San Francisco: Napa Valley Wines

California Wine History

Most wine from California originates in Central California with Napa having 4% of the industry, and Sonoma 6%. The wine industry in Napa began in 1850 with Buena Vista, the oldest of the wineries. Napa wines were not acknowledged till 1976, when Napa Valley wines beat out the French in a blind taste test. After that the industry exploded with acreage once selling for $1000, now commanding a price of $300,000 per acre.

What makes Napa and Sonoma wines so flavorful? It is the Mediterranean climate which only 2% of the world has. Great grapes grow in this climate. Also, the minerals in the soil help with grape growth, and this area has over 100 varieties of soil varieties known as soil orders.

On the tour three wineries were visited, one in Napa, and two in Sonoma. Let’s start with Kieu Hoang, a wine maker who originates from Viet Nam. Both red and wine were offered and delicious. Wine in Napa starts at $35/bottle, but worth the price. This winery grows their own grapes and manufactures the wine on site.

The Vineyard

Roses are grown at the end of each row of vines. This is done as years ago vineyards had a disease and this could be detected early by the roses beginning to wilt. Vineyards no longer have this problem yet the tradition remains.

This Sonoma County winery does not grow grapes on site. They are known for their Sangiovese wine blend. The owner of this winery has several different wineries in the area as Napa growers tend to consolidate and purchase small vineyards. Their Sangiovese blend was sublime with bottles in the $35 to $60 range.

The third winery visited was Mayo Family Winery. They have been in business for 29 years and also purchase grapes to produce wine. They make 5000 cases per year and only sell to those who visit for tasting or on line. They had an amazing Chardonnay. They age their wine in steel vats and also use French oak barrels for some blends. These barrels are $1400 each and can be used for only 5 years.

Oak Barrels
The winery vehicle

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