Napa and Vegas—A Circus of Hip and Dazzle
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 I used to regularly go to Vegas to play poker at the Mirage (once the center of the poker world that has not been replaced by the Bellagio).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, promises 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.