A short history of Napa Valley wine
Wine grapes have been grown in California since the late 17th century. The first grapes in Napa Valley were Mission grapes, descended from Spanish grapes and better known for their hardiness and adaptability than for the quality of their wine. In the 19th century, seeing that the climate and soil of Napa Valley were perfect for winemaking, immigrants to California brought seeds and cuttings of other vines to improve the quality and variety. Today, Napa Valley wines are famous throughout the world.
Wine clubs of Napa Valley
If you’re planning to visit a small winery in Napa Valley, find out if it has a wine club. Joining will offer you savings on tasting fees and any wines you buy. You can cancel any time, but it would be decent to stay in and buy a few bottles, and they surely have something else you’ll want. Tasting fees can be anywhere from $5 to $50 per person — more if you plan on including lunch or an educational experience such as a tour, class or seminar. Tipping isn’t necessary, but if you have a large group you may wish to do it anyway. If you want to visit during the tourist season, schedule your appointments weeks in advance to be sure of seeing the Napa wineries you want to visit.
Napa Valley wines from a winery near St. Helena
Some of the best California wines come from Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards in Napa Valley. Just a 10-minute drive from downtown St. Helena, these vineyards produce world-class wines at affordable prices. The vineyard is a 40-acre estate just south of Howell Mountain. Instead of a busy tasting room, the vineyard offers you the chance to meet the owners and wine-makers and taste excellent wine stored in a cave. Wine Merchants Gourmet includes them in one of its Middle Valley tours.
An example of what this winery has to offer is the Éloge, an exclusive blend. The 2008 Éloge comes from a year notable for its extremes — storms followed by a prolonged frost in spring, a cool spring and early summer followed by sweltering heat later. All this led to a vintage of low yield but high quality — a dark ruby red wine with extraordinary aroms of black cherries, chocolate, cedar, cassis, leather, mocha and crushed rocks with a distant hint of smoked meats. It tastes of chocolate-dipped black cherries, currants and plums with toffee, mocha and spices.
Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards has been owned and operated by the Anderson family since 1983. Anderson’s wines are sold online and in five locations in Napa Valley, and many other locations nationwide. By ordering six bottles or more per year, you can join their wine club, giving you discounts on many of their finest wines.