Impact conference includes top economist, Napa wine industry leaders

Economist sees three paths for Napa economyBusiness Journal Q&As with conference panelists

Bart Araujo, proprietor, Araujo Estate Wines

Andy Beckstoffer, president, Beckstoffer Vineyards

Jayson Pahlmeyer, founder and proprietor, and Brian Hilliard, president, Pahlmeyer Wines

Mario Zepponi, partner, Zepponi & Company

NAPA -- From a farmer of thousands of North Coast acres of winegrapes to producers of Napa Valley's most prestigious wine brands to a broker of industry mergers and acquisitions, the speaker lineup for the Business Journal's Impact Napa conference later this month includes major figures in Napa County's wine industry.

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The Aug. 30 morning conference will include a look at the forces pushing and pulling on the finances of grape growers, vintners and consumers by Chris Thornberg of Beacon Economics, which has offices in San Rafael and Los Angeles.

Following the forecast will be a panel consisting of Bart Araujo of Araujo Estate Wines just east of Calistoga, Andy Beckstoffer of Rutherford-based Beckstoffer Vineyards, Jayson Pahlmeyer of Pahlmeyer Winery in St. Helena and Mario Zepponi of Santa Rosa-based Zepponi & Company.

The panel will be moderated by one of the leading legal counselors to the wine industry, Richard Mendelson, of counsel for Dickenson Peatman & Fogarty in Napa.

Asked what the major legal issues facing the industry are, Mr. Mendelson told the Business Journal:The Conditional Waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements on the Napa River and Sonoma Creek watersheds proposed by the State Regional Water Quality Control Board.The federal district court lawsuit involving the Mishewal Wappo Indians’ tribal recognition claims in Napa County and the related land use and development issues on agricultural lands.The recognition and protection of the Napa Valley name abroad.The development pressures on the outskirts of urban centers.The increasing scrutiny by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control over the wine marketing practices of brand owners and third party providers, which is a statewide issue.

"So much of Napa’s life and economy is intertwined with wine that we have decided to make it a central focus of Impact Napa," said Brad Bollinger, Business Journal editor and associate publisher. "To that end, we have invited some of the most sought-after speakers and experts with interesting and stimulating stories to tell about wine and the state of the industry."

A nationally recognized expert on the economy, Dr. Thornberg returns to Impact Napa with a localized analysis of the county's local drivers of business activity: wine, tourism, housing and construction.

The conference will be 7:30-10:30 a.m. at Napa Valley Marriott hotel in Napa. To register, visit or call 707-521-5264 by Aug. 24. Cost is $45 per person or $450 for a table of 10 including company signage.