SodaCanyonRoad | James Conaway's third (and last?) volume on Napa

James Conaway's third (and last?) volume on Napa
Bill Hocker | Apr 1, 2018 on: Growth Issues

Update 4/1/18
Sonoma PD 4/1/18: James Conaway, chronicler of Napa Valley wine industry, warns money threatens to ruin America's Eden

Update 3/16/18
3/16/18: KQED Forum: James Conaway podcast interview with Mina Kim
NV2050 3/15/18: Berkeley James Conaway Reading: Napa at Last Light

Update 3/14/18
NVR 3/14/18: Author Conaway talks to Napa County grand jury

Wine Searcher 3/2/18: Napa Sells its Soul to Developers
NVR Review 3/8/18: Writer James Conaway paints a harsh portrait of Napa Valley in his latest book
and NVR excerpts
Wine-searcher 3/2/18: Napa sells its soul to developers

The Atlantic 3/18: Rich People Are Ruining Wine
And Tom Wark's dismissive response

The Economist 3/6/18 Book Review: James Conaway on the Napa Valley Wine Wars

Sacramento Bee review 2/28/18: Napa expert grim about the state and direction of the valley: 'I don't see any hope'

Publisher's Excerpts

Update 2/28/18
Napa at Last Light - America's Eden in the Age of Calamity

Just in time for the 50th Anniversary of the creation of Napa's Agricultural Preserve, James Conaway completes a third book defining the historical arc of this special place. The title, one can assume, reflects his take (and that of many Napans) on the direction of that arc.

James Conaway will be at several book signings in the Bay Area in March. Dan Mufson has forwarded this schedule:

Sat., March 10, 2018 in Napa
1:45pm Arrival
Hosted by Napa Bookmine
580 Coombs St
Napa, CA 94559

Mon., March 12, 2018 in Napa
6:30pm Meet & Greet
7:00pm Film & Discussion
580 Coombs St
Napa, CA 94559
James Conaway will be speaking about the Watershed Initiative along with discussion participants Tosha Commandant, Bill Pramuk, and Warren Winiarski

The Flier for the event is here

Tues., March 13, 2018 in Berkeley
6:45pm Arrival
1491 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA 94710
This event will be sponsored by Napa Vision 2050.
Books Inc. Announcement here

Thurs., March 15, 2018 in Calistoga
6:45pm Arrival
130 Lincoln Ave.
Calistoga, CA.

The other two volumes:
2002 Napa: The Story of an American Eden
2003 The Far Side of Eden: New Money, Old Land, and the Battle for Napa Valley

5/29/17 America as one big hole
James Conaway, in a recent blog post and now in a Register letter, has called attention again to the dangers of life in an age dominated by developers (and now ruled by our first developer-in-chief) to those who would seek to preserve some of their cultural and natural heritage for future generations, not to mention its enjoyment in the here and now.

50 years ago Napa's agricultural preserve was created as a dam to hold back the floodwaters of development lust that was drowning the rest of Bay Area agriculture in building projects. The issue in Napa then was housing development, and it seemed for a while that the minimum-parcel-size zoning and the popular-vote-required re-zoning protections put in place to stop housing subdivisions have worked. An industry based on an agricultural product has survived and prospered and the housing projects have been held at bay.

But development lust is not so easily suppressed. Within the tight constraints of the Agricultural Preserve, the General Plan and Measure J, the formulae had to be jiggled just enough so that a new generation of development interests could begin pumping money into Napa real estate ventures. The magic component: tourism and the hyping of a good-life destination. Define those as "agriculture" and the flood gates open.

It is often said that Napa has become a victim of its own success. It's success was created by careful legislative crafting by politicians and citizens concerned about the preservation of its agricultural heritage. But the victimization is wholly attributable to development lust of a few seeking ways to exploit and cash in (or out) on that success. Wine makers are bought out by good-life entrepreneurs, vineyard real estate is promoted as building sites for every plutocrat's fantasy of a winery-of-one's-own. And the buildings and parking lots and commuting tourists and employees continue to come. The urbanization of ag land in the rest of the county will not be as swift as the development of Watson Ranch, but in the long run it will be just as sure.

James Conaway has been a perceptive student of the cultural and physical transformation of the County for 25 years. The upcoming third book in his series on the Napa Valley will no doubt reflect on the change that has come to the county in that time. Its proposed name, unfortunately, is a bit depressing for those of us who have hoped the fight to save this place was not hopeless: Napa at Last Light.