Jim Conaway’s new book, the final chapter in his Napa trilogy, NAPA AT LAST LIGHT, portrays our Napa Valley as a community trashed by vineyards and wineries, overrun with tourists and the rich, somehow immune from the immutable laws of business gravity and with a population that doesn’t know how to protect itself. Only he, and those that were here in 1968, seem to know the “truth.”
The arguments that wine has to literally be sold to real people in order to actually have real value, that the wine business, even in Napa, is a highly competitive, cost-intensive international business, existing in a world of distribution and retail disruption, seems to have no impact on Conaway. From high atop his East Coast perch, he launches attacks on our Board of Supervisors, the Napa Valley Vintners and all of the institutions that have made our economy and our county so strong.
As so many small cities and towns across America are being hollowed out, Conaway seems to resent Napa’s economic success, and longs for the days of yore. Thank goodness the Butler Bridge is not a drawbridge, or I’m sure he would suggest pulling it up.
My conversation with Jim Conaway: