Napa Valley Wineries: Napa Valley, Heart of the Wine Country
In his autobiography, Harvests of Joy, Robert Mondavi wrote, “Wine to me is passion. It's family and friends. It's warmth of heart and generosity of spirit. Wine is art. It's culture. It's the essence of civilization and the art of living.“
Thanks to Mondavi and other visionaries who promote the Napa wine world, no where else in California does the art of living seem to be as highly cultivated and as prized as it is here. Millions of visitors arrive annually to partake of the grape, the legendary restaurants, the hot springs spas, and the mild, Mediterranean weather. Nonetheless, you can still travel lovely backroads and discover little-known, family-operated, small wineries.
For over thirty miles, from the town of Napa north to Calistoga, the Napa Valley is criss-crossed by quiet country roads, providing respite from the main thoroughfares of Highway 29 and the Silverado Trail. More than a dozen crossroads offer quiet biking and walking routes, glimpses of winery estates and unobstructed views of vineyards stretching across the valley floor. Aflame in red and gold in the harvest season, the vineyard rows flow with rivers of wild yellow mustard in the spring.
Of all the California wine valleys, the landscape and the climate in Napa Valley is most reminiscent of southern Italy and France. One-sixth size the size of Bordeaux, the Napa Valley is oriented north-south, with the lower end open to the cool fogs and breezes of San Francisco Bay, and the north hot and dry. Creating a myriad of terroirs is the wide variety of soil types on dry, rocky hillsides, on the loamy valley floor along the Napa River, and on the “benches,” the triangular alluvial fans of gravelly deposits eroded down from the mountains.
On the valley floor, picturesque small towns are headquarters for forays to hot springs spas, historic sites, walking and biking trails along the river, and to more than 240 wineries. The Napa Valley is home to more premium wineries than anywhere in North America.
On the pages that follow, you can plan you own Napa Valley winery tour and sample the best Napa Valley wineries and wine tastings.
- St. Helena Winery Tour
- Yountville and Oakville Winery Tour
- Mount Veeder and Oakville Grade Winery Tour
- Napa Winery Tour
- Carneros Winery Tour
The article on this page is adapted from the book, Backroads of the California Wine Country by Karen Misuraca (www.karenmisuraca.com), published by Voyageur Press.