Reserve Now

Reserve online


Number in Party:

Or call: 800.427.4124

An Open Letter to Senator John McCain

December 9th, 2009

Dear Senator,

I called your office this morning, but you were unavailable to talk. So, I thought it might be appropriate to express my concerns in writing. I was shocked to hear that people high up in Washington think that the Napa Valley Wine Train received $54 million in stimulus money -- which, of course, we didn’t.

I, and a number of other people, have read your Stimulus Checkup – a report outlining poor government spending. Page 14 (number 11 on list) is titled “All Aboard the Wine Train ($54 million).”

I realize you are very busy. It must be difficult to talk to everyone that wants to bend your ear. But, that is exactly what I was calling about: No one at the Napa Valley Wine Train received a call from you or your office researching the Stimulus Checkup that you just released.

In fact, I couldn’t determine if anyone at the Flood Control Offices in Napa, or even the city of Napa spoke to you about this project. And, it doesn’t appear that you talked to your co-worker (of sorts) Mike Thompson. He spends a bit of time in Washington, knows a lot about this project, and I am sure, would make time to talk about something this important.

It worries me that no calls were made before we were held up to the entire American public – a small business in Northern California – as an enormous source of government waste.

If you had spoken with us, or even project officials, you might have asked: Why would the Napa Valley Wine Train need, or take, $54 million in taxpayer money to move a small section of rail line 33 feet? The answer is: we didn’t

So, who does? Napa County has an award-winning flood control project and design; one that was proposed, and approved by voters, many years ago. This is the project that is being funded. That design has impacted a lot of businesses. It has necessitated the movement of several rights-of-way, and at my last count four or five bridges (including the Wine Train’s). The goal of this project is to protect the city of Napa from continued flooding, period, not enhance specific companies.

Senator McCain, like many businesses across this nation, we believe in investing in our community. We have received several awards for our waste-reduction efforts; we have programs to reward volunteerism; we support non-profits with a generous donation program and partnership program; we are a good sized employer for the small county of Napa and we have provided health insurance benefits to all our employees for 20 years. We are a great and happy place to work. Our business preserves an important transportation corridor. Yes, we are instrumental in bringing people (tourists) to Napa; but we are also a community asset for our locals. Frankly, we just didn’t deserve this.

The horrible economy was a terrible hit this year for a lot of Napa businesses – ours included. Add to it Swine Flu, TARP, the state of California’s grievous problems, and unemployment. And now one of the people who have applied for the position of “Leader of the Free World” is wrongly holding us up as an example of waste. Your report makes it look like our business is enhanced by a civic improvement project. With wrong information, this report becomes a detriment to us and the American public, and not the righteous instrument it was meant to be.

Since you have thrown down the gauntlet, and made accusations, I would like to demand satisfaction! No, that does not come in the form of a retraction or apology. You are invited to come to Napa. Talk to the officials behind this project; learn what is really going on. It is your right and your responsibility.

And, while you are here -- We hope you take a ride on the Napa Valley Wine Train.

Merry Christmas.

Melodie Hilton
Director of Marketing and Public Relations
Napa Valley Wine Train

Response to McCain-Coburn 2012

Learn More:

McCain, Coburn "Stimulus Checkup" Report

Facts about the Wine Train's place in the Napa Flood Control Project