David Stevens: A trailblazer in Napa Valley's wine culture and champion of animal welfare
NAPA VALLEY, Calif. — The Napa Valley community bids farewell to David Stevens, a visionary leader in the wine industry and a devoted advocate for animal welfare. Alongside his wife, Monica, David was a cornerstone of the Napa Valley wine culture, most notably through groundbreaking work with ACME Fine Wines and 750 Wines as well as the couple’s compassionate endeavors with the Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch, now known as Jameson Humane.
David was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease several years ago. Over the last several weeks his health began to deteriorate rapidly, and it became clear that time was growing limited. Early morning on Sunday, Nov. 12, David passed in his sleep at age 72. He is now at peace.
David’s legacy in the Napa Valley wine industry began with Tra Vigne restaurant, where he was the bartender — ran the famous wine program — and continued with the cofounding of ACME Fine Wines in St. Helena in 2003. This venture significantly transformed the Napa Valley's high-end wine retail scene. At ACME he pioneered a new approach to wine retail, focusing on the rarest and most often overlooked wines from smaller producers, both in Napa Valley and California.
In 2009, David and Monica took the helm of 750 Wines on Adams Street in St. Helena, further cementing their status as influential figures in the wine community. This venture significantly transformed the Napa Valley’s high-end wine retail scene. Their unique approach to wine retailing at 750 Wines offered private, curated tastings and access to high-end, limited-production boutique wines. This endeavor reflected their extensive network and deep-rooted relationships with vintners and winemakers, enhancing the wine-tasting experience for enthusiasts and collectors alike.
Unless they were hosting a private tasting, the door to 750 Wines was always open and David was always willing to discuss wines, what was going on in St. Helena and the news of the day. He and Monica were a vital part of downtown St. Helena. Once they hosted a seated wine-tasting in collaboration with the St. Helena Star featuring Andy Beckstoffer and the wines made from his grapes. Tasters at the large table included vintner Russell Bevan, wine educator Catherine Bugue and others.
As often as he could, David participated in the monthly St. Helena Star/Napa Valley Vintners tasting panel, always held at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. He was a trusted voice on the panel, garnering respect from the group of winemakers and vintners who gathered each month to taste Napa Valley’s best wines.
David's passion for wine was paralleled by his commitment to animal welfare. In 2014 he and Monica founded Jameson Humane in Napa Valley. Named after their beloved rescue dog, a Great Pyrenees, Jameson Humane exemplifies their dedication to no-kill animal rescue and sustainable practices in animal advocacy. David's compassionate spirit shone through this initiative, resonating with the community and inspiring others to join the cause. Their annual event, WineaPAWlooza, has become a cornerstone of their fundraising efforts, combining the worlds of fine wine and philanthropy. Wristrocket, a rock ’n’ roll band founded by Jeff Smith, guitarist and Hourglass Winery founder, included David on bass. The band always ended WineaPAWlooza with a rollicking set of great classic rock ’n’ roll music.
David's impact extended beyond his professional achievements. His journey as a musician with Wristrocket and his life with Monica, along with their four rescue dogs, illustrated a life lived with passion and purpose. His entrepreneurial spirit, commitment to community and love for animals have left an indelible mark on Napa Valley.
David grew up in Minot, North Dakota, and went to Minot State University. He moved to San Francisco in 1975 and to Napa in 1995. In lieu of flowers, please send memorial contributions to Jameson Humane, here. His Celebration of Life will be in late December.
As we honor David Stevens, we remember a man whose life was a mosaic of innovation, kindness and unwavering dedication to his passions and his community. His contributions to shaping the wine culture of Napa Valley and his efforts in animal welfare will remain the foundation of his enduring legacy. David’s memory and spirit will continue to inspire and guide those who knew him and the many lives he touched. Rest in peace, David. Your legacy lives on.
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