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RS: A lot of the change that has happened has been a positive thing to promote Napa — the wine, the grapes, the region — and without a doubt, we've benefitted from that overall marketing. It put us in the position to be able to take our business into the winemaking realm, to transition from growers to vintners. Because we're on a world stage and there have been others who have really pioneered it. That change and that growth has helped to enable us to do what we're doing now, and that's definitely been a positive thing. Plus, we've been a participant in the whole process because we've been here producing grapes to help make what I hope are great wines. I feel we're very fortunate to be able to reap some of the benefits of all the positive change that has occurred in the wine industry.
But there's also a lot of growth pressure as the popularity of the valley becomes greater; it's a constant challenge to balance growth with preservation of agriculture. That's something I'm very involved with in the valley through the Farm Bureau and Agricultural Preserve. It's really important to preserve the rural and agricultural character of our valley so that when people come to visit, they see the green space and are able to enjoy the scenery and landscape. If we don't protect that, not only might we lose an agricultural base for the fruit that makes it possible to make great wine, but the aesthetic value of the valley as well. And that's a very challenging task! Because the more famous the region gets, the more pressure there is to commercialize it and the more people want to be here, live here, and be a part of it, which depletes resources. Where we are now, resources are already tight from the increase in population in some of these small communities, like St. Helena, Yountville, and even [the town of] Napa. That's probably one of the biggest challenges on the negative side — balancing the growth with the popularity of the valley. But on the other hand, it has been good because in the wine community we've all benefitted from being on the national stage of the Napa Valley.
Sprouting Fresh Shoots: the Future of a Family Brand
NM: The evolution of Napa aside, which direction would you like to see Salvestrin going into over the next generation that you know isn't quite there yet?
RS: I think it's important to keep Salvestrin as a lifestyle, and to keep it real and sustainable. The wines just need to be as good as they can be from vintage to vintage, food-friendly, balanced, enjoyable wines. And it just needs to stay real! That's really all I can say. Now, we have the ability to grow, but we're only going to grow to what we estimate we can sell in any given year, and not overdo it or flood the market. We want to be at the right price point and continue making top-quality wine that's a reflection of whom we are and what we're all about. What I tell people is that these are wines that we like to drink. I try to make wines that I want to drink on a daily basis. And if I enjoy them, then there's probably enough people out there who will to.
NM: What have you learned from your customers that you feel has helped improve your brand of winemaking?
RS: I think what we're finding is authenticity, honesty, and relationships with our customers is key — especially during these times.
Authenticity, honesty, relationships: noble values, to be sure, and ones that have allowed the Salvestrin family to sustain their love of the land and continue to convey its message through the raising of healthy vines and crafting of quality wines. To learn more about the wine portfolio, visit Salvestrin Winery online. (Photo Credits: Megan Gordon & Salvestrin Winery).