Feb 26, 2020

Two Napa County Supervisors recount Bordeaux, France Wine Trip

Napa County Supervisors Diane Dillon and Brad Wagenknecht recently talked about their fall, taxpayer-funded trip to Bordeaux, France to represent the county at the Great Wine Capitals conference.

They went to the largest wine growing area in France, with more than 8500 producers and 284,000 acres of vineyards- by comparison, Napa County has about 500 wineries and 45,000 acres of vineyards. There they took tours, heard from speakers and attended events.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to learn about the competition, “Dillon reported to the Board of Supervisors on Dec, 17. Other Great Wine Capitals are Adelaide | South Australia, Bilbao | Rioja, Lausanne |Switzerland, Mainz | Rheinhessen, Mendoza, Porto, San Francisco | Napa Valley, Valparaìso | Casablanca Valley and Verona.

Each year, one hosts the annual conference.

Napa County also sent Agricultura Commissioner Humberto Izquierdo to the conference, held from Nov. 2-7. One day included a talk on climate change and how it would affect the various Wine Capitals. For example, Verona, Italy could experience high rain rates and high temperatures. Mendoza, Argentina could see climatic variability.

“Access to water is going to be one of Napa’s issues,” Wagenknecht said.

“It was different in each place, but yet there was an effect in each place,” Dillon said.

Wagenknecht gave a packet to the Napa Valley Register that included comments by Izquierdo. Izquierdo wrote that climate change might lead to new pests that presently couldn’t thrive in Napa coming to the area.

“Awareness is the first step towards dealing with the problem,” he wrote. Izquierdo during the conference talked about viticulture and enology with people from Germany, Spain, France and Scandinavia.

“The exchange of ideas is always important, as you never know what practice idea or process might be useful for us here in Napa,” he wrote.

The Napa County government contingent visited Millesima – a négociant or wine merchant – and saw the 2.5 million bottles of wine in its stone-wall cellar. Wagenknecht said a lot of wineries sell most of their wine to négociant.

“They broker it all over the world. There is some good and bad to that,” he said.


The Napa County contingent toured various Bordeaux Wines areas. Dillon went to Medoc, “the mythical road of thousand and one chateaux.” Wagenknecht went to Saint-Emilion, where grapes grow on top of underground limestone quarries. Izquierdo went to Sauternes, with its sweet wines influenced by noble rot.

Another day brought an international tasting. Each of the Great Wine Capitals served its wines at an event billed as “taste the world in Bordeaux.”

“There is a heavy attendance by the press,” Dillon said. “The public can attend as well.”

The closing ceremony included e dinner and dancing at the ornate Palais de la Bourse for the Best Of Wine Tourism Ceremony Awards.

Napa County garnered some honors during the conference. Dillon donned a weighty red cape with a white collar to be inducted into a wine honor society.

Louis M.Martini Winery of St. Helena was the Best Of Wine Tourism global winner for architecture and landscapes.

Regional winners were Vista Collina resort for accommodation, Charles Krug Winery for arts and culture, Judd’s Hill Winery for innovative wine tourism experience, Honig Vineyard and Winery for sustainable wine practices, Gott’s Roadside for wine tourism restaurants and Active Wine Adventures for wine tourism services.

In addition, honorable mentions went to 1881 Napa for Art & Culture and Domaine Carneros Winery for sustainable wine tourism practices.

Napa County plans to send two supervisors to the late October 2020 Great Wine Capitals conference in Germany.


By Barry Eberling

Napa Valley Register