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A Remarkable Ascent

Curiously, some of the world’s most powerful organizations start out the most humbly.

In the world of wine, there’s no better example than the Napa Valley Vintners which began 77 years ago as a modest association of just seven members. The year was 1944 and their agreement, pecked out on an old manual typewriter, listed five ways in which they could help one another. The first one— “to advance the interests of the Napa Valley through publicity, advertising and such other methods as may seem best…”—has been, by any measure, wildly successful. Today some 500 members of the association work to continue to achieve that purpose. Not surprisingly, the initial Napa Valley Vintners meeting happened over lunch with bottles of wine from the late 1930s and early 1940s. (One hopes the legendary 1941 Inglenook—a wine of the century—was there). The vintner’s spirit of camaraderie and shared determination must have been impressive for at the time the Napa Valley was a rural backwater better known for prunes and cattle than Cabernet. The valley has clearly changed. Enormous strides have been made in the last seven decades. And yet the organization that Joe Heitz (NVV Board Chair 1970-1971) described as “a great moving force to keep us working together,” remains as vital as ever.

 

The Original Seven

The original seven member wineries of the Napa Valley Vintners Association were:

  • Beaulieu Vineyard
  • Larkmead Vineyards
  • Napa Valley Cooperative Winery
  • Mondavi & Sons
  • Inglenook
  • Louis M. Martini Winery
  • Louis Stralla

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