There is trouble ahead for Napa Valley wineries in 2009 and maybe beyond. You might think that all California wineries will suffer equally, but Napa wineries may be more vulnerable. A trip to the Napa Valley costs more than going to Paso Robles, Mendocino, or the Russian River wine region. Lodging and restaurants are more expensive, tasting room fees are higher, and on average, the cost of a bottle of wine is more expensive in the Napa Valley.
Since January we have been to the Napa Valley on three separate occasions. Granted we always visit during the week but almost every tasting room we have been into has been empty, void of visitors. Where are the tourists? In each tasting room we have heard the same lament about winter months being slow, but never this slow. The outlook for visitors the rest of the year does not look good. The San Francisco Convention & Visitor’s Bureau is predicting a drop in European and Asian travelers and in corporate travel by U.S. companies. No company wants to look bad for taking unnecessary travel junkets. More tourists are traveling on a beer budget.