Napa County, once the producer of many different crops, is known today for its regional wine industry, rising to the first rank of wine regions with France by local wineries Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and Chateau Montelena winning the “Judgment of Paris” in 1976.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 789 square miles (2,040 km2), of which 748 square miles (1,940 km2) is land and 40 square miles (100 km2) (5.1%) is water.
Napa is warmer in the summer than Sonoma County to the west or Santa Barbara County, a wine-producing county in southern California. Thus, the Napa wineries favor varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, while Pinot noir and Chardonnay are more the specialty of Sonoma wineries and Santa Barbara wineries. At the north end of Napa County, in the Mayacamas Mountains, lies Mount Saint Helena, the Bay Area’s second tallest peak at 4,344 feet (1,323 m) and home to Robert Louis Stevenson State Park; Snell Valley is also situated in northern Napa County; the Missimer Wildflower Preserve is within Snell Valley. At the west side of the Napa Valley is Hood Mountain, elevation 2,750 feet (838 m). Napa County is home to a variety of flora and fauna including numerous rare and endangered species such as Tiburon Indian paintbrush and Contra Costa goldfields.
Napa Valley is widely considered one of the top American Viticultural Areas in California, and all of the United States, with a history dating back to the early nineteenth century. By the end of the nineteenth century, there were more than 140 wineries in the area. Of those original wineries several still exist in the valley today including Charles Krug Winery, Schramsberg, Chateau Montelena, Nichelini and Beringer.
In addition to large scale wineries, Napa Valley’s boutique wineries produce some of the world’s best wines. The producers of these wines include but are not limited to: Araujo, Bryant Family, Chimney Rock Winery, Colgin Cellars, Dalla Valle Maya, Diamond Creek, Dominus Estate, Duckhorn Vineyards, Dunn Howell Mountain, Grace Family Vineyards, Harlan Estate, Husic, Kistler, Jericho Canyon Vineyards, Marcassin, Rutherford Hill Winery, Screaming Eagle, Sequoia Grove, Shafer Hillside Select, Spencer-Roloson Winery, Steltzner Vineyards and Bouchaine Vineyards.
Today Napa Valley features more than four hundred wineries and grows many different grape varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Zinfandel, and other popular varietals. Napa Valley is visited by as many as five million people each year.
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