Chuck McMinn is the owner of Vineyard 29 winery in the Napa Valley.
He’s also a runner.
And he’s proposing that a 22-mile hiking and biking trail be developed in America’s most famous wine region.
As a biker myself, the idea has great appeal to me. Being able to cycle at a leisurely pace through one of the world’s most beautiful valleys would make visiting Napa even more enjoyable than it is now.
McMinn says that two possible routes are being discussed — one that would run along the Napa River, and one that would wind its way through vineyard land (although no grapevines would be taken out of production).
Gaining approval of the river route probably would be easier, because growing numbers of vintners and growers are concerned about vine pests being introduced to their vineyards. That’s why many wineries already ban visitors from walking through the vines.
The trail — wherever it ends up — would follow a north-south route from the city of Napa in the south to the town of Calistoga at the top of the valley.
My only concern about the project is the introduction of more bicycles to the Napa Valley. That may sound strange coming from an avid cyclist, so let me explain…
With so many wineries offering visitors samples of their wares, it would be impossible for not even one of those imbibers to be somewhat compromised in their driving ability. Impaired drivers, lots of bicycle riders and narrow roads would seem to be a recipe for disaster.
Let’s face it: Even if the new path were to follow the river, many of the bike riders would stray off the path on occasion, while others would have to traverse valley roads to get to the path in the first place.
It’s a true conundrum for a wine lover who also loves to ride bikes.
I know my cyclist friends won’t like it, but perhaps the best answer would be to develop a hiking and biking trail that’s well away from vehicular traffic, and then to ban bikes from those narrow Napa roads.
That may be “penalizing” the innocent party in this scenario, but at least the innocent party would be alive to enjoy that new trail… and a nice glass of Napa Cabernet after their ride.