A Trip Down Memory Lane

The other day my father and I drove through the Napa Valley together. We were headed to yet another wine industry financial conference for some pearls of wisdom. (It occurred to me that we could probably write the book on the subject ourselves!)

I really can't recall the last time we were in the car together in Napa…it had to be years. As we meandered along Hwy. 29, awestruck by the beautiful mustard that colored the vine rows, Dad would occasionally point to properties that he had looked at buying all those years ago. One was near the old Ehlers Lane Winery, just before Charles Krug Winery.  Another was at the southern end of the valley, just before the town of Yountville. It had some gnarly old vines and a beautiful Victorian home. “I looked at that place, but didn't want to be 50 ft. off the highway. Figured that someday if the place ever got discovered, it might become a problem" Dad remarked.  I then asked him what it cost back then. “Gee, I don't know, it just seemed awfully expensive. Probably $3500-$4500 an acre.” We both chuckled.

It made me wonder how things would have been different had we started up over there. What would we be known for? What would it have been like to grow up in the Napa Valley? How would our wines be perceived today? One thing's for sure, we probably would be charging 3 times the price. And, while it's sad but true…we probably wouldn't be going to wine industry financial symposiums for pearls of advice.
| | Comments (2)


JohnLopresti Author Profile Page said:
April 19, 2008 10:11 AM

These times are different from when I worked one autumn thru the next spring in DryCreek. Viticultural practices, like vinification art, and even cooperage, all have modernized and improved the quality of the wines yet adding challenges. When I first learned the various trades in the wine industry I always puzzled about facilities' strategies for nontablewine products, seemingly, to me, at that time, an unrewarding and distracting endeavor for an organization whose highest paradigm was production of superb varietal wine. Recently in a backwater supermarket in Cloverdale, however, I had occasion to taste a brandy that has a story much like what is happening in Dry Creek valley, and thought I would send a few links, so when you are contemplating business models you could balance the best vision of what Dry Creek appellation has to offer with the tale of what has developed in the region IV land considerably further north in our neighboring county.

Alambic still: http://www.jepsonwine.com/images/gallery/still.jpg
Schneider personal story: http://www.jepsonwine.com/who_we_are/winemaker_bio.pdf

I recall when I worked at DCV, Dave had a favorite entertainment by a family musicians group who would perform on the lawn outside the barrel room. So when I looked at the biography of the brandywinemaker in the links, above, I checked the website of the outfit where she used to work, up where vines have to endure winter snow, and heat summation always is problematic in WA; it looks like they have a vigorous summer entertainment schedule of music, like DCV.

There are many ways to connect with the public and integrate closely with the community, and lots of ways to improve the economics of winemaking innovatively. I hope the ideas which the Napa adventure provided will add to DCV's tradition of creativity and excellence.

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March 4, 2009 6:24 AM

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This page contains a single entry by Kim published on April 11, 2008 11:59 AM.

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