Similar to the Silicon Valley tech boom, wine production has started to gain steam outside California, begging the question: Will there ever be a United States wine region that “out-Napas” Napa?
In 1976, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars’ 1973 S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon beat out four top-ranked Bordeaux wines in the Judgement of Paris blind tasting, establishing the Napa Valley’s global buying power relevance as a wine region. Ever since, Napa has ranked in quality alongside the likes of Burgundy, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Rioja, and a number of other fine-wine-producing regions that often find their bottles in auction houses. However, the Judgement of Paris happened nearly 50 years ago, and it may be time for another wine region to get some overdue recognition.
On one hand, there is the argument that there won’t ever be another Napa — at least in our lifetime. Given the region’s near-perfect conditions for growing, including its even-keeled climate, many believe Napa will remain unchallenged until climate change inevitably pushes wine production into Canada. There’s also the fact that Napa Valley makes a prime vacation destination — a so-called “Disney Land of Wine” — that other regions like Washington simply can’t compete with, considering their hot summers and harsh winters.
Then again, perhaps younger generations’ tastes will shift away from high-ABV, complex, expensive reds and toward lighter styles of wine that Napa isn’t known for. Perhaps China will swoop in and become a potential fine-wine contender down the line. Whatever the future holds, all trends happen in cycles, so some high-ticket Napa is still a worthwhile investment.
Today on the “VinePair Podcast,” Adam and Zach, prompted by a listener email, debate the possibility of a “New Napa.” Could another wine region ever have the massive commercial and critical success that Napa Valley has enjoyed since the 1970s, or is the wine industry just too fragmented for that phenomenon to repeat itself? Tune in for more.
Zach is drinking: Domaine Grand Veneur Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc
Adam is drinking: Pusser’s Rum 15 Year