ST. HELENA, Calif. — “I think it was a good thing to put on a united front.” —Louis M. Martini, one of seven founding members of the Napa Valley Vintners
In recognition of its 75th anniversary, the Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) announces the NVV Oral History Project in partnership with the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley. Through stories told by iconic vintner leaders, the project captures the 75-year journey of the wine trade organization, from its inception in 1944 through major milestones in becoming the renowned wine region and vital community it is today.
The NVV partnered with UC Berkeley’s renowned Bancroft Library to execute this momentous project, commissioning its Oral History Center to conduct a series of 12 interviews of NVV members who have made significant contributions to the success of the organization. Interviewees include John Shafer (recorded shortly before his passing last spring) and other luminaries such as Bob Trinchero, Michael Mondavi and current NVV leadership including David Pearson and Beth Novak Milliken. These Napa Valley-centric oral histories will now augment the distinguished archives at the Bancroft library, enriching the library’s history of California wine.
“It is a humbling experience to look back at the accomplishments of so many hard-working visionaries who have contributed to building—vintage by vintage, collaboration by collaboration—the success of the Napa Valley wine industry and the well-being of our community,” noted Linda Reiff, president and CEO of the NVV. “The genesis of the NVV Oral History Project was to capture the heartfelt words of these people as both tribute and legacy, ensuring that the NVV’s rich history is preserved for future generations.”
In the audio interviews, narrators recount, often in both amusing anecdotes and emotional moments, how a widely diverse group of Napa Valley vintners coalesced to promote Napa Valley wines, protect its natural resources and enhance Napa Valley for future generations.
“The history of the NVV as an organization is a timeline of working together to protect and preserve this special place we call home,” noted Bruce Cakebread, owner of Cakebread Cellars, past NVV board president and one of the interviewees. “As one of many multi-generational, family-owned wineries in Napa Valley, chronicling hard-won measures such as the Agricultural Preserve and the Napa Name law in the Oral History Project was a deeply gratifying experience.”
Special attention is also paid to Auction Napa Valley in the interviews. Established in 1981 with such Napa Valley luminaries as Margrit Mondavi, Auction Napa Valley has become the world’s most celebrated charity wine auction and has given nearly $190 million toward community health and children’s education in Napa County.
“I remember the first Auction Napa Valley indelibly,” reminisced Robin Lail, president of Lail Vineyards, daughter of NVV founding member John Daniel, Jr. and one of the Steering Commitee members of the 1981 event. “It was the first wine auction in the country and we really had no idea what would happen. But what has happened over the years is its own miracle. Through the proceeds, among other things, every child in Napa Valley has access to affordable health insurance and one in five county residents uses OLE Health as their primary source of healthcare. I am very proud of the vintners’ continuing support of our cherished community.”
About the Napa Valley Vintners
The Napa Valley Vintners nonprofit trade associate has been cultivating excellence since 1944 by inspiring its 550 members to consistently produce wines of the highest quality, to provide environmental leadership and to care for the extraordinary place they call home. In 2019 the NVV is celebrating its 75th anniversary. Learn more at napavintners.com
–Napa Valley Vintners
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