Winemakers fight casino plan in Napa

Winemakers have banded together to fight off plans for a “Las Vegas-style casino” in the heart of California’s Napa Valley.

Napa-Vineyard-at-Sunset-California-350x350The Mishewal Wappo Tribe of Alexander Valley have said that a gambling complex was a project which the tribe might pursue, among a number of potential developments.

However their suggestion of a casino has have angered county officials and winemakers who have said it would damage the land and environment that give unique properties to the area’s signature Cabernet Sauvignon and other regional varietals, as reported by the Rakyat Post.

Janet Viader, of Viader Vineyards & Winery near St. Helena, told the paper: “We’re not against them getting recognition, what we don’t like is the threat of the exact type of development that we’ve been saying ‘no’ to for 60 years, we’re about protecting the right to grow agriculture and continue our trade.”

Leaders of the tribe are currently in the process of suing the US in a bid to restore their “federal status”, lost under a 1958 statute which affected small tribal groups in California, which would allow the tribe to “pursue economic development”, and  potentially build the casino, without the need for community approval.

Scott Gabaldon, the tribe’s chairman, said he wants his group to gain federal recognition before deciding whether a casino will be among the projects his members pursue.

He said: “There are so many other ways to do economic development rather than just a casino. Now, don’t get me wrong, a casino is the fastest, most-efficient, money-making way.”

According to the report, tribal casinos are projected to provide US$236 million in revenue for California in 2015, according to the state’s Finance Department, while the retail value of wines from the Napa Valley appellation sold in the US in 2011 was US$5.5 billion, it said.

Larry Florin, the county’s director of housing and intergovernmental affairs, said: “A casino in Napa would be completely inappropriate.

“The ecological balance — the climate, water, the lack of industrial uses — together create the types of grapes that are in such large demand that are the basis for our wine that’s world-renowned.”

“Any upset in that balance really threatens our livelihood.”

6 Responses to “Winemakers fight casino plan in Napa”

  1. Phil Schifley says:

    Typical Napa Valley elites. Now that they have theirs, nobody else can get theirs. Move here with their millions made in the most part from one bubble or another, from their massive stock holdings in tax payer bailed out and subsidized corporations, or their family trustfunds. Drive up land prices so the average working class families in the area can’t even afford to buy a house, much less a little piece of land to call their own. Form a “land trust” to use tax dollars to lock off massive tracks of land from future development, thus keeping their estates land value artificially high and their views unconstructed while they receive massive tax breaks. Build their gawddy wineries, whose tourist business clogs up local roads, and their vineyards suck up all the water. Of course they will claim they create jobs, and it’s true they do, but what they won’t tell you is that they’re crappy minimum wage jobs for the most part. This is ridiculous, let the Mishewal Wappo Tribe have their casino, the elites have already destroyed this valley.

  2. Rob Lansing says:

    What a classic typical reaction by Phil Schifley playing the Napa Valley Elites card. Do you really think the elites are driving up the land prices? Have you checked the price of land and “affordable” housing in other parts of the Bay Area? Check into some facts before you blame everyting on the wine industry. Of the 9 Bay Area Counties, Napa is 8th in median home price, 8th in average home price, and 8th in average land price per acre. 8th! Only Solano County comes in lower in the Bay Area. Do some fact checking before you just blurt out your opinions.

    Frankly, the wineries not only employ thousands of Napa County residents at wages higher than the County Average, the tourists they bring to the valley in turn spend hundreds of millions of dollars on hotels, restaurants, shopping and more. Visitors who stay overnight in Napa Valley pay a 12-14% Transient Occupancy Tax on their hotel bill. This tax is unique as it goes straight into each towns coffers, unlike property and sales tax which go to the State of California who takes a big chunk before returning a pittance to the respective jurisdiction. If it wasn’t form these monies, many of the cities in Napa Valley would be in more dire straits than they currently are. The wineries draw them here, and they end up being the most significant part of the financial health of Napa County. The TOT tax in Napa is 12% for the city, while the average room rate is $232.69. That’s $27.92 per room per night on average. There are over 5500 hotel rooms in Napa, and the occupancy rate is 65%, meaning that 65% of the rooms are occupied every night when averaged out over a calendar year. That’s $36,432,110 of tax revenue for Napa towns annually, and occupancy rates are increasing.

    Let’s face it, without the wineries, Napa would just be another victim of urban sprawl, acres and acres of tract homes, and the land prices would still be what the are now. So the next time you want to blame the wine industry and the tourists they bring here, remember who really pays for things. Add a casino into the mix, and you become Sonoma….a place where sprawl, agriculture and casino culture spend millions of tax dollars fighting ongoing battles in court; that’s what happens when a place loses its identity as Sonoma did long ago.

  3. Rich says:

    This is wonderful! I hope they build a huuuugggggge casino. The Napa NIMBY’s are at it again! Just amazing how shortsighted and elite folks can become – the Natives owned all of your land at once point – lucky they aren’t suing to get it ALL back… and that may be the next big politically correct cause – just depends on how much they can scream about it and how many politicians they can get on board (bribe?)… As a part Native myself, this just makes me smile every time I see one of these NIMBY articles!

  4. Janet Viader says:

    We’re not being elitist, we’re trying to protect a natural treasure that is under constant pressure to summit to urban sprawl, and have only been successful due to the adoption of the nation’s first Agricultural Preserve that passed in 1968. Unlike any other region with an Ag preserve, our community – from American Canyon to Calistoga – votes on which non-ag projects are allowed to continue. Of course we say no even to economically viable projects that are in tune with the wine industry like hotels, golf courses, restaurants. Because we stand behind our commitment to protecting agriculture as the highest and best use of the land. Ag is our #1 industry and contributes billions to the local, state, and federal economy. This goes out the window when an sovereign nation is created. Are they going to respect the environment that we’re so dependent on?
    Secondly, no other ag industry contributes as much to the community as the wine industry. We collectively make thousands of donations annually to local charities, and we created Auction Napa Valley thirty years ago. What seems like a “big party” or “elitist” from the outside, is an experience created by the generous donations of vintners. We’ve raised incredible amounts for our local healthcare and youth programs. We provide free healthcare for families, and every child has access to free health insurance. Our push for minimizing the learning gap has created new pre-school programs and project-based learning that is preparing our next generation for the future.
    We all agree that historically what happened to the Native Americans at the hands of the young United States was wrong. However, does that give a group, claiming they are Mishewal Wappo, the right to plunder and exploit an environmentally-conscious and multi-cultural community two hundred years later? All we ask is that you respect our land use policies and all that we’ve sacrificed in order to protect this truly special place. Come develop a vineyard or winery, and we’ll embrace you with open arms.

    • Phil Schifley says:

      Mrs. Vaider, did it ever occur to you that it wouldn’t be necessary for the up valley elites to throw a “big party” to raise millions of dollars to provide local children with free healthcare if their parents were paid a living wage, and didn’t have to squander half their pay check to put a roof over their children’s head? Maybe they wouldn’t have to rely on hand outs from the up valley elites if they were not forced to spend thousands of dollars a year on the commute from Vallejo, American Canyon, and Napa to get to their crappy hospitality job in Yountville, St. Helena, or Calistoga? Maybe if parents could afford to buy a house and build equity in it they could afford to borrow against it to put their kids into the same private schools that the elites send their kids to? So go throw your narcissistic, self promoting, marketing event or “big party” as you seem to think us little people view it as. If that makes you sleep better!

  5. delia viader says:

    Mr Phil Schifley please don’t attack my daughter for trying to protect what has provided for myself and my four children for over 30 years. Half of our workers own their home today; some having worked for me for more than 20+ years; with my encouragement and support; their children will be graduating from College and able to provide for their own families in time. It was done with a lot of personal sacrifice; by each and every one of us; and we will continue to protect what made it all possible.

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