Thursday, June 28, 2012

Napa Valley Vintners & America's Cup: Newport is a revelation

Thursday Morning, June 28

My first visit to Newport is a revelation.  I have never seen a harbor packed with so many beautiful boats, from super yachts to 12-metre race boats, and every sort of sloop, schooner, ketch and yawl, modern and classic, large and small, wood and plastic - Newport has them all.

And the setting is no less impressive.  Storied mansions line the waterfront, telling tales of the glory days of yachting - long before corporate sponsors and helicopters - of tycoons and times gone by.

Downtown Newport speaks of east coast summers, with ice cream shops, t-shirt stores, pizza places, beer joints, and everything else that caters to youth on vacation and to sailors on shore.  But there, too, one has a sense of the past - that this summertime enterprise has some history behind it.

The America's Cup Village is located at Fort Adams, an old naval defense installation that once protected the harbor at Newport.  The naval artillery is long gone, but the fort's location on the waterfront couldn't be better for the kind of spectator-friendly action that the current America's Cup organizers aim for.  In every direction the view is fantastic, and entire race course is visible from the public viewing area.

Last night the Napa Valley Vintners and Destination Napa Valley sponsored a wonderful wine reception for VIPs at the Club 45 VIP lounge at Fort Adams. The Club filled with sailors and sailing dignitaries, Linda Reiff and Clay Gregory gave an outstanding presentation on the Napa Valley to the guests, and wonderful wines from more than a dozen Napa Valley wineries were poured to an enthusiastic group.  As the tasting wound down, the sun slowly set, and we were treated to a magnificent example of the beauty of the Newport skies.

Newport is a revelation.



Lester Hardy, lawyer by day, author by night, is the husband of Janet Pagano, Managing Partner at Ovid Vineyards.  An avid sailor, Lester crews for vintner Eric Sklar on Spindrifter at the Sausalito Yacht Club's Tuesday night races, and is currently working on a biography of Tom Blackaller, a San Francisco sailing legend who competed in three America's Cup events. You can reach Lester at

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