Episode 446 of I’ll Drink to That! was released recently, and features James Conaway, the author of Napa at Last Light: America’s Eden in an Age of Calamity, as well two previous books about the Napa Valley, Napa: The Story of an American Eden and The Far Side of Eden: New Money, Old Land, and the Battle for Napa Valley.
James Conaway doesn’t pull any punches: he clearly states that Napa’s resources are being laid to waste, and that looming danger hangs over the future of the Napa Valley if a course correction is not made. And he isn’t particularly hopeful: indeed, he feels it may already be too late. Conaway paints a picture of Napa Valley overrun with trellised vines and sky high egos, and points to “lifestyle vintners” as a cause of the environmental and community decay he locates there. Where is James coming from with these assertions? This interview delves into his own past, teasing out some of the nuances of his life history that may have contributed to his current role as Napa Valley firebrand. There are also some stories recalled about the early days of Napa within this interview, but the meat of the matter is the environment, and James is clear about what his position on that is. He feels that the Napa Valley is “America writ small,” a place where the pervasive ills of current day America are splayed out along Highway 29. Each listener will have to make up their own mind about what they think, but James is not shy about making his case.
I’ll Drink to That is the world’s most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @leviopenswine