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(Note: Information Originally Published In 1955 - Presented For Historical Perspective!)
This famous district is formed by the two counties bearing those names. Napa yields some of the finest of all California wines, especially table wines, while Solano, adjoining its exalted neighbor to the east, produces table wines of greater-than-average merit. In number of active bonded wineries Napa, with thirty-eight, rates third.
From a viticultural point of view Napa County and Napa Valley are interchangeable terms, for it is from the valley and its bordering hillsides that the county's famed wines originate. Only the Mayacamas Mountains separate Napa Valley from that of Sonoma, to which it lies parallel. Napa possesses its own romantic name, for in the Indian language it is said to mean "plenty:" Napa is indeed the "Valley of Plenty," one of abundant beauty and fertility. Even in ancient times grapes, though wild, are said to have grown here in profusion.
The Napa River which flows through the valley, is little more than a creek and empties, like its Sonoma neighbor, into the waters of San Pablo Bay, connecting with that of San Francisco. Dominating the valley to the north thrones Mt. St. Helena, christened after that saint by the Princess Helena Gagarin, wife of the onetime Russian Governor of Siberia and of the Russian Northern Pacific Colonies and daughter of the Czar of all the Russias.
The Napa Valley can be divided into two separate winegrowing areas, the uppper and the lower. The upper Napa Valley centers around the town of St. Helena, flanked to the north by Calistoga and to the south by Rutherford, as famed as St. Helena itself for wines of the highest quality. The vineyards are to be found both high and low on the hillsides as well as on the valley floor. The lower Napa Valley takes in the area northwest of the town of Napa in the Mayacamas Mountains toward the Sonoma County line.