The history of viticulture in Napa Valley began in 1840, when the pioneer George C. Yount planted the first vines on this humble land and was further developed over time by European immigrants. In 1861 Charles Krug was the first to sell its wines profitably. With innovative ideas and a careful selection of his vines, he raised the quality of the wines to a new level. It was at this winery that Robert Mondavi also started his wine career. In 1943 he asked his parents to buy the abandoned winery for $ 75,000; ultimately it was eventually given to his younger brother. Robert Mondavi (1913-2008) is regarded as an icon of the Napa Valley, as he created the first premium wines and proved to the world fine wines can also be made in California. He vinified the, at the time, unpopular grape varietal Sauvignon Blanc in oak and sold the wine with great success as Fumé Blanc. With Opus One, he created a bridge between the new world and the old, combining the European elegance of Mouton Rothschild and the power of California.
17,400 hectares, half as large as the Champagne region, Napa Valley is home to an incredible variety of soils and climates. The west of the valley is surrounded by the Mayacamas Mountains and the east by the Vacas Mountains. While the north is characterized by a warm climate with soils of volcanic rock, the south is characterized by a fresh climate and soils with marine sediments (limestone). Overall, the valley is divided into 12 regions of which Stags Leap District, Carneros, Paso Robles, Mount Veeder, Rutherford and Oakville are the most famous.
Most of the wineries (around 95%) are still family owned and produce less than 10,000 cases per year. From sparkling wines, to light and fresh Sauvignon Blancs, velvety Pinot Noirs to refined Cabernet Sauvignons, Napa Valley produces a range of exciting wines. Among the most planted grape varieties are Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Since the 19th Century, Zinfandel has also been a popular grape, seducing wine enthusiasts with a bouquet of dark fruits, spice and pepper.