Back Lane Wineries of Napa by Tilar Mazzeo

Back Lane Wineries of Napa by Tilar Mazzeo

Author:Tilar Mazzeo [Mazzeo, Tilar]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 978-1-60774-591-4
Publisher: Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony
Published: 2014-05-19T16:00:00+00:00

GHOST WINERIES

Napa’s modern reputation as a premium wine region dates from the 1970s, when a small group of pioneering vintners made their way onto the world stage with wines that started winning some of the industry’s most prestigious tasting contests. This was not a new development in the county, however. It was a return to a winemaking tradition that had flourished in Napa more than a hundred years earlier. By the 1860s, the Napa Valley was renowned as a grape-growing region, and the wines made here were exported around the world. By the early twentieth century, it was already a tourist destination. Then came Prohibition, which stymied the flourishing winemaking culture and stalled the local economic engine for a generation. Vineyards were pulled up and replanted with fruit orchards. Wineries went out of business, and the buildings were turned into hay barns, left abandoned, or sometimes stealthily burnt to the ground for insurance money. Winemaking in much of Napa was on hold until the renaissance of the 1970s.

But not all the vineyards were destroyed. A small proportion of those early plantings survived on family ranches, and today a handful of producers offer “old vine” wines made from pre-Prohibition vineyards. Not all the wineries fell to ruin, either. Those that survived are known as “ghost wineries.” Sometimes they are abandoned properties in the midst of vineyards, where you can take a twilight tour and experience shades of old Napa. Sometimes they have been converted to new uses. Increasingly, the ghost wineries are being restored to active production, largely due to local efforts in historic preservation and a licensing regulation that makes the expensive and complicated process of bonding a winery in the valley vastly simpler for any owner who can prove that a historic winemaking facility once existed on the property. Today, there are several dozen active ghost wineries in the Napa Valley, each with a storied past, and there are likely to be more in the decades to come.



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