Up the Valley: Lord of the Wrongs

2013-10-22T14:49:00Z Up the Valley: Lord of the WrongsLaura Rafaty Napa Valley Register
October 22, 2013 2:49 pm  • 

When I am not stoking my schadenfreude by deconstructing wedding announcements in the Sunday New York Times, or sharpening my math skills by tallying factual errors in the Napa Register, I often expand my social horizons by reading Paul Franson’s NapaLife, a newsletter describing the full spectrum of happenings in the Napa Valley.

In a recent issue, NapaLife confirmed a story that had been rumored for months:

The Del Dotto Family is opening a new winery called Ca’Nani, meaning “house of the dwarves.” Franson quotes Desirée del Dotto as saying: “We do plan on having some little people working there,” and describes the project as “an Italian country-style winery with caves, being built across from Mustards in the Yountville Hills” featuring “a fairy-tale theme with various characters for each wine produced.”

The Ca’Nani Facebook Page displays a dwarf carrying an outsize bunch of grapes, and a winery design that looks like a fantasy Italian stone castle courtyard, but without the gritty realism of Castello di Amorosa. The owners explain: “We chose this theme for our new label because dwarves are jovial and light hearted, and perhaps magical.”

This project raises several obvious questions, including: Doesn’t Yountville look enough like a theme park already? Who are these jovial dwarves (the few I’ve met were decidedly cranky)? Will there be a “Dwarf Wanted” posting on WineJobs.com? And doesn’t this give delightful new meaning to the phrase “short pour”?

This story should become a Napa Valley epic fantasy novel:

Once upon a time, there was a brave planning director and disciple of Saint Helena, who ventured into the forbidden village of Yountville to observe its legendary wonders: wide pothole-free streets, clean branded awnings, and certain mythic buildings kept for the use of “visitors” who are reputed to “check in” and “stay the night.”

An enchanted place where faux-Italy and faux-France peacefully co-exist, there is supposedly no school system in Yountville; just a fairy princess who reads fables to young children before stuffing them into the oven at Bouchon Bakery. Overwhelmed by its beauty, the planner wanders into Hurley’s for a restorative lager, and accidentally leaves behind his precious Golden Drafting Compass.

This Golden Compass, essential for making planning decisions on Saint Helena’s behalf, is placed in a box behind Hurley’s bar and lost for what feels like 1,000 years. Without it, no one can assess the square footage of a hotel site, or calculate the city’s water needs, or determine the number of staff required to run a municipal department. Thus the Upper Kingdom of Saint Helena, unable to pass even the most General of Plans, cedes its dominance to the Middle Kingdom.

Fortunately, the People’s Prince, Lord Dario of Sattui, during a late-night rendezvous at Hurley’s, retrieves the Compass and conveys it to his Upper Kingdom Castello for safekeeping. There it is locked in a dungeon guarded by an irascible Croatian gargoyle answering to the nickname of “Mike.” Access to the treasure requires enthusiastically chanting the word “Cheers” 50 times to a troll at the gate.

Meanwhile, the Lords of the Middle Kingdom plot to recapture Saint Helena’s Golden Compass and usurp her town’s exhaustively-market-researched-and-branded position as “Napa Valley’s Main Street.” And so they erect a fantasy kingdom of their own deep in the Yountville hills, and cunningly lie in wait for the day when they might deploy an army of dwarves to seize the talismanic Compass.

The epic battle unfolds as the diminutive warriors commandeer the Wine Train, venture Upvalley, and storm the Castello. But wily Prince Dario, who maintains a second, less-lofty castle on the side, summons its army to advance from the south, and routs the would-be usurpers. The small-stature survivors scatter to hide in the Petrified Forest, followed by a long and perilous journey to the Safari West wildlife preserve. There they will mount flying unicorns and journey back to the Middle Kingdom. (How do you know there aren’t unicorns at Safari West? You haven’t been there.)

A peace conference is convened by the Lower Kingdom’s Tax Assessor and Registrar of Voters, but he betrays both parties and steals the Golden Compass for himself. Lacking any compass of his own, he has been unable to certify election results for what feels like 1,000 years.

(Lest you feel that my fear of impending invasion rings false, remember that the Town of Yountville recently announced plans to annex Domaine Chandon, which is much like the time Henry V decided to annex France, except that instead of resulting in the acquisition of another country, it will result in the acquisition of another Michelin star.)

Meanwhile, back in the Middle Kingdom, will the Lords of Kellerville and Chiarelloland, and Sir Richard of Reddington, sit idly by, or will their publicists force them into the fray? Will Ca’Nani’s promised fairy-tale characters include dwarves named Swirly, Sippy and Spitty? And will the ultimate victors be the lawyers of would-be winery workers over 4 feet 10 inches in height? You’ll have to read another chapter in the “Lord of the Wrongs” cycle to find out.

(Laura Rafaty is a national award-winning columnist, a Tony-nominated theatrical producer, Producing Director at Lincoln Theater, online retailer at PennalunaNapaValley.com, and attorney at NapaValleyImmigrationLaw. Read more at laurarafaty.com.)

Copyright 2016 Napa Valley Register. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(13) Comments

  1. winebroad
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    winebroad - October 23, 2013 1:36 pm
    Best thing published in history of Napa Valley Publishing.
  2. Napa742
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    Napa742 - October 24, 2013 8:43 am
    Wow. Still laughing.
  3. NVMG
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    NVMG - October 24, 2013 12:04 pm
    Where hence is the wee Lord of the Bong?

    Now that "grass" does yet to grow in ground by light of "sunshine", under penalty of law in St Helena from fear the weed by the Sovereign City Sitters. Lest we should be put into stocks and plummeted & tortured with over aged cheap wine from Beringer Vineyards. (adieu Dave Dearie).

    Could the Reining Lord Dario of Sattui (obtw thx 4 twitter follow), please find a Middle Earth for us? We promise to employ some dwarves--great bong-makers we hear~ maybe hearsay?
    Yet beautiful varieties abound in their name; Budda White Dwarf, Buddha Red Dwarf and alas our Royal Queen Royal Dwarf. You see we all ready have a sovereign leader, even if a little skunky.

    Oh Lord Sattui, please help our quest so we may venture to plant our adult crop, make use of it and travel to the Lords of Kellerville, Chiarelloland, Sir Redds, & The Forest of Terra which will only suffice our mad cravings.

    Napa Valley Marijuana Growers
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    BRGMGB - October 24, 2013 1:20 pm
    Great to hear of the new "themed" winery concept. The Vermeil Winery in Calistoga cashes in on a football hero's charisma to add luster to its product. I can think of a few other potential themes for wineries:
    1. Southern Plantation. Workers would be black of course, and would be in chains and subject to whippings as needed.
    2. Castro Street. An all-gay winery. No girls allowed.
    3. High-Energy Winery. All the wines would be fortified with caffeine and other stimulants. Product would be promoted on race cars. .
  5. sthelena94574
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    sthelena94574 - October 26, 2013 9:23 am
    How lucky we are to have this quality of humor in our paper. Bravo Laura! I think you must be channeling Dorothy Parker.
  6. Bill Dyer
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    Bill Dyer - October 26, 2013 5:09 pm
    Further Up the Valley: Gullible’sTravels
    Past the Castle, carefully avoiding Dario’s torture chamber, Gullible came to the less visited Realm of Ca’toga, a pristine backwater of Sarafornia, where steamy fogs emerge straight from the ground and mysteries abound. Cautiously he approached the Ponds of Dunaweal along the river, where occasionally one can hear the Sirens softly singing “I shall be released” followed by mysterious rises in the river flow, said to be sourced from the lands of Boron and Antimony. Authorities deny knowledge of this miracle, but it is said that by Waterboarding them the truth might be revealed. There are occasional sightings of the Dreaded Scott who rises up against the Rumbling Harleys.

    Next: Gullible loses his way, gets lost, asks Alice, then goes down the rabbit hole.
  7. Bill Dyer
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    Bill Dyer - October 28, 2013 7:47 pm
    Yet Further Up the Valley With Gullible’s Travels: He Safra’s No Fools:

    From there he passed the Enchanted Forest in the Lands of Aaron-- a spell fell upon him and a sign came unto him: Relax you are in Ca’toga. Gullible found the village pleasing to the eye, and encountered villagers well pleased with their General Plan to keep it quaint but not funky. Then everything got strange after he asked Alice for directions, yet fell down the rabbit hole where Gullible encountered the Chamber Elves, who spoke backwards in a strange rotarian manner, casting their eyes to the north and saying: Yes, Ca’toga is up the road but it’s not Healdsburg. Casting their eyes to the South, they said: Yes it is down to earth, but it has less lights than Yountville. There are no Red Rooms, and Travelers find it hard to get Delblottod. Then Gullible came upon the Chief Elf, who had mastered the Wearing of Two Hats, giving him multiple visions: of a Keller Ville right in the middle of the Enchanted Forest; of an Electoral College where the third shall be last; of a court of the Knights of the 1000 dollar nights, and he heard their song: “First there is mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is.”
  8. Cdub
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    Cdub - October 31, 2014 11:01 am
    This article is awesome but learning that the uber-privledged will be capitalizing on people with disabilities makes me sick. BRGMGB nailed it- why stop at Little People? Lets go ahead and bring an Auschwitz-themed winery to the valley and be served by thin Jewish Hipsters in a cement modernistic winery. Del Dotto, you are ridiculous.
  9. Red Dirt Town
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    Red Dirt Town - November 05, 2014 10:28 am
    Add to this fantasy the winey and vineyard the Angwin SDA teetotalers are planning (wine grapes for China) and you realize we have collectively drank Kool-Aid.
  10. jenrgee
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    jenrgee - November 05, 2014 1:23 pm
  11. MUpdegraff
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    MUpdegraff - November 09, 2014 11:19 am
    Shortshighted and hopefully short lived brand.

  12. Anchorman707
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    Anchorman707 - November 12, 2014 7:26 pm
    Oh Nooooo!! This is sure to bring the wicked witch sisters from the west to town, Boxetta & Feinsteina.
  13. AaronStarr
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    AaronStarr - December 10, 2014 9:03 pm
    I really enjoyed the article and the comment. I'm also entertained by the prospect of a winery with a fairytale theme!
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