Much LAZIER than your average blogger  
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7.14.2007 - 44 comments 

This shot was taken right outside the city limits of the City of Napa, California. And as you may already know... this is wine country. As you can see from this picture, they grow a lot of grapes in this part of California.

In fact the area is not only called Wine Country, but the Wine Spectator Magazine's office is right here in Napa too. They often say, "Napa~Sanoma~Medicino" as if it was one place, and I guess for all practicality that's not a bad thing. Those three cities seem to make up what is called the Napa Valley (and for that matter) what they call "WINE Counrty". There can't be too many places (outside of France) that have this many and kinds of wine making and grape vineyards anywhere else in the world. Actually I guess we should add St. Helena, Calistoga, Oakville and Rutherford to the mix as well.

Napa (the city) is the county seat of Napa County, California. It is the principal city of the Napa county Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses Napa county. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 72,585. The area was settled in the 1830s. It was incorporated as a city in 1872. Just as recent as December 31, 2005, the Napa River overflowed and flooded the entire downtown area and thousands of acres all over Napa County. But we really didn't see much sign of the damage anywhere we looked.

For our treat instead of doing the wine tasting in all the vineyards there, we decided to have lunch in a little place that was right downtown on 1st. Street. It looked like it could have been a bar (or even more properly) a saloon and hotel during the Gold Rush days of the 1850's. But, I really didn't see anything in the place that would have given me any historical timing to base that assumption, it was just the way the place looked. The restaurant was called Caffee Cicero and because of the cool look of the building I almost made the photo of the Cafe the picture for my post, but then thought, "NO" this should be about the GRAPES!

It was actually the gold rush of the late 1850s that really built Napa City. After the first severe winter in the gold fields, miners sought refuge in the young city from snow, cold, floods and disease. A tent city was erected along Main Street.

There was plenty of work in the valley for disillusioned miners. Many cattle ranches were maintained, and the lumber industry had mushroomed. Sawmills in the valley were in operation cutting up timber that was hauled by team to Napa City, then shipped out on the river to Benicia and San Francisco.

In 1858 the great silver rush began in Napa Valley, and miners eagerly flocked to the eastern hills. In the 1860s, mining carried on, in a large scale, with quicksilver mines operating in many areas of Napa County. The most noted mine was the Silverado Mine, near the summit of Mt. St. Helena. The mine was immortalized by Robert Louis Stevenson in his classic The Silverado Squatters.

It was a very peaceful little town and we really enjoyed our visit there. And... if we're there again (and I'm NOT driving) maybe we'll even visit some of the many little wineries there. There were many including; Elkhorn Peak Cellars, Bourassa Vineyards, Destino Wines, Folio Winemakers Studio, Downing Family Vineyards, Farella-Park Vineyards, Gregory Graham Wines, Gustavo Thrace Winery and many many more.

Many of the really "Upscale" wineries seemed to be in St. Helena, like the ones that I am familiar with; CK Mondavi Vineyards, Beringer Vineyards, Sutter Home and Dave Arthur. But, we never made it up there to see those. Maybe NEXT time!

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." ~ Theodor Seuss Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss)