Wine Columnist's Lament: She's Priced Out of Napa

Lettie Teague of the 'Wall Street Journal' thinks California region's 'main crop is cash, not grapes'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 24, 2022 9:05 AM CDT
Wine Columnist's Lament: She's Priced Out of Napa
Grapes on a vineyard in Oakville, Calif.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

(Newser) – As a wine columnist, Lettie Teague of the Wall Street Journal has long been a fan of California's Napa Valley region. But in a column that details sky-high prices on everything from lodging to tastings, Teague offers a damning assessment: "I can’t help feeling that the region’s main crop is cash, not grapes." Consider that the area's newest hotel, the Stanly Ranch, has a base rate of $1,300 per night. Which is nearly a bargain for those who opt for the Four Seasons Resort and Residences, whose guests can expect to shell out $1,675 a night for a midweek stay this month.

Cheaper places exist, but the trend is similar: The average price of a hotel room in the valley rose 51% in 2021 over the pandemic year of 2020, leaving it about 20% higher than pre-pandemic levels. As for tastings, visitors shouldn't be shocked to pay $100 or more if they opt for "elevated" options. "I still love Napa and many of its wines, but today’s Valley is less familiar and certainly much less attainable for wine lovers like me," writes Teague. She plans to take the advice of a Napa winemaker who suggested she instead check out the Mendocino or Santa Barbara regions. (Read the full column.)

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