Enjoy these little fun facts about our beloved Napa Valley next time you are wine tasting, at a dinner party or playing Trivial Pursuit.
1) Napa Valley hosts an annual Mustard Festival from January to March, celebrating the " food, wine, art and rich, unique agricultural bounty of the Napa Valley". For some great tips on pairing wine with mustard, check out this article – Courtney gives some great advice.
2) Napa Valley makes up only five percent of the total United States vineyard acreage. The region of Andalucia in Spain has more wine acreage than anywhere in the world.
3) Sulfur is the pesticide most commonly used in Napa Valley and is certified for use in organic farming. Green wine, anyone?
4) Napa’s Chateau Montelena caused a sensation when their 1976 Chardonnay put California wines on the map and beat French wines to take top honors at a Paris blind tasting. At the time, Napa was still considered a “backwater” wine producing region that could in no way compete with classic French wine. The plucky story was made in to a lovely little movie called “Bottleshock” starring Bill Pullman, which I got to enjoy on a plane ride back from the UK at Christmas. Pick it up.
5) Stag’s Leap 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon further cemented Napa’s global image when it won in the red category for that same 1976 Paris blind tasting – and came back to take top honors again in 1986 with their 1972 Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon.
6) In the 1830’s, George Yount planted the first grapevines in Napa Valley (they were from Mexico), after declaring, “In such a place I should love to clear the land and make my home. In such a place I should love to live and die." He founded the town that was eventually named Yountville in his honor, home to such dining delights as Bistro Jeanty and The French Laundry.
7) Viticulture and tourism top the list of Napa industries. And you can combine them both with wine tours and a great dinner out! Ah, two of my favorite things….
8) The Valley itself is roughly 30 miles long and a few miles wide. If you can actually hit every winery over the course of one weekend, however, then I’d like to shake your hand!
9) The first commercial Napa winery was established by Charles Krug in 1861. John Patchett created the Valley’s first commercial vineyard in 1858. From those of us who love wine, we offer our humble thanks.
10) Of the 140 Napa wineries in existence by 1900, the stalwarts that remain are Beaulieu, Beringer, Charles Krug, Chateau Montelena, Far Niente, Mayacamas, Markham Vineyards, and Schramsberg. You could put together a little tour of “The Classics” next time you are visiting. Markham in particular is one of my favorite wineries in the area.