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The Napa Valley Grape Growers - Preserving Napa for Generations to Come

Blessed with fertile soil ideal for growing grapes, the Napa Valley has blossomed into one of the world's foremost centers of wine production. The vast majority of land used for agriculture is devoted to producing grapes. With such a lack of diversification, farmers have, quite literally, put all of their grapes into one basket. The past 30 years have seen numerous outbreaks of disease in the Valley, to the detriment of every vineyard. Today, the Napa Valley Grape growers are an organization dedicated to educating wineries and the public of sustainable practices that will ensure that Napa remains a viable region for wine and grape production.

The first major outbreak of disease came in the late 19th century with the spread of the Phylloxera root louse. This pest spread throughout the Valley, killing many vines. Georges de Latour, a French vintner, brought knowledge of the terrible insect to Napa, along with a supply of rootstock that was highly resistant. By the time Prohibition was repealed in 1933, production had risen to a total of over one million gallons per year.

Unfortunately, time often has the effect of making people forget, and in 1983, another outbreak of Phylloxera caught Napa by surprise. Taking a proactive stance, many growers planted new rootstock even more resistant to the pest, and by the late 1990's approximately 75% of vineyards planted grapes less susceptible to Phylloxera. Key to this movement was the involvement of the Napa Valley Grape growers. Mobilizing to coordinate an effort to inform and educate vineyard owners, the NVG responded to the outbreak in fine form.

Today, the Napa Valley Winegrowers continues to lead the effort against pest and disease. Various new pests including the vine mealy bug, the glassy winged sharpshooter, and the light brown apple moth all threaten Napa's vineyards. The NVG runs educational programs for vintners, along with conducting research. While growing grapes for fine wine might be an art, preventing pests from ravaging through vineyards certainly constitutes a science, and the NVG is at the forefront.

The Napa Valley Winegrowers also collaborates with the local and state governments as well as other private organizations to promote environmentally sustainable agriculture. Many of these undertakings fall under the Napa Green program. More than 22,000 acres of Napa Valley currently participate, with over half of that land area consisting of active vineyards. Napa Green seeks to assess the condition of the lands under its supervision, and subsequently act to prevent erosion, pest infestation, and loss of water quality, among other issues. Most of the premier Napa vineyards are involved in this program, including Beringer, Kendall Jackson, and the Napa Valley Reserve. In addition, last year the NVG held its first annual wine and grape exposition, with seminars and classes designed to educate vintners.

With vigilant, careful monitoring and action, the Napa Valley can remain one of the premier wine-growing regions in the world. Organizations such as the Napa Valley Winegrowers are vital to promoting the practices that will ensure the viability of Napa for generations to come.

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