POSTED ON December 30, 2008 | IN Wine News | BY Joe Becerra

The Napa Valley Destination Council
The Napa Valley Destination Council, formerly the Napa Valley Conference and Visitors’ Bureau, not only changed its name but its focus. On October 1st, it unexpectedly closed the downtown tourist office located in Napa in the Town Center. The Napa Downtown Merchants Association practically staged a coup, forcing the Council to re-open on a permanent basis. The Napa Valley Destination Council launched a new theme along with a website: Legendary Napa Valley.

2008 Auction Napa Valley raises $10 million
Jay Leno and Oprah Winfrey were on hand at the 28th annual charity event. The top auction bid by a single bidder was $500,000 for six magnums of 1992 Screaming Eagle and a dinner at the winery.

Jamie Davis of Schramsberg Dies As Family Feud Continues
Jamie Davis, co-founder of the icon sparkling winery Schramsberg Vineyards along with her late husband Jack Davis, died from Parkinson’s disease. In 2007 their eldest son John Davis, had taken his mother to court, accusing her of favoring son Hugh by giving him more ownership and privileges in the company. The battle continues in the courts.

The Foley Wine Group Makes its Way into the Napa Valley
Foley Estates took advantage of a Venge Family divorce settlement and purchased the winery facility and property on the historic Rossini Ranch at the foot of Howell Mountain. In late December of this year, Foley Estates added to their collection of wineries by purchasing Sebastiani Vineyards of Sonoma County.

Development in Napa Rolls Along
The Oxbow Market opened in December of 2007, but had very few tenants. 2008 marked the opening of all the artisan shops including Taylor’s Refresher, Model Bakery and Hog Island Oyster Company. Meanwhile, construction on the Riverfront complex in downtown Napa continued, and a major portion of the Napa River promenade has opened.

The Greening of Napa Valley Wineries
Many wineries in the valley installed solar panels and have introduced sustainable farming practices. A total of 41 wineries by our count have a solar energy system and more than 20 wineries are practicing organic farming to some degree.

2008 Harvest Beset With Problems
The growing year was marked by weird climate conditions. There was little rainfall, cooler temperatures, high winds and sporadic frost during bloom. The 2008 harvest was disappointing in terms of quantity.

Chateau Montelena Sells; Later The Deal Fails
In July Jim Barrett announced that he had sold Chateau Montelena for better than 100 million dollars to the French wine company, Chateau Cos d’Estournel. Four months later, Jim Barrett announced the deal had fallen through and that the Barrett Family would keep the winery.

Copia is Out of Business
The day after Thanksgiving, Copia closed its doors never to reopen again. Rumors abounded throughout the year regarding the financial struggles of the art and food cultural center of the Napa Valley. In December, a judge ruled that bankruptcy was not an option and that left Copia without any means to continue.

The Economic Meltdown
The economic meltdown affected wine consumers in a big way. Consumers reduced spending on high-end wines and increased spending on wines under $10. Traffic to tasting rooms in November and December came to a crawl. This economic meltdown is sure to have a major impact on all Napa Valley wineries and tourism in 2009. How bad, only time will tell.

Robert Mondavi dies May 16, 2008
This was without a doubt was the biggest 2008 story for the Napa Valley. Robert Mondavi was an icon, a leader, and a pioneer. Without him, the Napa Valley would not be was it is today. Robert Mondavi’s impact on the Napa Valley will live forever.