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North Bay Business Journal

Monday, February 24, 2014, 6:15 am

Vintner, tourism groups put up $5 million for Vine Trail

$37M still needed for Vallejo–Calistoga route

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    NAPA — Napa Valley Vintners and Visit Napa Valley said each will provide $2.5 million in funding toward construction of the Napa Valley Vine Trail, a pedestrian and bicycle path spanning 47 miles from Vallejo to Calistoga.

    The combined $5 million contribution provides 40 percent of the local funding needed to build the hiking and biking trail, officials said.

    Napa Valley Vine TrailAn additional $37 million is needed to complete the trail, they said. For every local dollar pledged, $3 are expected in matching funds from local, state and federal resources.

    “The entire Vine Trail Coalition and our 30 community organization board members are so thankful for the generosity and support that Napa Valley Vintners and Visit Napa Valley are providing today,” Chuck McMinn, executive director of the Napa Valley Vine Trail Coalition, said in a statement. “We now have $7.5 million of our $12 million local fundraising goal in hand. This will be used to complete the Vine Trail from south Napa to Yountville within the next two years, inviting residents and visitors to experience our county in a healthy new way.”

    Proponents of the trail said the goal is to provide a “healthy, safe, scenic, free and family-friendly hiking and biking trail for Napa County locals and visitors.” They also point to the trail as a potential boon for public health that could potentially spur weight loss through exercise.

    According to the 2013 Napa County Community Health Assessment, 40 percent of middle school students and 60 percent of adults living in Napa County are overweight or obese. The Vine Trail provides access to a proactive and preventive approach for addressing health issues facing the community, officials said.

    The Napa Valley Vintners contribution to the Vine Trail comes from earnings on long-term investments from the trade association’s annual community fundraiser, Auction Napa Valley.

    “Community health is the auction’s No. 1 funding priority,” said Linda Reiff, president and chief executive officer of the trade group. “As part of our commitment to community well-being, we’re thrilled to make a significant donation that has the potential to positively impact the lives of so many in Napa County. And, because our donation is designated for the section of the trail from Yountville to American Canyon, it will be especially beneficial for children who ride their bikes or walk to school.”

    To date, Napa Valley Vintners has given more than $120 million to local nonprofits through auction fundraising.

    Visit Napa Valley’s commitment is being made on behalf of the Napa Valley lodging community, including funds from local tourism improvement districts and area hotels.

    “Tourism matters to the economic sustainability of Napa County,” said Clay Gregory, president and chief executive officer of Visit Napa Valley. “Access to better, safer cycling, hiking and outdoor activity is important to our visitors, and the Vine Trail will give us a strategic advantage in building awareness of the many wellness assets in our region.”

    Vine Trail officials project that half of its use will be by locals and half by visitors, who together will generate $165 million in additional spending each year in the county. Vine Trail officials also launched a new community fundraising challenge called the “Founders Circle.” The goal is to secure 100 community donors to contribute $10,000 or more to the Vine Trail raising an additional $1 million by the end of 2014.

    Napa Valley “is the second-highest bicycle accident rate per capita of the nine Bay Area counties and a poor environment for non-motorized transportation,” according to the Napa Valley Vine Trail Case Statement, prepared by the Napa County Transportation and Planning Agency and the Vine Trail coalition.

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