A New Napa Valley
By Rod Smith
The most important event in Napa Valley history was a disaster. An uncontrollable vine pest forced the replanting of more than two-thirds of the valley's acreage (a conservative estimate) in little more than a decade, from the late 1980s through the '90s. It was tremendously painful and expensive (most estimates of economic damage hover around $3 billion), yet in the end the Napa Valley wine community had turned a crisis into a revolution, and the Napa Valley AVA was transfigured.
It wasn't by choice, of course, but rather at the point of a gun—or, rather, in the grip of a voracious insect's mandibles. In short, Napa Valley wine producers were forced into crisis by a tiny yellow aphid: Dactylasphaera vitifoliae, formerly phylloxera vastatrix, commonly known as phylloxera, often mistakenly called a root louse, and by any name one of the most destructive pests known to agriculture.
Read the entire article (pdf)