Not so long ago, wine was an exclusively European product. Now it is thoroughly American; emblematic of Napa Valley, an area idealized as the epicenter of great wines and foods and a cultural tourist destination. But James Conaway’s candid book tells the other side of the romanticized story.
Napa at Last Light reveals the often shadowy side of the latter days of Napa Valley—marked by complex personal relationships, immense profits, passionate beliefs, and sometimes desperate struggles to prevail. In the balance hang fortunes and personal relationships made through hard work and manipulation of laws, people, and institutions. Napans who grew up trusting in the beneficence of the “vintner” class now confront the multinational corporations who have stealthily subsumed the old family landmarks and abandoned the once glorious conviction that agriculture is the best use of the land.
Hailed as the definitive Napa writer, Conaway has spent decades covering the region. Napa at Last Light showcases the greed, enviable profits, legacy, and tradition that still collide in this compelling story. The area is still full of dreamers, but of opposing sorts: those longing for a harmonious society based upon the vine, and self-styled overlords yearning for wealth and the special acclaim only fine wine can bring. Bets are still out on what the future holds. “This is a stunning and sad look at how an idyllic community became a victim of its own success…fascinating and well-researched” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
James Conaway is a former Wallace Stegner fellow at Stanford University, and the author of thirteen books, including Napa at Last Light and the New York Times bestseller, Napa: The Story of an American Eden.
His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Harper's, The New Republic, Gourmet, Smithsonian, and National Geographic Traveler. He divides his time between Washington, DC, and California.