Any trip to Napa these days is special, since we get to see our dear friends, Chris and Paul. You may recall, they were on my cycling trip and cruise to Croatia last May. I think they travel more than I do, but I am happy for them. They deserve it.
We are here ostensibly to attend a Bonnie Raitt concert at the Oxbow Riverstage on Saturday night. But we will spend the afternoon wine tasting in Napa Valley, enjoy a nice dinner, and hit the concert venue. Sunday, we will “peddle for pancakes” as Paul has proclaimed. Every Sunday, when they are home, they cycle about 20 miles, then stop at the Yountville golf course for pancakes or breakfast. We have done this once before with them. And it is always fun.
On our way back from Napa, we will stop (maybe) in the Livermore wine country as well. Of course, we will be in a hurry to rescue Lexi from Elaines’ Pet Resort.
A bit about Bonnie Raitt. Here is some information from her website:
She was raised in Los Angeles, in the Quaker tradition and a commitment to social activism. A Stella guitar was a Christmas present that launched her career at the age of 8. She is enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, won ten Grammys, and has published twenty-one albums. She has become an institution in American music. She has performed duets with other famous musicians including John Lee Hooker, Willie Nelson, Aretha Franklin, BB King, Tony Bennett, and Ray Charles.
Needless to say, this is an action-packed weekend with two special people. But I am sorry to miss their sidekicks, Tommy “Two Shoes”, and Miss Irene.
Despite the growth of many wine regions here in California, and elsewhere, Napa Valley is still my favorite. Why? Three reasons, one, I started coming here in the Sixties, when Napa was the really “poor” sister to France and Bordeaux. And two, we sold some of our grapes to a conglomerate here, Allied Vintners, which became part of Heublein, which became part of ?? who knows! Three, and most importantly, for most of my adult life, Napa was about an hour away from home.
What do we really know about Napa other than wineries, good food, and the Napa Vine Trail? The median income here is about $86,000 annually. The city has only 78,000 people, rather exclusive.
Napa Valley contains about 25% of California’s wineries but represents only 4% of our state’s wine production. And only 0.4% of the world’s wine production. Only 44,000 acres are under cultivation for grapes, with about 700 growers. Yet, there are 16 approved AVA’s. Over half the vineyards are planted with Cabernet.
The economic impact is about $10 billion annually, and nearly $50 billion to the US annually.
Why is Yountville so famous? A pioneer by the name of George Yount presumably planted the first wine grapes here, around 1838 or 1839. But John Patchett opened the first commercial vineyard in 1861, followed by Charles Krug, a name you recognize, I am sure. And now, over 5 million people visit Napa Valley annually. In California, only Disneyland draws more people!
Napa’s worldwide claim to fame: Napa wines earned their fame in The 1976 Judgement Of Paris when a panel of French judges, in a blind tasting, voted the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay and the 1973 Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon as the top white and red, beating out the French competitors. It is NEVER mentioned in France!! All they do is bad mouth Napa Valley.
Enough facts for now, Joe (Friday). It is time to go wine tasting and relax at the concert. Oh, and Mavis Staples was the warm up, and she was fabulous!!!