Yes, Napa’s expensive. But you can still visit on a budget

That newspaper’s wine columnist, Lettie Teague, traveled to Napa recently and found that prices had skyrocketed since her previous trips: $1,300 a night for a hotel room, $900 wine tastings. “I can’t help feeling that the region’s main crop is cash, not grapes,” Teague writes.

Her article has generated quite a bit of buzz in Napa. Locals, including these two Bay Area wine writers, can’t deny that Napa Valley prices have risen significantly over the past few years. The data is undeniable: Teague reports that the region’s average tasting fee, for instance, increased by 25% since 2016.

But the article also has many locals feeling defensive. The reasons why it costs a lot to visit Napa aren’t due to the wine industry’s greed, they say, but rather to a web of factors much more complicated than what the Journal story acknowledges.

One major factor is staffing. Long a struggle in Napa Valley, it has worsened since the start of the pandemic. As a result, many hotels and restaurants are unable to operate at full capacity. Increased room rates and dinner tabs help make up for the loss of reservations.

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