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Leadership, Legacy and Napa’s All-Star Leadership Team

My question to Napa County’s “All-Star” leadership team, is when you finally finish your job and are gazing into the sunset with your favorite glass of wine, what do you want your legacy to be?

Leadership can be defined as aligning your actions, words and behaviors to your motivation. When you apply motivation alignment to leadership it can deliver remarkable results. Our personal motivation gives purpose and meaning to our lives. When applied consistently in business, your motivation comes to life in tangible results that can make a powerful impact on employees, clients, shareholders and to customers. The imprint our motivation leaves on the world, on people, on organizations, is our legacy.

Motivation is the aim that guides action; Legacy is the mark that action leaves. And just as intention is a wine best served with deliberate purpose, so should legacy be aligned with purpose and a personal vision. When this happens, personal vision & leadership, aligned with motivation, leaves a legacy.

Napa and its leadership may be heading in the wrong direction. Napa’s leadership has always had long range vision, plans, etc. but my perception, they were not aligned with a shared vision across their personal legacy’s. They are aligned with day to day working politics, operations, meetings, commissions, etc. This results in Napa’s leadership functioning like an “All-Star” team. Each leader represents a different team, but for meetings they put on the same (team) jersey, but it comes off afterwards. Meaning that if current events, activities, meetings, votes, reviews, etc. fit into their vision or personal legacy, they are all in. However, when those events are not aligned to their personal legacy (if they have one) this has had some unintended consequences.

For example, Save the Family Farms is a group of owner-occupied Napa Valley grape growers who produce wine using off-site production facilities in Napa County. Current Napa County regulations prohibit us from having tastings & sales on our properties. This is having a severe impact on Napa’s Small Family Farms & vineyards—arguably the heart and soul of Napa Valley are on the decline. Data trends suggest that over 200 small family vineyards have either gone out of business or sold to investors in the last decade as a result of a set of regulations designed for corporate-based wineries.

For Family Farms to survive in a winemaking industry increasingly dominated by absentee-owners, Napa County must acknowledge small Family Farms’ historical, cultural, and winemaking legacy. We seek to create a new avenue for local growers to participate in limited tastings and “direct to consumer” utilizing 75% estate and 100% Napa-sourced fruit. We do not want to change the Winery Definition Ordinance (WDO) and are not asking for a permit to make wine. Our objective is to help with creation of a “policy” that provides small family farms a realistic road to compliance.

The next 5-10 years are critically important as none of us want to leave a legacy that helped Napa became another Disneyland? However, with the current “go big or go home” regulations it delivers a set of unintended consequences… and that is where we are headed! My question to Napa County’s “All-Star” leadership team, is when you finally finish your job and are gazing into the sunset with your favorite glass of wine, what do you want your legacy to be? Disneyland or Saving Small Family Farms….

Author: George O’Meara, Author: Collaborative Leadership: Lessons from the Street to the Boardroom. Napa owner 13 years, retired, now growing grapes and home winemaker.

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This article was originally published in Wine Searcher on Monday, 18-Sep-2023. Link to the original article here. The long-protected Napa wine industry faces a chilly new political atmosphere. W. Blak


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