Call me crazy, but I think Hong Kong is a lot like Napa Valley, California. Napa Valley is world famous - so is Hong Kong. Napa features two mountain ranges: the Mayacamas on one side and the Vacas on the other. Hong Kong has the Kowloon ranges on one side of the harbour and the island's spiky spine on the other.
Napa has a reputation for glitzy glamour that verges on the showy. Hong Kong unabashedly abnegates understatement. The Napa Valley auction, one of the most successful charity auctions in the US, raises US$9.5 million for non-profit organisations. Hong Kong generates at least as much at its many charity auctions.
Napa's early inhabitants were an indigenous group called the Wappo. Hong Kong's were the Hakka. The Catholic community provided the early foundation for Napa's success. The Catholic community provided the early education for Hong Kong's success.
Napa's reputation is due in part to its diurnal temperatures, which mean sunny heat ripens the
grapes by day and the chilly evenings preserve the grapes' natural acidity. In Hong Kong we brave stifling daytime temperatures and shiver throughout the evenings - in air-conditioned restaurants. Fog is highly prized in Napa as it cools the ripening grapes during the warm summer temperatures. Fog is highly prized in Hong Kong as it cools the ripening taipans during the warm summer heat.
Napa is home to the most expensive agricultural land in the US. Hong Kong has some of the most expensive horticultural land in the world - our botanical gardens. Napa specialises in mud-bath treatments used since the 1860s to regenerate city dwellers after excessive wine consumption. The Four Seasons, Grand Hyatt and Mandarin all offer rejuvenating mud treatments for city-dwellers suffering from excess.
Like Hong Kong, Napa thrives on tourism, with about 3 million visitors a year, second only in California to Disneyland. And like Hong Kong, Napa is a multicultural, lifestyle-driven society with pricey gourmet groceries and an innovative food scene. Napa vintners couldn't function without their teams of hard-working immigrant labour sourced from south of California's borders. Hong Kong tai-tais couldn't function without their teams of indefatigable labour sourced from south of our borders.
The Napa community is busily shoring up Napa River's banks. Hong Kong's leadership is busily shoring up the harbour's banks. Napa Valley homes are founded on preposterously steep inclines
in the Napa foothills. Hong Kong homes are found on the preposterously steep hillsides of The Peak.
Napa's iconic Sterling Vineyards feature a steep gondola ride with staggering views as do Hong Kong's Ocean Park and Lantau's Ngong Ping Skyrail (when in operation). A number of Napa wineries have been disparagingly declared ego-driven monstrosities. The same has been said of more than one towering Hong Kong edifice. Longtime Napa inhabitants grumble that elaborate faux chateau winery designs are bringing a touch of Disneyland to their rural community. Lantau Island residents lament that the government brought a faux chateau and actual Disneyland to their rural community.
Finally, no wine has captured the soul of Napa like cabernet sauvignon and its bordeaux-style blends. And no wine has enraptured Hong Kong wine aficionados more than bordeaux. Yes, Hong Kong is just like Napa Valley. All we need to do is finish filling in the harbour so we can plant grapes on the valley floor.