Napa Vintners Celebrate 70th Anniversary at Annual Membership Meeting

Trade association honors its history and looks forward to the future of the Napa Valley wine region


1/21/2014 - St. Helena, CA--The Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) nonprofit trade association today celebrated 70 years of promoting and protecting the Napa Valley wine region at its Annual Membership Meeting. The half-day program also featured a keynote address by Ken Grossman, founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., a panel discussion with vintner leaders about the future of the Napa Valley wine industry, a presentation on Napa-specific data collected for the NVV as part of Silicon Valley Bank's State of the Wine Industry Report, the annual transition of the NVV's board leadership and the association's 2013 year-end report to its membership.

The NVV was founded in 1944 by seven vintners including Beaulieu Vineyard, Larkmead, Napa Valley Co-op, CK Mondavi and Sons, Inglenook, Louis M. Martini and Louis Stralla and today represents nearly 500 Napa Valley wineries. To acknowledge its history of leadership, the NVV saluted 25 of its past board presidents who were brought on stage during the meeting for a hearty round of applause.

Russ Weis, general manager for Silverado Vineyards, was named chairman of the NVV Board of Directors for 2014. "It’s an honor to lead the organization that has been cultivating excellence for the Napa Valley for 70 years and to help guide the NVV as we establish our priorities for the future," said Weis, who replaces outgoing board chair Bruce Cakebread.

Other 2014 NVV board members include Susan Boswell of Chateau Boswell Winery, David Duncan of Silver Oak Cellars/Twomey Cellars, Michael Honig of Honig Vineyard & Winery, Paul Leary of Blackbird Vineyards, Rob Mondavi Jr. of Michael Mondavi Family Estate, David Pearson of Opus One, Doug Shafer of Shafer Vineyards, Eric Sklar of Prescott Ashe Winery, Emma Swain of St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery and Janet Viader of Viader Vineyards & Winery.

Grossman, who spoke to the more than 330 vintner attendees about sustainability in the artisanal beverage industry, drew many parallels about Napa Valley wine and craft beer, in particular the importance of producing the highest quality product. "It’s all about the beer,” he said, when describing his company’s goals. "Like the Napa Valley wine industry, maintaining balance between doing the best thing and crafting the best beer is everything to us." Sierra Nevada has been a leader in sustainability, including the use of renewable energy, minimizing waste, finding efficient transportation and distribution solutions and educating employees and the public about the importance of these practices for future generations.

The vintner panel, moderated by Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible, and including vintners Jean-Charles Boisset of Raymond Vineyards, Bill Harlan of Harlan Estate and BOND, Beth Novak Milliken of Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery and Rob Mondavi Jr. of Michael Mondavi Family Estate, gave their predictions – and cautions – to ensure the future health of the Napa Valley wine industry. Covering topics as wide ranging as land preservation, wine quality, wine tourism and international marketing, the panelists speculated about what the Napa Valley wine industry will be like in 30 years, which will be the 100th anniversary of the NVV.

"Protecting the Napa Valley Agricultural Preserve is the critical link to our future," declared Novak Milliken. Fourth generation vintner Mondavi mused that he "…hopes the Napa Valley of the future looks exactly as it is today…" and cautioned vintners that to get there they must maintain their standard for quality wine production. "We’re at the summit (of quality)," stated Mondavi, "and we cannot go backward." Harlan also reminded his fellow vintners not to rest on their laurels. "It’s been 70 years (for the NVV), but we must be thinking 70 years into the future." And, Boisset, a relative newcomer to the Napa Valley wine industry, summarized his perspective: "We’re only just starting – the next 30 years will be the most exciting, vibrant and dynamic of all. For Napa Valley, our Achilles’ heel would be to lose our sense of distinction."

Rob McMillan, executive vice president and founder of the Wine Division of Silicon Valley Bank, declared in his presentation of Napa Valley-specific data from the 2014 State of the Wine Industry Report that the wine region is recovering well from the recent recession, but reminded NVV members they still have work to do to maintain their market position. "Presently, Napa Valley is the most successful AVA in the United States, but you have to remain hungry and continue to evolve the Napa brand," concluded McMillan.

Immediately following the membership meeting, which was held at the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at the Lincoln Theater in Yountville, vintners celebrated the milestone anniversary at a reception and lunch featuring more than 200 wines from Napa Valley vintages dating back to the 1960s.

About the Napa Valley Vintners
The Napa Valley Vintners nonprofit trade association has been cultivating excellence for 70 years by inspiring its 500 members to produce consistent quality wines, provide environmental leadership and care for the extraordinary place they call home. Learn more at

Photos from NVV's Annual Membership Meeting

2013 NVV Year-End Report Highlights

Contact: Patsy McGaughy, Communications Director 707-968-4207