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Napa Valley AVA is an American Viticultural Area located in Napa County, California, United States. Napa Valley is considered one of the premier wine regions in the world. Records of commercial wine production in the region date back to the nineteenth century, but premium wine production dates back only to the 1960s.
The combination of Mediterranean climate, geography and geology of the region are conducive to growing quality wine grapes. John Patchett established the Napa Valley's first commercial vineyard in 1858. In 1861 Charles Krug established another of Napa Valley's first commercial wineries in St. Helena. Viticulture in Napa suffered several setbacks in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including an outbreak of the vine disease phylloxera, the institution of Prohibition, and the Great Depression. The wine industry in Napa Valley recovered, and helped by the results of the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976, came to be seen as capable of producing the best quality wine – equal to that of Old World wine regions. Napa Valley is now a major enotourism destination.
The valley floor is flanked by the Mayacamas Mountain Range on the western and northern sides the Vaca Mountains on the eastern side. Several smaller valleys exist within these two ranges. The floor of the main valley gradually rises from sea level at the southern end to 362 feet (110 m) above sea level at the northern end in Calistoga at the foot of Mount Saint Helena. The Oakville and Rutherford American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) lie within a geographical area known as the Rutherford Bench in the center of the valley floor. The soil in the southern end of the valley consists mainly of sediments deposited by earlier advances and retreats of San Pablo Bay while the soil at the northern end of the valley contains a large volume of volcanic lava and ash. Several of the small hills that emerge from the middle of the valley floor near Yountville are indicators of the region's volcanic past.
Almost 4.5 million people visit Napa Valley each year, making it a very popular tourist destination in California, and "The World's Best Wine and Food Destination" as awarded by TripAdvisor's 2010 Travelers' Choice Awards.