Everyone knows Napa, but few really KNOW Napa. So let’s look at what we know and what we may not know!
If you asked wine enthusiasts throughout the US to name the best known wine appellation in the country, Napa would invariably be the first to be named. And rightfully so, it is recognizable to enthusiasts not only in the US, but all over the world. Yet few realize Napa is one of the smallest appellations in the world. Amazingly, even with its diminutive size, Napa is one of the most diverse of the world’s winegrowing regions!
Fame is in the name and the Napa wines, but the reality is that less than 5% of the wine grapes grown in California actually originate in the Napa appellation! More remarkable yet is the fact that of the 504,000 acres in the Napa County, only 45,000 acres are devoted to wine grape farming. That means that only 9% of Napa’s lands are devoted to grapes, a very small amount and yet the fame of the Valley continues to expand.
Climate and soil contribute greatly to Napa’s ability to produce fine wines. Napa is blessed with a Mediterranean climate, a climate which is found in only about 2% of the world surface. These relatively dry conditions are ideal for the production of fine wine grapes.
Napa is also blessed with a unique combination of soil types and quality. At least half of soil types which have been identified throughout the world are found in Napa. This, combined with the identification in Napa of more than 100 soil variations, means the area can plant a variety of vines and encounter great success.
Proximity to the sea offers Napa the potential of cooling breeze every afternoon. With mid-day warmth, and early and late cooling, the climate is perfect for the many varietals Napa can produce. Napa also has the advantage of different elevations suitable for growing. At the lowest, the elevations are at sea level. In different areas, not too far from the sea level sites, Napa has low mountains and foothills ranging up to 2600 feet. The topography of the area has flat lands, gently rolling hills and steep mountain sides. This allows the grape growers to select specific land conditions to a grape variety they are interested in growing.
Taking the Napa appellation further, few know that there are currently 16 sub-appellations in the Napa appellation. This localized breakdown focuses on local conditions and varietals being grown in the specific sub-areas.
Economically, the wine industry in Napa provides over 13 billion dollars to the Napa County economy! Even more dramatic is the impact on the US economy; the industry contributes over 50 billion annually, a huge economic impact!
And to top it off, in Napa County alone, the wine industry is responsible for over 45,000 jobs locally. When you factor in the impact throughout the US, there are over 300,000 jobs directly related to the Napa wine industry.
As can be seen, the wine industry in Napa is more than a few vineyards producing quality wines. It is a very unique area, with special growing qualities and a major economic impact on the US economy.
Have winederful day, and enjoy your wines!