Native Americans, Europeans, and Asians make up a large portion of the population of the cosmopolitan Napa Valley. Winters were spent by gold miners in this mild climate, when city prices reflected the plentiful availability of this excellent metal in California. Prior to the development of highways and automobiles, the majority of visitors to the Napa Valley arrived by boat on the Napa River, with the city serving as an important port. The first American Viticulture Area (commonly referred to as AVA) in California was established in Napa Valley. Only 2% of the world’s landmass has a Mediterranean climate, which is recognized to be conducive to the cultivation of fine grapes. Napa Valley is an interesting wine region worth looking into in this post. The dates mark the most important events and incidents in Napa Valley wine history.
May 4th, 1794: On this day, George C. Yount, who is considered the father of Napa Valley wine was born. George Calvert Yount was a Californian ranchero, fur trapper, and businessman. He later went by the Spanish name Don Jorge Concepción Yount. Born in North Carolina, he eventually moved to Alta California where, largely as a result of his connection with General Mariano G. Vallejo, he obtained Mexican citizenship and accumulated considerable real estate holdings in the Napa Valley. He has a city named after him in California called Yountville. He contributed largely in the formation of the early Napa Valley wine industry.
1839: The first Napa vines were planted by George Yount. Although there were a lot of wild grapes in the early Napa Valley, it took settler George Calvert Yount to realize the region’s potential for wine grape cultivation. Yount was the first to cultivate Napa Valley grapes and established one of the local homesteads. Other early settlers like John Patchett and Hamilton Walker Crabb soon contributed to the introduction of the first vitis vinifera grapes to the region.
1854: In this year John Patchett established commercial vineyard in Napa, giving the region a new direction in the world of wine. The Napa Valley’s first recognized vineyard and winery were built by John Patchett. Three years after he started planting vines, in 1854, John Patchett began making wine. In 1859, John Patchett built his cellar. His wine was officially reviewed the following year.
1861: This is the year Charles Krug established the first commercial winery in Napa Valley. The oldest winery in Napa Valley is Charles Krug. It’s amazing to think that the winery has been making wine since Abraham Lincoln took office in 1861. The redwood basement, the oldest still-operating structure in the area, and other historic structures on the property have fortunately all been repaired. Charles Krug, the original owner, had a colorful past that included serving time in jail for taking part in a plot to destroy the German Parliament. After being released from prison and hearing stories of the California Gold Rush, Charles Krug was eager for a change. In 1852, he arrived in California. He relocated to Napa within a few years, when he started a new job as a winemaker. Of the original five founders of Napa Valley, Charles Krug is one of them. He is most likely the only one of the original five to have collaborated with the majority of the other founding club members. Agoston Haraszthy, the man who founded Buena Vista in Sonoma, was Krug’s first employer in the California wine industry. Krug’s second position was as a wine producer for the first vineyard that John Patchett established in Napa. Prior to Krug leaving to start the Charles Krug Winery, Patchett and Krug collaborated for a few years.
1862: The second commercial winery in Napa Valley was established by Jacob Schram. Although there were other wineries in Napa Valley in the late 1850s and early 1860s that are no longer in operation, the Schramsberg Vineyards winery was founded in 1862 and was the second bonded winery in the Napa Valley, following Charles Krug in 1861. The vineyard, one of Napa’s renowned must-see attractions, is situated at the intersection of Peterson Drive and Schramsberg Road, just south of Calistoga off of Highway 128. This is the sub appellation for Diamond Mountain. Drive slowly and cautiously as the long, steep driveway through the woods is narrow and winding (during harvest sometimes the road will close for a few minutes to allow trucks carrying grapes to reach the winery).
1868: This year marked the establishment of To-Kalon, which became the most important wineries in Napa Valley wine history. This vineyard, which Hamilton Crabb, a viticulturist, purchased and established in 1868, is the most significant in the history of the Napa Valley. Crabb replaced the Mission grape with more notable grape varieties. In fact, he really planted hundreds of various species on his Oakville estate alone. Despite producing some of the best grapes in Napa, To-Kalon fruit is nevertheless the priciest in the region. There typically isn’t one, as the genuine story of To-Kalon Vineyard serves as a reminder. There are courageous first steps that are overlooked and forgotten, legacies and records that are lost and found, faulty memories, and imagined stories that are repeated until they are confirmed as true. There are various perspectives. One needs to visit the winery to experience firsthand the wonderful Napa Valley.
1879: In this year, Inglenook was established, which would became Napa Valley’s first winery to bottle and label its own wine. Gustave Niebaum, Daniel’s great-uncle, a Finnish fur trader who settled in Rutherford and cultivated vines, founded Inglenook in 1879. The 1897 and 1892 vintages were included in the commemorative tasting of the 29 Inglenook Cask wines held in Los Angeles in November. Having enough expertise to know what to expect from these ancient wines is one of the challenges of appraising them. Even though I’ve had Inglenooks many times before, using the two wines from the 19th century as a point of comparison was instructive in this regard.
1882: In this year, Hannah Weinberger established herself as California’s first female winemaker. Hannah took over the management of her husband’s winery after his passing in 1882. Hannah soon entered the Paris World’s Fair and was the only female vintner to take home a silver medal in the wine competition. Hannah Weinberger managed the 35-acre Weinberger property up until 1920, when Prohibition compelled the family to shut down the vineyard. We had no idea that another female vintner wouldn’t take the lead in the sector for another 50 years.
1900: Georges de Latour founded Beaulieu Vineyards, the winery recognized as the longest existing in Napa Valley, was established. BV is a vineyard close to Rutherford, California, that is a part of the Rutherford AVA. The name Beaulieu Vineyard comes from the French proverb “Quel belle lieu,” which translates to “What a beautiful site,” and was originally a 4 acre (1.6 hectare) purchase made in 1900. According to legend, Fernande spoke these things when she first viewed the landscape. The following year, they bought an adjacent winery that had been constructed in 1885 by California State Senator Seneca Ewer. De Latour’s status as one of the early forerunners of California’s wine business was cemented by his understanding of the phylloxera pest, which had decimated many Napa Valley vineyards, and his choice to import a rootstock variety immune to the pest.
January 17, 1920: On this day, Prohibition in the US took effect, forcing closer of numerous wineries and vineyards in Napa Valley. Thirteen years would pass before the ban was lifted. Some growers ripped up their vineyards and planted apple orchards in their place. The supposedly destructive set of legislation did not harm the wine sector as a whole, even if this led to the closure of several wineries. In spite of this, many estates prospered, albeit certain transactions may have been barely legal.
May 24th, 1976: This is the day the Napa Valley was thrust onto the International Wine Scene in the Paris Judgment. The Judgment of Paris was a wine contest held in Paris on May 24, 1976, by British wine trader Steven Spurrier and his associate Patricia Gallagher. French judges conducted two blind tasting comparisons.
January 27th, 1981: On this day, the Napa Valley AVA was established. The American Viticultural Area (AVA) in Napa Valley is situated in the wine region of California’s Napa County. On January 27, 1981, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) founded it. One of the world’s top wine-producing regions is Napa Valley. Commercial wine production in the area has been documented from the nineteenth century, but only since the 1960s has premium wine been produced.
1986: Screaming Eagle Winery and Vineyards, one of the most famous and popular in Napa Valley was established. Limited quantities of varietal wine are made by Screaming Eagle Winery and Vineyards in California. Because of the high prices demanded and low production levels, these wines are regarded as cult favorites. The winery is situated in Oakville, California, which is north of the Napa Valley town of Napa. Former real estate agent Jean Phillips purchased the 57-acre Oakville vineyard in 1986. It was planted with different grape varieties, the most of which Phillips sold to different Napa wineries with the exception of the 1-acre (4,000 m2), or roughly 80 vines, of Cabernet Sauvignon.Before employing Richard Peterson as a consultant for her one acre of Cabernet, Philips solicited the opinions of Robert Mondavi Winery staff members on the economic viability of her wine. She later met Peterson’s daughter, Heidi Peterson Barrett, who later served as Screaming Eagle’s first winemaker. In 1995, three new grape varieties—Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc—were planted throughout the entire vineyard. Screaming Eagle rose to fame and famed status as one of the most expensive wines in the Napa Valley with the 1992 vintage, which was released in 1995 and received extremely high ratings (wine writer Robert Parker gave the wine 99 points). Currently, the estate’s signature wine sells for an average of $2,983 a bottle.
1995: In this year, the first Black-owned winery in Napa Valley, Brown Estate, was founded by the siblings Deneen, David, and Coral Brown. Black-owned wineries are scarce, despite the fact that there are more than 8,000 of them in the country. Making and selling wine is only practiced in a few localities, frequently excluding Black and brown people. The top Black-owned vineyards can be found in Napa, with Brown Estate being the best choice for you to visit. Many Black-owned wine labels are eclipsed by labels made by Black celebrities.
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