The many hidden places of Napa Valley
During the winter, grapevines lose their leaves and vineyards may seem barren. They do not exude their usual sign of vitality. In the fall, the vibrant colors of the leaves merge with sunsets of similar tones to create a spectacular view. The first Napa Valley grape was planted in 1839. Napa Valley is considered one of the top wine growing regions in the world. The combination of the Mediterranean climate, the layout of the land, and the soil make it perfect for the the tasteful wines to be made.
Napa Valley is located in Northern California and the area has been preserved since the 1960’s. The Charles Krug Winery opened its doors in 1861 and it was Napa Valley’s first large winery. The number of wineries grew immensely through the end of the nineteenth century when more than 140 wineries had been opened. Wine historian, Charles Sullivan wrote “By the early 1950s it was irrefutable that the Valley’s Big Four had been augmented by one – the Charles Krug Winery.” (Charles Krug, http://www.charleskrug.com) Some of these wineries still welcome tasters today. One vineyard is Beringer. Beringer was purchased in 1875 and it is 215 acres. Horses would bring wagons of grapes to produce the wine at the Old Winery. Tours of the property start in the tasting room of the 19th Century Rhine House. There are 3 tours, 30 to 90 minutes in length, including a family tour where you can explore the vineyard’s marvelous grounds with a glass of wine in hand.
There is the Bancroft Ranch Merlot (Howell Mountain) and the Vogt Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Howell Mountain) which you can sample. Built into the hillside of Spring Mountain were aging tunnels. These were built from the late 1870s to the early 1880s. The hillside rock is a natural insulator maintaining the temperature in the tunnel at 58 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, with humidity to keep the wine safe, indefinitely. Another historical vineyard is Mayacama Vineyards located in the Mayacama Mountains, separating the Napa and Sonoma valleys.
The winery is dug into the side of a volcano crater. There are 52 acres of vineyards planted. You can try a 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon or a 2011 Chardonnay. The oldest wine-producing vineyards are the Chardonnay terraces soiled from 1950 to 1952. The Napa Valley is 30 miles long and each year 4.7 million people visit. The size may not seem like a lot but visitors take time to traverse the vineyards, walk the grounds, and learn the wine making process. Most importantly, they get to sip the wine to revel in its taste.