.
Other wineries of note include Colgin Cellars, Charles Krug, Beringer, Diamond Creek, Domain Chandon, Dominus Estate, Rubicon Estate, Sterling Vineyards, Diamond Creek, and Duckhorn Vineyards. The art of winemaking in Napa County dates back to the early nineteenth century, and can be further learned about at COPIA: The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts located in the City of Napa. For wine enthusiasts everywhere, Napa County has long been the Mecca for American wines and is important place for anyone who is serious about wine to visit.