Impact-Napa Conference Focuses on Past, Present and Future of Napa Valley

With Sunday’s earthquake still fresh on people’s mind, members of the wine growing community gathered at Napa’s Meritage Resort & Spa for the North Bay Business Journal’s annual “Impact: Napa” conference.  DP&F’s Richard Mendelson served as the moderator and DP&F was one of the two underwriters for the conference.

Napa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Marc Luce started the conference with an update on the earthquake damage and the County’s response.

Mendelson then interviewed Margrit Mondavi, Vice President for Cultural Affairs for Robert Mondavi Winery.  Mondavi shared many details of her long history in the Valley, starting from her time as a tour guide at Charles Krug Winery.  Mondavi highlighted the influence of food, art, and international travel in the growth of Robert Mondavi Winery, founded by her late husband Robert Mondavi.  She also noted the strong sense of community that has continued to be a hallmark of the Valley, recalling how Robert Mondavi and others would readily share equipment and lend advice to fellow winegrowers.

Next, Mendelson led a panel discussion on the Winery Definition Ordinance.  Panelists included Clay Gregory, president of Visit Napa Valley; Alex Ryan, President of Duckhorn Wine Company; and Dennis Groth, president of Groth Vineyards & Winery.  Panelists shared their views on the WDO’s impact on valley winegrowers and potential changes to county regulations.  Mendelson closed the panel by reminding attendees that there will be a community forum this November to discuss the future of the WDO.  We will announce more details regarding that forum in future blog posts.

The conference closed with a discussion featuring the “next generation” of leaders in the vineyard, winery, and restaurant worlds.  Panelists included Caleb Mosey, vineyard manager at Quintessa Winery; Vanessa Robledo, president of Black Coyote Winery; and Perry Hoffman, chief at Etoile Restaurant.  Both Robledo and Hoffman grew up in Napa, and talked about how their local upbringing continues to influence them today.  Hoffman learned to cook at his grandparents’ restaurant in Yountville, the  French Laundry, while Robledo learned how to tend to vines directly from her grandfather.  All panelists emphasized the importance of continued innovation in their respective fields as key to the continued growth and development of Napa Valley.