Napa vs Sonoma: Politics, Not Wine

Napa vs. Sonoma.

It’s a theme I’ve enjoyed exploring over the years on FERMENTATION. Mostly I’ve compared the two counties for the benefit of travelers and in the context of wine production. However, yesterday’s election and all the talk of where a state’s Democratic and Republican votes come from, ethnic breakdowns, etc, provided an interesting backdrop for looking further at these two wine country counties. For the record, I’ve lived in both and currently reside in Napa.

The first thing to note is that Sonoma County is larger than Napa County in both geographic size and population. Sonoma County’s population is 488,000. Napa County’s population is 138,000.


2012 Presidential Vote:
Napa:        Obama 61.7%     Romney 36%
Sonoma:   Obama 70.8%    Romney:26%

Abolishing The Death Penalty (Proposition 34)
Napa:        Yes:48.1%      No: 51.9%
Sonoma:   Yes: 56.6%    No: 43.4%

Sonoma County is more liberal than Napa. Furthermore, it has been this way for quite some time. In fact, Only San Francisco and Alameda Counties voted for President Obama last night in larger percentages than did Sonoma County. However, don’t get the impression that Napa County is a bastion of conservatism. It’s not. It’s just that I’m comparing it to a REALLY liberal county.


                              White                Hispanic           Asian            Black
Napa:                       72%                    32%                        7%                 2%
Sonoma:                  81%                    25%                        4%                 2%

I realize the numbers here don’t add up. Blame the Census Bureau.


                                         Napa                       Sonoma
Household Income     $67,389                        $63,274
College Degrees               30%                             31.5%
Home ownership            65%                              62%

I always got the sense after living in Napa for a while that Sonoma County was the more politically liberal county compared to Napa County. Start heading west toward the ocean in Sonoma County and truly begin to understand what I mean by that.

3 Responses

  1. JohnLopresti - November 10, 2012

    With respect, and deference, to our more eastern neighbors in Napa county, there is a tad of history in this comparison. Consider the recorded prices for tons of winegrapes over a few decades, and Sonoma county’s agriculturalists’ reputation for excess irrigation to increase crop size, Sonoma county’s viticulturalists’ slowness to adapt modern vine training; even Napa county’s growers early acceptance of cover cropping.

    All those are quite historical trends, and fairly irrelevant to what is occurring now.

    I am very surprised by the income figures Tom cites. One of the profiles that would reveal more about the relative liberalism or conservatism of our neighboring counties might become more defined by examining only growers, owners, vineyard management companies, corporate farms in the area, investors, bankers’ portfolios. Hambrecht and Quist used to publish a wine investment newsletter a few decades back that helped reveal these nuances.There are new ‘technologies’ too, affecting winegrowing. There is a substantial sustainability effort. And there are competing crops.

    The leader of the blue dog congressional wine caucus had his district revised by the citizens panel for the recent election. It’s northern CA politics, for sure. But wine knows no bounds, conservative, Republican, or liberal, Democrat. And those are some of the beauties of the trade. It’s replete with smart, and businesslike folks but also family dynastic inputs. It’s almost like it’s still the middle ages, and the folks in the castles, some of them, really have the science right, and keep well paid people to assure their wines are first rate.

  2. james conaway - November 13, 2012

    This is a fascinating comparison, as was your piece on wine in blue and red states. Thanks, Jim Conaway

  3. Marcela - November 21, 2012

    I have subscribed to Starhub Cable TV sevrice. Only to realise that the cable point and my TV are too far apart. To connect the two I will need a cable of at least 6 metres.The technical support told me this is not advisable because there will be a drop of signal quality. They told me to fix another new cable point instead, which cost quite a bit.Anyone connected their TV to the cable point using long cables? Is the risks really significant?

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