Napa Valley Vineyards, Wineries, Appellations & Grape Varieties

Napa Valley Vineyards and Wineries

The Napa Valley has ascended from relative obscurity to its current magnificence in less than forty years, now being recognized as a winegrowing region second to none. The climate in the Napa Valley is defined by several mountain ranges and its close proximity to the Pacific Ocean, which provides a temperate climate perfectly suited to growing some the world’s finest grapes. The long growing season is marked by sunny, warm and dry days followed by cool evenings, an ideal combination for allowing grapes to ripen slowly and evenly on the vines. Some internationally acclaimed wines are produced in the Napa Valley, which include: Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Sangioves and Zinfandel.

History of Vineyards and Wineries in the Napa Valley

The Wappo Indians were the first to inhabit the valley and named it, “Napa” meaning land of plenty. Seasonal runs of salmon filled the rivers, migrating waterfowl darkened the skies and the valley floor served as home to cougars, elk, grizzlies and black bear. Wild grapes also grew in the Napa Valley at the time, but it took early settlers from the East to recognize the valley’s potential for cultivating winegrapes. The first know vineyard in the Napa Valley was planted by Georgia Calvert Yount, a 43 year old settler from North Carolina. He planted the first grapevine on land given to him by the Spanish government in the form of a land grant, which later became the town of Yountville. Yount is a legend in Napa Valley, and is also credited with having an important roll in the rescue of the infamous Donner Party. Today, the Napa Valley features more than 300 vineyards and wineries that grow more than 50 grape varieties. While some winemakers produce wines from specific subappellations within the valley, the majority choose to blend or cuvée their wines using a mixture of wine from grapes grown on the floor of the Napa Valley and the surrounding hillsides.

Winegrowing Appellations of the Napa Valley

The Napa Valley possess distinct microclimates, soils and geography, which imprint recognizable characteristics on the grapes grown within them. Because of this, winegrowers in the Napa Valley delineate the boundaries of these winegrowing areas, giving them names that reflect their regional appellations. The Napa Valley is itself an appellation. Within the Napa Valley appellation exists 14 subappellations, including:

  1. Atlas Peak Appellation
  2. Chiles Valley Appellation
  3. Diamond Mountain District Appellation
  4. Howell Mountain Appellation
  5. Los Carneros Appellation
  6. Mt. Veeder Appellation
  7. Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley Appellation
  8. Oakville Appellation
  9. Rutherford Appellation
  10. Spring Mountain District Appellation
  11. St. Helena Appellation
  12. Stags Leap District Appellation
  13. Wild Horse Valley Appellation
  14. Yountville Appellation

Grape Varieties Grown in Napa Valley Vineyards and Wineries

  1. Barbera
  2. Bastardos
  3. Cabernet Franc
  4. Cabernet Sauvignon
  5. Carignane
  6. Charbono
  7. Chardonnay
  8. Chenin Blanc
  9. Colombar
  10. Dolcetto
  11. Gamay Noir
  12. Gewurztraminer
  13. Grenache
  14. Grignolino
  15. Malbec
  16. Marsanne
  17. Melon
  18. Merlot
  19. Mourvedre / Mataro
  20. Muscat Canelli
  21. Nebbiolo
  22. Nero D’Avola
  23. Petit Verdot
  24. Petite Sirah
  25. Pinot Blanc
  26. Pinot Gris / Grigio
  27. Pinot Meunier
  28. Pinot Noir
  29. Pinotage
  30. Primitivo
  31. Ribolla Gialla
  32. Riesling
  33. Roussanne
  34. Ruby Cabernet
  35. Sagrantino
  36. Sangiovese
  37. Sauvignon Blanc
  38. Sauvignon Musque
  39. Scheurebe
  40. Semillon
  41. Souzao
  42. Stover
  43. Syrah / Shiraz
  44. Tempranillo / Valdepenas
  45. Teroldego
  46. Tinta Cao
  47. Tinta Madeira
  48. Tocai Friulano
  49. Touriga Nacional
  50. Unidentified Varieties
  51. Valdiguie / Napa Gamay
  52. Viognier
  53. Zinfandel

Notable Wineries and Vineyards of the Napa Valley

Within this appellation’s 43,000 acres, approximately 300 wineries make Napa Valley their home. Some notable wineries by map and community are:

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