Napa Valley’s combination of climate, geology
and geography make it capable of producing some
of the best wine in the world.  California produces
89% of the wine in the US.  The US ranks
fourth in world wine production, behind Italy,
France and Spain.
The vineyards were beautiful, even after the grape harvest.
Grape vines can live to over 50 years.  The enemy
is phylloxera virus, which can wipe out entire vineyards.
Prohibition followed by the Depression didn’t help either.
Many vineyards in Napa Valley were left fallow for years.
Not until the 1960’s did successful grape harvests start again.
Calistoga was started back in the 1850’s when California’s
first millionaire, Samuel Brannan, came from Brooklyn.
Fascinated by the natural hot springs, he purchased
2,000 acres and intended to declare:
“I’ll make this place the Saratoga of California”.
Instead, (perhaps under some wine influence?)
he was quoted as saying: “I’ll make this place
the Calistoga of Sarifornia”.  And it stuck.
A small town, Calistoga has a population of 5,000.
Only two lane roads wind through the vineyards,
 and fast food franchises are banned by law.
  Giddy up, ladies, there is wine to be tasted!
To quote Sarah, “We were in Napa helping them
take care of a serious and tragic surplus of Cabernet.
It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it.”
Part of our extensive wine education: The red band
around the barrels comes from the process of topping
them off during fermentation.  Some of the wine
is lost due to evaporation through the barrel.
Vintners call this the “angel’s share”.
Corkscrews are an English invention, first
patented in 1795, by the very Reverend Henshall.
Chateau Montelena, famous for the 1973 Chardonnay
which won first place in the Judgement of Paris
wine competition (pitting French and Californian
wines against each other in a blind taste test).
A bottle of that vintage is in the Smithsonian
National Museum of American History.


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