If you’ve ever toured the Napa Valley — driving from the Carneros region in the south to Calistoga in the north, then criss-crossing between Highway 29 and the Silverado Trail and perhaps climbing the winding Atlas Peak Road — it can seem like a big place.
And it is.
Although the valley is relatively narrow, there’s a lot for a wine lover to see and do… and taste.
So how does Napa Valley stack up against the region to which it’s most often compared — France’s Bordeaux appellation?
Well, think of Bordeaux as a bucket, and think of Napa as a drop in the bucket. In other words, by comparison, Bordeaux is big.
Here are a few numbers to demonstrate the differences…
* Napa Valley has 46,000 acres of vineyards. Bordeaux has 287,000.
* Napa attracts around 3.85 million visitors per year. Bordeaux draws 6.8 million.
* Napa has around 475 “physical” wineries, averaging two brands per estate. Bordeaux has 6,100 chateaux — typically much smaller than the average Napa estate, but eclipsing Napa in the number of labels.
(Fun fact: The reason there are so many chateaux is that, through the years, many have been divided as they’ve been handed down from generation to generation.)
* While Napa is responsible for a significant percentage of California’s and America’s wine production, it makes only 0.4% of the global wine supply. Bordeaux produces 2.6% of the world’s wine.
* Napa wineries produce an average of 115,680,000 bottles of wine each year. Bordeaux chateaux produce 960 million.
So the next time you’re in the Napa Valley and feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the winery, restaurant and shopping choices, look at the bright side: You could be in Bordeaux instead.
Hmm… come to think of it, I don’t see a down side to this scenario.