Napa Valley first put California winemaking on the map in 1976, when Napa chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon varietals beat France’s best in an international blind tasting competition. In the years since, Napa has grown into the most renowned winegrowing region in the United States, attracting visitors from all over the world to enjoy its wine, celebrated cuisine, abundant natural beauty, and diverse cultural opportunities.
Although Napa’s worldwide acclaim is relatively recent, the region has been a leader in agriculture and winemaking for centuries. The first commercial vineyards and wineries were established in the mid-1800s, and by 1900 there were more than 140 wineries growing many varietals. Unfortunately, a widespread pest infestation, Prohibition and the Great Depression all contributed to the region’s decline until the winemaking resurgence began in the 1960s. Today Napa is home to over 500 wineries.
Native American legends refer to the Sonoma Valley as, “The Valley of the Moon.” It is cradled between the Mayacamas and Sonoma mountain ranges just 45 minutes from San Francisco. Franciscan monks were the first to plant vineyards in Sonoma during the early 1820s. By 1920, there were more than 250 vineyards with 20,000 acres of grapevines in Sonoma.
As with Napa, Sonoma saw a steady decline in production due to the phylloxera infestation, Prohibition and the Great Depression. Its recovery throughout the 1970s and ’80s, however, was very strong, and the area continues to grow in both production and popularity. Though it often receives less attention and sees far fewer annual visitors, Sonoma has produced significantly more wine than Napa, as there are now more than 65,000 acres planted in grapes. It maintains a small-town, country feel, and produces countless varietals rated just as highly as Napa’s best.
Less than an hour from The Orchard is the City of San Francisco which provides an incomparable urban escape whenever you need it.
The city was first settled by the Spanish in the 18th century and began to flourish during the California Gold Rush in 1848. It quickly became a haven for entrepreneurs as the banking, railroad and manufacturing industries boomed, attracting immigrant laborers from around the world. A major earthquake in 1906 destroyed much of the city, but it was quickly rebuilt to be better than ever.
Today San Francisco is one of the most unique and culturally rich cities in the world. It is renowned for its steep hills, Victorian and modern architecture, eclectic neighborhoods and diverse population. Its famous landmarks – from the Golden Gate Bridge to Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Warf to Chinatown – are known around the world, as are its museums, galleries, and theaters.