The latest work from a seminal writer on Napa Valley is out, hitting the shelves everywhere and striking a nerve here.
Released last week, James Conaway’s third book on the Napa wine region, “Napa at Last Light: America’s Eden in an Age of Calamity,” marks the author’s latest update on the area’s social history, which he has tracked in two previous books over as many decades.
Those books — the bestselling “Napa: The Story of an American Eden,” published in 1990, and its 2002 sequel “The Far Side of Eden” — each told of the shifting shape of Napa Valley at the time and cemented Conaway as a leading chronicler of the region and its vintner denizens who grew the valley into the wine epicenter and destination it is today.
Taking center stage in the latest installment are those who hope to check Napa’s continued development by its iconic industry, driving what Conaway considers to be a new wine country zeitgeist.
“Napa at Last Light” offers an account of a valley increasingly divided, with proponents of development pitted against those bent on preserving an agrarian ideal of Napa that may already be beyond safeguarding.
As Conaway writes, with wine industry development spreading across the county largely unabated, a blend of homegrown citizen groups, as well as conservation-minded winemakers and grape growers, have risen to limit the industry’s advances.