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Napa Wine Region: A Quick & Dirty Guide

What’s most loved within Napa Valley?

While Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are the most planted varieties however, it is the Napa Valley holds many surprises for those who love wine and are who are looking for new varieties that aren’t on the radar. The range includes Albarino to Zinfandel More than three dozen distinct grape varieties of wine thrive within Napa Valley. Napa Valley.

Below is a brief description of the most commonly planted grape varieties that are grown in Napa Valley.

Visit our site for the history of Napa wine.

What is Variety and Varietal?

Variety could refer to or the wine it self (Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay), or to the style or type of wine such as white, red, sparkling, etc.

Varietal refers to the wines made from a specific grape variety.

The glass of Chardonnay is a varietal winethat is made out of Chardonnay varieties of grapes.

Cabernet Sauvignon

The Cabernet Sauvignon is the acknowledged most coveted red grape within Napa Valley, accounting for 40 percent of our production, and five percent of the harvest value. It is cultivated throughout Napa Valley and achieves a different expression based on the location of its vineyard. The flavors showcase a range of black fruit, such as cherry, currant and plum. They also exhibit hints of spice due to the aging of oak.

Food pairing: When they’re young they’re best served with red meat dishes that are robust such as braised and game lamb, whereas older Cabs make excellent companions for straightforward roasts, aged cheeses as well as steaks.


Chardonnay is the second-most planted variety of grape within Napa Valley, and grows with great success in the soils that are rich in calcium and cool climate of Los Carneros AVA in which it has the potential to mature in a slow manner. Lees stirring, barrel fermentation and malolactic ferment are among the most important methods used by winemakers to produce distinct aromas and flavors this wine. This is why Napa Valley Chardonnay can range in taste from light bright and crisp, to smooth, creamy and round.

Food pairings: This broad variety of cuisines can be paired with many different food items, from simple cooked seafood to the majority of meat and poultry dishes.


Merlot has been an integral part of life within the Napa Valley since the early 1970s. Its wonderful aromas of fresh cherry, deep earthiness, soft texture and a silky smooth finish have attracted the new generation of wine drinkers who enjoy red wine. Due to the variety of vineyards and winemaking techniques that are prevalent in Napa Valley, Merlot has demonstrated its ability to produce wines that are both full-bodied and lighter. well-textured wines.

Pairing with food: Pair Merlot with food similar to as the Cabernet Sauvignon however its light weight and tannins makes it an adaptable wine that can be paired with a variety of foods.

Pinot Noir

Ethereal, earthy scents and the silky consistency from Pinot Noir have enticed wine enthusiasts for long periods of time. Coastal California possesses several areas which produce excellent Pinot Noir, and Napa Valley’s Los Carneros was one of the first regions to realize the potential of this wine. One of the most distinctive characteristics in wine called Pinot Noir is its vibrant acidity that makes it an excellent companion to food.

A food-related pairing Pinot Noir is one of the very few red wines that work perfectly to seafood (think salmon or tuna) as well as a broad selection of cheeses, and is delicious with game birds as well as lamb chops grilled.

Sauvignon Blanc

The intense taste characteristic in Sauvignon Blanc grabs your attention. Fresh, grassy and a vibrant acidity are the main characteristics of this wine, and it’s capable of displaying a broad range of fruit characteristics. The majority of Sauvignon Blanc is fermented in neutral vessels, like concrete eggs or stainless steel so that its distinctive characteristic characteristics to show through.

Food pairing: Bright and fresh and ideal for warmer temperatures, Sauvignon Blanc goes great with light summer meals as well as salads. It is also delicious with goat cheese and shellfish.


A highly versatile grape variety, Zinfandel was the mainstay of winemaking in the 19th century in California. The old vines of Napa Valley are capable of making rich, heady and jammy wines with hints of black pepper and spice. Zinfandel can also be made in lighter, more palatable versions and is commonly used as the basis for vino fortified wine.

A food pairing intense flavor of Zinfandel is a great match for barbeque.