By: Jeff James

In the early 1940’s, the Napa Valley wine growing region in California faced several problems such as a shortage of labor, bottles, and rail cars. Pioneer vintners came together to discuss what could be done to secure the success of Napa Valley. By 1944, the Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) was formed by Fernande de Latour of Beaulieu Vineyard, Felix Salmina of Larkmead, Charles Forni of the Napa Valley Co-op, Robert Mondavi of CK Mondavi and Sons, John Daniel Jr. of Inglenook, Louis M. Martini and Louis Stralla. These seven men embarked upon an organization that arguably put Napa Valley on the map. Without this alliance of men, coming together to solve the problem faced by the region, the struggles of wine making in Napa Valley might have overcome their ventures. Their mission is to promote, protect, and enhance Napa Valley. Their vision is to make Napa Valley the leading wine region for future generations. Their values are excellence, leadership, stewardship, integrity, innovation, generosity, collaboration, and camaraderie. With their mission, vision, and values, in mind they began promoting the Valley sponsoring activities to bring attention to the wonderful wines being produced.  The organization still exists today holding the original values of the founding leaders and Napa Valley wines are some of the most sought after wines in the world.

Without the foresight, leadership and actions taken by these men, I ponder the effects it would have had on the United States. I think about all the people which have provided for their families because of the wine industry. Farmers, cellar workers, tasting room attendants, office people, truckers, distributers, retail shops and service staff have all benefited by the leadership of these seven men. That’s one heck of a ripple effect.

Even more personally, I wonder what I would be doing today without my passion for wine. I have a belief that if you ask any person who has such a passion for wine they have made their career with it; they will tell you the wine they were drinking and where they were when they made that decision. For me, I was drinking Opus One at Palace Café on Canal Street in New Orleans. Without the NVV, I may never have had the revelation. I may never have worked my way from waiter, to wine sales representative, to wine buyer, to opening and co-owning my own wine bar (St. Ann Wine Bar). I am grateful for the actions taken by those men to aid in planting a passion in me that fuels my soul and has given me my career.

Leaders touch the lives of individuals, the lives of a nation, and the lives of the world. So, I encourage you, if you have an idea or an opportunity to be a leader, go for it.  

“Leaders take an idea, create inspiration and motivation for themselves and others to go after, reach and enhance that idea”

St. Ann Wine Bar
22 Saint Ann Drive, Ste 2, Mandeville, Louisiana 70471