Napa shouldn’t give up on the 99%
There is a real risk that Napa’s success could lead to its downfall – unless companies like nakedwines.com take action to stop it.
Contributed by Nick Devlin, president of nakedwines.com
The Napa Valley is special.
It’s not just that it’s a stunningly beautiful slice of preserved agricultural America just 40 minutes north of the Golden Gate, nor that it’s the home to hundreds of great wineries. Napa encapsulates the American dream.
The Judgement of Paris in 1976 catapulted the wines of Napa into the front rank of wine globally; nothing could better encapsulate the belief that if you work hard you can remake yourself in a generation from everyman to The Man. As an outsider who has moved to the Valley and is now privileged to call Napa home I see the excitement the very image of Napa evokes when I’m traveling and someone asks me where I come from.
But there is a real risk that Napa’s success could lead to its downfall – and that’s a shame. I will do everything I can to prevent that!
It turns out, there are real problems in the Napa garden of Eden. Dave McIntyre isn’t alone in feeling a sense of loss; the wines of Napa are increasingly taken from affordable treats and transformed into luxury symbols, far beyond the reach of most American wine lovers. It’s not healthy for the long term of the Valley either. Tourist numbers are down; guests are getting older and each year more and more wineries are competing to attract them.
“Napa cabernet sauvignon is a wine for the 1 percent. It’s not meant for the rest of us. It’s a trophy for the rich, something to be flaunted as much as enjoyed.” – Dave McIntyre
The next generation of wine lovers is in danger of bypassing Napa; at risk of becoming a one generation success if America’s newest wine lovers grow up seeing Napa as an over-priced, over-sold anachronism.
And that would be tragic.
At their best Napa wines combine power, grace, and character. They are both easy to admire and to enjoy – in short, they deserve a place in all wine lovers’ hearts.
The problem is that too many are in danger of believing unquestioningly in some parts of the ‘Napa myth’ that great wine is only made for $100 or more. The facts just don’t support the luxury. I believe we have a duty to challenge these myths.
Let’s take even To Kalon vineyard Cabernet: at $50,000 a ton for fruit you are never going to make a cheap wine…but the reality is the fruit cost is around $60 a bottle. It’s hard to see this wine costing more than $75-80 to make…that leaves around $420 of markup. It’s not the cost of the grapes that is pricing wine lovers out of Napa!
I run nakedwines.com and we believe in doing things differently. Working with independent winemakers, funded by our community of over 115,000 Angels we are able to source great quality Cabernet in Napa at around the Valley average price mentioned of $7,000 per ton. That turns into wines that cost around $12-15 to make and we sell our range of Napa wines from $19.99.
“We believe in supporting quality winemaking, and at the end of the day, we feel there is a limit to how much money anyone needs to make for selling a bottle of wine.”
One of our most awarded winemakers, Matt Parish, makes a splendid reserve Cabernet from Rutherford for $33.99 – Big name wine brands like Paul Hobbs makes bottles from the same vineyard… our terms with the grower preclude naming it… but you can rest assured the price difference is telling. We believe in supporting quality winemaking, and at the end of the day, we feel there is a limit to how much money anyone should make for selling a bottle of wine.
We believe in supporting quality winemaking, and at the end of the day, we feel there is a limit to how much money anyone needs to make for selling a bottle of wine.
So Dave, let me extend you an invitation to come visit and taste with us in the valley. We’ve not given up on the 99 percent just yet!