Think Napa Valley and you think of fine wines, lush green trails and much relished culinary moments and an experience of life time. On every wine lover’s must-do list, this wine valley attracts tourists from far and wide. On a mission to preserve and promote this wine country, Clay Gregory leaves no stone unturned as the President and CEO of Visit Napa Valley (VNV). He was recently in India to promote VNN among the growing out bound Indians and hopes to see a greater traffic from here in the coming months. Bishan Kumar
Napa Valley is synonymous with not just wine, but the whole jazz associated with it -- fine dining, good living, wellness, the works, really. In fact, this scenic countryside valley has emerged as North America’s premier wine, food, arts and wellness capital. The place contributes $1.9 billion (second only to the wine industry) to Napa Valley’s economy, attracting wine lovers from across the world. The over 400 wineries (95% of which are family owned) at the Napa Valley offers exclusive food-wine pairing experiences. The place is in fact a foodie’s haven, offeringa range –from contemporary three-star Michelin dining experience to traditional wood-fired pizza eats, and more. Napa Valley also offers nearly 150 accommodation options, including hotels, resorts, country inns, and bed-and-breakfasts, to suit any budget and requirement As the President and CEO of Visit Napa Valley (VNV), Clay Gregory has led the organization in its mission to protect and enhance Napa Valley’s image as a must-visit destination. Gregory comes with more than 30 years of experience in marketing and management across multiple industries, building consensus and developing successful programs with a wide variety of partners across many fields. Sharing some basic information on Napa Valley as North America’s wine capital, Gregory says, ‘The Napa Valley is about 50km long and about 4 to 8 km wide,
So it is a very small, but highly diverse valley. We have a Mediterranean climate and have very few vintages that are not of very high quality. We are lucky to be just over an hour from San Francisco, which helps us a great deal; it helps us bring in a diverse group of travelers from around the world. We have more than 400 wineries, the vast majority of which are family owned and make less than 10,000 cases per year. While the Napa Valley is the most renowned wine growing region in the ‘world’, it produces less than 4% of the wine grown in California.’
According to Gregory, one of the best times to visit Napa is the November - April (which they call the ‘Cabernet Season)’ period. ‘The valley is beautiful after rain falls and spectacular wild mustard grows in the vineyards, turning much of the vineyards into bright golden fields. It is also a less crowded period, so winemakers have more time for visitors and our great restaurants (11 Michelin Stars in our tiny valley) are easier to reserve.’ Further sharing some tips for the benefit of those wanting to visit Napa, he says, ‘It is ideal if our guests can visit each of our five distinctive towns. Also, try not to do too many things in a single day. Lastly, remember that we now have three performing arts centers, hot air balloons to fly above the valley, wellness programmes, eight wonderful golf courses and world class spas, besides companies offering transportation services, so our visitors do not have to drive themselves. Last, but not the least, there are many other experiential options available in the valley -- making your own wine blend or cooking your own meal with vegetables you picked out of the chef’s garden just minutes before.’ In order to promote Napa among the travelling Indians, VNV India plans
To work closely with organizations like ‘Visit California’, participate in FAM tours of the Napa Valley and continue participating in trips back to India to build important relationships that were recently begun. ‘In addition, we would be happy to host members of the Indian media in the valley and we would use digital media to get our messaging out to travel professionals in India. I am quite hopeful of a larger tourist flow from India after our recent visit to India,’ says Gregory.
Quelling anxieties regarding the recent forest fire in California that posed a serious problem, Gregory says reassuringly, ‘While the fires were very serious, the Napa Valley is in very good shape now and our guests are returning in good numbers. Many of them remark how pleased they are to see that the valley is as beautiful as ever. The Napa Valley Spirit is very much alive and well. We look forward to welcoming Indian guests into our glorious and gracious destination