Napa: the land of plenty

I never really understood the appeal of Twitter until a few months ago. I signed up for an account back in 2010 – admittedly because of the hype – but my bashful curiosity rapidly transformed into apathy when I realised that my 50 followers were not interested in what I had for lunch. Conversely, the Twittersphere is fascinated by the daily movements of my singing namesake – judging by her 26.4 million followers.

Since launching Grapeful in February, however, I’ve had no choice but to re-embrace Twitter simply because social media is a fundamental component of my marketing strategy. I’ve had to familiarise myself with the lingo – a rather harrowing process involving trawling through a “twictionary” (apparently a widely used term for Twitter dictionary – who knew?) and learning the meaning of acronyms such as SMH (“shaking my head”) and HAND (“have a nice day”). I’ve had to become extremely active on Twitter in order to promote my app and drive engagement.

One unintended – but rather pleasing – consequence of this is that I’m actually acquiring a great deal of knowledge from the almighty Twittersphere. For example, Twitter taught me three things yesterday: the news that bottles of wine could come with cigarette-style health warnings in the future, how to make the ultimate summer cocktail, and the fact that the Wappo Indians gave Napa Valley its name meaning “land of plenty”. The prospect of health warnings on wine bottles is depressing and I abhor tequila, so let’s focus on the third: Napa.


It is no surprise that Napa’s name means “land of plenty”. Although wine production in the region (let alone the USA) doesn’t surpass that of France or Spain, it is no small beast:

  • It produces over 50 million cases per year – approximately a fifth of all wine produced in the USA
  • Napa County welcomes over 5 million tourists every year (I plan to be one of them next year – anyone want to join?)
  • At the end of the 19th century, there were 140 wineries in the area. This figure has increased threefold since
  • Napa has a significant impact on the US economy – to the tune of $50 billion in 2012
  • Wine grapes constitute 99% of the value of all crops grown in Napa

Ok, enough stats for now.

Napa Valley is located just north of San Francisco in California. You may see the initials AVA on a bottle of wine from the region – this is the American equivalent of France’s AOC; it essentially means a grape-growing region with defined geographic boundaries and clear regulations that winemakers have to adhere to. Napa is arguably the most famous and prestigious wine region of the New World.

Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 12.03.24More than half of the wine produced in the region is cabernet sauvignon, some of which commands eyebrow-raising prices. A typical Napa cabernet sauvignon (sometimes referred to as ‘Napa cab’ – if Twitter can have its own lingo, wine can too) is lush, concentrated, high in alcohol, full-bodied and absolutely jam-packed with tannin and juicy fruit flavours such as blackberry, black cherry, plum and blackcurrant. These are big wines that are not meant for light and delicate dishes, nor as an aperitif – they are best paired with steak, ribs or lamb. If you want a taste of a typical Napa cab, try this – Robert Mondavi is best known as the father of American wine.

Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 09.45.08Chardonnay is the second most widely planted grape in the region. These wines can vary in style from crisp and unoaked to rich and buttery (the latter probably a bit more common). The best dishes to accompany this wine depends on the exact style, but generally speaking you can’t go wrong with shellfish, salmon or chicken. If I’ve done a good job of making you feel thirsty, go for this (it’s always wine o’clock somewhere in the world).

Napa is an extremely diverse wine region, with winemakers producing wine made from a huge array of grapes – including (but not limited to!) merlot, pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, zinfandel, cabernet franc, shiraz, petit verdot, and malbec.

I read somewhere that Napa Valley is like France but with more sunshine. I’m SMH at that.

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