If you have been in Yountville for any amount of time you have probably heard the name Jeff Durham. Jeff is an avid believer in being involved in your community, from his tenure on the Town Council to his volunteer work with the Community Thanksgiving, Jeff is someone who cares deeply about the community of Yountville. His love for our community is what prompted him to start The Yountvillian, an online news source for Yountville and Napa County. In this Business Spotlight, we get to know the man behind The Yountvillian a little better.
Briefly describe your work history and what brought you to Napa County
I was born and raised in the City of Napa. I left for college and was fortunate to return to the Valley, moving back to Yountville 18 years ago. My first job was as a busboy in Yountville at Mama Ninas (current RH space). I have been in the hospitality industry since that day. With my other businesses based in Yountville, I saw an opportunity to get involved with the Town government, various commissions, and the Town Council. This work lead me to want to continue my education/learning and share this information with the creation of The Yountvillian.
How long have you been in business in Napa County?
The Yountvillian will be a year old in February 2022. Joey and I have a winery, Gentleman Farmer Wines, and a small real estate business (focusing solely on hospitality properties). Both of those businesses have been in place since we moved here 18 years ago. We also operate a hotel up in Humboldt County.
Can you describe your business? What do you do and how do you do it?
The Yountvillian is an online news source for Yountville and the greater Napa Valley. It is my voice, thoughts, and ideas. It is an additional way to get the news out to our community; current local news for our community of residents, renters, Veterans, workers, second homeowners, and visitors focusing on the heart of this valley, Yountville.
Can you talk about when/why you made the decision to start your own business? Was there a specific defining moment or realization?
With my six years of service on the Yountville Town Council, I found there was a lot of information that was accessible to everyone but inevitably was missed by many. I found many in the community were unaware of Town-wide discussions that had been going on for months, not realizing that the information was always available. As I state on The Yountvillian website, Town Meetings – I watched it so you don’t have to.
Why do you do what you do?
To continue my education. To get others involved who might otherwise not have known what was happening in our community. Have difficult conversations. A lot is happening in California that will affect our community; we all need to be engaged to make the best decisions for the community.
What are your biggest challenges as a business owner?
Engagement. We need to have difficult conversations. We might disagree, so I believe it is better to have that conversation with a neighbor who has the same community experience. Opposite opinions do not mean anyone is divisive; you are sharing thoughts, opinions, or ideas. It is essential to have these conversations as neighbors and community members. So less discuss. Much better than a faceless comment section on a social media post.
What are the biggest rewards?
Conversation. Contacts. Ideas. Debate. Meeting community members, old and new. Learning something new.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone starting a business in Yountville/Napa County?
There are so many opportunities now. On so many levels. Brick and mortar and online. Sometimes we need to take that step out of our comfort zone. Be uncomfortable.
What does it mean to be a business leader in Yountville and Napa County?
To be a ‘business leader” means: Be engaged. Be active. Lead the way. Give back. Yes, it’s hard work, and we are fortunate to be able to do it.