Bill Hocker | Jul 20, 2015
"Never in the history of mankind has agriculture withstood urban growth long-term, but here we have the best chance."
Beckstoffer LTE: We need a One Napa approach to development
NVR: Quake-ravaged former Register building bouncing back
A lot of us now have been advocating for a long-term solution to the urban development taking place in Napa county that will eventually consume its agricultural landscape. Much of that urban development is occurring around the desire of some vintners to bring ever more tourists into the vineyards - a direct-to-consumer approach that uses the money that might have gone to distributers to pay for the grandiose ego statements rising out of the vines. There are currently perhaps 65 new wineries or winery expansions that have been approved but not yet built and another 50 or so currently in the planning department (the list is here
). These projects will not only litter the vineyards with buildings and parking lots, but will create the incentive for a cascade of urban development as the cities approve more and more hotels and restaurants and boutique shops. And all will require more and more workers commuting from elsewhere to to tend to the increasing population of tourists.
One person is doing more than just a wringing of hands. Andy Beckstoffer, the major domo of vineyard development in the valley, as seen above, has put money into an effort to stem the tide of vineyard urbanization by promoting direct-to-consumer in the city of Napa. He is not alone. More examples of this positive trend in wine retailing are seen here
. In fact First Street is becoming a taster's row.
It should only be a beginning. The occupation of Copia by the Culinary institute is an opportunity to bring d-t-c tasting facilities in the form of the Napa Valley Wine Halls
proposed below. The city might even consider the possibility of the formation of the worlds greatest wine tasting stroll beginning at a wine market in the renovated Post Office and ending at Copia.
The movement of the locus of wine tasting and entertainment away from the vineyards is an imperative if they are to survive. Burgandy learned this long ago and its vineyards have been able to last centuries rather than decades. At the current rate of tourism development into the vineyards, by the time Stag's Leap Cellars or Chateau Montelena turn 100 the vines will be little more than a garnish around the parking lots at the base of the freeway off-ramps