Is it possible to sum up the most famous wine region in the United States in one paragraph? No place has more effectively seized the collective imagination of this country than Napa. One reason must be the beauty of its landscape: Even today's well-touristed Valley remains a visual pleasure. Another is Napa's long (by American standards) history: Grapes have been grown there since 1838. Back in 1886, there were 175 wineries in the county; today there are around 260. Finally, there's the fact that no place has been better promoted—thanks primarily to the tireless efforts of Robert Mondavi, who began his one-man ambassadorship in the 1960s.
Cabernet Is King Although just about every red and white grape in the world has been grown in Napa at one time or another, some varieties do better than others. None, however, do better than Cabernet Sauvignon. Runners-up include Merlot, Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc, not to mention Chardonnay—and even Charbono!
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Names To Know Certain wine districts within Napa are deservedly more famous than others. Star appellations include Stags Leap District, Oakville, Howell Mountain, Rutherford and Mount Veeder.