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North Bay Business Journal

Wednesday, November 14, 2012, 3:05 pm

Tourism boosters savor success for 2nd Flavor Napa Valley

2011 festival attracted 3,000-plus, mostly from outside county

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    NAPA — For the second year, visitors will flock to the Napa Valley for a food and wine festival that boasts some of the industry’s highest-profile chefs and winemakers, all aimed at luring tourists and providing an economic boost to the region during the tourism off-season.

    clockwise from top left: Larry Forgione, Michael Chiarello, brothers Marc, Bryan and Sean Forgione, Jeffrey Jack, Johnny Iuzzini and Charlie Palmer

    Featured chefs at the Flavor Napa Valley welcome dinner at Silverado Resort & Spa on Thursday will be (clockwise from top left) Larry Forgione, co-founder and culinary director of the Conservatory for American Food Studies at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone; Michael Chiarello of Bottega Napa Valley; Iron Chef Marc Forgione and his chef brothers Bryan and Sean; Silverado executive chef Jeffrey Jake; James Beard award-winning pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini; and Charlie Palmer, chef, hotelier and owner of Dry Creek Kitchen and a dozen other restaurants nationwide. (photo credit: Flavor Napa Valley)

    The five-day Flavor Napa Valley festival (flavornapavalley.com) at Silverado Resort & Spa near Napa and the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena starts today.

    This year’s event has additional features designed to improve upon the impressive numbers from last year: hands-on small-group experiences in vineyards, farms, cellars and kitchens and “First Taste Napa,” which showcases the restaurant scene in the city of Napa.

    “We’re feeling very good about ticket sales,” said Allison Simpson, a spokeswoman for Visit Napa Valley, formerly known as the Napa Valley Destination Council. “Most events are sold out or will be by the weekend, and our lodging partners indicate that the weekend is looking strong.”

    In its first year, Flavor Napa Valley attracted more than 3,000 guests over the course of four days, and most events were sold out with waiting lists, according to Visit Napa Valley, the county’s official tourism booster.

    Of those visitors, only 17 percent were from the Napa Valley, meaning more than 80 percent of the crowd came from beyond the area.

    The event also boosted hotels, which saw occupancy increase by 6.6 percent in November 2011 from a year before, average daily rates 8.1 percent, revenue per available room 15.2 percent and overall revenue 15.1 percent, according to Smith Travel Research. 

    Additionally, more than 2 billion impressions were garnered through earned media channels, according to Visit Napa Valley.

    Flavor Napa Valley started last year as part of “Cabernet Season,” a coordinated effort by Visit Napa Valley and a host of others to increase tourism between November and April.

    The festival was borne out of the valley’s tourism improvement improvement district, which has a 2 percent assessment on visitor’s hotel rooms that generates north of $4 million annually for tourism promotions. In fiscal 2012, that assessment, which allocates 1.5 percent of gross receipts to the county and 0.5 percent to each city and town for promotional efforts, has generated nearly $4 million. In fiscal 2013 through October, the district has generated almost $1.6 million, compared with $1.4 million in same period for fiscal 2012, a 14 percent increase.

    Flavor Napa Valley also is designed to showcase local chefs and wine, something that had never occurred on a wide-scale level until last year in a region synonymous with Michelin-starred restaurants and fine wine.

    “The first Flavor event in 2011 was a huge success by any measure, and even more so when you consider it was a first-year event,” Ms. Simpson said.

    Proceeds from Flavor cover the cost of production and a portion goes toward scholarship programs at CIA Greystone. Last year, more than $75,000 was raised for such programs.

    Other local off-season tourism-promotion efforts include Legendary Napa Valley Holidays, Napa Valley Restaurant Month in January, Napa Valley Arts in April, as well as Napa’s status as the official wine region of the 34th America’s Cup through September 2013.

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