This article was originally published in the St. Helena Star  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.
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."
ARTICLE IV ‑ Dues
"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.
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.
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 
© St. Helena Star, Reprinted by permission.