Recently, the American Canyon Tourism Improvement District Committee was presented with an idea to boost tourism: apply for the American Canyon to be a recognized federal AVA.
The American Canyon is an area in the southernmost part of Napa County. It is south of the town of Napa and adjacent to the Carneros AVA.
If one has ever driven through the American Canyon, one would readily see that it looks more like neighboring Vallejo, a city with a typical East Bay and suburban character, than its neighbor to the other side, Napa, a city known internationally for wine, dining, and relaxation.
So, if American Canyon is to capitalize on Napa’s tourism, it probably needs a little more than just being recognized as an AVA. However, there is no reason to think that gaining AVA status is not a good start.
Let’s take two other nearby AVA’s as a comparison: Carneros and the Oak Knoll District. Carneros straddles the southern parts of both Napa County and Sonoma County. Carneros is very well known for its cool-weather wines made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, as well as for lesser amounts of Merlot and Syrah. Carneros is also a big destination for tourism.
The reasons for this tourist traffic are probably numerous and hard to quantify, but for one, the main road that passes through Carneros is a convenient way for wine tasters to travel between southern Sonoma County and the Napa Valley. The region itself is quiet and very pretty, where at some high points one can see all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Several wineries have added luxurious tasting rooms and the Plumpjack Group added a very high-end restaurant and hotel property, The Carneros Inn. Carneros certainly does not lack for tourist appeal.
Oak Knoll, by contrast, is hardly even known as an AVA, even by people in Napa. Most people just think it is the part of the valley that is driven by and quickly forgotten as one approaches Yountville from the south. It is not a region that is very well known for adding distinctive characteristics to its wines, as is a place like Carneros.
I don’t know the history, but I’m sure at some point the local growers and wineries in the Oak Knoll applied to make it an AVA, envisioning some sort of marketing benefit. This would not be unlike the idea that is currently being tossed around for the American Canyon.
So, the lesson here is that American Canyon needs to strive to become more like Carneros than like another Oak Knoll. These things happen slowly and organically, so doing this overnight would be impossible either way. Nevertheless, the American Canyon folks should be thinking a few steps ahead as they try to take this multi-prong approach to making American Canyon part of the “Napa Valley” experience.
(This posting is not to be construed as legal advice. If any of the information in this posting relates to legal issues that you are facing, you should contact an attorney.)
© All rights reserved Kevin Guidry 2014.