A reader takes exception to my previous statement that Napa today is primarily about tourism:
I don’t think it’s really desire for tourists that is driving wineries to want fancier tasting rooms, more events and more visitation. It’s for customers. While I might question why Napa Valley needs any more wineries, the only way they can sell wine is to start with attracting people to their tasting rooms.
Certainly, building vineyards in the hills isn’t aimed at tourists. It’s to produce more expensive wines to sell. So I’d argue that marketing is driving development as much as tourism, though obviously the visitors have to eat and to have a place to stay.
I think strict enforcement of existing laws coupled with setting a higher bar to establishing new wineries would do a lot to help. Like a minimum of 40 acres, and making wines from vineyards on site or perhaps owned by the winery owner. Of course, the nuclear option would to to kill grandfathering of old practices.
Cutting trees on hillsides to put in more vineyards for selling more expensive wine to visitors is an integral part of the new Napa. This is not in the interest of a place under permanent environmental stress, nor a contributor to the health and happiness of an extended community trying to survive as such, rather than as a platform for yet more marketing.
The sad irony is that wine, once the preserver of the valley from development, has devolved into the primary driver of its possible destruction.