Famed for its Cabernet Sauvignon and its incredible natural beauty, it’s not surprising that the story of Napa Valley has gripped millions of people all over the world. For most wine connoisseurs heading out to Napa, it’s not just about education, it’s about becoming a part of the story, and raising a glass to the area’s pioneers who helped create its living legacy. Wine lovers are invited to take a sip of history as they head out on their tour of Napa Valley wine country tours with Platypus Wine Tours.

From Gold Rush to Golden Grapes: The Early Days of Napa Valley Wine

Napa Valley’s history is layered. But before it was synonymous with outstanding wines, it told another story. In the mid-19th century, the California Gold Rush lured thousands of adventurers west. As the boom subsided, some of these settlers gravitated toward agriculture, planting grapes as a potential source of their fortunes. These settlers and their descendants, many of them European immigrants, swapped grape clones and tried different varieties, seeking the one that fit the different soils and microclimates of Napa Valley.

The Rise of Cabernet Sauvignon and Iconic Wineries

The late 19th century marked a shift for Napa Valley as a wine-producing region. Under the guidance of true pioneers, such as George Yount and Agoston Haraszthy, the valley’s terroir was seen as best suited to cultivating high-quality Cabernet Sauvignon. These proponents championed the grape varietal and its potential for making the wide array of Napa Valley Cabernets we drink today. It was during the early 20th century that many of the valley’s iconic wineries (including Beaulieu Vineyards and Charles Krug) were founded and Napa Valley began to be recognized internationally as a premium wine growing region.

Challenges and Triumphs: A Century of Resilience

It’s been a bumpy ride for Napa Valley, with the crushing impact of Prohibition in the 1920s putting wine production out of business practically overnight. But winemakers in Napa persevered, too. After prohibition was repealed in 1933, a new generation of winemakers settled the region – and replanted the vineyards. The post-war period saw a new era of concentration on making high-quality wine, a tradition that’s been maintained to this day.

The Judgement of Paris and Napa Valley’s Rise to Stardom

Although today it’s the stuff of legend, the 1976 Judgement of Paris was the event that completely launched Napa Valley wines on to the world stage. In that first ever blind tasting competition matching California wines with classed growth French wines, Napa’s Chateau Montelena and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignons walked away with the top two spots. After that, things would never be the same for the wine world.

Exploring History on Napa Valley Wine Country Tours

It’s our pleasure to invite you to be part of wine country history! Are you ready to visit the oldest wine country businesses, and experience the aromas and flavors of a cellar packed with vintage barrels? Our expert wine tasting guides would enjoy escorting you on a voyage through the legacy of Napa Valley, visiting a historic winery so you can view their painstakingly preserved archives of historical documents and artefacts pertaining to the area’s rich heritage, information that otherwise remain locked away, ignored, even lost to memory. We would gladly have you stroll along with your guide through the vineyards, explaining how early wine country viticultural history became the foundation of tradition that was passed from generation to generation, and how it changed. You may even meet some passionate, tradition-minded winemakers who picked up the torch where others have stopped innovating or have zealously progressed too far without paying proper homage to that hallowed past!

Beyond the Tasting Room: A Journey Through Time

Though tasting great wines is a vital aspect of any visit to Napa Valley, historical wine country tours offer so much more. Think of the pleasure of discovering a historic property, of entering its carefully refurbished historic buildings: maybe we can arrange for you to access a private cellar, to see aspects of the ageing process, to learn about the history of those hallowed spaces.

A Toast to the Future: Preserving History, Shaping Tomorrow

Tastings that look at Napa Valley winemaking history are more than just history lessons.  They recognize wine pioneers and builders, celebrate generations of abundance and innovation and give us hope for the future of Napa Valley.  Experience some history with the Platypus Wine Tours family.  On our customized Napa Valley historical wine country tours, you’ll learn more about how Napa Valley came to be and experience the incredible wines that continue to be made here.

Call Platypus Wine Tours today to start booking your group wine country tour with us.