Stop the Wine-ing

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Napa locals are arguing against excessive tourism in their areas. Posted by CBS, San Francisco, “the influx of people enjoying Wine Country has changed the landscape, the industry and many argue the quality of life.”  What’s the latest?  A new group of local residents is fighting for tougher regulation of the wine industry, including cutting back on special events, curbing hours of operation and a return to the focus of winemaking over marketing.  According to reports, there are now 800,000 more tourists and 230 more wineries in the county.  The area has transformed over the past few decades, as many say, into an “adult Disneyland.”

But where do the locals draw the line on the fun?  Napa has more cars driving into and out of the county every day than it has residents.  If the number of hotel rooms in Napa grows at the present rate, the city will have half as many hotels as Las Vegas by 2050.  Some locals are fed up of out-of-towners taking advantage of their county and treating it as a playground.  They also argue to upsurge in tourism has caused the wineries to run overtime and employ more drastic agriculture methods to keep up with the demand, effecting the farmland and natural beauty of the area.

What does wine tourism bring to the area?  Destination Analysts recently published an Economic Impact Report regarding Napa Valley’s Visitor Industry.   In 2014, the Napa Valley welcomed a total of 3.3 million visitors.  The wine area’s visitor industry generated $1.63 billion in total visitor spending inside the county, most of which was generated from local hotel guests ($1.2 billion, or 72 percent of the total).  insiders_guide93% of visitors said they are “likely or very likely” to return.  Within the area, tourism supports an estimated 11,776 jobs, most of them in the hotel and restaurant business, according to the visitor profile study by Destination Analysts.  Not a bad boost for the local economy.

In an effort to regulate the wineries’ agriculture methods, Napa County’s latest mission to balance winery success and farmland protection will go to the Board of Supervisors on December 8th for what could be a resolution to the latest farmland threat.  Supervisors will discuss setting a new limit for how much farmland on rural parcels can be paved over, creating a fast-track for proposed small wineries applications and in most instances prohibiting winery wastewater hold-and-haul for future wineries.

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NAPA, CA. — MONDAY, AUGUST 25, 2014 — Jey Gonzalez rolls broken wine barrels out of a wine storage facility in Napa.  ( Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times )

So, what are the immediate effects of curbing the tourism?  Unfortunately, the smaller wineries would take the brunt of the cause.  They would face major economic impacts because they depend most heavily on the winery tourism to survive in the early days.  Moreover, new brands wouldn’t be able to enter the market.  Though locals may feel the need for more controlled development, there are greater worries that the process may unduly hurt the industry that spurred it all in the first place.

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4 thoughts on “Stop the Wine-ing

  1. This is a tricky issue. As someone who grew up in a beautiful small town, I can relate to the locals. I understand that they want their home to feel like home and they do not want to constantly have to deal with new people (tourists) and what baggage (noise, traffic, etc.) that they come with. At the same time though, you don’t want to hurt small businesses. The Santa Ynez Valley is currently dealing with a similar issue. Many of the locals are strongly opposed to the expansion of the Chumash Casino. Crime was never an issue in the valley, but when the Casino opened, it became one. Locals fear that the expansion will also lead to an expansion in crime.

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  2. I think this is a situation where locals would be unhappy either way, whether tourism was booming, or whether it was completely faltering. While I understand the negative effects of tourism in Napa Valley, I have to think that the positive economic benefits far outweigh the bad. Winery owners are able to make comfortable livings, and thousands of more people are able to find jobs in hotels and other tourism-related industries in Napa Valley. Without this influx of visitors, the region could be suffering economically, like many other smaller areas in this country.

    While I agree that tourism should be regulated in order to reduce negative effects, I think that increased tourism is overall a good thing for a region. I also suspect that many of those who are complaining are people that are already financially successful and well-off, and thus do not need to take part in the increasing industries of the area. For other people living in Napa Valley, like the smaller winery owners that you mention, increased tourism is critical for their livelihood. If people simply want peace and tranquility away from tourists, then there are plenty of places left in the US, as well as in California, where they could live without being bothered by tourists.

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  3. Change is rarely something “locals” are receptive of; while it is sad to see the changing character of the Napa Valley region, this is the reality of living in a free market economy. A tourist boom doesn’t have to be a negative, as long as the ecological impacts are being monitored and regulated. I wonder what legal standing the locals have in terms of being able to limit the influx of tourists coming into the valley.

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  4. I agree with Kyra in the sense that the benefits outweigh the negative effects of tourism. After all, if tourism wasn’t there there wouldn’t many opportunities to grow as a town. Yes, perhaps it is gonna slightly hard to having tons of cars coming and going but that’s a trade off locals have to do to see progress.

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