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Napa, Uncorked
Washington Post (1999)
  • C Miller, San Jose State University
For more than a decade, I joined the hordes who swarmed this valley in a wine-sodden haze, sampling the tourist's delights. But I knew little of the real Napa--its history, its citizens, its daily life. So when I sobered up last summer and realized that my husband and I had actually bought a house in downtown Napa, I knew it was time to move beyond the passing acquaintance of the visitor. Shovel in hand, I began digging for bedrock Napa; what I found was a region settled by hucksters and dreamers--who all came here like me, looking for paradise. My new home is in the town of Napa, which sits at the south end of the valley, slightly removed from the feverish wine hunt on Highway 29. Founded in 1848, the county seat still boasts Victorian homes, white picket fences and a courthouse square. Napa City was built along the Napa River, and the inevitable winter floods begat the type of high-water architecture found in river towns and bayous of the South. The hot summer weather promoted wide porches and yards smothered by camellias and honeysuckle. Toni, a petite woman with upswept hair, told the history of her family, which coincidentally was the history of Napa Valley. Her great-great-great-grandfather, George C. Yount, was the first American to settle here. When he arrived in the early 1830s, the region was a colony of Mexico, with missionaries and soldiers residing in neighboring Sonoma. Napa was considered too dangerous because of tribes of Native Americans who had lived along the Napa River for thousands of years. However, the Mexicans decided to use Napa for raising cattle, using its pasture land and water supply.
Publication Date
June 20, 1999
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Citation Information
C Miller. "Napa, Uncorked" Washington Post (1999)
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