POSTED ON October 18, 2009 | IN Wine News | BY Joe Becerra

Harvest Ups and Downs
At the annual Napa Valley Vintners Association Harvest Report, jubilant vintners gave glowing reports, touting the 2009 vintage to be perhaps one of the best in recent years. But that report came the day before the big rains of Tuesday, October 13. The Valley had 3 inches of rain in areas and many growers were worried that the heavy rains would cause mold and perhaps ruin this so-called perfect vintage. But then, Mother Nature did an about face and heated things up on Friday. Winemaker Cathy Corison on twitter: “Sun out and 80 degrees. Lots of Cabernet still out in the valley- this should bring it home safe and sound.” But Cathy also reported the challenge was getting tractors into the muddy vineyards to pick grapes.

Limo Drivers vs. Platypus
Platypus and other companies like them are reaping the benefits of the present economy while limo drivers are finding it more difficult to get bookings. Platypus makes stops at hotels and drives folks around for a day of wine tasting and lunch. The downside is that you go where Platypus wants you to go. What a bonanza for the wineries working with Platypus. The cost is $99 a person for about a six-hour tour including lunch but no tasting room fees. We also know of a tour company that picks up tourists at Union Square in San Francisco and then heads to the Valley. It is a tough time for some limo drivers.

Gearing up for the off-season
Looks like some planning is currently underway for attracting tourists in the off-season to the Napa Valley. This entire year could be considered off-season but usually December thru March is the quietest time in the Napa Valley. The Yountville Chamber has instituted its First Annual Moveable Feast with a “Passport” of special offerings.

V. Sattui is trying something novel. How about six different mini websites! The one that caught our eye is this one: Affordable Napa Vacation. Oh great, we thought, some package deals to get us to the Valley. What a disappointment we find no discount coupons or package deals for the visitor on this Website. If you want tourist to come, you need some incentives.

Where is Havens Wine?
So Haven was shuttered a few weeks back and one of Haven’s wines has shown up on the Wine Access Website, the 2004 Bourriquot Red Wine Napa Valley for half price. But that is one of their older vintages so where are all their current wines?

So far we know of three Napa wineries that have closed this year, Kirkland Ranch, Lorca, and Havens. One distributor told us at a wine tasting event, that there are several wineries teetering near bankruptcy and if wine sales don’t pick up, they will be forced to sell or close shop in 2010.

Luca Hotel to open soon
As though there was no such thing as a recession going on, another luxury hotel is set to open soon and this one is at the north end of Yountville. The Hotel Luca will offer 20 luxury rooms and will have a Tuscan themed restaurant called the Cantinetta Piero. Room rates will be from $295 to $650 per night. Well, at least the rooms are less expansive than the Bradesanno.


  1. Steph says

    Napa has some of the best wines in the country, hands down!

    Thank you for your well-written articles.

    I recommend checking out the website I love and use by clicking on my name if you love Napa wines. This guy reviews them regularily.

    Thanks again and I’ve added you to my blog-roll.

    May 2009 shine in the eyes of the Wine Gods!