Bill Hocker | Jul 27, 2022Esther Mobley
and Jess Lander
, wine columnists for the SF Chronicle, have been digging much deeper than just the normal puff-piece reviews about the latest wine, food or resort offerings in the valley. Their recent forays into the underbelly of Napa politics on Walt Ranch
and Sup. Pedroza
) seem to have inspired a deeper dive into the backstage machinations of America's wine-themed Disneyland. They have published a multi-article look at the county under the title Napa in Flux: Napa is America’s top wine region. But it has reached a turning point
SF Chronicle 7/26/22: Napa’s ‘Disneyland’ wineries: Are they actually worth the trip?
SF Chronicle 7/27/22: Napa’s most historic wineries are staging a comeback. Will multimillion-dollar rebrands work?
SF Chronicle 7/27/22: Napa Valley has perfected one type of wine. But is it starting to all taste the same?
SF Chronicle 7/27/22: Napa’s vineyard workers are retiring - and the next generation doesn’t want their jobs
SF Chronicle 7/26/22: 'That’s how people die in wildfires': How Wine Country’s fancy new resorts could increase fire risk
Coincidentally, the articles arrive just as Napa County gave their pro forma (14 minute) approval
to the reconstruction of Napa's original Disneyland ride, the Sterling Vineyards gondola. (NVR article here
) It is being rebuilt after damage from the 2020 Glass Fire and, of course, will double the quantity of tourists capable of visiting the winery. The gondola represents, I suppose, Napa's Tomorrowland in relation to its Fantasyland Castle across the highway. The upgrade is also, no doubt, an example of the corporate makeover of traditional wineries profiled in one of the articles, in this case by the Australian giant, Treasury Wine Estates.
Of interest also in this look at the valley's descent into a corporate theme park is this Tim Carl article from 2019
about Napa's version of the Haunted House, The Prisoner Winery.