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Napa Valley

California wine regions, famous wineries, tasting, etc...

California produces nearly 90 percent of entire American wine production. If California were a separate country, it would be the fourth-largest wine producer in the world. There are more than 1,200 wineries in the state, ranging from small boutique wineries to large corporations.

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The state's viticultural history dates back to the 18th century when Spanish missionaries planted the first vineyards to produce wine for Mass. The first commercial winery - Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma Valley - was founded by Agoston Haraszthy in 1857. Napa Valley's oldest wineries are Charles Krug (1861) and Inglenook (1879).

The Father of Modern Winemaking in California is Agoston Haraszthy, a Hungarian-American who introduced more than three hundred varieties of European grapes in California. At the first election held under the new American administration of California in 1850, Haraszthy was elected the first sheriff of San Diego County.

Appellation is a legally defined and protected geographical area to identify where the grapes for a wine were grown. The most famous California appellations are Sonoma County, Napa Valley, Mendocino County, Monterey County, Paso Robles, Santa Barbara and San Diego wine growing regions.

Unlike most European wine appellations of origin, the American Viticultural Area (AVA) specifies only a geographical location from which at least 85% of the grapes used to make a wine must have been grown. 

Visiting wine regions is one of the most popular leisure activities in California. Wineries offer tours of the vineyard and production, as well as wine tasting in the beautiful and original environment of winemaking.

Napa Valley is uniquely diverse winegrowing appellation formed by geological evolution of colliding tectonic plates, volcanic activity and changes in sea level for over a 60-million-years. Napa Valley has soils of volcanic, maritime and alluvial origin, with more than 30 different types identified and enjoys a tempered climate with a long growing season of warm, sunny days followed by cool evenings.

Napa Valley and Sonoma County offer the most and greatest experience not only in wine tasting, but other rare sightseeing and leisurely activities, as well.

  • Visit one of the world's Old Faithful Geysers in Calistoga.
  • Ride the Napa Valley Wine Train in meticulously restored vintage rail cars.
  • Step back in time - over 3 million years - and follow the trails of majestic Petrified Forest.
  • Feel the excitement and breathtaking views of the valley in a hot-air balloon ride.
  • After a hard day of wine tasting... - enjoy a mud bath and a relaxing massage at the hot springs spas.

The most scenic wineries offering tours and tasting include Charles Krug, Robert Mondavi, Beaulieu Vineyard (BV), Beringer, Inglenook, Sterling and Clos Pegase Wineries.

Monterey County wineries accommodate special events, concerts and winemaker dinners and parties throughout the year in the magnificent setting of Monterey, Carmel, Pebble Beach and the 17-mile drive.

Further to the south along picturesque California Highway 1, Paso Robles is California's fastest growing wine region and largest geographical appellation with around 200 wineries.

Santa Barbara County is one of the coolest viticultural areas in California. Its unique topography allows fog and ocean breezes to shape distinct microclimates in the region. Famous wineries around Santa Ynez include Firestone, Fess Parker, Gainey and Zaca Mesa.

Temecula Valley is Southern California's favorite wine region featuring 30 wineries, such as Wilson Creek, Callaway, Thornton, South Coast Winery and Spa.

San Diego might be the smallest wine growing region in California, but blessed with multiple micro climates and rich soils that produce very fine Chardonnays, Cabernets and Zinfandels. 

Enjoy and Cheers!

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