The Napa Valley is composed of the cites of:
City of Napa
Yountville and other localities.
A Brief History of Napa Valley
"The name 'Napa' is derived from the language of the Wappo Indians a Napa a tribe of Native Americans who once shared the lush green valley with deer, grizzly bears, elk and panthers. The first recorded exploration of Napa Valley, led by Padre Jose Altamira, was in 1823. The population at the time was estimated between three and six thousand natives.
In the 1830's, lured by the rich volcanic soil and an ideal growing season, farmers started settling in the Napa Valley. California was granted statehood in 1850, at which time the Napa Valley was in the Territory of California, District of Sonoma. In 1850, when counties were being organized, Napa became one of the original 27 counties of California, with "Napa City" as the county seat. By 1870, the white man had inhabited the Valley and the Native American who had once roamed freely were wiped out by smallpox and other diseases brought to them by the white man.
"In 1848, Napa City was laid out by Nathan Coombs on property he acquired from Nicholas Higurerra's Rancho Entre-Napa, and 1836 Mexican Land Grant. In the late 1850's and the 1860's, Napa flourished, with quicksilver mines throughout the county, particularly on Mt. St. Helena. Boat transportation was available on the Napa River where steamers could make the trip to San Francisco in about three hours. A stagecoach line and a railroad ran between Vallejo to the south and Calistoga at the northern end of the Valley. After the first severe winter in the gold fields, miners sought warmer refuge in the young city where there was plenty of work on the cattle ranches and in the lumber industry. Sawmills in the Valley were full of timber hauled by horse team to Napa City where it was then shipped out via the Napa River to Benicia and San Francisco.
Today, commercial use of the Napa River has been all but abandoned in favor of more rapid highway transportation; however, pleasure boaters still use the waterway. The railway is now used by the Napa Valley Wine Train, offering leisurely lunch and dinner trips through the length of the Valley. Wheat fields and prune orchards have given way to vineyards, which virtually carpet the Valley floor and some of the hillsides. The climate and easy lifestyle, which drew the Napa Indians and the first white settlers, continues to attract people to the Napa Valley.
Many of the original farmers established small vineyards with cuttings supplied by the Catholic Missions in Sonoma and San Rafael. While these varieties were not noted wine grapes, they established that the soils and climate of the Napa Valley were especially well suited to viticulture. In 1861 Reisling cuttings were planted. Napa is now known mostly for its premier wines. In the beginning, white settlers planted vineyards with cuttings supplied by the Catholic priests from Sonoma and San Rafael. In 1861, Riesling cuttings were introduced to the valley, and from these small beginnings, Napa Valley has become one of the world's premier winemaking regions. Virtually all the best known wineries offer tours and tasting daily, with the most popular time for knowledgeable visitors being from late August through early October, the time of the grape harvest and crush.
"Noted author Robert Louis Stevenson drew the most eloquent word picture of the Valley at the close of the pioneer period. After riding the train from Vallejo to Calistoga in 1880 on his honeymoon, he wrote this passage in 'The Silverado Squatters': "A great variety of oaks stood now severally, now in a becoming grove, among the fields and vineyards. The towns were compact, in about equal proportions of bright, new wooden houses ad great and rowing forest trees; and the chapel bell on the engine sounded most festally that sunny Sunday, with the townsfolk trooping in their Sunday's best to see the strangers, with the sun sparkling on the clean houses, and great domes of foliage humming overhead in the breeze."
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