A new book outlines the conflict between Big Business, the environment, and a dogged local community that's roiling an American icon.
"Most of the book is devoted to specific conflicts told through the interwoven stories of Napa’s colorful dramatis personae, helpfully listed at the front. Although Conaway doesn’t identify them as heroes or villains, you soon learn which is which in his eyes. A caution, though: Some of the tussles are more nuanced than Conaway prefers to portray them. In one emblematic tale, Andy Beckstoffer, who owns more than 1,000 acres of Napa vines, including part of the historic To Kalon Vineyard, faces off with flamboyant Burgundian Jean-Charles Boisset, owner of Raymond Vineyards, who’s famous for his collection of Christian Louboutin shoes. Beckstoffer lives near Raymond, which is expanding with elaborate party venues, a gift shop with gold spit buckets, and even a dog motel that draw hundreds of tourists. Beckstoffer filed a complaint with the Board of Supervisors over the increased wastewater, noise, and traffic, but a majority voted not to act, saying “this is agriculture in the 21st century.”