7 Preservers Of Napa Valley's Food And Wine Culture

Napa Valley is known for its beautiful scenery, vineyards, and gourmet food scene. The area has maintained its position as one of America's leading wine regions through the dedicated stewardship of its land and the careful nurturing of its local traditions. Listed in no particular order, the following are some individuals, organizations, and companies that are passionate about protecting the agriculture, history, and community of this portion of Wine Country.

Beginning the list at #1 is the annual Napa Truffle Festival. The event started in 2010 with a vision to bring the European black truffle to the tables of America. Now, every year, foodies gather from around the globe to taste and learn about this coveted ingredient from a group of Michelin star chefs and experts, all amidst the rolling hills of the Napa Valley region.

To broaden the community's access to this specialty food item, the Festival also offers a free marketplace event that gives the general public an opportunity to see in-person cooking demos, meet the truffle dogs, and purchase dishes and goods directly from the merchants at Oxbow Public Market. Attendees can explore a truffle orchard, see where and how the mushroom is harvested, and learn about the trained animals who find them.

Next up, at #2, is the Rutherford Dust Society. It was founded in 1994 by growers and vintners who sought to pay tribute to the forebears of the region, who, since the late 19th century, have played a significant role in the development of Napa Valley as a renowned wine destination. The group's mission is to encourage and promote the highest quality standards in grape growing and wine-making in the Rutherford Viticultural Area, to be good stewards of the land, and to foster community.

The Society hosts several annual events that are meant to bring oenophiles and traders together, and to highlight the unique expression of the region's soil. The family-friendly Rutherford Chili Ball features a cook-off competition between vintners, growers, firefighters, chefs, and self-proclaimed connoisseurs in the community. All of the mixers and events are meant to build connections and promote awareness of the area's vineyards and wines.

#3 on the list is Oxbow Public Market. This 40,000-square-foot marketplace, which includes a scenic outdoor deck with seating along the Napa River, features a diverse mixture of food vendors, cafes, and an organic produce outlet for local farms. The organizers, artisans, and purveyors of this facility are passionate about sustainable agriculture, local harvest, and promoting social, environmental, and economic equity within the community.

The Market is not only a place to display and sell organic and sustainably-produced crops and regional specialties; it also functions as a means to actively uphold the unique traditions of Napa Valley and its surrounding regions. To do this, it provides education, community outreach, and support to nearby businesses and farms.

At #4, Napa Green is a comprehensive environmental certification program for vineyards and wineries. This group's practices work to protect soils, reduce harmful inputs to the land, and restore natural habitats. The members of this association stand together to show that sustainability and caring for nature elevate the crop quality and experience for employees, customers, and the community at large.

Napa Green strives to play a pivotal role in achieving the county's climate action and emissions reduction goals. To promote this vision, the organization offers Land and Winery certifications, which provide positive incentives for local farms and businesses. The programs implement guides for energy and water saving, combating land and soil erosion, and more.

Moving on, the Napa Valley Grape Growers Association is #5 on our list. This coalition of wine industry leaders is committed to working together to advance the heritage and reputation of the community. The group was formed in 1975 with the aim of creating an organization that would focus on sustaining the growing traditions of the region for years to come. The founding members strive to give a voice to the artisans of the valley and set an important precedent for future generations.

For more than four decades, the individuals who make up the NVG have been fostering sustainability, educating the community, and promoting the area as one of the world's premier wine growing regions. As a steward of the land and a resource to its members, the Association provides educational seminars, events, and services that assist growers in addressing the issues they face, while preserving Napa Valley's unique heritage for the members of tomorrow.

The #6 spot goes to the Napa Valley Vintners. Since 1944, this non-profit trade association's mission has been to provide environmental leadership in the wine-making community. Representing 99% of the production of all Napa Valley appellation wines, the group advocates on behalf of its members at all levels of government. Most of the work is conducted through the Community and Industry Issues Committee, a coalition of engaged vintners focused on doing what's right for the land and its businesses.

By offering events, special programs, industry advocacy, and comprehensive member resources, the NVV strives to be the voice of its local wine community. Its Napa Neighbor program allows county residents to enjoy special treatment when visiting participating wineries, a benefit meant to foster local business and community.

Lastly, #7 on the list is speaker, consultant, and author Karen MacNeil. Considered one of America's experts on the subject of wine, MacNeil creates customized events and tours for audiences across the globe that are accompanied by personally curated tastings. A former correspondent for the Today Show, she won an Emmy for the PBS series Wine, Food and Friends, which she hosted.

In addition to being a bestselling author and speaker, this professional is also the creator and Chairman Emeritus of the Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies at the Culinary Institute of America. The prestigious Center has been called "the Harvard of wine education."