An interesting problem? Or no surprise?

As mentioned in a recent write up on local Napa restaurants appear to be, “A Let Down For Napa Wines.” The question that I have had bouncing around in my own head is: should I be surprised?

I am going to have to go with… no.

The article make a decent point for those of us in the Napa Valley wine biz. However, The Napa Valley represents just 4% of CALIFORNIA’S wine grape harvest1. Of that production 40% is Cabernet Sauvignon with Chardonnay being the runner up2 (which should be no surprise). The Napa Valley is a very special place for grape growing and winemaking. There is no doubt that great wines come from this valley, but… BUT it represents a very small portion of the wine industry.

The growth that wine has seen around the world is unparalleled. There are more wineries, winemakers, styles, countries, states and wines in the game than EVER before. How could you focus on just one area? More importantly why would you as a restauranteur unless that was part of your caché and focus of your business plan?

The article singles out one of my favorite restaurants, Oenotri, right off the bat. A place that has a very clear, and amazing I might add, Italian focus to the point that they offer an awesome wine club that features exclusively Italian wines. Their wine list does have a very impressive selection in the Napa wine department once you get into the by-the-bottle section. By my count there are 7 pages of California wine, much of it from Napa, out of 29 total pages in an Italian-centric restaurant. That is just over 24% for those of you keeping track.

PRESS, also mentioned in the article, defines itself as celebrating…

“the famous red wines of the Napa Valley with the finest prime dry-aged beef grilled over almond and cherry wood, wood-fired rotisserie chicken, and locally raised lamb and pork. Daily selections of fresh fish and seafood provide equally high notes for white wine lovers. Our comfortable vineyard setting includes indoor and outdoor seating with large fireplaces, and a hand-crafted walnut bar framed by twin wine towers showing our extensive Napa Valley-only wine collection.”

Kudos to PRESS for sticking to their guns, but do other restaurants that do not have a Napa-only wine list deserve less praise? Is Napa wine being out-sold in restaurants on its home turf? Are they truly forgetting where “their bread is buttered” or is this wine world just too damn big for a singular focus?

I do know one thing for sure. As a wine drinker, if I were to walk into every restaurant or wine bar in the Napa Valley to find only Napa wines on every list I would be… bored. But that’s just me.

Bring on the competition. Better wines are sure to follow.


Full article –
1 – Napa Valley Vintners –
2 – Napa Valley Vintners –

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