Napa Valley is one of California’s most lucrative tourist attractions. Generally, it ranks just behind the amazing Disneyland in terms of tourist spending, most of whom come for — what else? — wine tours! Wine touring is definitely big business in Napa Valley, bringing in more than a billion and a quarter dollars annually. But Napa Valley isn’t just wine, or wineries, or even big commercial wineries. Here are several things you probably believe that just aren’t true about Napa Valley.
1. Napa is Mostly Just a Bunch of Rich Folks
With property values hovering around a whopping $100,000 per acre, it’s easy to think that everyone in Napa are gazillionaires. But in reality, a large portion of Napa’s residents, even the winery owners, can easily be classified as solid working class folks. Most of their wealth is tied up in land, winemaking facilities, and all of the equipment it takes to properly run a vineyard and winery. After their employees are paid (we’ll get to that in a moment), licenses and permits are bought, and general business is done, a healthy chunk of Napa’s people are just getting by like the rest of us.
2. Napa’s Farm Workers are Poor, Underpaid, and Treated Badly
This particular myth has actually damaged Napa Valley’s reputation, as well as the good names of many a winery. In fact, Napa’s farm workers are typically ranked among the best paid farm workers in California. Several agencies exist to self-govern the Napa wine industry, assuring that workers have reasonable pay, good benefits like 401K plans and health insurance, and access to high-quality, affordable housing, complete with excellent educational systems, recreational opportunities, and more. These wine growers also established programs to assure that the farm workers have safe working conditions and are treated fairly by their employers. The image many people have of undocumented immigrants paid below minimum wage and subject to unsafe or unsatisfactory working conditions just isn’t true.
3. Napa Produces Most of California’s Wines
Since Napa wine tours grace a fair number of bucket lists, you’d think that the majority of California’s wine production is there. In reality, Napa Valley produces just 4% of the state’s wines. The entire region features excellent conditions for growing grapes and producing fine wines, especially nearby Sonoma County, Marin County, Alameda, and even San Francisco and Oakland. Napa Valley was just lucky enough to become the poster child for the California wine industry, a position they hold largely due to their extraordinary attention to hospitality when it comes to welcoming wine tourists.
4. Napa is Just a Bunch of Big, Commercial Vineyards & Wineries
If you leave San Francisco and head up Hwy. 29, you will get the impression that the large, commercial vineyards and wineries are all there is in Napa Valley. But you’d be missing all the side roads and back roads where the best kept secrets hide: Napa’s thriving communities of small, family-owned vineyards and wineries. That’s why so many people choose a Napa Valley limo wine tour. It’s the best way to find those gems that are all too easy to zoom past when you’re navigating with only Siri and a brochure. The big wineries have deeper pockets, so they buy advertising in all the tour guides, travel magazines, and “best of” websites. The smaller guys may not have fat advertising budgets, but winemaking is their livelihood and their passion. What they lack in grandiose tasting rooms and sleek entryways they make up for in spades with hospitality and dang good wines.
5. There Really Isn’t Much to Do in Napa Apart from Drink Wine
Do you picture Napa Valley as a place where the wine flows freely from dawn through the late night? Nothing more than vineyard after vineyard, interrupted only occasionally by a winery? When you plan your Napa limo wine tour, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn there is MUCH more to see and do here apart from drinking wine! The hot air balloon rides are popular, and it’s a haven for picnickers, backpackers, cyclists, and campers. There are abundant forests and natural wonders to see, as well as a thriving industry of spas, world-class restaurants, and farmers’ markets. But the same soil and climate that make Napa Valley such an excellent place to grow grapes also makes it ideal for olive groves. Be sure to see some of the olive farms and olive oil making facilities while you’re out for your limo wine tour.