The Napa Valley is home to diverse microclimates formed by the many hills and mountains. This creates the perfect home for many grape varietals to flourish. Let’s look at the top 7 red wine grapes grown in Napa Valley:
1. Cabernet Sauvignon
The most widely planted variety in Napa Valley ~ 45% of the valley is planted w/ Cab. Pairs well with roasted meats, steak sausage pizza, or aged cheddar.
Used as a blending grape in the Old World, named for blackbirds (which is merle in French), 11% of the valley is planted w/ Merlot. Pairs well with red peppers, salmon, caramelized vegetables, beets, and camembert.
3. Pinot Noir
Grown in cooler areas of the valley and often used in sparkling wines, 6% of the valley is planted in pinot. Pairs well with grilled meats, mushrooms, bacon, pastas with light red sauces – it’s very food friendly, a good default if you aren’t sure what to pair.
This grape does well in the same vineyards where cab thrives, but is not nearly as widely planted in Napa. First planted here in the 1890’s. Pairs well with BBQ, pizza, or simple burgers.
5. Petite Verdot
First planted on Mt. Veeder in Napa, most cuttings today originate from those vines. This high tannin wine is often blended with cab and merlot but you can find it as a stand alone variety too. Pairs well with bean stew, marinated portobello mushrooms, or braised beef.
This grape is notoriously difficult to produce in Napa, so while not widely planted it’s gained popular in recent years with wineries reporting they usually sell out of what they are able to produce every year. Pairs well with grilled steak, pork roast, creamy mushroom sauces, or blue cheese.
7. Cabernet Franc
One of the parent wines of cabernet sauvignon (the other is sauvignon blanc), often used for blending. Pairs well with tomato based dishes, grilled meats, or rich vegetable dishes.