Napa Valley Dodges the Dreaded Wedding Bullet
Napa Valley dodged a bullet this week. Were it not for the brave representatives of the people on the Board of Supervisors who resisted the call to allow dirty commercialism to infest this bucolic agricultural paradise, it's quite likely the beautiful grapes you see carpeting the Valley would soon be replaced by wedding chapels and limos filled with with off-the-rack tuxedo-wearing marauders. Worse yet, had the board of supervisors not voted to keep weddings out of Napa Valley wineries, this most unique Valley of simple farmers would see themselves endure the fate of their Sonoma Valley peers—a horror I witnessed personally.
At issue on Tuesdays in the halls of government was whether the Board of Supervisors should heed the call of a rabble rousing, commerce-pushing, job-hungry bunch of crass commercialists and amend the Winery Definition Ordinance to allow wineries to host weddings. The vine-killing, soul-destroying practice that is weddings near vineyards has been outlawed in Napa Valley for many years, forcing those people with their starry-eyed fly-over country bumpkin families, bursting purses, and their bubble-drinking guests to go over the hill and spread rice among the vineyards of Sonoma Valley.
By a vote of 3-2, the Napa Board of Supervisors sided with the forces of heaven and saved this valley from seeing its agricultural character destroyed by the wedding.
I, as a newly arrived Napa resident who spent too many painful years in Sonoma Valley where the call of jobs, economic diversity and tax revenue long ago spoiled that poor region, am joyful that Napa Valley and its much more beautiful people will not have to be exposed to the jobs, economic diversity and tax revenue that has infested the other side of the hill.
This is farsighted public policy making on the part of our representatives. Denied by those who called upon the Supervisors to let them host gown-clad riff raff, employ florists, sell wine to unappreciating, palate-deficient out-of-towners all for the sake of jobs and income, is the simple fact that allowing such ceremonies to occur at what are supposed to be just production facilities would forever destroy the Napa agricultural preserve.
The "wedding-crew" asked how this could be? They wanted to know just how it was that opening a winery to 150 people would lead to the destruction of our agricultural nirvana, our beautiful and unspoiled ag heritage. I bet they would like to know!!!
All I can say is just look at Sonoma Valley and what has happened to that poor, wannabe "wine region" to get an idea of what happens when wineries are allowed to host weddings. I witnessed it first hand.
In the first place, you just don't see Sonoma Valley's Highway 12 and Arnold Drive lined the kind of beautiful and architecturally stunning masterpieces that you see here in Napa, created by simple, well-traveled farmers that that just want a stimulating environment in which to make wine. Over there, where weddings are allowed, the average winery tends to be a simple barn-shaped, un-adorned structure that one can hardly pick out from the surrounding oaks, grasslands and vineyard. Is THAT what you want over here??
And don't let those seemingly beautiful Sonoma Valley vineyards, meandering backroads, and unclogged byways fool you. It hides a dirty, secret underbelly that is the result of…weddings. If you look closely, you'll see the filthy residue left over from weddings that is the impact of low and medium wage "jobs" created by Sonoma's trade in weddings. You'll notice a well established patina of good will, painted across the Sonoma Valley by the wedding crowd that just uses Sonoma Valley, then just leaves their well wishes and gratefulness littered all over. And while vineyards appear to continue to expand and Sonoma Valley wines appear to please palates, the fact is that the weddings they host in their wineries taint their wines with the ugly aroma of pedestrian and wider appeal.
This is the future Napa Valley's Board of Supervisors saw and resisted: jobs, economic activity, tax revenue, good will and wider exposure of wines among a potentially pedestrian crowd. No one in their right mind wants that.
As a former Sonoman who has see the faux happiness, ugly jobs and unseemly economic activity that weddings at wineries can lead to, I say leave it over the hill. Keep Napa the beautiful, unspoiled agricultural haven that does not bend to commercialism, tourists demands and the ugly consequences of brides and grooms.