There are many great wine regions in the United States, and not all of them are on the West Coast. California has become the unofficial wine capital of the US, but grape lovers are now starting to spread the net a little wider when looking for a region to visit for the day or a long weekend. Despite the success being experienced by vineyards and wineries all across the country, there is one place that seems to keep calling people back in droves. That would be Napa Valley, a region of California that has become synonymous with great wine.
If you have never visited Napa, you might imagine it as a massive expanse of rolling hills, each one containing row after row of great grapes just waiting to be cultivated and turned into all manner of delicious wines. It may then come as a surprise to learn that the Napa wine region is in fact only 30 miles long and a few miles wide, which is not what anyone would describe as a massive tract of land. The question that needs to be asked is why Napa is considered the wine Mecca of the US when it’s stature is actually relatively small.
Finding a good place to grow grapes is a lot like finding the perfect place to live in that location is everything. There is a combination of soil quality and climate that goes into making specific types of grapes used for different wine styles. Most regions are able to create a couple of different types of wine due to their specific climate and soil combination, but in Napa, the sky is very nearly the limit, as that region has a combination and microclimate like very few other places in the world.
Napa Valley is a perfect storm of climate, geography, and weather, making it the ideal place to grow grapes of all different kinds. Since these factors tend to stay mostly constant from year to year, the quality of wine delivered from the regions remains consistently brilliant. To put things in perspective, the Mediterranean type climate that Napa enjoys is only found in roughly 2% of the world as a whole. This is why no other region is able to consistently deliver the type of wine quality that Napa does, and it’s why the wines from there are so sought after.
The unique nature of this region was very quickly recognized, and large tracts of land are now protected by the government. There are very strict rules in place as to how the land can be used and farmed, and to their credit, the winemakers work hard to uphold the regulations, whilst also ensuring that the region as a whole benefits from their success. It certainly helps that Napa is a truly stunning place to visit, both in the landscape and the friendliness of the people who live there. As long as it stays that way, and the grapes continue to grow, it will remain that way.