Napa and Vegas—A Circus of Hip and Dazzle

Vegas Anyone who has visited Las Vegas recently will recognize it as a Circus of Hip and Dazzle with sin, excess and hope holding court in its three rings. It's not so different from Napa Valley.

I recently had a chance to revisit Vegas after a long hiatus. I used to regularly go to Vegas to play poker at the Mirage (once the center of the poker world that has not been replaced by the Bellagio). My most recent trip was in the company of some very good buddies for my bachelor party and to indulge in a few days of food, golf and poker. That all went well. But throughout my visit, I kept seeing signs that Napa Valley and Las Vegas have eery similarities.

It's hard to deny that Napa, like Vegas, has a distinct aura of Hip and Dazzle about it. Driving up Valley doesn't produce the eye blinding invasion of neon and flashing lights one is hit with while driving down the Strip. But there is the equivalent. Everywhere in Napa Valley the visitor is asked to come on in and indulge the senses. If it's not flashing lights, pNvballromises of riches, easy access to hookers or entrance to the finest buffets in the land, it is an invitation to unknown  luxuries, access to the culinary promised land, the offer to step beyond envy and a pathway to a pampered  lifestyle.

And those fabulous wineries—built on themes of celebrity, great art, ancient mesopotamian palaces, ornate italian fortresses. Aren't these simply the equivalent of the Vegas wineries themed for European capitals, exotic locals, ancient peoples and lands of fantasy and desire?

The culinary comparison is too obvious to belabor. The fact is some of the greatest culinary talent in the world has staked their claims in both Napa and Vegas.

And yet, surrounding the heart of both Vegas and Napa Valley are remarkably hard working people who keep the fantasies alive while trying so hard to keep their families content and viable. Fly into Vegas or over Napa Valley and take note that surrounding the Strip and abutting the Valley one discovers real worlds of real people and small homes and strip malls and lights that don't beckon but rather light the way home.

The fear some have voiced that Napa will become another Las Vegas—granted a sort of food, wine and lifestyle Vegas—are too late in their desire to keep this place real. And for those who live inside the viney gates of the fantasy, for them its a matter of appreciating the fantasy but remembering too that it is really just a facade adorned with grapes, fine dining and great masseuses.



5 Responses

  1. Steve Howe - April 5, 2011

    Interesting Comparision! While Napa has maintained it’s natural beauty, it is very much a destination that caters to the huge numbers of visitors who travel there each year. Providing, as you so eloquently state, an escape into luxury and indulgence.

  2. Fredric Koeppel - April 5, 2011

    Napa Valley has changed tremendously in the past 20 or 25 years, and not for the better. Traffic is horrendous, ostentatious new wineries look like palaces, and there are just too many people. It’s a respite to drive over the mountains into Sonoma.

  3. Thomas Pellechia - April 5, 2011

    After I saw my one and only winery with computer-controlled fermentation and racking tanks, not to mention the amount of money that went into computerizing decisions that once were made by people, I gave up hope for Napa Valley ever going home again.

  4. JohnLopresti - April 5, 2011

    Give me your agrarians
    your acquarians seeking a mag
    of cab
    your barrel tasters
    five to the cab,
    your ravenous epicures
    your all night revelers
    Such is our valley
    And such were Vegas mortgages
    Give us your agrarians,

  5. Mark - April 11, 2011

    I think it’s a good comparison, definitely an interesting one! Both areas are building huge structures, temples to wine or to gambling and other activities as it is.
    Thomas- I’ve seen at least 2-3 computer controlled fermentation tanks, the winemaker can check them from home instead of coming in.

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