The Remarkable Rise of Napa
As I sat in the bleachers behind the par 3 11th hole watching the best golfers in the world hit a 180 yard 6/7 iron shot into a green surrounded by water and sand and sipping Irish Coffee, I began to marvel at the near complete transformation of the city of Napa into an entertainment haven…and its consequences.
Consider what now happens in Napa.
An annual professional golf tournament. It’s one of only 42 cities in the country that host this traveling circus that mints money for itself and its host cities.
BottleRock brings headliners to the Napa Fairgrounds every year and the boost to the local economy that comes with a multi-day musical and food extravaganza.
The annual Napa Valley Film Festival is a week-long event that brings international attention to the city from cultural and arts mavens, and helps elevate the region among a mid to highbrow set of influencers
Blue Note Napa is set to open in downtown Napa and will bring world-class jazz acts to the city.
The Napa Valley Branch of the Culinary Institute of America is set to open in the former Copia Building in the Oxbow District where it will focus on visitors and tourists to the reason more than moral culinary academics like its campus in Saint Helena upvalley.
The city of Napa now boasts far more fine dining restaurants than any other town in the Valley.
The now-under construction Archer Hotel is set to open in downtown Napa in Spring 2017, bringing with it 180 rooms to downtown Napa where it will charge and get luxury rates.
Here’s the really interesting thing: all of these changes are due entirely to the demand for Napa Valley wine. Nothing else. There is really no other attraction that accounts for this development. Unlike Sonoma County, where wine is also an important driver of the economy and tourism, Napa does not possess any other significant attraction such as a shoreline or a diversified farm and foodie community.
In addition, all this change has come over the past 15 years.
It will be fascinating to watch what happens to Napa Valley over the next 20 years. Certainly the cost to visit and stay here will increase. Certainly, the options for those who do want to visit the region but are not part of the 1% will decrease. Certainly, competition among wineries for the well-heeled visitors will increase creating a further diversity of winery experiences. And certainly, the opposition to a visitor economy will increase if something more than low paying service jobs and expensive housing costs isn’t developed.