Gary Clair


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The Napa Valley in Northern California features a variety of activities for locals and visitors alike. Scenic Hwy 29 is often referred to as the Napa Valley Winery Trail because of its convenient route between small and large vineyards throughout the area. The mountainous area is near the Pacific Ocean and benefits from a Mediterranean climate that delivers ideal growing conditions for wine grapes. It is estimated that only 2% of the earth’s surface has this type of climate.

Impressed with the quality and quantity of wild grapes growing throughout the Napa Valley, George Calvert Yount cleared land and planted wine grapes in 1839. Successful cultivation drew experienced and potential vintners to the area where they planted a selection of wine grapes. Charles Krug built Napa Valley’s first commercial winery in 1861 and others soon followed.

Challenges came from root louse, which wiped out approximately 75% of the vineyards in the late 1890s. Vintners were still recovering from that disaster when the enactment of Prohibition in 1920 stopped the production of wine. The repeal thirteen years later allowed wineries to rebuild or start anew. Other businesses opened and thrived, as well.

Calistoga is best known for its spas where mineral pools and mud baths bring energized relaxation. It’s not often you find the two words used together. The water’s special effect typically brings about a feeling of wellbeing.

Guests and locals enjoy browsing through St. Helena clothing boutiques and jewelry stores. It is fun to discover one-of-a-kind items for accessorizing wardrobes. Art galleries are intriguing sites to look through and find that special gift or long-sought d├ęcor for a man-cave or living room. Wine Country Inn is a fabulous place to stay when visiting this town in Napa Valley.

Schedule a tour of the Robert Mondavi Winery when you visit Oakville. The company has sponsored an annual summer concert series for nearly 50 years that benefits the Napa Valley USD music program.

Traveling to the heart of the Napa Valley leads friends and relatives to Yountville’s Veterans Home of California, the largest in the nation. Other attractions include a 3 star Michelin rated restaurant where visitors can experience exquisite cuisine without having to travel to large cities like Sacramento and San Francisco.

Trails through the Newell Open Space Preserve in American Canyon provides access to the wetlands and hillsides. The Napa Valley is filled with elegance and fun, as well as the American spirit of ambition and adventure.

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