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Napa Valley Wine Tours from San Francisco

  • By Jensen Young
  • 02 Apr, 2017

The history of wine in California

After we have departed from San Francisco on one of our San Francisco wine tours to Napa and Sonoma we often like to share some of the history of California and the wine regions. While much growth in the wine region has occurred in the past 50 years the history of wine in California is first noted in the 1700’s.
In 1769 the Spanish founded the first mission in California. Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821 and California was a part of Mexico. While missions throughout California were strong economic establishments, once independence was gained California’s governor began the shift to abolish the missions and transition the economy into private enterprise. The 1830’s was the start of major land grants to Mexican citizens. In 1848 California became part of the United States. It was also in 1848 that gold was found and the California gold rush would ensue. In the years that followed an estimated 300,00 people immigrated to California in search of gold, a new life, and newfound wealth. More land grants were issued throughout the state including within Sonoma and Napa. Those that settled in the Sonoma and Napa regions did so despite no promises of gold.

While gold was not discovered in either region there were other great qualities. The climate of coastal California is unique. The winters are mild, and include rain, while temperatures rarely drop low enough for snow. There is no rain in the summer months, and the temperatures are warm and dry with a healthy amount of wind. Both Napa and Sonoma are home to multiple lakes and rivers. This combination of mild weather with long growing seasons along with multiple natural bodies of water allowed settlers to see great potential for agriculture in both regions. The slow grinding of the tectonic plates, the movement of bodies of water high and low, along with some robust volcanic activity have all contributed to the distinct topography and soil composition found within Sonoma and Napa wine regions. Both regions have low lying mountain ranges- the Napa Valley itself one large valley enclosed by mountains on the east and the west. Sonoma as a region is much larger, and includes multiple low lying mountain ranges. This is very hilly terrain. Prior to developments in electricity this landscape of gentle hills and inclines was very important in winemaking as the stages of winemaking were carried out through gravity flow techniques. Hillsides were often carved out so that grapes could be carted by wagon to the top and move down in the process of crushing, pressing and then barrel aging inside caves within the hill itself.
 
In Sonoma the first winery to be established was Buena Vista winery, which was founded in 1857 by a Hungarian named Agoston Haraszthy. In Napa the first winery was Charles Krug Winery. Originally from Prussia, Charles Krug Winery was founded in 1861. After Buena Vista and Charles Krug Winery opened up, many more small family wineries followed suite and the two wine regions began to quickly develop. At this time you wouldn’t expect Napa Valley wine tours from San Francisco , however the demand for wine in this bustling city was great and so wine grapes were wagon carted from Napa to San Francisco to meet the needs of wineries also developing there.
 
It is estimated that by 1919 there were roughly 200 wineries between Sonoma and Napa. 1919 marked the beginning of Prohibition and it became illegal to commercially produce and sell beer, wine and spirits within the U.S. During the near fifteen years Prohibition existed all but 2 of those 200 wineries closed. The Napa and Sonoma wine regions that had been so nicely developing in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s dissolved and transformed into a patchwork of other agriculture and industry. It would be many years and the ingenuity of a few amazing winemakers that would help to restore Napa and Sonoma as thriving wine regions, and go beyond to enable them to become some of the most acclaimed in the world.  We have developed private wine tours from San Francisco in order to share California's history of Viticulture along with its array of incredible wines.

BEST NAPA VALLEY WINE TOURS FROM SAN FRANCISCO

By Jensen Young 02 Apr, 2017
After we have departed from San Francisco on one of our San Francisco wine tours to Napa and Sonoma we often like to share some of the history of California and the wine regions. While much growth in the wine region has occurred in the past 50 years the history of wine in California is first noted in the 1700’s.
In 1769 the Spanish founded the first mission in California. Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821 and California was a part of Mexico. While missions throughout California were strong economic establishments, once independence was gained California’s governor began the shift to abolish the missions and transition the economy into private enterprise. The 1830’s was the start of major land grants to Mexican citizens. In 1848 California became part of the United States. It was also in 1848 that gold was found and the California gold rush would ensue. In the years that followed an estimated 300,00 people immigrated to California in search of gold, a new life, and newfound wealth. More land grants were issued throughout the state including within Sonoma and Napa. Those that settled in the Sonoma and Napa regions did so despite no promises of gold.

While gold was not discovered in either region there were other great qualities. The climate of coastal California is unique. The winters are mild, and include rain, while temperatures rarely drop low enough for snow. There is no rain in the summer months, and the temperatures are warm and dry with a healthy amount of wind. Both Napa and Sonoma are home to multiple lakes and rivers. This combination of mild weather with long growing seasons along with multiple natural bodies of water allowed settlers to see great potential for agriculture in both regions. The slow grinding of the tectonic plates, the movement of bodies of water high and low, along with some robust volcanic activity have all contributed to the distinct topography and soil composition found within Sonoma and Napa wine regions. Both regions have low lying mountain ranges- the Napa Valley itself one large valley enclosed by mountains on the east and the west. Sonoma as a region is much larger, and includes multiple low lying mountain ranges. This is very hilly terrain. Prior to developments in electricity this landscape of gentle hills and inclines was very important in winemaking as the stages of winemaking were carried out through gravity flow techniques. Hillsides were often carved out so that grapes could be carted by wagon to the top and move down in the process of crushing, pressing and then barrel aging inside caves within the hill itself.
 
In Sonoma the first winery to be established was Buena Vista winery, which was founded in 1857 by a Hungarian named Agoston Haraszthy. In Napa the first winery was Charles Krug Winery. Originally from Prussia, Charles Krug Winery was founded in 1861. After Buena Vista and Charles Krug Winery opened up, many more small family wineries followed suite and the two wine regions began to quickly develop. At this time you wouldn’t expect Napa Valley wine tours from San Francisco , however the demand for wine in this bustling city was great and so wine grapes were wagon carted from Napa to San Francisco to meet the needs of wineries also developing there.
 
It is estimated that by 1919 there were roughly 200 wineries between Sonoma and Napa. 1919 marked the beginning of Prohibition and it became illegal to commercially produce and sell beer, wine and spirits within the U.S. During the near fifteen years Prohibition existed all but 2 of those 200 wineries closed. The Napa and Sonoma wine regions that had been so nicely developing in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s dissolved and transformed into a patchwork of other agriculture and industry. It would be many years and the ingenuity of a few amazing winemakers that would help to restore Napa and Sonoma as thriving wine regions, and go beyond to enable them to become some of the most acclaimed in the world.  We have developed private wine tours from San Francisco in order to share California's history of Viticulture along with its array of incredible wines.
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