Napa Winemakers on a Quality Conquest of Europe

Forty winemakers from California’s Napa Valley were exhibiting at Vinexpo Bordeaux last week, on a mission to change perception of the region’s wines. They spearheaded the 525 wine makers grouped in the association of Napa Vintners.

The group seeks to distance Napa Valley wines from the rest of California and drive home to the thousands of European and Asian buyers at the fair how Napa Valley wines are subtler, more nuanced and capable of quality ageing.

Setting themselves apart, the Napa Vintners thus had their own pavilion, close to, but apart from, the main California wines booths.

Dana Osbourne, international marketing manager, for Napa Valley Vintners says that 150 years of tradition have resulted in wines of the highest quality, cultivated in one of the most extraordinary places in the world.

A three-year plan is in place to change perceptions of Napa vines so that they are seen to be of distinct quality from California wines in general. The plan will explain why quality means that prices may be higher, ranging from $22 to as much as $225 a bottle and while quantities available will be lower.

In contrast to their reputation, production is small. Napa produces only 4% of the total California wine harvest; on a global stage that accounts for only four tenths of world production.

Dana says that there is clear evidence from media reaction around the world that the Napa strategy is working. “The messages coming all sectors of the media, bloggers and social media emphasise quality. People are beginning to understand why Napa Valley wines are different.”

Not least, Napa Valley Vintners have a new generation of wine drinkers in their sights. “There is a new generation in Europe that wants to venture outside their old experiences”.