About White Wines :
Napa Valley Wine History
To the Wappo Indians who first inhabited the valley, "Napa" meant a land of plenty. Spawning salmon filled the waterways, clouds of migrating waterfowl darkened the skies and the valley floor served as home to wildcats, elk, black bear and grizzlies. Wild grapes also grew in abundance, but it took early settlers such as George Calvert Yount to recognize the valley's potential for cultivating winegrapes. Establishing the first local homestead in what is now Yountville in 1836, Yount was the first to plant vineyards in the valley. Other early pioneers included John Patchett, who planted the first commercial vineyard; Dr. George Crane, who promoted the planting of grapevines through a series of newspaper articles; and Hamilton Walker Crabb, who experimented with more than 400 grape varieties.
Charles Krug is credited with establishing Napa Valley's first commercial winery in 1861, and by 1889 there were more than 140 wineries in operation, including Schramsberg (founded in 1862), Beringer (1876) and Inglenook (1879). Before long, however, the rapid expansion of the new wine industry saw prices plummet amidst a sea of surplus grapes, and the arrival of phylloxera dealt vintners a stunning blow, as much of the valley's vineyard acreage fell victim to the destructive root louse.
An even greater threat to Napa Valley's wine business arrived in 1920, with the enactment of Prohibition. Vineyards were abandoned and many winemakers found other trades during the next 14 years, with a handful of wineries continuing to operate by producing sacramental wines. With the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, Napa Valley's wine industry began its renaissance: a period of recovery, then tremendous expansion and, finally, in recent years, refinement.
The early 1940's marked an important point in the Napa Valleys' wine history, when a group of vintners came together in 1943 to share ideas on grape growing and winemaking amidst a convivial atmosphere of shared camaraderie, good food and wine. This group laid the foundation for the Napa Valley Vintners Association, a dynamic trade organization dedicated to advancing Napa Valley's wines both domestically and abroad.
In 1975 the Napa Valley Grape Growers Association was organized and today both growers and vintners join forces on projects of common interest, devoting much of their time to an active marketing program.
Present and Future
Today, Napa Valley is home to more than 260 wineries. Its growers and vintners combine cutting-edge science with traditional techniques, and its reputation for producing world-class wines is firmly established in an ever-growing global market.
Source: Napa Valley Wineries Association
Sonoma County Wine History
Few districts have more of the character of old California than Sonoma County, and grapes and wine have been integral to its history. As early as 1812, Russian colonists planted and cultivated grapes at Ft. Ross on the Coast. But it was the Spanish Franciscan Fathers who laid the foundation for our wine industry in 1823 when Padre Jose Altimera planted several thousand grape vines at their northernmost mission, San Francisco Solano in Sonoma. In 1834, political upheaval brought an appropriation of all missions by the Mexican government. During this period of disarray, cuttings from the Sonoma Mission vineyards were carried throughout the northern California area to start new vineyards. By the time of the "Bear Flag Revolt " and the subsequent annexation of California by the United States in 1854, the vineyards of General Mariano Vallejo, the military Governor of Mexican California, were producing an annual income of $20,000. Other areas in the county were developing at this time: Rocky Mountain trapper Cyrus Alexander in northern Sonoma first planted grapes in what would become Alexander Valley; the county's first "feminine vineyardist ", Senora Maria de Carrillo, had 2,000 vines in what would be Santa Rosa; Captain Nicholas Carrigan, probably the first American settler, had vineyards in the Valley of the Moon, and later in 1852, his neighbor William Hill, planted the first non-mission grapes in the county.
All of this viticulture activity took place prior to the arrival in 1855 of the man considered "The Father of California Wine Industry ", Count Agoston Haraszthy. The Hungarian Count purchased the Salvador Vallejo vineyard in Sonoma Valley, renamed it Buena Vista, and soon was producing fine wines from the vineyard. In 1861 he was commissioned, but never paid, by the California legislature to study viticulture in Europe. He returned to Sonoma County the following year with over 100,000 cuttings of prized grape varietals from France, Italy and Spain. Haraszthy is credited with first promoting the concept that fine table wines could be produced in Sonoma County as well as Europe.
Today, in Sonoma County approximately 133,000 tons of grapes are produced on nearly 48,000 acres of vineyards. There are over 150 wineries, over half less than 20 years old. And, as it was over 150 years ago, small family owned wineries continue to exist comfortably alongside larger entities, each producing premium wine in his own unique style.
Source: Sonoma Valley Wineries Association