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What To Know About The Napa Valley

What made the world become aware of and be captivated by the wines from Napa Valley? There is no doubt that the most impactful event has been the Judgment of Paris in which California wines outperformed those of their French competitors in both Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay categories. Here are five important facts about the history of Napa wine prior to that 1976 Paris tasting, which helped to propel it into one of the most sought-after wine regions:

Charles Krug Winery becomes Napa’s first commercial winery in 1861. Charles Krug immigrated from Germany and by the middle of the 1800’s was one of the first Napa settlers. He was able to acquire land through marriage and then planted an 18-acre estate vineyard to start his own winery. The cider press of Charles Krug helped to improve winemaking techniques from primitive techniques. It is worth noting that many of Napa’s top winemakers of the time began their career with Krug. The most notable among them include Jacob Beringer and Jacob Schram who were both employed by Krug before establishing the wineries of their own.

Schramsberg Vineyards was the first winery in Napa Valley to focus on the hillside fruit. Jay Schram immigrated from Germany to the United States, where his family has an education in winemaking in Rheinhessen. He was raised with the knowledge that the finest vineyards were in steep slopes. In 1862, he purchased the land of Diamond Mountain and established Schramsberg. The hillside wines, though and not sparkling in the 1862 vintage were among the most sought-after wines in California.

To Kalon In Oakville was among the first vineyards that was planted to Bordeaux as well as various other French varieties. In 1868, viticulturist Hamilton Crabb purchased and cultivated Napa Valley’s most important historical vineyard. Crabb substituted with the Mission grape with more prestigious grape varieties. In reality, he cultivated more than a hundred varieties on the Oakville estate. One of the finest grapes grown in Napa and the cost for To Kalon fruit today remains one of the highest prices in the valley.

Inglenook is the very first in Napa to label and bottle its own wines, which allowed to have better quality control. Gustave Niebaum was a wealthy Finnish sea captain who sought to duplicate the grandeur of wine estates which he had seen during his travels across Europe. Prior to Niebaum’s ingenuous methods of business, the wines were shipped in barrels to brokers who would mix and bottle the wines on their own. In keeping to his entrepreneurial ambitions Niebaum was also among the first companies to use “Napa Valley” as well as the year on their labels.

Beaulieu Vineyard holds the distinction of being the longest continuously operating winery within Napa Valley. It was founded through Georges de Latour in 1900, BV was one of the few wineries to remain open throughout prohibition due to an arrangement with the archdiocese of San Francisco and a loophole in the law allowing wines for sacrament to those in the Catholic church. Georges de Latour is also responsible for bringing famed winemaker Andre Tchelistcheff to Napa.

The five above facts are only the beginning of the iceberg in the background of Napa Valley. For instance, after changes in ownership Charles Krug Winery became the first Mondavi family business to produce top quality wines. Schramsberg became one of the best U.S. sparkling house served at the White House over multiple decades.