Stacks Image 1521
The purpose of the Napa Valley Wine Library Association is to preserve and disseminate information regarding viticulture, enology and wine lore, particularly as it pertains to Napa Valley. St. Helenans and the UC Davis libraries donated books and materials to form the core of the Wine Library collection, housed in the St. Helena Public Library.

NVWLA has met its mission over the years with its support for the Napa Valley Wine Library Collection at the Saint Helena Public Library. Images, interview transcripts, wine labels, subscriptions to periodicals, rare books, and current publications, both popular and technical, are all available for use by the general public.

Traditionally, events such as the Annual Tasting of wines from Napa Valley, and the Seminar, featuring in-depth discussions of specific topics, along with smaller venue programs such as Book Nights at the St. Helena Public Library round out the offerings. The organization also produces a REPORT of its activities seasonally.

2024 Board of Directors

Carolyn Martini, President
Cameron Crebs, Vice President
Julie Dickson, Secretary
Dominic Heil, Treasurer

Board of Directors
Misty Roudebush Cain
Michelle Liu Covell
Jeff Davis
Brian DeWitt
Tegan Passalacqua
Brett Van Emst
Dale Brown, Emeritus

Advisory Board

Bret Blyth
Axel Borg
Jim Cross
Megan Foley
David Heil
Chris Howell
Stephen Krebs
Richard Mendelson
Carole Meredith
Angelina Mondavi

Alex Myers
Miel Price Novak
Mark Oberschulte
Jack Oliver
Michaela Rodeno
Craig Root
Brian St. Pierre
Yianni Stone
Nancy Walker
Lindsey Wiseman

Contributing Consultants
Rick Brennan, Accountant
Brian Nash, Graphic Design
Diana H Stockton, Events Liaison and Editor, NVWL REPORT

NVWL Collection
Cecilia Raffo, Technical Services

Napa Valley Wine Library Collection

Stacks Image 1523
The Library has amassed a fine collection of a variety of materials related to wine. Resources on Napa Valley wine are our specialty, but the NVWL Collection encompasses all the wine-producing areas of California, the United States and the world.

The Collection is particularly strong in: Popular books about all aspects of wine written from the 1950s up to the present:

  • Basic winegrowing and winemaking manuals for professionals
  • Burt Wuttken Wine Label Collection
  • William Heintz Research Collection
  • Rare wine books from the 19th and early 20th centuries
  • Transcripts of oral interviews with individuals in the local wine community
In recent years the focus of the collection has changed to better accommodate the needs of those involved in all aspects of the wine community, including wine marketing, hospitality and retail sales.

Barney’s Backyard

Stacks Image 1180
In the year 2000 the Napa Valley Wine Library Association planted a small vineyard of 91 vines on the back corner of the St. Helena Public Library property. The vineyard was named in honor the Association’s first president, Dr. Bernard L. Rhodes.

Barney’s Backyard’s traditional “mixed black” vine composition (Petite Syrah with a smattering of Carignane and Zinfandel) matches the adjacent heritage vineyard (planted between 1882 and 1945), which belongs to the City and is leased to Turley Wine Cellars. Turley’s winemaker Tegan Passaclacqu, includes our vineyard’s yield in its “Library Vineyard” Petite Syrah.

A share of this outstanding wine is bottled in magnums by Turley and given to NVWLA each year; NVLWA, in turn, gives this wine to fund-raising events which benefit educational programs in Napa County.


Stacks Image 1198
The Napa Valley Wine Library Association was founded in 1963 by a group of talented, energetic individuals dedicated to putting their commitment to wine education and information to work.

Pioneering hires in Public Relations at Charles Krug and Louis M Martini, a graphic designer and letterpress printer, a renowned author, and a professor at UC Davis all contributed their expertise in assembling a physical collection of resources. Professor Maynard Amerine persuaded UC Davis to donate duplicate copies of wine-related books from its library, MFK Fisher helped develop curricula for the first wine education classes offered in Napa Valley which artist and printer Jim Beard directed for many summers. PR innovators Paco Gould at Krug and Nancy Haven at Martini drummed up support for the fledgling organization.

NVWLA offered the first public winetasting in Napa Valley in 1963. This was held in the offices of a lumberyard that had just gone out of business; the second was in a Chevrolet showroom. After the third in a candle-making facility at Freemark Abbey, the now Annual Tasting was held on the grounds of the Spottswoode estate for five summers, hosted by owner Constance Holmes Price. As the handful of wineries that poured grew in number, so did attendance. Eventually the Annual Tasting outgrew Spottswoode, Krug, Inglenook, Mondavi, and Sterling. Since 1985, the Annual Tasting has been held in August at Silverado Resort & Spa in Napa.

In 1964, in addition to the Annual Tasting, Maynard Amerine added a series of wine appreciation classes. In 1966, Louis P. Martini enlisted the aid of fellow vintners Bob Mondavi, Joe Heitz and Hans Kornell for teaching week-long classes. By 1980, classes were held on weekends, and helped inform such nascent vintners as Tom and Martha May and John Shafer. Eventually, the program morphed into two field seminars a year and then became our Annual Wine Seminar as local institutions and wineries themselves developed education programs for consumer and practitioner.

To accommodate our expanding assortment of books, images, and ephemera, architect Les Niemi designed space at the Saint Helena Public Library for the NVWL Collection—twice. Once in the original Carnegie Building in Saint Helena, and then in the new public library on Library Lane. Today, non-circulating works of reference are in its California Room, circulating material is in the Wine Library Wing, and the Williams Heinz and Burt Wuttken Collections are housed upstairs.

In 1983 NVWLA began publishing a members’ magazine, its NVWL REPORT. Published seasonally, the magazine includes interviews, book reviews, and synopses of our wine appreciation and education events, as we continue to meet our mission to share information about the history and appreciation of the vines and wines of Napa Valley and the world.

With affection and gratitude, the association salutes its founders and early friends.


Stacks Image 1218
This article was originally published in the St. Helena Star [1974] and covers the early history of the Napa Valley Wine Library Association.
Reprinted by permission.

Napa Valley Wine Library, Its Beginnings and Growth [1961-1974]
By Francis L. (“Paco”) Gould, Editor, Bottles and Bins

“Items concerning the Napa Valley Wine Library have appeared, from time to time, in the St. Helena Star. Some have, in my opinion, rather over‑stressed the social aspects and none has told the full story of the founding of the Library and the purposes and aims of the Association which now administers its activities.

Although Napa Valley had gained international recognition as an outstanding wine region well before 1960, the St. Helena Public Library had practically no wine literature on its shelves in that year, aside from old reports of the California State Viticultural Commission and a few novels such at The Vineyard by Idwal Jones and The Cup and the Sword, by Alice Tisdale Hobart.

This sad state of affairs was probably deplored by many in Napa Valley, but there were two people who gave it serious consideration and discussed with others ways and means to rectify it: Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher and James E. Beard. Unfortunately both of them were too fully occupied with their own vocations to take active steps. They discussed the problem with me, and I agreed to start the campaign for the acquisition of a collection of wine literature which would be available to the citizens of this area.

Need For Funds
Of course, the first consideration was money Even then books were expensive and we wanted a good representation of the works of leading wine authors. I have in my file a small receipt book with stubs called the "Spiral"; its cost was, I think, 15 cents... Therein are recorded the 33 donations totaling $780 [which] I obtained by interviews, telephone calls and letters begging for help. Stub No. 1 is dated January 9, 1961 (fortuitously, January 9 is my birthday). This donation came from Inglenook Vineyard Co. The other 32, in order of receipt were: Napa Valley Vintners, Mrs. N. B. Garden, Mrs. A. M. Ahern, Jerome Draper, Sr., James G. Noyes, Bank of America, Wallace E. Hyde, Dean B. McNealy, Charles Krug Winery, Louis M. Martini Winery, Nino Brambilla, Beringer Bros., J. R. Little, T. F. Parker, Meta Curtis, Wallace W. Everett, Louis D. Vasconi, Beaulieu Vineyard, Mont La Salle Vineyards, Frank Wood, Drs. Booth and Brignoli, Donald S. Cole, Rlchard E. Guggenshime, F. Bourn Hayne, Ellen W. MacVeagh, Charles B. Forni, Fred F. Johnson, Dr. Bernard L. Rhodes, F. H. McCrea, Hartford S Rapp, Jr., Warren F. Jones and Elwin F. Koch. This list, together with M. F. K. Fisher, James E. Beard and myself constituted the founders of The Napa Valley Wine Library.

As my wife and I were to leave for Switzerland in 1962, and we had plans to reside there for over a year, it was obvious that my work was over for the time being. Other hands must carry on the affairs of the Library. Accordingly, a Board of Trustees was created. The seven members were James E. Beard, Chairman; Charles L. Meadows, Treasurer; Mrs. Albert M. Ahern, Mrs. Stephen E. Clark, Mrs. M. F. K. Fisher, Louis P. Martini and Andre Tchelistcheff. Advisors to the Board were Maynard A. Amerine, Lindley Bynum and Francis L. Gould.

Formal Organization
In 1963, it became apparent that a formal organization was needed to perpetuate the enterprise, so the Napa Valley Wine Library Association was formed. The several Trustees became Directors and they, with the four officers (president, vice‑president, secretary and treasurer), comprised the Executive Committee. New by‑laws, based on the 1961 premise, but amplified and made firmer in outline, were drawn up.

The by‑laws have since been slightly changed, mainly in the following Articles:

ARTICLE II ‑ Purpose
"The purpose of this organization shall be to maintain an association of persons interested in books and other documents relating to wine, and to the history of wine; to acquire funds for the Napa Valley Wine Library; to encourage cooperation from the St. Helena Public Library in the development and maintenance of the Napa Valley Wine Library; to encourage, support and maintain such activities as the Executive Committee may from time to time deem appropriate to preserve and disseminate information regarding viticulture, enology and wine lore, particularly as it pertains to the Napa Valley."

ARTICLE III ‑ Membership
"Any person interested in the purposes of the Association may become a member on application and on payment of dues. A membership shall be an individual or an individual and spouse. Each membership shall be entitled to one vote in the Association election. Membership shall be terminated in the event dues are unpaid."

"There shall be two classes of dues: Annual and Lifetime. The amount of the dues for each class of membership shall be determined by the Board of Directors. Annual dues shall be payable on the first day of January."

(The present dues are: Annual $5 per member; Life, $100 per member.)

The current officers and directors of the Association are: President, Gunther R. Detert; Vice‑President, Richard G. Peterson; Secretary; Mrs. Evan Haynes; Treasurer; C J. Busick. The directors (increased to nine from the original seven) are: Clifford D. Allen, Mrs. F. Marion Atchley, James E. Beard, Nathan Fay, Howard Dickenson, Jr., Michael E. Golik, Mrs. M. F. K. Fisher, Mrs. William H. Hart and Charles L. Meadows.

With the starting funds of nearly $800 a nucleus of wine books was purchased. This was augmented by gifts from private collections in various parts of the United States. Through the effort of Maynard Amerine, the University of California at Davis donated an impressive list of books and pamphlets concerned with wine making. The greatest asset of all was, and continues to be, the friendly cooperation of the St. Helena Public Library which gives the Wine Library a home.

Wide Variety
From this little acorn grew a truly impressive collection of wine literature which ranks high among the finest in the United States. The Library now has 649 separate book titles and regular subscriptions to 19 periodicals on wine and related subjects. There is a large vertical, fireproof file for historical and technical articles of various kinds. Many hundreds of leaflets and pamphlets are stored therein. A collection of wine labels is being placed in albums. There is also a new case for rare and reference books.

While the major part of the book collection consists of fairly recent works, both technical and laic, there are a goodly number of rare and valuable editions, many of which are out of print. Among them are Constantini, Caesaris Selecta, Anno MDXXXVIII, presented by Demetrio Zaccaria of Vicenza (Italy) a member of the International Wine & Food Society; Foundations of American Grape Culture, T. V. Munson & Son, Denison, Texas; Bibliotheca Bacchica, Bibliographie Raisonnee, Andre L. Simon. Holland Press, London 1972, (reprinted from 1st edition 1927); Ampelographe, Traite General de Viticulture. P. Viala et V. Vermorel, Masson et Cie. Paris, 1903. This has seven volumes. It contains several hundreds of illustrations (most are in color) of grape clusters, vine, leaves, etc.

The Oral History Tapes Committee, headed by Mrs.Evan Haynes, has recorded the personal recollections of long time residents of Napa Valley. Tapes have been made by John B. Ghisolfo tellng the story of his winery near Calistoga, 1906; Edmund Molinari on Jacob Grim's winery; W. W. Lyman made three tapes; Katherine M. Dowdell on her father's winery; Louis Stralla on Charles Krug; Sam Haus on his Pope Valley winery 1910; Roy Raymond recounting his years at Beringer Bros. There are 11 additional tapes in prospect.

Wine Course Started
In 1966 The Wine Appreciation course was inaugurated by James E. Beard. The program was arranged by Louis P. Martini. It is modeled after the University of California course given twice in St. Helena in 1964 by Dr. Maynard A. Amerine, but is less technical and thus more understandable to amateurs. This course has been continued annually. It is now so popular that several weekend classes are needed to meet the demand. Eight were held in 1973. The instructors have included some of the must talented enologists, vintners and vineyardists in this wine region. The 1973 teaching staff numbered 19 instructors. Thirteen Napa Valley wineries were represented on it. Nearly 400 people attended this year's course, some came from as far away as New Mexico, Illinois and Texas.

The N.V.W.L. Association annual wine tastings have been regularly recorded in the STAR. These festive occasions are made possible through the generous donation of their wines by Napa Valley wineries. The 1973 tasting featured Zinfandels. Twelve wineries exhibited this variety, or Gamay Wines produced by them. Hors d'oeuvres, prepared and served by a ladies' committee headed by Mrs. William H. Hart and Mrs. Alexis Klotz, enhanced the enjoyment of the wines. Started in 1963 on a small scale, these tastings have grown in size and popularity. The most notable ones have been held in the gardens of Spottswoode, Beaulieu, Charles Krug and this year at lnglenook, the estate of Mr. and Mrs. W. E. van Loben Sels.

It would be difficult to state the exact size of the N.V.W.L. Association membership at any given time. It varies considerably from January when the annual dues are payable to autumn when there is a stampede of applications from people who wish to attend the wine tasting. (The '73 peak was nearly 1,000 dues‑payers.) Probably the most solid part of the membership is composed of graduates of the Wine Appreciation Course who have a keen interest in the purposes of the Association.

Future Expansion
The Napa Valley Wine Library will continue to need the support of the community. This can be given in many ways. Taking out membership in the Association; locating books, pamphlets and other material pertaining to wine and food, old wine labels and wine lists (there must be many of these stored away in valley homes and barns); visiting the St. Helena Library to view the wine collection and taking out books for study and enjoyment.

What lies ahead for the Wine Library? My hope is that some day a Museum will be established in or near St Helena with the Library its central feature. Wine museums can be found in all European wine nations; the Musee du Vin de Bourgogne at Beaune is an outstanding example. The Taylor Wine Co. has one at Hammonds Port, N.Y., and Fromm & Sichel, a newcomer, in San Francisco.

Such a project should be started, and chiefly financed, by the wine industry. Several historic Napa Valley wineries are now owned by giant corporations which could easily supply the money needed and charge it to advertising expense. It would be the best advertising campaign they ever promoted.

But large bodies move slowly, and it may be a long time before the wine industry awakens to this golden opportunity. Meanwhile, a lot of thinking and at least some donning is going on. Both the St. Helena Public Library and the St. Helena Wine Library need larger quarters. A joint undertaking may the answer. The directors of both organizations are discussing it. Other constructive ideas have come from Joe Heitz, Tom May and Chuck Carpy.

To show that there is in interest outside the valley it is significant that Life Memberships in N.V.W.L. Association have been taken by both Mr. and Mrs. George M. Pardee Jr. of Marina Del Rey in the southland. They have expressed a desire to keep abreast of our plans for the future.

Where there is so much smoke there must be some fire. Let's get the smoke out of our eyes and keep the home fires burning.”

Originally published in the St. Helena Star [1974]
© St. Helena Star, Reprinted by permission.

© Napa Valley Wine Library Association
All rights reserved
P.O. Box 328
St. Helena, CA 94574

Events Information:
Diana H Stockton
Editor and Events Manager

Membership information:
Rick Brennan
Accounts Manager

The Napa Valley Wine Library Collection
is housed at the St. Helena Public Library.
For information please be in touch with Cecila Raffo,
Technical Services,
Saint Helena Public Library

“The purpose of the Napa Valley Wine Library Association is to collect and share the stories of the wines and vines of Napa Valley and in Wine Country Around the World.”

We are a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and all proceeds benefit the NVWL Collection and our public programs

Updated - 5/17/24