Napa: Paradise Built On American Ingenuity
Updated: Jul 18, 2020
Napa Valley is 30 miles long by 5 miles wide; it produces only 4% of California's wine and .4% of world production. The entire AVA is home to 16 distinct sub AVAs within the region. Napa is unique geographically because of its weather pattern and soil. It possess Mediterranean weather found in only 2% of the planet and its soils represents at least half of those recognized as prime for winemaking.
However, the success of Napa is not found in its privileged and idyllic geography, but in the people that created a powerhouse out of American ingenuity. Today's Napa is a mix of boutique producers and winemaking behemoths that supply the majority of their wine from the California Valley, with flagship labels within the county.
The mystique of winemaking as an art form has lured those who dream of something more than to see wine as fermented grape juice. With a blank canvas, without heritage or history to support or suffocate development. Napa built its name from the desire to create something worthy to drink, and in the process it developed an area resembling paradise on earth.
There are a variety of labels and producers within the region. Still, Napa continues to be a close-knit community, a capsule preserved in time and wrapped in the most picturesque Americana setting. Across the main arteries of the valley, Napa's small towns like St. Helena, and Calistoga remind visitors of an era almost forgotten. A sense of community is alive and well within the protection of the vines that grow on either side of the valley.
While the wine industry is known for being pretentious, complicated, and based on image more than substance. In the vineyards, wether they are grand chateaus like Inglenook, or Chateau Montelena, or small producer facilities like ZD wines. All hands are on deck, and there is no fancy posturing when it comes to create quality and accessible wine.
Nothing is left to chance, and nothing is wasted. The valley makes use of each of its resources and carefully awaits for Mother Nature to provide its gift. An entire year's work culminates in a product that, even when bottled, it is just in its infancy. Perhaps the fascination with wine over other fermented beverages consumed on the planet is that it is alive. It matures, peaks, ages, and dies within the bottle.
Such fact becomes the most obvious when the stars align, and the process culminates in a serendipitous and perfect culmination called an ideal vintage. Wine is not for the restless; it requires contemplation, presence, and, most importantly, patience. It is perhaps the reason that makes the valley so peaceful, as everyone in it knows this. They understand the importance of timing, hard work, and then the sublime wait that winemaking requires.
In addition to the tremendous variety of producers and its undeniable charm. Napa is a foodie's delight, home of some of the most renown restaurants in the country. The area attracts a variety of young and mature dreamers of cuisine. The valley is a culinary heaven, one not to be missed, and one to be enjoyed with the obvious guess, a glass of wine.
Here is to Napa, paradise built on American ingenuity. There is no need to let the facade of the industry dissuade anyone from visiting and experiencing the magic of the region. Wine is as accessible as those who make it, and there are plenty of good people in Napa ready to share their experience with any traveler wishing to do so.