Fresno State visits Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field (University of Connecticutt) for the 1st time. Frederick Rentschler was the founder of Pratt & Whitney, & Rentschler Field was the airstrip where the company tested its engines. Columns around the stadium capture some of that history, including aviation pioneers who visited this site, like Charles Lindbergh & Amelia Earhart.
Of course, UCONN is best known for their men’s basketball team. The UCONN Huskies have won four NCAA Championships, including 2014, when they beat Kentucky. I was at the game, in Dallas, at the Jones Dome, attended the free Springsteen concert the day before, and also the March Madness Block Party (Jamfest) all weekend long. They also won in 2011, 2004, and 1999. Pretty impressive!
Visiting some of the colleges and universities back east can be quite interesting. When I attended the University of North Carolina post grad program, we also visited Duke University, and found their great golf course, the Washington and Duke Golf Course. My friends went to the Cal game at Notre Dame, and enjoyed the Irish campus, with Touchdown Jesus.
In trying to recall some of my visits to stadiums, I remember: US Naval Academy, US Air Force Academy, University of Michigan (Big House), University of Oklahoma, University of Colorado, Ohio State, University of Washington, the Los Angeles Coliseum (UCLA and USC), Stanford Junior University, San Jose State, University of Hawaii (Aloha Stadium), and Arizona State University.
If you get the opportunity to travel with your favorite team, I strongly suggest going. You will not regret it.
I am going to change gears, mid-year, and just include anything that makes me happy. It could range from a familiar quotation, to a book I have read, something I ate or drank, or just a casual observation. Here goes:
Remember that old TV philosopher, Andy Rooney. His little vignettes always started with, “Did you ever wonder……” It seems like this line should preface many of the distasteful things going on today, like war in Ukraine, repeal of Roe vs Wade, gun violence, homelessness, covid, the list goes on and on.
Here are a few of is pearls:
–“If you wonder what anyone thinks of you, consider what you think of them.”
–“Not everyone has a right to his own opinion. If he doesn’t know the facts, his opinion doesn’t count.”
–“The best thing that’s bad for you is butter.”
–“The store clerk who asks, ‘May I help you with something?’ can hardly ever help.”
–“In spite of the old sayings to the contrary, the best presents come in large packages.”
Then there is the wise old sage, Yogi Berra.
“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”
“Nobody comes here anymore, it’s too crowded”
“Cut my pie into four pieces, I don’t think I could eat eight.”
“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”
“Is the future now? I walk into the men’s room, and I see a dispenser for panty liners and tampons!!!” – My observation on the Fresno State campus
“I’m not offended by blonde jokes because I know I’m not dumb…and I also know that I’m not blonde.” —Dolly Parton
“Remember gentleman, it’s not just France we are fighting for; it’s Champagne!”—Winston Churchill (1908–1965),
Prime Minister of England
Do not travel to Russia due to the unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine by Russian military forces, the potential for harassment against U.S. citizens by Russian government security officials, the singling out of U.S. citizens in Russia by Russian government security officials including for detention, the arbitrary enforcement of local law, limited flights into and out of Russia, the Embassy’s limited ability to assist U.S. citizens in Russia, COVID-19-related restrictions, and terrorism. U.S. citizens residing or travelling in Russia should depart Russia immediately. Exercise increased caution due to wrongful detentions.
“Wine and cheese are ageless companions, like aspirin and aches, or June and moon, or good people and noble ventures.”
—M. F. K. Fisher American writer (1908 ~ 1992) whose many books on food and wine are considered seminalSo, the third quarter of the year ends. Hopefully, the pandemic is somewhat under control. Perhaps we can return to some normalcy, despite a challenging economy, climate change, war, and political BS.
See you next quarter, the year has gone by so quickly.
The Vacationer conducted an online survey of 1,098 American adults 18 years and older. They were asked, “When flying on a plane, which behaviors from fellow passengers annoy you?” There were frankly no surprises in the responses. The top two most annoying behaviors were tied: disruptive, drunk passengers and having the back of your seat kicked, both coming in at 59.11%. A close third with 48% is smelly co-passengers with either too much perfume or poor hygiene. Poor parenting skills also made it to the list with 46.81% people hassled by inattentive parents.
Some of the other offences were smelly foods, armrest hogging, seat reclining, talking too much, boarding/deplaning out of turn, loud music, and taking off shoes. People are also vexed by couples indulging in PDA and fliers getting up to use the restroom too much. There were just 11.57% who said that they’re not bothered by anything.My pet peeve falls into the first category, loud talking! I hate anyone, particularly kids, kicking my seat. I generally do not have these problems in Biz class. Smelly is a problem when I fly economy airlines like Ryan Air or EasyJet. I guess backpackers do not carry any soap to use in their hostel showers?
But the very worst was on a first-class flight to Phoenix. A guy who identified himself as an air marshal told the flight attendant who he was, and that he was carrying a weapon. He proceeded to get drunk on vodka and bourbon. She finally cut him off, and he got quite offensive. He then asked her for a date and would not stop. The captain came out and threatened to handcuff him if he did behave. It was ugly, upsetting, and embarrassing.
Another was an older Costa Rican lady sitting in first class, directly in front of us. She was gassing up the place, I was fanning the air, and the couple next to us covered themselves with a blanket!!! BTW, they were laughing hysterically.
Tied for second on my short list are: a barefoot man who clipped his toenails in the aisle, and a woman breast feeding an 8 or 9 year old child.
Why does the plane ride alter the mind set of people so dramatically? Perhaps they feel like they are no longer bound to earth or country, and can do whatever they please? Perhaps it is just entitlement, or bad manners?
One of the worst smells on board is the ubiquitous McDonald’s bag, filled with burgers, nuggets and fries. If this is combined with body odor, I would request, rather demand another seat!
On a recent Ryanair flight from Athens, a female passenger completely changed her wardrobe underneath a huge sweatshirt! It may have been somewhat acceptable, but why didn’t she use the toilet? And why place her soiled clothes in the aisle next to me?
I guess the odds are, flying as often as I once did, that the chances of finding annoying passengers becomes quite high!!!
Actually, from the time I first set foot on the UC Berkeley campus as a sophomore in high school, I fell in love with the UC Berkeley campus. It became both my dream and a goal through my high school years to matriculate to Berkeley. The day I received the letter in the mail, during my senior year of high school was one of the happiest days of my young life.
Most people here in the Valley consider me to be a Berkeley liberal. I just consider myself a liberal, though I think I became that way in high school, thanks to friends like Mario Olmos and Bob Osganian.
But here are some unique only in Berkeley quirkiness:
THE NOBEL IS THE WORLD’S most prestigious award for academic, cultural, and scientific advances. A Nobel Laureate will, apart from the award money, get a medal and diploma right from the hands of the Swedish king. But for some, there is more to winning the prize than international prestige and a fatter bank account: a parking space on an overcrowded campus.
At the University of California, Berkeley, it’s easy to spot the bright blue signs (above) marked “Reserved For NL/Special Permit Required At All Times.” NL stands for Nobel Laureate, of course, and the spaces are reserved for the elite faculty who worked tirelessly for decades to win some coveted parking.
The Berkeley tradition dates back to 1980, when Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. He wanted a spot, so he simply asked for one. The parking wish was granted, and it’s since become standard practice—one that apparently sticks in the craw of the Laureates over at Standfurd Junior University.. I think this is just great!!!
SITTING ON THE QUAD OF Berkeley campus (in Sproul Plaza) is an unassuming monument to the Free Speech Movement that one could easily miss even though it supposedly consists of an endless tube of unregulated space that rises forever upward into space.
Located in front of Sproul Hall, the monument was set flat into the walkway in 1989. The physical portion of the monument is simply a round cement stone with the bold statement carved around its perimeter reading, “This soil and the air space extending above it shall not be a part of any nation and shall not be subject to any entity’s jurisdiction.” In the center of the stone disc is a small hole that simply holds a patch of soil, but it is the invisible space rising directly above the hole that is the actual monument. As the disc says, this tiny tube of unregulated space is meant to be a place where protesters, free thinkers, and spitfires can say whatever the hell they like, and as it is worded, that privilege extends all the way into space and beyond. I never realized it was there! But I was there, back in 1964, trying to avoid getting caught on TV or in a police force roundup.
IN 1902 THE FAMOUS 12TH century bell tower known as the campanile in the Palazzo San Marco in Venice, Italy came thundering to the ground. Miraculously no one but a resident cat was hurt in the unexpected catastrophe. The beloved tower was rebuilt “as it was, where it was” in 1912.
UC Berkeley campus architect, John Galen Howard, had visited Venice in the 1890’s, and had the chance to see the San Marco Campanile before its collapse.
Looking strikingly similar to that other famous tower, the Campanile on the campus of UC Berkeley has stood a lynchpin on campus since its cornerstone was laid on March 8, 1914. The Campanile is constructed of 2,800 blocks of Raymond granite quarried from the Sierra Nevada Mountains, over 500 tons of structural steel, and Alaskan marble. The belltower is a gothic architectural form, built in a Neo-Classical way.
Hiding inside its dry climate-steady walls are some fossils belonging to the University of California Museum of Paleontology, many of which come from the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles.
The twelve bells that make up the original carillon were gifts of Jane K. Sather (who also donated the funds to construct the tower, itself) in 1914, but because of war-related delays, they were not installed until 1917. The largest of the bells, weighing in at 4,118 lbs. (the smallest is 329 lbs) is inscribed with the words by UC Berkeley Professor Flag: We ring, we chime, we toll, Lend ye the silent part Some answer in the heart, Some echo in the soul.Sather Tower, or as we affectionately call the Campanile, is our most visible landmark on campus. I am always drawn to it when I am on campus, or at a football or basketball game nearby. I remember the days when beleaguered or failing students jumped off the tower, before they glassed in the viewing areas. In fact, we will have lunch in the shadow of the Campanile, at the Faculty Club.
So, now you know a little bit about the campus I love so much. I was last here in January for a Cal-UCLA basketball game. I am back today, headed up to the Faculty Club for lunch. Go Bears!!! As I have written many, many times. We may not get to the Rose Bowl on January 1, but we will always win Nobel Prizes!!!
Has it really been about five years since I trudged up to Memorial Stadium in Berkeley for a Cal football game? Have I given up the notion that my Golden Bears will play in the Rose Bowl on January 1st one of these years, while I am still alive? We have not been to the Rose Bowl since January 1, 1959. We played the heavily favored Iowa Hawkeyes of the Big 10 and lost 38 to 12. But we were the 16th ranked team in the country. Joe Kapp was the star QB for the Bears. He later became the Head Coach.
Believe it or not, I was in Pasadena on that fateful day in 1959. Our family was visiting relatives who lived within earshot of the Rose Bowl. I could hear the PA announcer and the cheers of the crowd from their front yard. We were celebrating the great Japanese tradition of Shogatsu at a home in Pasadena. We attended the Rose Parade earlier that day as well. Perhaps I knew I would one day be a Cal Bear, but I had no idea we would never return to play on January 1st!
I was just thinking about how proud my parents must have been, with their oldest son going to college. I remember they came up for “parents weekend” so we walked the campus, went to the football game, then had dinner at Spenger’s. Another time, they came up to visit, so we ate at the infamous Larry Blake’s Rathskeller on Telegraph Avenue. My how things have changed!
With college football becoming a big money game now for most big schools, I doubt we will ever make it back, at least under the current rules and qualification system. For one, Cal learned the hard way, not to cheat their way to a championship, though other schools tend to play fast and loose with the rules. In addition, the academic side of the University will not allow for below average admission for football players. Nor will they give football players and other student athletes any slack on academic progress and performance. Other schools, whose names I won’t mention, tend to make their own rules, but never seem to get caught.
But on this lovely Saturday, I am meeting my buddy Webb, and going to the Cal Arizona Wildcats football game. When I was an undergrad here, I never missed a game. Now, Cal football seems to have lost its charm, as we are not competitive any longer.
We will start the day by having lunch at the famous Faculty Club on campus. Then, we will stagger our way up to Strawberry Canyon where Memorial Stadium sits on a giant fault. Speaking of faults, it may not have been the best idea to remodel the old stadium. Stadium debt absorbs 20% of the athletic budget, or roughly $18 million of the $89 million budget. The principal will not begin the paydown until 2032, when yearly payments rise to $26 million. In 2053, there will be a lump sum due of $82 million.
Ironically, the coach with the best winning percentage is Jeff Tedford, who record was 82-57, with the most wins and bowl victories of any Cal coach. He is now serving his second term as coach of our local Fresno state Bulldogs, his alma mater. But, I digress.
Will we have a decent team this year? We emerge relatively unscathed, but battered and beaten by a trip to South Bend, Indiana last week to play the Golden Homers? Will we ever recruit another 4- or 5-star athlete? Will we ever have a first team All American again? I cannot even remember who the last one was, either Cam Jordan (Saints), Keenan Allen (Chargers) or Aaron Rodgers (Packers)??
We almost beat Notre Shame!!! I would imagine their athletic department budget is about triple the size of ours. But, I can say they rarely win any Nobel prizes or Pulitzers.
Today’s game is against the Arizona Wildcats. Go Bears!
But I love my Golden Bears, even though we will not get to Pasadena on January 1 in my lifetime!!!
How many of you have stayed at a hotel, AirBnB, rental condo, or hostel that has a free book library? By free book, I mean leaving a book of yours, and taking a different one. Other names for these are free community library, free lending library, and take one, leave one. I have seen them in other places as well, on cute little Cul de sacs in my neighborhood, the YMCA, and Friends of the Library.
Trading books has probably been around even before the public library. Maybe old Ben Franklin was onto something? Though it is contested, most of us credit Ben Franklin in 1731 for starting the first free public library in the (future) United States.
Growing up, we always had a library card. On Fridays, when my Mom did the weekly grocery shopping, we were allowed to walk to the library, after school, until she picked us up. Of course, we made a few stops along the way, like the soda fountain at the drug store, or the hobby shop next door.
But all of us who travel seem to have a book (or in my case, several) in our carry-on bag. Kindle users, you are out of luck! And many of us trade books, though our taste in reading may differ dramatically.
I tend to carry light reading, with my favorite being John Grisham. But I have attempted to widen my horizons to Tom Clancy, and Robert Ludlum. But the point is, the books are light reading yet entertaining. And I read mostly at the airport or on the plane.
To quote Fodor’s, the honest nature of the free book economy is part of what makes it so special. Books congregate on these shelves from around the world. I imagine every time a book changes hands creates a story in itself. Wouldn’t it be interesting if we wrote our name and location inside the front cover?
Of course, the books have no logic or Dewey Decimal System to organize them. Fiction and non-fiction mix like long lost cousins. Children’s books sit between adult mysteries and biographies. The lack of organization makes this a grand adventure.
I specifically recall such a free book exchange in Hanoi. I was reading that awful book about Pat Tillman, the NFL player who quit football to join the Army Rangers. It was a little too graphic for me. So, about halfway through the book, I exchanged it for another forgettable book. But the point is, the exchange was free, and I ended up changing my mind set completely.
So, next time you are on the road, and get bored, try the free book exchange.
“Having hobbies in retirement is so important for keeping both your mind and body busy,” says Craig Kirsner, president of retirement planning services at Stuart Estate Planning Wealth Advisors in Coconut Creek, Florida. “You’ve probably worked for decades and now you have to keep busy in retirement as well.”
These hobbies can keep you productive and fulfilled throughout your retirement years:
Stock market trading.
So, naturally, I have my own take on retirement, having been retired now for 14 years. Mental and physical exercise are at the top of my personal list. But first, let’s talk about those listed above.
Pickleball seems easier on the leg joints than tennis, racquetball, and squash. I would say the jury is out for joints in the arm and shoulders.
I love writing, as you know. It keeps me busy, and it requires that I read a decent amount for both pleasure and research.
I did my share of stock market trading in the 0s and 90s, but now, I leave it up to the pros. Plus, I do not have time to do it responsibly.
I hate gardening, as it reminds me too much of farming. I hate pulling weeds. But I do enjoy picking persimmons, and dehydrating them for friends and family.
When I travel, I do copious amounts of walking and exploring. Not so much around home. I am no longer a real hiker, though I love places like Arches National Park, the Grand Canyon, Sedona, and Bryce Canyon National Park.
Though golf is excellent exercise, particularly if you walk, I no longer play. Why? It takes too much time, and I can’t hit the ball more than 260 yards anymore. It has taken the fun out of golf for me.
I have done volunteering since my college days. After graduation, I added places like the Berkeley Free Clinic, Medshare, medical reserve corps, and the American Red Cross. But I pick and choose my spots carefully, avoiding things like radiation (Fukushima), and earthquakes (Haiti).
I enjoy mentoring young future health professionals. I am mentoring two future nurses right now. And even in adulthood, some people need mentoring, not just professionally, but personally, and financially.
They left off two of my favorite activities, travel, and cycling. Both require an active and well-prepared approach. Travel requires planning and execution. It also involves knowing your limits, as I have found out in older age. Cycling has been a godsend for exercise and meeting people, both here at home, and abroad. But I do not cycle crazy miles, and I tend to cycle every OTHER day now.
Finally, I love to read books. And I mean good books, such as the classics, nonfiction, mysteries, and biographies. Not only do they keep the mind active, for me, it provides information for future trips and emails.
As Satchel Paige said, “Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you!!”
Books are a culture’s memory blanket. Not only do they entertain and delight, they also carry fingerprints of the past and roadmaps for the future. So, the value a reader derives from those written words is indeterminable. UNESCO’s World Book Capital program acknowledges the role of books in the development of a culture, a city, and a country.
Every year, a World Book Capital is chosen to encourage the culture of reading. There is no financial prize with this title, but the World Book Capital receives massive recognition. Readers should take a note of the city that gets crowned because all through the year, the winner organizes activities to promote reading and books. The nomination process demands that cities map out the activities and their plans for the year (including how they will secure funding), so you can be sure that the winner has a comprehensive, book-focused yearly schedule to interest readers.
For travelers, it’s a great way to get acquainted with a region’s culture, their writings, and their authors—their voices will echo through your travels if you pick up the books when you’re there, attend a talk or a workshop, or participate in the city’s book fair or local events.
Madrid won the first title in 2001. In 2018, Athens was given the honor, with over 600 book related activities. Guadalajara is the winner for 2022. Mexico’s second-largest city remains a hidden gem. It is a hub of history and art, and a food-lover’s paradise. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the Octavio Paz Library, named after the Nobel Laureate. Originally built as a chapel in 1665, the façade was added in the early 1800s. Nearly a hundred years ago, artists David Alfaro Siqueiros and Amado de la Cueva painted a fantastic mural inside that took inspiration from the Mexican revolution. You must enter this institution to take a look at its vast collection of Spanish works.
I love this award. And I love books and travel. This is perfect!!!
Yes, Napa Valley is one of the most luxurious luxury destinations in the world. That doesn’t mean everything here costs a pretty penny. The truth is that Napa County boasts a host of destinations and activities that are totally free. Here are our top 10.
Shop the market The Napa Farmers’ Market is the county’s largest and regularly boasts more than 100 vendors, artisans, and purveyors. On Saturdays, it’s also one of the very few markets in the region that operates year-round. The market is held in the City of Napa parking lot at 1100 West Street, two blocks from the Oxbow. Our advice: Go before 9 a.m. to score popular treats such as English Muffins from Model Bakery.
Explore ‘Cowville’ One of the most scenic roads in Yountville is Yount Mill Road, a ribbon of concrete that winds out of town to the north and reconnects with Highway 29 near Mustards Grill. The best way to experience the road: On foot. Along the stroll you can feed hay to longhorns that graze fields to the east, munch on crab apples, and soak up the scenery. The best part: You’re never more than 10 minutes from downtown.
Wander Calistoga’s Labyrinth Wellness practitioners and Zen masters say labyrinths are great places to meditate and dive deep into thought. The Indian Springs Labyrinth on Lincoln Avenue in downtown Calistoga definitely is worth a visit. The circular pathway is adjacent to an art gallery and is a short walk from the spa pools at Indian Springs. It’s also near The Depot, the newest project from Jean-Charles Boisset.
Summit Mount St. Helena You haven’t really arrived in Wine Country until you’ve hiked to the summit of Mount St. Helena and enjoyed a bottle of rose before the fog burns off below you. The mountain is in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park and the summit is accessed by the Stevenson trail that winds from the top of Highway 29. Allow about three hours for the grueling ascent; the scramble down goes much faster.
Disc golf at Skyline Frisbee golf is serious business at Skyline Wilderness Park in southern Napa. This expansive park has a 400-acre, 18-hole course with DIScatcher baskets; the Marvin Paul-designed course is technical with steep grassy hillsides. The entire course can be played in less than two hours—even less if you only throw nine. Follow the course by using the tee signs on each hole.
Drink up Napa art Sculptures on the free and public Napa Art Walk change every year, and for the year starting August 2021 the exhibit comprises 10 sculptures from seven artists representing four western states. Online maps help visitors navigate the art walk. For a fulfilling detour, check out the Rail Arts District, where local artists have painted giant murals on walls of buildings that line the Wine Train, train tracks.
Pay culinary homage More than 4,000 artifacts of specialty cookware, bread baking and culinary tools, appliances, and tableware comprise the permanent exhibit about Chuck Williams at CIA Copia . Williams was a popular local chef who went on to launch the housewares company Williams Sonoma. Today the collection of odd-shaped tureens and a duck de-boning machine are among the most bizarre of the items on exhibit.
Look up Depending on the time of year, hot-air balloons are a common sight in the skies above the Napa Valley. The good news: Ogling at these giant floating orbs is totally free. Most balloons leave right around sunrise to get aloft before the wind picks up. This means it’s probably best to hit up a local independent coffee shop and find a flat and open space for your watch party.
Observing the Oxbow Napa’s Oxbow Public Market essentially put public markets on the map; though others in the United States came before it, no others have quite perfected the luxury angle. While food and trinkets at the Oxbow can be expensive, wandering around to investigate the goodies and wares doesn’t cost a cent. To experience peak rush hour, plan to visit around lunchtime on a weekend.
Critter-watching in delta Birding is the name of the game at Wetlands Edge Park in American Canyon, the southernmost city in the entire county. The park comprises roughly five miles of trails in all, including dirt paths that parallel the Napa River where it meets San Pablo Bay. In mornings, usually right around sunrise, the waters are teeming with herons and other birds. Be sure to bring a camera.
Napa Valley will aways be my favorite. I started visiting in the 60s, when we were invited by Allied Growers to visit some of the wineries they owned, such as BV, and Inglenook. Back then, tastings, even dinners, were FREE!! My how things have changed.
I do enjoy other wine regions, such as the Central Coast, New Zealand, Mendoza, Bordeaux, Champagne, Willamette Valley, Sonoma, Loire, Chile, Central Washington, and even Madera-Fresno. But one area I did not enjoy was Temecula, quite overrated.
Several news articles have emphasized how expensive Napa Valley has become. Wine tasting fees hover around $100, often more for upscale places. Add in hotel, meals, wine purchases and gas, resulting in a very expensive weekend.
Note: I have only done #9, I have my work cut out for me!!!
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!!!