Wine appellation proposed to boost American Canyon tourism

City called a visitor destination "in its infancy”
2013-12-11T16:29:00Z 2013-12-11T16:40:33Z Wine appellation proposed to boost American Canyon tourismMICHAEL WATERSON Napa Valley Register
December 11, 2013 4:29 pm  • 

AMERICAN CANYON — Someday bottles of pinot noir, chardonnay and other wine varietals may have “American Canyon” on the label if officials heed the recommendation of marketing consultant Terry Hall.

Petitioning for a new American Viticultural Area (AVA), or appellation, was one of Hall’s suggestions during a presentation to the American Canyon Tourism Improvement District Committee last week.

An AVA was part of Hall’s outlined strategy for putting “heads in beds” in American Canyon hotels after the committee agreed to award his business, TH/ink, a $5,000 contract to develop a three-year marketing plan.

In a presentation, Hall, the former director of communications for the Napa Valley Vintners trade association, characterized American Canyon as “a visitor destination ... in its infancy.”

Hall and associate Catherine Boire outlined the strengths and weaknesses of AmCan as a destination and proposed a way forward, beginning with creating “a culture of pro-tourism management.”

American Canyon has a choice, Hall said, of being grouped with a region that gets no visitor dollars or linked to one that pulls in millions.

Creating an American Canyon appellation — Napa County currently has 16 winegrowing regions — would “enhance viewshed, preserve land and help develop the character and uniqueness of American Canyon,” Hall said.

Recently officials from the tourism committee and American Canyon Chamber of Commerce visited six wineries in Carneros — the Napa County AVA nearest to the city — in an attempt to forge new regional relationships. Hall said AmCan is a great home base for exploring the Carneros.

While there are vineyards in American Canyon — the Jaeger family’s Clarke Ranch Vineyard and a Hess Collection vineyard — the city has no wineries.

Grapes from American Canyon are currently allowed to carry the more comprehensive “Napa Valley” appellation.

“We really are the production end of the wine industry,” said Vice Mayor Mark Joseph, a committee member, referring to warehousing and transportation businesses that make up the bulk of the industry’s presence in the south county. Since the departure of Cartlidge & Browne several years ago, the city’s closest tasting room is Jamieson Ranch Winery at Kirkland Ranch Road and Highway 12.

Bill Leigon, president of Jamieson Ranch, who in a phone interview said he has been talking to city officials about a closer relationship, believes his winery could further establish American Canyon as the entrance to the Napa Valley.

“We could be instrumental in forming American Canyon’s identity,” said Leigon. “I think (an AVA) would be an excellent idea. I would be all for it.”

Leigon is confident an American Canyon appellation would live up to the high expectations of the Napa Valley brand.

“We solidly believe in American Canyon as the gateway of the Napa Valley. We think we can do chardonnay and pinot noir as good as anybody,” Leigon said.

At a recent reception at City Hall, Jeff Jaeger, managing partner for Jaeger Vineyards, praised American Canyon’s climate and soil for growing chardonnay and other wine grapes. The Jaeger website describes the 80-acre American Canyon property as “a gem of a secret,” with 80 percent planted to chardonnay and 18 percent pinot noir.

“The cooler, breezier climate and the rolling hills provide well-drained soils and the stress needed (to both the vines and the farming team) to get magical results,” according to the website.

Among Hall’s other suggestions the development of the city’s open space and wetlands recreational opportunities, the encouragement of full-service restaurants and the creation “statement of arrival” signage and landscaping that lets visitors know they have entered wine country.

American Canyon joined the county and its four other municipalities to form the Tourism Improvement District in 2010 when the City Council approved a 2 percent fee on hotel rooms to be used in a countywide effort to attract more visitors to the valley. The city controls .25 percent of the fee, with the rest going to broader marketing efforts.

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(17) Comments

  1. VNYD DUC
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    VNYD DUC - December 11, 2013 6:26 pm
    FYI appellations don't exist for slick marketing people to "put heads in beds". They exist because of unique and interesting terroirs and climates. If AmCan has that, then so be it, but I really can't believe that AmCan thinks so highly of itself as the gateway to Napa, if by gateway you mean casinos, Wal-Marts, and nightmarish traffic...
    Simply being "on the way to" does not make it the "gateway". And did the rest of the Valley vote on that? I don't think so.
    In any event, wine aficionados will not want to stay in American Canyon to visit Carneros, they'd stay in quaint Sonoma for that, not AC. These people need to get out of their bubble and understand the demographic.
  2. napa1957
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    napa1957 - December 11, 2013 6:38 pm
    LOL...next we will have a wine-tasting venue to open at the WalMart Super Center!
  3. Just Concerned
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    Just Concerned - December 11, 2013 7:27 pm
    It's almost a joke that Hess, Nord and the other vintners located about one mile south-east of , the Carneros region which is known for its cool, foggy mornings and haire loam sandy soil could even conceive of an AVA. I mean really, Hess put grapes on the old Portland Cement site! It just goes to show grapes will grow just about anywhere, even next to Wal-Mart.
  4. Crosscountrykid
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    Crosscountrykid - December 11, 2013 7:59 pm
    If an AVA were promoted and eventually created primarily for purposes of marketing and economic development in the Napa Valley, might that effort put at risk the integrity of the other AVA's already established?
  5. Wineandfood
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    Wineandfood - December 12, 2013 6:27 am
    Really? That's why the Napa Valley appellation goes all the way to a Pope and Chiles valley and beyond? Because of their unique terroirs and climates that they all share? Give me a break, it was all marketing as are many appellations. Take a look at an appellation map sometime.
  6. calbare
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    calbare - December 12, 2013 7:25 am
    Besides the vineyards growing to the north, northeast, and east of walmart's (northern AC), there is another grape growing region along the wetlands. You can't see it from hwy 29. Even though some of you may not want us to grow grapes, we're growing 'em...We're already part of the "Napa Valley Appelation", so the only question is do we need our own sub-appelation. I say we're pretty distinct due to our cooler climate and soil type.
  7. calbare
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    calbare - December 12, 2013 7:34 am
    Other areas of the Napa region have nightmarish traffic, but to get out of the Napa area, you may need to go through AC (that is the people that work in the Napa region but can't afford to live there). Maybe thats what it means to be a gateway? Need I remind y'all that Napa (city) also has a walmarts. I myself hate that walmarts is even in my city (AC), I hear at one point it was suppose to be our town hall area, but that got squashed by the powers that be. I would love for walmarts to go bankrupt, so that we can turn that area back into its original purpose.
  8. fresh
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    fresh - December 12, 2013 8:16 am
    American Canyon has a lot of wonderful amenities and Terry Hall is the perfect person to help us convey the image of American Canyon. What I don't understand is what the issue with Wal-Mart is? I shop there all the time and probably with the same folk complaining on this blog! It's an attractive store that brought dozens of retailers to our town that would not have not otherwise come. I'm sure I'll see most of you Xmas shopping at Wal-Mart...
  9. Wineandfood
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    Wineandfood - December 12, 2013 9:19 am
    Why do you think the existing AVA's were established?
  10. amcanmann1
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    amcanmann1 - December 12, 2013 11:19 am
    Such ignorance in some of these posts. Gateway is defined as 'any passage by or point at which a region may be entered'. American Canyon is in Napa County, located on Hwy 29 which is an entry point to the valley. There are wine grapes grown here, wine storage facilities here. It would make sense to have wine tasting here. In the Wal-Mart? That would be innovative!

    Why are some of the posts here so tacky, rude and snobby? Get over yourselves people. Same tired, rude comments from same rude, tired parrots. It gets old.

    American Canyon is the second largest city in NAPA COUNTY, has one of the highest household incomes in the county. I am grateful to live surrounded by people who demonstrate tolerance and class, whom I proudly call my neighbors.

    ..and Traffic..HWY 29 is a STATE Controlled Highway NOT City run. Shaking my head!
  11. Cadence
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    Cadence - December 12, 2013 1:58 pm
    Wow. Jamieson Ranch is going for an American Canyon appellation? Is this what its owner means? So visitors driving west on Hwy 12 will see signs welcoming them to American Canyon?

    And we've been told one way streets confuse visitors; wait til this happens.
  12. vocal-de-local
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    vocal-de-local - December 12, 2013 11:53 pm
    Don't give em any ideas!
  13. vocal-de-local
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    vocal-de-local - December 13, 2013 12:09 am
    I dunno. The name American Viticultural Appellation does not capture my attention. From a marketing perspective, I would be more inclined to keep the name "Napa" in it.

    The appellation name "American" brings images of 4th of july, red, white and blue etc. It does not lend itself to the thought of higher end wines. Just my two cents....
  14. Crosscountrykid
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    Crosscountrykid - December 13, 2013 5:48 am
    I'm shocked, shocked I tell you that anyone could even think an AVA might have been created for crass commercial interests.
  15. Larry Chandler
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    Larry Chandler - December 13, 2013 9:39 am
    The name "Napa" will sell many more wines than "American Canyon" though perhaps both could be put on the label. In Santa Barbara County, there is an AVA "Santa Ynez Valley" though many wineries, entitled to use that appellation, prefer to put Santa Barbara County on the label because most people have no idea where Santa Ynez actually is or what the wines might be like. Might people think "American Canyon" is in the Sierra Foothills? Or somewhere else far from Napa?

  16. AmCan where your Napa Valley Experience Begins
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    AmCan where your Napa Valley Experience Begins - December 13, 2013 2:52 pm
    Great for American Canyon. Where your Napa Valley Experience Begins.
  17. Just Concerned
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    Just Concerned - December 13, 2013 6:25 pm
    Anyone in the wine business knows that AVAs are purely a marketing ploy and have nothing to do with soils or micorclimates. It's also very political. Grapes will grown anywhere. It's the wine maker and good chemistry that make it or break it.
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