Like many of the most interesting towns and cities in California, Napa and its surrounding valley was first home to Indians. The Wappo Indians, to be exact, and their contributions to Napa can be found in a variety of forms.

 Located right along a river (the Napa River), others soon saw the opportunities presented by being right on the water. The city of Napa became a place where lumber and other goods were consolidated for shipping to San Francisco and Benicia, and the California gold miners (known as the 49ers) began leaving the foothills to the east and they sought warmth and comfort in the Napa area. 

Charles Krug is credited with developing the Napa Valley's first winery in 1861 in St. Helena, one of a string of charming towns north of the city of Napa, and within 7 years, there were more than 140 wineries in the Napa Valley area. Some of the other early wineries still making wine today include Inglenook (opened in 1879) and Beringer (opened in 1876).

 In 1920, Prohibition significantly diminished the number of wineries in the valley (a few survived making sacramental wines), but when it was repealed, the wine industry began to rebound. In 1943, a group of vintners came together to share ideas, and that group – now called the Napa Valley Vintners – is credited with creating a thriving and competitive wine industry in the Napa Valley, offering some of the world's most sought-after bottlings.