If you haven’t had a chance to see the Feb. 13 issue of ESPN the Magazine, please pick it up at a local newsstand. Or if you must, go online to enjoy it.
Staff writer Baxter Holmes writes what he calls “an inside-the-bottle love story between NBA stars and the gilded grape” titled The NBA’s Secret Wine Society.
It’s a great read, and Napa has a huge role in the story telling. I enjoyed speaking with Baxter while he was putting it together and it made me think of the many stories I could have shared.
During my first week on the job as President/CEO (June 2014) I received a call from the Golden State Warriors, who were in search of a place to host a six-day training camp.
It was head coach Steve Kerr’s first year and the team had already explored San Diego, Santa Barbara and Hawaii as options.
After just one visit to research hotel and private dining options here in the Valley, I convinced the team to ink a deal to stay in downtown Napa at the Andaz.
That deal would have resulted in an approximate $250,000 commitment to the local economy as a result of the lodging, transportation, food and beverage and other required goods and needs.
In conjunction, Coach Kerr also planned a three-day basketball operations staff retreat in advance of camp – something he still does every year – at a resort upvalley.
This was all pretty exciting, especially since I admittedly didn’t have a true understanding of the Chamber’s community role and purpose at the time.
It took a while to get the necessary contract and agreements signed. But eventually things were set, and the Chamber was preparing to make a very proud and official announcement.
Then Aug. 24, 2014 happened, and at 3:20 a.m. that morning, a 6.0-magnitude earthquake hit our beloved community.
I believe we all know what happened next. Also, since the team has been to the NBA Finals every year since (winning twice), their training camp regimen has remained the same.
Had it not been for that disastrous event, Napa could have become the training camp home of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors.
When I think of it now, it seems a bit more significant as we prepare to lose the Raiders after more than 20 years. Keep your fingers crossed…..if I can’t convince the Warriors to give us another shot, or the Sacramento Kings to consider Napa in its pans, maybe LeBron James will just bring his future team here. You just never know.
Other Chamber/NBA food and wine pairings include back in 2015 when TORC Owner/Executive Chef Sean O’Toole hosted the entire Chicago Bulls team for a lunch that included wines being poured by Realm Cellars and Amuse Bouche. The team also visited Porter Family Wines and Quintessa also hosted player Pau Gasol on that same trip.
In 2016, Eleven Eleven Winery played host to a Napa Chamber golf tournament event featuring Steph Curry and Andre Iguodala.
Warriors’ teammate Draymond Green recently visited Palmaz before enjoying dinner at Cole’s Chop House.
There are just a few, and there will all always be plenty more. Be sure to join and renew with the Chamber so we can add you to our “wine list.”
Thanks for reading!
Travis Stanley is the president and CEO of the Napa Chamber of Commerce. Call 226-7455 or visit napachamber.com.