Napa County is home to hundreds of wineries, with new establishments emerging frequently. The Alcoholic Beverage Control of California estimates that there are around 1,700 registered Napa wineries and about 400 of these with tasting facilities.
To help you know more about Napa wine, we’ve listed interesting facts such as Napa wine history, wineries to visit, awards, and more.
A Brief History of Napa Wine
In 1838, George Yount, a European settler, initiated the cultivation of wild grapes in Napa which paved the way for the Napa wine industry. Shortly thereafter, the region had its first vineyard in 1854 built by John Patchett followed by Hamilton Walker Crabb.
The Napa wine industry encountered its first setback during the breakout of phylloxera that destroyed over 80% of the county’s vineyard land at the turn of the 20th century. An even bigger challenge faced the Napa wine industry with the passage of Prohibition in 1920. Only a few wineries produced sacramental wines over the next fourteen years, as more Napa wineries and vineyards were abandoned.
Napa took a rebound with the lifting of Prohibition in 1933. The Napa Valley Vintners Association was created 11 years after (1944). The association represents more than 550 Napa wineries, raising over $15 million each year to help the local community.
Who are the People who played an Important Role in Napa Wine Development?
- John Patchet, started the first commercial vineyard in 1854, made wine in 1857 and constructed a commercial Napa wine cellar in 1858.
- Charles Krug, one of the first pioneers in Napa winemaking and established Charles Krug winery in 1861.
- Gustave Ferdinand Niebaum established Inglenook Winery in 1879 with the intention to produce quality Napa wine.
- Robert Gerald Mondavi brought Napa wines international recognition through his technical and marketing policy and approach.
- Andre Tchelischeff, introduced new winemaking techniques and procedures.
Which Napa Wineries are the Most Popular?
The most popular Napa wineries below offer tasting while some offer both tasting and tours.
Tasting and Tours:
- Beaulieu Vineyard
- Priest Ranch Wines
- Paraduxx Napa Valley
- Hewitt Vineyard
- Frank Family Vineyards
- Cuvaison Estate
- Canard Vineyard
- Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars
- Round Pond Estate
- Crosby Roamann
- Somerston Estate
- Trinchero Napa Valley
- William Cole Vineyards
- Etude Wines
- Grgich Estate
- Sequoia Grove Winery
- Robert Modavi Winery
- Rutherford Hill Winery
- Mumm Napa
- Napa Cellars
- WALT Wines
- Groth Vineyards & Winery
- CAMi Art + Wine
- Merryvale Vineyards
- Amulet Estate
Which Napa Wineries are the Finest to Visit?
The best way to understand and experience Napa wineries and tasting rooms is on a wine tour. Here is a list of the finest Napa wineries to visit.
- V. Sattui Winery
- Darioush Winery
- Chateau Montelena
- Inglenook Winery
- Domaine Carneros
- Luna Vineyards
- Andretti Winery
- Spottswoode Winery
- Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars
- Turnbull Wine Cellars
- Castello di Amorosa
Most Napa wineries require reservations, so plan your vacation to Napa Valley’s premier wineries as soon as possible.
Which Napa Wineries are the Largest?
- Beringer. The first winery in Napa and the oldest in California, Beringer was built in 1868. To date, this winery continues to welcome tourists to its vineyards. With several wine rooms and hand-dug caves, the public is treated to its signature Napa wine samples, including the esteemed red and white wines. Private Reserve wines and the Distinction series wine are Beringer’s best Napa wines.
- Domaine Carneros. The chateau offers tastings, including a well-liked pairing of still and sparkling wines with artisan cheeses. The Pinot Noir region, situated directly below the chateau, is where wine is produced. The other attraction is its 18th-century chateau which boasts a grand staircase, formal gardens, and outdoor terraces.
- Frank Family Vineyards. One of the oldest in Napa, Frank Family Vineyards allows guests to sample its famed cabernets and the acclaimed artisan sparkling wine. The Bay Area A-List selected this facility’s tasting room as the “Best Napa Winery.” Tastings require reservations, and participants must be at least 21 years old.
What Awards has Napa Wine Received?
Napa wine received several awards from credible and legitimate wine-award-giving bodies. Here are some of them:
- Gold medals awarded to Inglenook at the 1889 World’s Fair of Paris
- 19 gold medals awarded to Inglenook at the 1919 Panama-Pacific International Exhibition
- “Judgment of Paris” awarded to Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and Chateau Montelena that brought Napa wine to first place among wine-producing regions alongside France in 1976
- “The World’s Best Chardonnay” awarded to Trefethen Family Vineyards in 1979
- “Best in Show” awarded to Trefethen Family Vineyards at the 2020 Decanter World Wine Awards
- “World’s Best Wine” awarded to Hundred Acre’s Kayli Morgan Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon at the Vivino’s 2020 Wine Style Awards
- “Best in Show” awarded to Trefethen Family Vineyards at the 2021 Decanter Wine Awards
- 4 platinum medals awarded to red wines from Los Carneros, Rutherford, and Oak Knoll District AVAs at the 2022 Decanter Wine Awards