Napa Mayor Scott Sedgley, left, with Sonoma Mayor Jack Ding at the Bouchaine Vineyards hospitality room.
Over the past two years the Historical Society has sought to lend voice to the amazing stories of people, places, and events woven into the fabric of the Napa Valley’s heritage. We have hosted virtual presentations to keep people connected, entertained, and informed. As we’ve gotten better at these virtual gatherings, the stories we are privileged to host have grown reflecting the power of the storytelling. This past month is an excellent example. We hosted Dr. Paul Gee, Radiation Physicist and Napa’s premiere Chinese-American, award-winning winemaker. Dr. Gee has an amazing story to tell from the rice fields of Southern China to the vineyards of California via Kansas. At 85 and rather shy, getting him to relate his story was the trick. Luckily for the Historical Society, his good friends Joyce Chan, Bouchaine Vineyards, and Sonoma Mayor Jack Ding stepped up and created a setting where Paul felt comfortable. The small, post pandemic group toasted with Gee wine and through the skillful questions of Jack Ding, Paul and Jack wove their separate stories of growing up in China, the similarities and differences. What could have been a dry relating of facts, turned into a rich story of aspirations and motivations between two men who came from very different backgrounds in the East and added such value to the West. Zoom participants from as far away as Hong Kong and Thailand smiled and laughed, enjoying the stories told by Paul and Jack, but there was another story in the room. It turns out that the mayors of Napa and Sonoma had never met. In the spirit of East meets West the mayors of Napa and Sonoma met for the first time, greeting each other and immediately pledging to work together. Everyone in the room recognized the significance of the moment — another instance of East meets West and another story that enriches the larger sagas of the two counties, historically intertwined since the 1830s.
Mayor Scott Sedgley, Dr. Paul Gee, and Mayor Jack Ding at Bouchaine Vineyards, March 17th.