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Get to know St. Helena

St. Helena is “Napa Valley’s Main Street” and the barometer for food and wine trends locally and afar — it’s home to the Culinary Institute of America, after all. Its sizable downtown plays host to designer shops, galleries, the vintage Cameo Cinema and multiple-Michelin-starred restaurants. You’ll find it at the north end of the Silverado Trail in the shadow of its namesake Mount St. Helena, the majestic long-extinct volcano implicated in the Petrified Forest and whose moniker was conferred by Princess Helena de Gagarin of Russia, wife to the commanding officer of coastal Fort Ross. The area was first cultivated as Rancho Carne Humana, and Charles Krug, who married the grantee’s daughter, would receive a portion as his dowry. He crushed his first grapes in a cider press in 1858, founding Napa Valley’s first commercial winery and later pioneering the tasting experience we know and love.
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Living in Wine Country

At the 1976 Judgment of Paris, Napa Valley wines won out their French counterparts in every single category, catapulting the region’s wine to global celebrity. But that pivotal blind tasting merely marked a moment 150 years in fermentation. Early settlers were quick to uncork the growing potential of the area’s fair-weathered Provençal landscape, with the earliest vines planted by fur traders at Fort Ross in 1817. Commercial winemaking here took hold by the Gold Rush, and today you’ll find hundreds of vineyards from the Silverado Trail to the rugged, redwood-fringed Pacific coast. Together, Napa and Sonoma counties comprise the largest viticulture region in the United States and the epicenter of all things culinary. You’ll find a series of small towns blending Nantucket-level charm with a maverick, wild west edge, filled to the rim with quaint boutiques, artisanal mercantiles, cheesemongers, and Michelin-starred restaurants. When you’re not swishing your glass, there’s world-class recreation, hot air balloons and plenty else.

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