napa valley SUMMER/FALL 2015
Napa Countyâ€™s favorites: From outdoors to great eats (starts on Page 7)
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Symphony Napa Valley Inspires
Falling in love with the river
Eat like a king
A hobby turns to a passion
Napa Ag: more than grapes
Sam’s Social opens
Caring for Seniors
Carpe Diem reborn
Auction Napa Valley boosts charities
Electric railroad reshaped county
Favorite Napa Valley things N O R M A KO S T E C K A Ad ve r ti s i ng Di re ctor
Norma Kostecka is the advertising director for the Napa Valley Register.
We all have our favorite places, places that make Napa County special to us. This issue, we look at some of our favorite places—and yours too. Writer Jess Lander will tell us about the best options for hiking and running. Rosemarie Kempton looks at some great dog-friendly recreation opportunities. Register Photo Editor JL Sousa tells how he fell in love with the Napa River—and how you can too. But Napa County isn’t all rolling hills and peaceful waterways. There’s good eating to be had too. St. Helena Star reporter Tom Stockwell takes a
look at all the fresh food that’s grown here in the county—turns out Napa County agriculture is far more than grapes—and tells you where you can buy some. The Downtown Association’s Craig Smith brings us the story of how one woman turned a stress relieving hobby—baking—into a thriving downtown institution. And we asked your opinions too. We got our readers to weigh on on their favorite places to eat, from fine dining, to family treats, to best food trucks. Online Editor Samie Hartly takes us on a culinary tour of the valley based on your suggestions.
As always, we’ll also bring you some of the best work lately from our papers across the valley, looking at new restaurants, interesting people, and special events that weave the fabric of our vibrant community. On the cover: A valley scene by Napa County photographer Dennis Hogan, whose store is located on the second floor at the V-Marketplace in the Town of Yountville. (707) 944-2044. www. HoganNV.com. 3
The Music Lives On F O R I N S I D E N A PA VA L L E Y
Symphony Napa Valley awakens old traditions and forges new paths Since its debut in 2013, Symphony Napa Valley has already emerged as a community force for music, education and engaging programming. While carrying on our valley’s oldest musical tradition, Symphony Napa Valley has also pioneered community music education initiatives and created innovative and accessible symphony programs that welcome patrons from all walks of life. The new symphony has also already enjoyed some major 4
milestones for the arts in the Napa Valley, including record concert attendance, a full-fledged music education program in Napa County schools, and free student access to all performances. Working with world-renowned artists such as Sir Neville Marriner of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and actor Peter Coyote (The Roosevelts, A Walk to Remember, E.T.), Symphony Napa Valley performs under the guidance and vision of its new Music Director, Belgian violinist and conductor, Michael Guttman. Guttman took the helm in 2014, and completed his first full season, 2014-15, which predominantly featured works for violin
and chamber orchestra and closed with an all Vivaldi concert on June 28. “I wanted to work predominantly with the string section first, because it is very exposed and allows the orchestra to really work together to create a beautiful sound. Now that we have accomplished that, we can start working in new elements,” comments Guttman, who at the age of 10 was the youngest student in history to attend the Royal Conservatory of Brussels in Belgium. Being a child prodigy himself has given Guttman a passion for cultivating and promoting young artists and makes him an ideal fit
for a symphony with such a strong commitment to creating relevant and engaging symphonic programs and educating the next generation of artists and audiences. This last season included works from J.S. Bach to Phillip Glass, Argentinean Tango, and an electrical keyboard for Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and the next season promises to be both innovative and entertaining. Although new to Napa, Guttman has already begun to feel a strong connection with the valley and word has begun to spread of his warm and inviting style of presenting music. The maestro can often be found with a microphone
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introducing the music in a relevant and easy to understand manner or playfully joking as he performs and interacts with the musicians, making Symphony Napa Valley a 6
far cry from the cold and sterile misconception many people have of symphonies. The energy and creativity that Guttman brings when it comes to selecting repertoire and
how the work is performed, has engaged and enthralled audiences and patrons throughout the season. The 2015-16 Season will feature four concerts including works by
20th century American composers, exploring themes of realism, modernity, and American cultural identity. In November the symphony will hold its annual gala, A Grand Overture-10th Anniversary Celebration, which celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Lincoln Theater’s revival and thanks all of those who made it possible. The evening will thank the community with multiple overtures by Mozart, Verdi and Bernstein, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, as well as vocal pieces performed by Napa’s own Marnie Breckenridge back from her spring Carnegie Hall debut. The evening will finish with a gala dinner hosted by JeanCharles Boisset and Gina Gallo at Raymond Vineyards. In the Spring, actor and producer Ronald Guttman (Mad Men, The West Wing, Lost) will join his brother Michael Guttman and Symphony Napa Valley to narrate Genesis, by Israeli composers Levitas and Berliner, in English and Hebrew. And in the season finale, London Symphony Orchestra’s principal double bass and traditional Chinese erhu player, Joel Quarrington, brings his fusion of East and West to the Lincoln Theater stage, comparing and contrasting western strings with the classic Chinese erhu. The concert will also feature dramatic narrations of the Angel Island poems chronicling the emotional and cultural experience of Chinese immigrants when East meets West, rounding out a diverse and engaging symphony season that ensures that classical music and its very personal connections live on! Symphony Napa Valley is a core program of the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Theater and is made possible by the generous support of donors to the Lincoln Theater Foundation. All K-12 students have free access to symphony concerts thanks to generous underwriting from Community Projects. To purchase 2015-16 subscriptions and tickets, to learn more about Symphony Napa Valley and the Performing Art Center’s education and access programs, or to make a donation, visit LincolnTheater.org or call us at 944-9900.
Photo by Anita Gutierrez
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rue, Napa Valley is known for wine, world-class delicacies and more wine, but some fresh air and physical activity is a necessary way to balance out all of that sipping and dining. High above the miles and miles of vines lie several parks full of nature’s finest, including hiking trails for all levels.
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Bothe-Napa Valley State Park near St. Helena offers a variety of hiking opportunities for people of all skill levels.
lasts only an hour or two. A few miles of hiking trails— coupled with some fairly steep climbs—wind throughout the park, allowing you to choose your own adventure. Head all the way to the top for a great view of Napa, and keep an eye out for the tree swings for a some nostalgic fun. There are also plenty of spots to picnic if you want to pack a lunch and shade throughout to keep you cool. Two other local spots for short, easy hikes are Skyline Wilderness Park (there’s a short, 2-mile trail to Lake Marie) and Alston Park.
St. Helena off of Chiles Valley Rd., has been gaining popularity as of late for its miles of beautiful, natural trails. Take the Chiles Creek Trail and connect to the Shoreline Trail to venture upon a 6.4-mile loop alongside Lake Hennesey, or hike the Moore Creek Trail three miles up to the top and reward yourself with a refreshing dip in a swimming hole. For the longest trek, start on the 3-mile Valentine Vista trail, and then connect to Moore Creek to head to the top. Stay alert for large mammals, like cattle, bears, mountain lions, bobcats and more. Five miles north of St. Helena MODERATE off Hwy 29, Bothe-Napa Valley Moore Creek Park, located State Park also provides several just 20 minutes from downtown miles of shaded, forest trails. The 8
Ritchey Canyon Trail will guide you on an 8-mile round trip historic journey through thick redwoods and across babbling streams, while the 4.5-mile loop of Coyote Peak Trail (connected with Ritchey Canyon, Redwood and Southfork trails) offers valley views that peek through the trees. DIFFICULT The most difficult trail in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park, north of Calistoga off Hwy 29, treks to the top of Mt. St. Helena. The popular, 10-mile round trip climb starts as a true, shady trail—keep an eye out for the marker of Stevenson’s honeymoon cabin—but then breaks out into fire road. Though long, it’s not overly strenuous until
the final summit, where you will have to work extra hard in order to take in the best panoramic views that Napa County has to offer from 4,343 feet. No bathrooms or water fountains, so be prepared! Also in the park is an 8-mile round trip hike that starts on the right (southeast) side of the road. Take the two-mile trip up to Table Rock to enjoy the 360-degree view and perhaps fuel up with a picnic, before continuing on the Palisades Trail. You’ll head down to Lasky point and then back up to walk the ridge alongside a lengthy and awe-inspiring volcanic wall. Turn back at Oat Hill Mine Road and keep an eye out for raptors, hawks and falcons on this one.
Hiking the wild Table Rock Trail D AV I D S TO N E B E RG e d i tor @s the le nas tar. com Dave Stoneberg is editor of The St. Helena Star. He wrote this column after a weekend of hiking in the spring. ’m still a little sore and stiff from a 10.4-mile hike I took Saturday. I didn’t have to drive to Yosemite or the Sierra Nevadas to find solitude on a wilderness trail; it was in my backyard. It w a s o n m y way to work, for goodness sakes, and it overlooks northern Napa County, including Calistoga David Stoneberg and the surrounding area. The hike is made up of three connecting trails, all within Robert Louis Stevenson State Park: the 2.1-mile Table Rock Trail, the roughly 3.8-mile Palisades Trail and the Lower Oak Hill Mile Trail, which is 4.5 miles.
It takes a little bit of planning to enjoy this trail, especially if you’re planning a one-way hike, because you need to get to the Highway 29 pass at RLS State Park, some 17 miles from downtown St. Helena. If you’re hiking with a friend, you need two cars: One parked at Highway 29 and Silverado Trail, and the other at RLS State Park, which is 7.5 miles from that intersection. You can either start in Calistoga and hike mainly uphill or start at RLS and hike mostly downhill. I chose the latter. The pathway is well-marked and it’s mostly plain enough to see where the trail goes, at least until you get to Table Rock. Go ahead and wander around. Walk to the edge of the rock cliffs and enjoy the vistas. Just make sure you make it back to the Palisades Trail, which is marked with a sign.
I enjoyed sitting on the bench dedicated to Guy Kay, who as a director of the Napa County Regional Park and Open Space District had so much to do with establishing the historic Oat Hill Mine Trail.
Did I mention the solitude? Even on a beautiful Saturday morning (I started at 8 a.m.) I spoke with only two runners for nearly four hours. Those runners were particularly strong: they started and ended in Calistoga after a 21-mile run. I felt like I was plodding along, carrying my backpack with water, lunch and the clothes I shed as the day got warmer. None of the three trails were very smooth. In fact, I would say they are in rough shape, but that just adds to their beauty. Some are as narrow as 18 inches, and, if you’re not careful, you’re liable to lose your footing, since most of the trails are not flat, but rather hewn out of the side of the Palisades. Some four miles into the hike, I came to Lasky’s Point, where a bronze memorial plaque is embedded in a large stone. It is dedicated to Moses Lasky, a noted San Francisco attorney who died in April 2002 at the age of 94. The plaque stated that during his career, Lasky reached the pinnacle of the law profession. It also said that he was a hiker, climber and mountain man who loved the Palisades, climbed and hiked there often, and donated the land. Without that generous donation — the piece that is called Palisades Trail — the two other trails would not connect. A few random thoughts about my hike: — It w a s h a rd e r t h a n I expected, in part because I was
breaking in new low-top hiking shoes that didn’t fit correctly; — I was pleased to see the bees buzzing, getting nectar from a plant high up in the Palisades, and enjoyed both the buzzards soaring overhead and the numerous lizards that scampered out of my way; — The hiking app on my iPhone takes up too much battery power. I had to turn it off after two hours when it got down to 10 percent power, because I needed it to call for a ride at the end of the hike; — One peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a peeled orange for lunch, eaten sitting on a stone in the shade, was far better than any other meal I could imagine; — I loved seeing the huge rocks that made up the roadbed of the Lower Oat Hill Mine Trail, and especially seeing the wagon wheel ruts in that stone, made more than 100 years ago; — I enjoyed sitting on the bench dedicated to Guy Kay, who as a director of the Napa County Regional Park and Open Space District had so much to do with establishing the historic Oat Hill Mine Trail; — As a multi-use trail (hikers, runners, dog walkers and mountain bikers), the Oat Hill Mine Trail is fantastic and a well-loved resource; and — A pint of Sierra Nevada on draft and a tall glass of ice water at La Prima Pizza at the end of the trail were a fitting end to the day. Although I walked the lower 4.5 miles of the Oat Hill Mine Trail, from Calistoga to the historic foundation of Holm’s Place, I’ll bet I would enjoy the Upper Oat Hill Mine Trail, which goes for another 4.2 miles to Aetna Springs Road. Remember, it’s best to carry water and let the time spent in the wilderness lift your spirits. A perfect way to spend a day. 9
A runner logs some miles while running along Henry Road through the fog on a misty morning.
Unparalleled vistas for runners JESS LANDER As the home of the Napa Valley Marathon, and dozens of other running events each year, it’s obvious that our vine-stamped rolling hills provide a dream backdrop for runners of all levels—and the near-perfect, year-round weather doesn’t hurt either. So whether you’re training for next March, your first 5k, or simply getting some exercise, stay off the heavily-trafficked Highway 29 and Silverado Trail, and try one of these routes instead. Trail Running and Hill Training With a little over 150 acres, Alston Park (at the intersection of Trower Avenue and Dry Creek Road in Napa) offers three miles of trails for a more challenging and interesting run than you’ll get on the pavement. 10
Straight up into the park is the offleash dog area, but if you swing right, you’ll hit the trails that the Napa and Vintage High Cross Country teams use for their 5k races. This is also the perfect place to bring your pup for a run, as long as it’s friendly with other dogs, as there will be lots of them. Training for a race down south in San Francisco? The city’s near-90-degree streets are no match for Napa’s rolling hills, but Alston uniquely offers a comparable training space. If you drive past the first parking lot at the intersection, you’ll find a second, smaller lot, that leads to a handful of extremely steep and rocky hills that will really make your glutes burn. Three other local options for hilly, trail running are Skyline Wilderness Park, Westwood Hills Park and Bothe
Napa Valley State Park.
Trancas (before Old Soscol Way). A Napa Valley Vine Trail connection Flat, Paved and Safe between this North section of the Depending on where you hop on Napa River Trail and the Yountville the Napa River Trail, you can plan Mile is supposed to be completed in out runs of varying distances. the fall of this year. Enter either just South of the Third Street Bridge on Soscol (the Scenic first bit will be gravel here), next to The trail head for American Napa Valley College (take the path Canyon’s Napa River Bay Trail to the right of the roundabout), or is located at the corner of Wetat two spots in Kennedy Park where lands Edge Road and Eucalyptus the trail loops around. Starting at the Drive. Here, several flat and easy Third Street entrance, it’s about 6.5 trails—some paved, some not— miles round trip. connect together, providing beauThe flat, paved trail doesn’t pro- tiful views of the wetlands, Glass vide much shade, so it might be Beach, ponds, vineyards and the best to avoid the hotter times of day, Napa River. Stick to one trail for however; another shorter, tree-lined a shorter run ranging between 2-4 section of the trail runs between miles or combine a few to cover Lincoln (before Tonbridge Way) and greater distances even exceeding
A runner turns onto Big Ranch Road during the 2015 Napa Valley Marathon.
10 miles. And if you really want a show during your run, plan it around sunset. It’s a must-see sight, especially considering a landfill used to live here. In the Neighborhood Sometimes, you don’t want to drive somewhere to go on a run; you’d much rather leave straight from your home. Luckily, there are some truly beautiful routes, lined with vineyards, wildlife and stunning residences that you can find right in, or near, your neighborhood. In South Napa, check out Foster Road or any of the Avenue’s. North Napa has Dry Creek Road, which intersects the quaint Orchard Avenue, or a nice 4-mile loop around Silverado Country Club, when you take Atlas Peak Road to Westgate Drive to Hillcrest Drive. In Yountville, just north of the Crossroad, Yount Mill Road will take you on a nice journey for close to 5 miles round trip.
A runner heads up Skyline Trail at Skyline Park in January.
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Sophie, a Golden Retriever, walks in the off-leash section of Alston Park every morning with her owner, Missy McKinney. Sophie is training to become a therapy dog.
canine friends. Napa’s dog friendly atmosphere was the deciding factor in David Tipp’s decision to move here two years ago. After researching several other nearby counties, Tipp said he chose Napa to be near Alston Park, where he takes his Australian Shepherd, Cody every day. 14
“I love it here,” Tipp said. “I’ve researched them all. It is by far the best place to take your dog.” Alston Park is located along Dry Creek Road in northwest Napa. Owned by the city of Napa, the 157 acres of rolling hills and meandering trails boasts a popular off-leash dog area, often referred to as Canine Commons, plus two
smaller fenced areas for shy dogs and for training purposes. Sarah Kuehn brings her German Shepherds, Sasha and Sable, to Alston Park three to four times a week. She usually comes with a friend who also brings her German Shepherds. “This is the best place to have our dogs socialize. It is so much
fun,” Kuehn said. “It is great here. My favorite time is in the spring when it is so green.” Kuehn, who already owns two other German Shepherds, said she is adding another. “I’ll have five German Shepards—three of my dogs were rescues so I’m a foster failure,” she laughed. Mel Atchison put nets around the faces of his English Labs, Winston and Sabrina, to protect them from picking up burs at the park. He reasons that paying $45 for a mask saves a cost of $400 for a vet bill to remove a bur his dogs might swallow. In spite of the possibility of burs at this time of year, Atchison appreciates Alston Park. “This is the best place for dogs. My wife and I love this park and never want to see it go away,” Atchison said. Michael Lancaster brings Ajax, a Border collie, and Murray, a mixed breed, to Alston Park at least once a day – often twice. “We’ve been coming here for 10 years. It is a great place,” Lancaster said. “There are very few off leash places of this size. They keep it clean by providing waste bags and there’s so much room to roam around.” Missy McKinney takes Sophie, her golden retriever, to Alston Park every morning. Before Sophie came into her life, McKinney took Pearl, another golden retriever who passed away, there. Accompanying a canine friend to the dog park has been a 10-year morning routine in McKinney’s life. “Sophie is going into training to become a therapy dog next month. She was evaluated for the training and she passed,” said McKinney, beaming with pride. Sammy, an affectionate “Heinz 57” dog owned by Chuck and Sher Bartak, is enthusiastic about his daily trips to Alston Park, just minutes from their home. Coming to the couple as a rescue dog 10 years, Sammy quickly became “part of the family.” “He thinks he’s human,” laughed Sher Bartak. Alston may be the queen of dog parks but it isn’t the only place where canines can get some off leash play and exercise. American Canyon Dog Park
at Veterans Memorial Park, 2801 Broadway, is a 20,000 square foot, off-leash dog park in American Canyon. It furnishes waste bags, has turf in the middle and benches, and will soon be replacing shade
trees that were lost. It attracts between 20-40 people and their dogs on weekdays and 50-70 people on weekends, according to American Canyon Parks and Recreation Director Creighton Wright.
“Our most popular park for walking dogs is Wetlands Trails that edges the wetlands. Dogs have to be on leash, though,” Wright said. Wetlands Trails, with its three water fountain areas for dogs Rosemarie Kempton
Sarah Kuehn takes two of her four German Shephards—Sasha and Sable—for walks in Alston Park three to four mornings a week.
follows Wetlands Edge Road from Eucalyptus Drive to Kensington Way. In Napa, dogs can be off leash at Shurtleff Park, located at Shelter and Shurtleff Ave., as long as they are under voice control. Kennedy Park, 2318 Streblow Drive, has an off-leash area. Both parks are not fenced. Wappo Dog Park, 201 Pope St, is a popular off-leash dog park in St. Helena. People park their cars at the Napa Community College Upvalley parking lot and take their dogs to the park behind the college. St Helena’s enthusiasm for dogs is demonstrated each year at the annual Harvest and Pet Parade, which will be held Oct. 17 this year. Franquelin Dog Park, next to Logvy Park, 1401 North Oak, is an off-leash dog park in Calistoga built and funded by the volunteer organization, Wine Country Animal Lovers, Inc. two years ago. The 2,000-square-foot fenced-in dog play area was named after a local veterinarian. Volunteers maintain it with water and waste bags. The site will become the home of a new Boys & Girls Club so they are looking for a new site for the dog area for 2016, according to Calistoga City Manager Richard Spitler. Wherever there is a patch of green or a trail throughout the county two-legged creatures can be seen with their four legged friends on a leash. The City of Napa, alone, has over 40 parks where owners can take their dogs on a leash. Amy Bardwell, enjoys exploring a variety of places with Jake, her 6-year old golden retriever. Her father often joins them when they walk along Napa River Walk, where considerate people set out bowls of cool water for dogs. On hot days she keeps Jake off asphalt to protect his paws. Bardwell appreciates Jake’s sweet disposition when she takes him out. “Jake’s a nice, friendly, dog. He’s good with kids. Every time I go walking with him, little kids come up to pet him,” Bardwell said. Like their pets, dog owners tend to be positive, outgoing people who enjoy connecting with other dog owners. Besides a wide array of outdoor places to encounter other 15
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dog owners, there are indoor establishments that lend themselves to finding new friends in Napa County. When Laura Dayton takes her bearded collie, Brix, into Petco they become a magnet for other people with dogs, and it can be the beginning of solid friendships. Dayton and her friends recently started an outdoor obstacle training course in Napa after an indoor obstacle course closed in April. They’ve hosted an Astro Agility event at Shurtleff Park to provide the opportunity for their dogs to gain obedience training, socialization, weight loss and training for the show circuit. “But it is mostly for fun for the dogs and their owners, Dayton said. Dayton loves taking Brix with her wherever she goes. She even takes him to Orchard Supply Hardware and Home Depot. “Almost all the wineries let you in. I’ve never had a problem bringing dogs in,” she said. “Some
Almost all the wineries let you in. I’ve never had a problem bringing dogs in.Some of the wineries on 29 just get too packed for dogs so it’s better to travel along the Silverado Trail. Laura Dayton
of the wineries on 29 just get too packed for dogs so it’s better to travel along the Silverado Trail.” Dayton and Brix can sometimes be found at Downtown Joe’s, outside of Napkins, Gotts Roadside patio, or the Oxbow Public Market. Like other dog owners, she has found that Napa County is filled with dog friendly people and places to take one’s four-legged friends whether one is a local or a tourist.
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Days on the river Water route through Napa offers new way of seeing life Pho t o s a nd St o r y by J L S O U S A There’s really nothing like spending time on the Napa River in a kayak. My wife and I had rented kayaks a few times before we decided to buy a pair of singles following a vacation in Mexico in 2009. We loved spending time on the Napa River when we had rented them and knew that if we owned our own “yaks” we’d just spend that much more time on the river once we had them. We knew that some rental companies sold their stock at the end of the season and that we might be able to save a little money. We heard about a company that was doing just that so one Saturday morning we went kayak shopping. The salesperson asked if we wanted single or tandem kayaks. We told him singles, which he said was a good idea, since tandem kayaks are
usually referred to as “divorce” boats, due to the arguments that arise. After spending some time talking to the salesperson and telling him what we wanted them for and where we’d be using them, as well as taking a couple out for a spin, we settled on a pair of Featherlite 9.5 kayaks and we couldn’t be happier. The 9.5 refers to the length, nine-and-a-half feet. They each weigh just under 35 pounds, so one person can easily move them around on dry land. We couldn’t wait to take them out so the next morning we were out on the Napa River and had a great time. We kept asking ourselves why we hadn’t purchased them sooner. Sure, there’s a tiny bit of a learning curve
when it comes to launching and paddling, but as the saying goes “like a duck to water.” Within minutes we were cruising along the river, marveling at how different everything looked while sitting inches above the water. We put in at Kennedy Park and soon found ourselves talking to long-time “River Rat” Jim Hinch. There probably isn’t anyone that knew more about the Napa River than Jim. For those of you that know him, you know that Jim loved the Napa River and spent an incredible amount of time sharing his time taking people out in his canoe and teaching them The Napa River just north of the Oxbow during a recent kayak trip up the river.
about the river. As he came alongside us in his canoe, I thought that it might be useful to try and keep up with him and pick his brain for information. He settled in next to us for a while, telling us the names of some of the sloughs and sharing information with us about the river that he loved. At one point I paused in my paddling and chatted with my wife, when I next looked up, Jim was gone. He wasn’t being malicious or aloof, he was just that much stronger a paddler than I was, or probably will ever be. Over the years, I got to know Jim better and really came to know just how much the river meant to him. He was an amazing ambassador for the Napa River and I wish that I could take one more paddle with him.
After spending some time on the Napa River, I found myself asking, “Where does the Napa River begin?” After some research, we found the answer to be Kimball Reservoir above Calistoga. Reporter Kevin Courtney and I spent a year doing various stories on the Napa River and we were rewarded with a California Newspaper Publisher Association first place award for environmental reporting in 2010. The six years that we’ve spent on the river have been great. There’s such diversity. You see things that you can’t see from the shore and that you might miss in a motorized watercraft. You’ll see the sloughs and abundant reeds that grow on the southern edge of Napa if you launch from Cuttings Wharf. Launch from
Kayaks rest on a dock at Cuttings Wharf one recent morning before a group of about a dozen members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Napa Valley took part in a kayaking field trip with the Napa County Resource Conservation District and Friends of the Napa River. BELOW: Kayakers are seen from a trail in Moore Creek Park as they enjoy some springlike weather on Lake Hennessey.
Kennedy Park and you can explore the former Napa Pipe facility and watch birds nesting in the cranes that still occupy the site. Put in at the Napa Yacht Club and head north and you’ll see downtown Napa in a whole new light as you float past the Sea Scouts, Napa General Store, under the Third and First street bridges and then past the back side of Copia and the Oxbow Public Market. My favorite stretch of the Napa River is the trip from downtown Napa, north to the Lincoln and Trancas avenue bridges. You get lost in your thoughts while gliding beneath the canopy of trees that line the banks. You forget that just minutes before you were in the middle of one of the more popular tourist destinations in the Bay Area, if not the world. The world just slips away and you can’t believe that you don’t find time to spend more time on the river and leave your cares behind. JL Sousa is the photo editor of the Napa Register and an avid kayaker.
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Kayakers pass through the shadow of the Third street bridge, following Justin Perkins of Napa Valley Kayak Tour, bottom right, on the Napa River.
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Paul Menzel is seen in his restaurant, Red Rock North, in Napa. Menzel started working in restaurants when he was only 12 years old, and has owned Red Rock North for nearly 19 years.
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he Napa Valley is famous for its wines, but its restaurants come in a close second. What better way to enjoy the wines than to pair them with meals served up by world-renowned chefs and culinary teams? For families on a budget, Napa Valley also offers many restaurants that serve quality meals at a reasonable price. But with all the places to eat up and down the Napa Valley, how do you decide where to eat? There are too many options. Napa Valley Register readers were polled on Facebook to vote for their favorite restaurants, and here is what they recommend: American Red Rock North 4084 Byway East, Napa 253-2859 If you’re looking for the best burgers in Napa, you need to go off the beaten path, but the detour is worth it. Known for its generous portions and friendly service, Red Rock North is one of Napa’s best kept secrets. “It’s a little out of the way; you can’t see it from
the highway. It’s been slow going but we have our following,” said owner Paul Menzel, who opened Red Rock North in 1996. Red Rock North fan and Napa resident Kristin Ordonez recommends the trip. “Red Rock North makes great burgers,” Ordonez said. Red Rock North serves up classic American favorites to satisfy any craving. If you aren’t up for a burger, choose something off the barbecue menu or keep it simple and order a sandwich or salad. If you have room for dessert, make sure to grab a milkshake before you leave. It’s the sweetest way to top off the Red Rock North dining experience. Red Rock North is perfect for people looking for a quality meal minus the flashy glitz and glamour of Napa Valley’s more extravagant tourist destinations. Just walk in a sit at one of the tables draped in red checkered table cloth and you’ll feel at home. Honorable Mentions: Andie’s Café; Norman Rose Tavern; Gott’s
Roadside; Squeeze Inn Hamburgers; Grace’s Table. Breakfast Jax Diner 1122 First St., Napa 812-6853; jaxwhitemulediner.com Jax White Mule Diner is new to Napa’s restaurant scene, but it’s already made a big impression with locals. “We’ve been fortunate to be supported by locals, and we’re incredibly grateful for the support we’ve found in the Napa community,” said J.B. Leamer, who co-owns Jax with Derek McClintick. Napa foodies enjoy trips to Jax for lunch or dinner, but it’s the breakfast that wins them over every time. Some Jax fans have even made a ritual of coming in every Sunday morning for a hearty breakfast to kick off a new week. “Jax is amazing,” said Napa resident Charlene Luport. “I love going there for breakfast; plus, you can still get breakfast items until
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The Jax White Mule Diner take on Eggs Benedict with an English muffin, ham, poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce, served with a side of tater tots.
3 p.m., so even if you missed the typical breakfast hour, you can still get your breakfast bites in the afternoon.” Amanda Rodriguez agrees: “Jax has the best breakfast ever!” The breakfast menu boasts mouthwatering meals such as Napa Jax Toast, a cinnamon roll dipped in vanilla custard and topped with powdered sugar. Plus, it comes with a side of bacon or sausage. If that sounds too sweet, order the savor y Burrito Gringo, which includes scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, tater tots, and your choice of meat – all wrapped in a flour tortilla. Plus you can order breakfast standards such as steak and eggs, chicken and waffles and English muffins. Honorable mentions: ButterCream Bakery; ABC Bakery; Highway 29 Café; BoonFly Café at Carneros Inn.
everything on the kid’s menu is less than $10, so it’s perfect for a family on a budget. The menu also features vegetarian and gluten-free options. “Fumé hands down is the most accommodating restaurant in Napa for families with small children,” said Melanie Merrill Kennedy. “Whether it’s just my two little monsters or a massive group of 4-year-olds after preschool pick-up, the Fumé staff is awesome with kids.” Sherr y Dahlquis is also a Fumé fan: “Fumé is probably one of my all-time favorites,” Dahlquis said. “Great food, great service, and the onion rings are the greatest.” Dine in or take your meal on the patio. The dress code is casual and comfortable, so next time you want eat out but don’t want to skimp on quality, pack up the family and head to Fumé Bistro. Honorable Mentions: Filippi’s Pizza Grotto; Jax Diner; Don Pericos; Mary’s Pizza Shack.
f e t t u c c i n e a n d w o o d ove n smoked chicken portobello with penne pasta, and a top-notch kids menu that will please even the pickiest eater in your family. Fumé Bistro’s Little One’s Fine Dining menu delivers classics such as Rutherford Grill chicken strips and fries and 1 1 8 0 Ru t h e r f o rd Ro a d , macaroni and cheese, but for Rutherford kiddos craving something more 963-1792; hillstone.com/ruthrefined, Fumé also serves up erfordgrill baked salmon filet and grilled Ruther ford Grill offers a flat iron steak. Best off all, fine dining experience without
breaking the bank. No wonder it’s a Napa Valley favorite! “You can’t go wrong with Rutherford Grill,” said Debbie Hood Cariela. K e n d a l l Pr u i t t B i c k n e l l recently celebrated her 18th wedding anniversary at Rutherford Grill. Megan Martinez is also a fan. “The ribs at Rutherford Grill are so good. The food is fantastic. You don’t have to wait for a special occasion for food like that.” Rutherford steaks are one of the most popular dishes. Try the Allen Brother’s aged beef tenderloin or the hardwood grilled blackened rib-eye. Or take Martinez’s advice and order slowcooked barbecue pork ribs with Texas Hill Country barbecue sauce. If you’re not a meat lover, no worries. Try the white cheddar butternut squash enchiladas. What makes a meal at Rutherford Grill one of the best fine dining experiences in Napa Valley is the wine list. The wine list includes more than 140 wines from around the world, but if your tastes require something a cut above the rest, ask for the reserve wine menu where you’ll find such sips as 2013 Araujo Eisele Sauvignon Blanc (Napa Valley) and 2011 Charles Krug Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley).
A Skuna Bay Salmon omelet with potato, fennel and tomato hash with a citrus Hollandaise sauce prepared by Terry Letson, chef and partner of Fume Bistro.
Family Dining Fumé Bistro 4050 Byway East, Napa 257-1999; fumebistro.com When it’s time to take the little ones out for a special meal, locals recommend a trip to Fumé Bistro. The menu offers a variety of savory meals for the adults, such as Cajun-spiced shrimp 23
The Rutherford Grill has been an Upvalley landmark since 1994.
Match good food and delicious wines with stellar service and you have an experience not to be missed. Honorable Mentions: Cole’s Chophouse; Celadon; Napa Valley Bistro; Fumé Bistro. Food Truck Taco Chavez 75 Coombs St., Napa 253-1279 The food truck phenomenon has finally reached Napa Valley, but locals are loyal to Napa Valley’s first taco truck, Taco Chavez, which opened in 1972. For more than 40 years, Taco Chavez has been doing what it does best, serving steamed beef tacos garnished with white onions, cilantro and homemade salsa Monday through Saturday from 6-9 p.m.. “There is no need to go anywhere else,” said Aubrey James Allen. “Taco Chavez is the best in town.” 24
tacos for dozens of hungry customers on Coombs Street at Ash Street. The tacos are so popular that customers are willing to travel from as far away as Sonoma and San Rafael to dine at Tacos Chavez. “Taco Chavez is the best,” said Maria Angel. “It’s delicious every time. You won’t be disappointed.” Honorable Mentions: Mark’s the Spot; Taco Michaochan; Phat Wraps; Cousins Main Lobster.
Tacos Chavez has been a Napa institution since 1972. It is believed to be the city’s oldest food truck.
Jessica Witt agrees: “I love Taco Chavez. It’s amazing every time. It never fails. Best tacos in town.” Pablo Chavez began making tacos as a hobby. He’d serve homemade, refried bean tacos out of the back of his van to fellow soccer
players after games. He didn’t have a permit in the beginning, but word of his tacos spread and the hobby turned into a beloved family business. Today, you’ll find Chavez, wife Leonor and son Eddie preparing
Italian Filippi’s Pizza Grotto 645 First St., Napa 254-9700; realcheesepizza. com When it comes to Italian cuisine, Napans love Filippi’s Pizza Grotto, which recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary in Napa. “You can never go wrong at Filippi’s,” said Angelina Carrillo. “Great food and the prices are very reasonable.” Georgina Nash agrees: “Filippi’s is perfect in every way.”
Filippi’s Pizza Grotto makes some of the best pizza around, but the menu also offers an extensive list of pasta dishes. Enjoy spaghetti, ravioli, manicotti and lasagna or try one of the house specials, such as chicken and prosciutto tortellini or veal parmigiana baked with cheeses and mushrooms and served with a homemade sauce. Angelica Silva loves Filippi’s so much that she still makes trips to Napa to enjoy Filippi’s fantastic food and outstanding customer service even after moving out of the county. “They have great food, massive portions, great prices and wonderful service. The staff is always great with kids, too.” Filippi’s is famous for bringing dough balls for the kids to play with while they wait for their food. It’s always a hit with the kids and parents alike. “Filippi’s is hands down the best restaurant for families in Napa,” said Jeff Dennis. “I mean the kids get to play with dough! Forgetaboutit!” If you manage to get through a meal at Filippi’s and still have
Tom Finch is the owner of Filippi’s Pizza Grotto and Fine Italian Food in Napa.
room for dessert, make sure to try Mexican the spumoni or cannoli. Or order Don Perico it to go. 1106 First St., Napa Honorable Mentions: Bistro 252-4707 Don Giovanni; Il Posta Tratorria; Don Perico Mexican RestauRistorante Allegria; Oenotri. rant and Bar is back and better
than ever. The restaurant was red-tagged following the August 2014 Napa earthquake, but after a brief hiatus, the Castañeda family moved their business across the street, reopening to a mass of
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Marco and Berenice Castañeda stand with their son Marco in front of the new location of the Don Perico restaurant in downtown Napa.
loyal customers in May. Marcia Blackmon said Don Perico is the only Mexican restaurant she’ll eat at in Napa. “I love Don Perico. The staff is friendly, the restaurant is clean and the food is always served hot. Their food tastes better than anything else in town, and the service is exceptional.” Lola Steele drives up from American Canyon to dine at Don Perico, and Kellie Swindell says you will be happy not matter what you order. “Try any of their dishes, any day of the week and you’ll know why Don Perico is one of the best places to eat in town.” Don Perico offers traditional Mexican fare such as tacos, burritos and chimichangas, but the flavors in a Don Perico meal are beyond compare. Try the enchiladas Jalisco, two flour tortillas rolled and stuffed with crab meat, marinated shrimp and mushrooms, topped with a
Pizza Papa Joe’s 1121 Lincoln Ave., Napa 255-6525; papajoespizzaca. com Readers love Papa Joe’s. The pizzeria has been in Napa for more than 30 years, and some locals have been fans from the very beginning. “Papa Joe’s is legendary in Napa,” said Cindy Berlogar. “There are a lot of places in town to get pizza, but no one compares to Papa Joe’s.” Papa Joe’s has all your favorite pizzas, including meat lovers, vegetarian, Hawaiian and classic cheese Sean Scully/Register and pepperoni, but if you’re lookA pizza pie in production at Papa Joe’s Pizza in Napa. ing for something outside the pizza box, gourmet offerings will change creamy white sauce. If you don’t otherwise. You’ll have to try it for how you think about pizzas. like seafood, try the chicken bur- yourself to know for sure. The spicy shrimp and garlic rito. This favorite features chicken Honorable Mentions: Las Pal- pie is topped with tender baby sauteed in a tomato sauce with bell mas; Taqueria Maria; Villa Corona; shrimp, chopped garlic, diced peppers, tomatoes and onion. It Taqueria Rosita. onions, mozzarella and parmisounds basic but the flavors suggest giana cheeses over a cayenne 27
Sushi ingredients line the cases at the bar at Napa’s Sushi Haku.
pepper sauce. Want a veggie pizza with a little more pizazz? Try the gourmet pesto pizza which features a basil pesto sauce topped with mozzarella and parmigiana cheeses, bell peppers, diced tomatoes and marinated artichoke hearts. Amy Hart drives all the way from Sonoma to get pizza at Papa Joe’s. But what makes Papa Joe’s the best is up for debate. Daisy Templeton said Papa Joe’s has the best pepperoni, but Brice Campbell says it’s the cheese that sets Joe’s apart. Joanna Thompson disagrees. For her, the sauce is what make Papa Joe’s a superstar. But Shawnee Anderson has the best answer as to why Papa Joe’s is a Napa favorite. “The pizza is delicious. What more do you need to know?” Honorable Mentions: FoodShed; Mary’s Pizza Shack; Velo Pizzaria; Filippi’s Pizza Grotto. 28
Sushi Sushi Haku 3206 Jefferson St., Napa 226-2996; sushihakunapa. com If you’re craving sushi, Napa Valley readers suggest a trip to Sushi Haku. “Sushi Haku is my go-to Napa sushi spot,” said Alexander Cowan. “They have a solid offering that won’t break the bank. If you’re not into sushi, they also offer some different entrees like chicken katsu and Korean style short ribs. It’s a great spot for locals.” When it comes to sushi rolls, Sushi Haku has a dazzling variety of options. Try the Super Dragon Roll with shrimp tempura and crab topped with avocado and unagi; the Concord Roll with crab, cream cheese, hot sauce, crunch, and other house sauces, or the 49ers roll, which is a California roll (crab and avocado) topped with salmon,
tuna, and house sauces. Other locally inspired rolls include the Highway 12 Roll with tuna, salmon, cucumber, cream cheese and tobiko; the Sacramento King, a California roll topped with oven-baked salmon, tobiko, green onion and house sauce; and the Monterey Bay Roll with spicy tuna topped with seaweed salad. Sushi Haku also serves Yakisoba noodles, nigari, tempura, and teriyaki-marinated meat dishes served with rice and salad. “Sushi Haku has fresher sushi rolls than the other places in town,” said Shivali Rathore. “They have a friendly staff and an amazing variety. Sushi Haku is a great local gem.” Delivery is available to homes and businesses within three miles of the restaurant. Honorable Mentions: Morimoto Napa; Eiko’s; Sushi Mambo (Calistoga); Vallerga’s Market.
Take Out Foodshed Take Away 3385 Old California Way, Napa 255-3340; foodshedpizza.org It’s no surprise Foodshed Take Away was voted the best take out spot in Napa. Providing meals on the go is what Foodshed does best. Foodshed offers hand-crafted pizzas and pastas made with fresh, seasonal ingredients sourced from local producers and farmers. “There is nothing quite like Foodshed in Napa,” said Amelia Redder. “If you want the freshest meal in town, try Foodshed. You won’t be disappointed.” “I stop by the Foodshed once a week,” said Karen Baker. “It seems like the food gets better each time I go. I love that everything is made with sustainable, local ingredients. Plus, the service is out of this world. The Foodshed staff is very friendly, and you always feel like a
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The staff of Foodshed in the restaurant at its new Napa location near Bel Aire Plaza.
valued customer.” Pizzas include the Burrata, a pizza topped with homemade burrata cheese, tomato, olive oil and oregano, and the prosciutto, garlic herb oil, fresh mozzarella, prosciutto and arugula. Other menu favorites include chicken alla cacciatore with white wine braised chicken, rosemary and garlic; balsamic braised pork with citrus slaw; and garbanzo
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bean fritters with arugula, lemon and mint yogurt. “What I love about Foodshed is the frozen meals you can take home; you get to cook them up whenever you like,” said Darren Waldon. “You can also buy sauces and dried pasta to make your own meal at home.” Honorable Mentions: Red Rock North; Clemente’s at Vals; Suppertime; La Tapatia.
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Alexis Handelman of Alexis Baking Company has owned the company for 30 years. It has been at its current Third Street location for the last 25 years.
Stress-relieving hobby gives rise to growing business CRAIG SMITH Alexis Handelman has owned and operated Alexis Baking Company for thirty years, the last twenty-five of them at the café at 1517 Third Street. Being in the restaurant business is tough, demanding, unrelenting work. Yet Handelman, whose looks and energy level more closely correspond to someone twenty years her junior, still enjoys going to work every day. In fact, she is increasingly grateful for the opportunity to do so. Handelman started baking in 30
the late seventies as a way to relieve the stress of her job. “I was a retail clothing buyer when interest rates at the banks were 18 percent,” she said. It was so stressful. I’d come home every night and cry and bake.” She loved the immediacy of baking and the focus involved. “Rolling, kneading, mixing, stirring; it’s very relaxing, almost sensual,” she said. Unlike cooking, where mistakes can be turned into successes, baked goods don’t allow much margin of error. “If you measure incorrectly or
over bake something it’s trash.” After becoming familiar with different techniques and a range of ingredients, she began to tweak the recipes she was using. “That’s how you learn to cook and bake,” she said. Necessity being the mother of invention, Handelman learned creative cooking and baking when she’d run out of ingredients and had to substitute, which she said, “Takes you into a new confidence level.” After moving to Napa, baking became more than just a hobby. She
started a wholesale business, selling to the Napa Valley Roasting Company, Vallergas and the Oakville Grocery. Buoyed by the success from that effort, she decided to go to the Farmers’ Market, “to see if this had retail legs.” It did – she sold out every week. After much exploration, she opened Alexis Baking Company in October, 1990, at its present location. “I had little idea what I was doing, but had the very good fortune of attracting some very
talented women,” said Handelman. Although it wasn’t by design, her kitchen staff is all women, all self-taught cooks and bakers. In retrospect, Handelman wouldn’t have it any other way. “Women create quite a unique culture,” Handelman said. “They are creative, resilient, resourceful and calm in the kitchen.” Handelman rarely hires culinary school graduates, placing more value on learning on the job. She recommends aspiring cooks taking the money they would have spent on school and travel—abroad if they are able. “It’s invaluable and inspiring to see what other chefs do and how they do it”. Alexis Baking Company uses the best, highest quality ingredients available. One year, because weather adversely affected yield, the cost of vanilla from her supplier went from $56 a gallon to over $320. Unwilling to compromise quality in any way, Handelman paid it. Consistency of flavor is everything. “We value the experience our customers have here ... both in the food they
eat and the service they receive.” Handelman still loves to bake and cook, although she isn’t able to spend as much time doing so as in the early days of the business. She still decorates all the wedding cakes and creates the menus. For her, the café, “remains an artistic and expressive outlet for my own quirky vision.” Most important to Handelman are the relationships she has with her staff, suppliers and customers. “What I’ve really learned after all these years is to be grateful for this ‘family’ I’ve assembled. I’ve been so fortunate to have all of these wonderful people in my life.” Handelman recognizes that life is hard, and it takes the support and efforts of all of us to get us through it. “We hold each other’s hands and walk together.” Alexis Baking Company is open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week. 258-1827 or at abcnapa. com. ABC also specializes in wedding cakes and all kinds of catering from brunches, box lunches and full service on site events.
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hile the Napa Valley may be renowned for its wine grapes, the county is equally blessed with local farms and farm stands that are following the Fantasticks creed of “Plant a radish/Get a radish.” In fact, while wine grapes far outstripped other crops in the county according to the 2014 Napa County Crop Report, with a gross value exceeding $700 million, vegetable crops saw an acreage increase of 33 percent, from 27 acres to 36 acres, with a total value of $504.900. The next question is, where can in the south parking lot across the one find these locally produced Street from Oxbow. The St. Helfruits and vegetables? ena Farmers’ Market takes place on First of all, there are the local Fridays in Crane Park in St. Helfarmers’ markets in Napa, St. ena from May through October. Helena, and Calistoga. The Napa The Calistoga Farmers’ Market is Farmers’ Market takes place on open year round on Saturdays until Tuesdays and Saturdays from 8 am 1 p.m. in Sharpsteen Museum to 12:30 p.m. at 500 First Street, Plaza Washington Street, Calistoga.
Beyond the Farmers’ Markets there are the Community Support Agriculture (CSA) farms, which offer produce by subscription, and then the local Napa County farms and stands that sell directly to the public. Each farm or stand has a specialty and sells the produce as it comes into season, so save this list and mark your calendars. Big Ranch Farms is located in Napa at 2046 Big Ranch Road, Napa. It’s open daily (except Monday) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. to the public with locally grown, freshly harvested vegetables. BOCA Farm i s a s m a l l ,
family-owned farm just south of Imola, southwest of downtown Napa, at the southern end of the Napa Valley. They strive to grow the best and most delicious fruits and veggies, using sustainable farming practices and within a community-oriented setting. It is the only on-farm pickup CSA in the Napa Valley, featuring a pick-your-own garden and weekly boxes of seasonal produce for subscribers. For more information visit bocafarm. org. California Rare Fruit Growers, Redwood Empire Chapter is a group of local fruit enthusiasts in 33
St. Helena Star file photo
Mouang Saetern at the Saetern Family Farm has been selling fresh strawberries for more than a decade at her Silverado Trail fruit stand.
Sonoma and Napa County area that grow and share rare and unusual varieties of fruit to help preserve genetic diversity and raise awareness of sustainable agricultural practices. They have an annual Scion and Plant Exchange where more than 500 varieties of common, rare and experimental scions (cuttings) and fruiting plants from all over Northern California are available, along with classes and demonstrations. To learn more visit crfg-redwood.org. Comida is a membership based farm in Napa County which grows biodynamic produce to diversify Napa’s land use. Each week members pick up their produce, cut flowers and herbs at a central Napa meeting location. The pick-ups are set up like a farm stand, where you to choose what you like from the harvest. To learn more visit vinevillage.wix.com/comida. Crystal Creek Farm and Haven, located at 5140 Sharp Road, Calistoga is a CSA vegetable farm and on site farm stand, as well as a haven for rescued farm animals. The farm is located in the hills above Calistoga and features all kinds of fresh veggies, like zucchini, sweet peppers, eggplant, and heirloom tomatoes. To learn more, visit facebook. com/pages/Crystal-creek-Farmand-haven/220548538096924 or 34
St. Helena Star file photo
A wide range of produce, including delicious strawberries, can be found at the St. Helena Farmers Market, which is held from 7:30 a.m. to noon every Friday through the end of October.
call 341-6050. Dinwiddie’s Peach Stand is located at the junction of Deer Park Road and Silverado Trail. Dr. Dinwiddie – a retired physician – grows a variety of different peaches, rotating eight different varieties from July 4 to Labor Day as the fruit ripens. For a number of years Farm Del Sol in American Canyon was known as Groundsel’s Westgarden. They are growers of heirloom and specialty vegetables, particularly peppers. They use no herbicides, pesticides, or fungicides and their
season runs from July through November. To contact the farmer, Richard Archer, call 510-232-5131 or visit their website at farmdelsol. com. Forni Brown Gardens in Calistoga provides vegetables to some of the country’s finest restaurants. Not open to the public, except for their annual Spring Garden Sale for four weekends every April, you can reach them at 942-6123 in advance for special orders throughout the year. Full Table Farm is a small farm located south of Yountville. A
small couple manages the farm and responds to individual contact for orders. To learn more, visit fulltablefarm.com. Harms Vineyards and Lavender Fields produce an abundance of lavender-based products, from essential oils to bath salts and bouquets. They use biodynamic farming techniques. Visit their website at harmslavender. com/shop. Hoffman Farm is located on the west side of the Silverado Trail, just north of Trancas Street. With twenty-three acres of prunes, pears, persimmons and walnuts that you can pick for yourself or let them do the work for you. They’re open daily, August through November. Hurley Farms is a five-acre, family owned farm, vineyard and fruit tree orchard. They offer a great variety of jams and jellies made primarily with fruits from their farm and other locally sources ingredient. They are located at 2083 Silverado Trail, Napa , or visit their website at hurleyfarms.com. Major Family Farm, located at 1659 Estee Avenue, Napa specializes in NON-GMO, un-fertilized fruits and vegetables. Open daily, Major Family Farms also offers weekly pick up produce boxes, filled with fresh picked fruits and veggies. For more information visit facebook.com/ MajorFamilyFarm. Marshall’s Honey Farm in American Canyon offers natural and organic gourmet honey from over 650 beehives at 100 locations throughout the Bay Area and includes varieties like wildflower, eucalyptus, lavender, berry, and orange blossom, depending on the season. From Napa, go south on Highway 29 toward Vallejo, turn right on Napa Junction, take the first right onto Lombard Road. To learn more, visit marshallshoney. com. Muelrath Ranch, owned and operated by the Muelrath family, provides affordable, local, 100 percent grass fed beef to the community. The ranch is committed to providing its steers with a high quality of life, allowing them to live in an open range and using low stress animal handling practices. For more information, contact Kristina Muelrath at 815-8051. Omi’s Farm, on the Silverado
Dr. Dinwiddie has been selling peaches for years at the corner of the Silverado Trail and Deer Park Road. He sells eight different varieties.
Trail, just 3.5 miles north of Trancas Street, open year-round, by appointment only. Omi’s Farm is a sustainable family farm offering seasonal produce, eggs, walnuts, berries, sheep and Australian cattle dogs. Follow them on facebook to get the latest updates or give them a call at 224 -0954 to make an appointment. The Saetern Family Strawberry Stand is located on the Silverado Trail. The Saeterns, who originally came from Laos, also operates a fruit stand on North Kelly
Road. The strawberries are locally picked from different fields in the Napa County. Stewart’s Farm at 2195 Golden Gate, Napa, is open daily May through November and sells produce grown on the site and at nearby farms. Depending on the season, you’ll find zucchini, squash, cherries, apricots, green beans, pumpkins, tomatoes and corn. Click here to watch a short video about the farm. To learn more visit oreocows.net.
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Chef fixes rustic American fare at Calistoga ‘club’ L . P I E RC E C A R S O N lp car s on@nap ane w s . com CALISTOGA — It was all about the money when 12-year-old Kory Stewart agreed to wash dishes at Giuseppe’s on Washington state’s Whidbey Island. “Giuseppe was from Sicily and he made the best Italian food I’ve ever had,” the father of three recalls. Raised in Langley, a small town at the island’s south end, Stewart said “the cool thing about growing up there was the fact that I could go shrimping with my grandpa in Puget Sound, pick up Dungeness crab in knee-high water and go salmon fishing. Then there were those legendary and prolific Washington blackberries.” When he turned 14, Stewart
was hired at a cliffside bistro overlooking the sound. “I worked the front of the house but I was always in the kitchen. The chef finally said that if I was going to spend so much time there he was going to put me to work. Then he taught me how to do just about everything that needed to be done in the kitchen.” Stewart wound up working in restaurant kitchens throughout his high school years. The opening chef of the increasingly popular Sam’s Social Club at Indian Springs in Calistoga, Stewart abandoned the restaurant trade when he left “The Rock” for a sunnier clime. “I moved to San Diego to escape the rain a month after I
turned 18,” he said. “I tried an office job for a few years, but it wasn’t a good fit,” he said. “So I decided to make a go at being a professional cook. I hadn’t thought of it as a career but I really did miss it when I was stuck in that office. So, I enrolled at the California Culinary Academy (CCA) in San Francisco.” But the restaurants he wanted to work in weren’t eager to employ Stewart once he’d completed his
CCA studies. “I didn’t have the experience they wanted. I went to see (chef/restaurateur) Gary Danko and told him I’d work for free. He let me come in and work when I could.” Before long, Stewart was able to secure a paying job at Postrio, the acclaimed downtown San Francisco restaurant launched by the Rosenthal brothers. “What a cool restaurant,” Stewart added, “and it was always busy. Matthew Millman photos
The extensive additions at Indian Springs in Calistoga include Sam’s Social Club, not only a tribute to the city’s founder, Sam Brannan, but also to rustic American cuisine.There are about 65 seats on the outdoor patio, which also lends itself to private events.
“When the brothers left to open Town Hall, they took me with them. That was where I met my wife and (subsequently) we traveled throughout Southeast Asia together.” When the couple returned to San Francisco, Stewart signed on to work at Michael Mina in the St. Francis Hotel. “I worked every station in Michael’s kitchen during the year I was there.” He left to join the culinary team at the now-shuttered Scott Howard on Jackson Street. Next, he found a welcome home at Americano in Hotel Vitale on the Embarcadero. He came on board as sous chef, then served as chef de cuisine, and when he left after seven years he was both executive chef and food and beverage director. Last year, he and his wife “were looking to get away from the city — we have a 6-year-old girl, 3-year-old boy and a newborn girl. What I wanted to do was make great food in a small town.” So when Indian Springs owner
Matthew Millman photo
The culinary crew at this popular, relatively new Calistoga restaurant includes, left to right, sous chefs Danny Bobovnyik and Jenna Hodges, executive chef Kory Stewart and sous chef Shaun McGrath.
John Merchant offered Stewart the opportunity to move to Calistoga and man the stoves at a new eatery opening at Indian Springs, he jumped at the chance.
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Named in honor of Calistoga’s founding father and the state’s first millionaire, Sam Brannan, Sam’s Social Club “is so family oriented … (and) one where I can continue my mission of providing (hungry diners) extraordinary, simple food. There are a lot of great restaurants in the Napa Valley. We want to be (known) as a restaurant that not only serves good food but one that’s comfortable, friendly and familiar for families.” NEW TAKES ON CLASSICS Describing the menu at Sam’s Social Club, chef Stewart said he and his kitchen crew offer diners “rustic new American dishes.” “We strive to see that the ingredients are as good as they can be. We make everything in house. The pizza dough has been a product of much tinkering. We pull our own mozzarella for the pizzas. We feature freshly caught Pacific halibut for the ceviche. We make our own pastrami for our Reubens, which have been really popular. We’re proud of our signature hamburger on a housemade bun. We’ve just added Brentwood yellow corn soup to the menu and we’re serving freshly harvested, tomato-braised Romano beans. We intend to be truly seasonal … I feel inspired.” Stewart’s a “mushroom freak,” so it didn’t take him long to make the acquaintance of well-known Napa Valley forager, Connie Green. Stewart loves candy cap mushrooms and their distinct maple syrup aroma. So he grinds them up and incorporates them in the batter for the churros that have become one of the musthave offerings on the dessert menu. From snacks ($6) to desserts ($8), the dinner menu at Sam’s Social Club has a lot to offer. Snacks include bacon-wrapped, blue cheese-stuffed dates, deviled eggs, country pate with truffle mustard and house-made ricotta crostini with pepper jam. Starters ($9 to $16) include summery yellow corn soup with cherry tomato and salumi salsa, halibut ceviche with avocado and sweet potato chips, grilled octopus with crispy potatoes and Romesco sauce, artisan charcuterie, blue cheese wedge salad with slab bacon and cherry tomatoes, butter lettuce with 38
Brentwood Yellow Corn Soup KO RY S T E WA RT, E X E C U T I V E C H E F Sam’s S oci al C lub Yields 1 gallon Corn Stock: 10 corn cobs 1 tsp. toasted whole coriander 1 tsp. black peppercorns Salt, to taste 1 gallon water 1 bunch basil Combine spices, corn cobs and water. Bring to a simmer, allow to simmer for 10 minutes, then turn off. Add basil and salt and let steep. Strain before using. Soup: 10 ears yellow corn kernels, plus juice from scraped cobs 1 yellow onion, slice thin 1 16-ounce can hominy 1 pound butter
1 garlic clove, smashed 3 quarts corn stock Sweat onions and garlic in 1/4 pound of butter over low heat in midsize pot. Once soft and sweet, add corn and hominy. Add corn stock, bring to a simmer, then immediately turn off. Blend soup in blender with remaining butter. Season with salt if necessary Garnish: 20-30 peeled cherry tomatoes 1 Tbsp. pepperoni, chopped small 1 Tbsp. sun-dried tomatoes, chopped small 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil 1/2 clove microplaned garlic 1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar Salt, to taste Black pepper, to taste Combine all ingredients and
Halibut Ceviche KO RY S T E WA RT, E X E C U T I V E C H E F Sam’s S oci al C lub 1 pound very fresh local halibut, cut into small dice 2 tsp. kosher salt 1 heaping Tbsp. granulated sugar 1/4 cup total — half lemon juice, half lime juice 1/4 red onion, sliced thin Combine all ingredients in a ziplock bag, eliminate as much air as possible. Allow to cure for 1 hour, then combine with the following ingredients: manchego cheese and navel orange vinaigrette, plus shaved Brussels sprouts with dates, filberts, grapes and aged Gouda. On a recent visit, the kitchen offered one of those giant porterhouse steaks that are ideal for sharing. We opted for perfectly grilled Skuna Bay salmon filet ($30) accompanied by a summery melange of butter beans, snap peas and baby artichokes, along with a flavorful heritage pork porterhouse ($28) made even tastier by a bed of nutty farro and a slightly tart shaved green apple salad. Also on the dinner menu were
1 Tbsp. cucumber, small dice 1/2 avocado, diced Small handful mint leaves, chopped fine 1/2 jalapeno pepper, ribs and seeds removed, small dice Small handful cilantro leaves, chopped fine Serve immediately. Should serve 4-6, depending on portion size. Serve your favorite chips as an accompaniment. a couple of pastas — house-made ricotta and chevre tortellini ($25) with spring vegetables and carrot butter, plus house-made fusilli ($23) with spicy oxtail Bolognese — as well as juicy rotisserie chicken ($24) and Sam’s signature cheddar-topped burger ($15) with crispy fries. There’s also a tempting selection of sides ($7) — tomato-braised Romano beans with Parmigiano, blistered snap peas with ramps, Delta asparagus with lemon oil and Parmigiano, jalapeno mac and cheese, plus the scrumptious roasted baby potatoes with charred scallion aioli.
When it’s time for dessert, the candy cap churros are hard to beat. However, the kitchen does have a few sugary aces up its sleeve — butterscotch and coconut bread pudding, Straus soft-serve sundae with chocolate pearls, strawberry and rhubarb crisp and Valrhona chocolate pudding with salted caramel. In addition to a couple of ales brewed on premise, bottled beers from the region and other parts of the country are offered. Noting that the restaurant “proudly supports the vineyards, tasting rooms, winemakers and history of Calistoga,” the wine list features by-the-glass and bottle selections from familiar cellars like Schramsberg, Chateau Montelena, Ziata, Venge Vineyards, Tamber Bey, Tallulah, La Sirena, Kenefick Ranch, Paoletti, Shypoke, Ehlers Estate and Larkmead. Offered at lunch daily are a trio of thin crust pizzas, house-smoked salmon and Wagyu tri-tip salads, chicken paillard, hamburger, Reuben sandwich, plus an albacore tuna conserva sandwich and grilled cheese with corn soup. The morning menu features more than 10 full breakfast options, including avocado toast with softboiled egg, buttermilk pancakes, spring vegetable and mushroom scramble, egg in a hole with mushroom fondue, eggs Benedict with braised kale and house-made pastrami, along with one’s choice of fruits, artisan cheese, hams, croissants, sausage and potatoes. Breakfast is served weekdays from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m., with lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dinner hours are 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. weekdays, until 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Brunch is offered Saturday and Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sam’s Social Club is located at Indian Springs, 1712 Lincoln Ave., Calistoga. For reservations, call 707942-4913. THE NEW LOOK Consistent with all new additions to Indian Springs, Sam’s Social Club, the grounds and menu preserve and contribute to the historic Arcadian nature of the resort, said owner John Merchant. The building and outdoor lounge
areas were designed to meld with Indian Springs’ Mission Revival-style architecture. The main dining room features a fireplace, warm woods — including tables and chairs — along with a stylish bar and lounge accented by a colorful mural open to individual interpretation. Natural light is abundant throughout, as windows are a design feature on three sides of the room, some overlooking a patio under a canopy of heritage oak and olive trees. The expansive outdoor dining area features a fire pit and a geyser-fed water feature nestled into a handcrafted stone wall, taking advantage of the excellent Calistoga weather for alfresco dining. When he took title in 1989 to the property — formerly called Pachetau’s — the spa and resort were in need of renovation, Merchant said. “There were only five employees … today we have 200, and at least 40 of them are Calistoga High School graduates.” Merchant came to San Francisco in 1970 to finish his education. After completing studies at
the University of San Francisco, he stayed and worked in the Bay Area. In 1988, he and his wife purchased a home in St. Helena. After looking at business opportunities in Calistoga, he made an offer on the wellknown spa that dates from 1912. Last year, Merchant decided the time was right for an expansion of Indian Springs. That 15-month project added 75 rooms to the 40 already at the site. “When I decided to do that,” he points out, “I knew that we also needed to include a restaurant that could provide breakfast, lunch and dinner for our guests and locals, as well as provide banquet facilities.” Intent on retaining the Mission Revival style of architecture, Merchant asked his architect to keep restaurant design in line with that of the popular century-old resort and spa. Accommodations at Indian Springs include rooms in the Lodge, separate bungalows and cottages as well as a couple of free-standing homes with two-bedroom suites.
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Heritage Eats — fast, fine, family L . P I E RC E C A R S O N l pcarso n @n ap an ews.c om With lines of hungry diners often snaking out the door at various times of the day, Heritage Eats has launched a new culinary concept that appears to have found favor in the Napa Valley. The brainchild of two enterprising young friends who worked together earlier at a downtown Napa restaurant, Heritage Eats offers what partners Jason Kupper and Ben Koenig call “fast fine food.” “Fast, casual dining is the fastest growing segment of the industry,” said Koenig as the staff of the Bel Aire Plaza eatery prepared to open for a recent weekday lunch rush. However, he and Kupper have kicked the concept up a notch. “Yes, we’re fast and affordable but our focus is also on high quality,” Koenig said. Searching for the appropriate words to describe what their new culinary effort is all about, he maintains “you could say it’s more than fast casual but less than fine dining.” In short, the partners are offering not only an affordable prices and speedy service to diners, but the products that go into the dishes offered are of the same quality one would find in a white tablecloth restaurant costing two, probably three times as much. They don’t stint on the quality of ingredients. The savings come in part from not having to train and pay waitstaff. Diners queue up cafeteria style to look over daily menu offerings, make their selections, watch them being prepared, pick up their meals, make a beverage selection and carry all parts of their meal to a table of their choosing, either indoors or on an adjacent patio. Chef Kupper’s dishes focus on a variety sandwiches and wraps — incorporating everything from pita bread to tortillas to housemade bao buns — ingredient-rich salads and lip-smacking rice bowls. He’s sourcing restaurant protein from first-rate producers 42
Heritage Eats co-founders Ben Koenig IV, right, and chef Jason Kupper in their Bel Aire Plaza restaurant.
like D.G. Langley Farms in Petaluma (pork), Mary’s Free Range Chicken in Sanger and Akaushi Wagyu Beef from Platonia, Texas. Pork also comes from the renowned Niman Ranch and chicken from Petaluma Poultry. Kupper subscribes, as well, to the locavore philosophy when it comes to produce, getting a substantial amount from farms in Capay Valley and others within a 150-mile radius of Napa. When he and Koenig first formed a friendship, Kupper was chef de cuisine at The Thomas at Fagiani’s in downtown Napa; Koenig was an assistant manager. “We often kidded around about opening our own spot,” Koenig recalls. “We even considered fine dining. But we both liked the fast casual concept, that it was an emerging trend, (and talked about) how we could put together our own interpretation for this food-centric destination.” In coming up with the “fast fine” concept for Napa, Koenig said it was important “to leverage Jason’s culinary knowledge and experience (including Las Vegas restaurants and Bouchon in Yountville). It’s food that Jason likes to cook, but not limited
A menu from around the world S A S H A PAU L S E N s p auls e n@nap ane w s . com The menu at Heritage Eats provides a quick trip around the world with stops in Vietnam, Thailand, the Middle East, Jamaica and India, as well as the U.S., and choices abound to personalize your meal. Where to start? The menu offers seven basic creations: — Crispy Falafel on Pita ($8.75), cabbage slaw, hummus, lemon tahini and optional house-made harrisa. — Jamaican Bao ($9.95), Jamaican jerk chicken on a soft bao bun with cabbage slaw, Asian pickle and pineapple habanero sauce. — Chicken Tiki Masala Wrap ($9.95), slow-cooked chicken in tomato-yogurt sauce in a flour tortilla with grilled veggies, steamed rice and local greens. — Thai Bao ($10.50), grilled lemongrass pork on bao bun with cabbage slaw, aji amarillo sauce, pickled carrots, cucumber, red onion and cilantro. — Bahn Mi Dutch Crunch ($10.50), grilled lemongrass pork with Asian pickle, garden greens,
creamy cilantro and boom sauce. — Braised Pork Tacos ($10.50), Corn tortillas, braised pork shoulder, pico de gallo, cabbage slaw, roasted corn, edamame, salsa roja and lime crema. — Cowboy Steak Wrap ($11.25), flour tortilla with steak, grilled veggies, rice, greens, chipotle ranch and house-made barbecue sauce. This, however, is just the beginning. Diners can mix and match the five breads, nine sauces, eight accompaniments (quinoa to Asian pickle) and proteins (chicken, pork, beef and falafel) to create their own sandwiches, or they can order their choice as a salad or rice bowl. Additional sides include crisp waffle fries ($3.75), sweet potato fries ($3.75), pita chips ($2.75), garlic or jalapeno hummus ($1.95); pita chip and hummus is $3.75. Drinks include horchata ($3.75), Thai iced tea ($3.75), hibiscus tea ($3.25), Vietnamese iced coffee ($4.50), and it’s the one place in Napa where you can add tapioca pearls to your drink ($1). Beer, local wines and soft drinks (Mexican Coke) are also available, along with It’s It Ice sandwiches.
to one type of cuisine — rather globally inspired food.” Be f o re w o rk i n g o n t h e i r venture, Koenig spent considerable time in the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia, trying various dishes, providing his thoughts and opinions in regular Skype sessions with Kupper back home. SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE The partners want customers to know that product quality gets plenty of attention, that they buy from sustainable farms, from ranchers who eschew use of antibiotics. “This is flavorful, health-focused food … with a few guilty pleasures,” Kupper adds with a broad grin. “We love to talk to our customers about the quality of our meats and where we source what they are eating. They appreciate it.” Their customers are in the know, whether it’s wine country locals or visitors who come here to dine and check out wine
A braised pork shoulder salad from Heritage Eats, with pico de gallo, crunchy cabbage slaw, roasted corn, edemame, salsa roja and lime crema.
industry tours and tastings. Another important member of the team is Jason’s wife, Widi, a professionally trained chef as well who’s in charge of baking at Heritage Eats. Her bao buns result in return visits from satisfied diners, the partners said. A California Culinary Academy-trained chef, she worked with chef Hubert Keller at San Francisco’s Fleur de
The Runway By Patrick
Lys and chef Ken Frank at Napa’s La Topue as well as at the Four Seasons properties in San Francisco and Las Vegas. “It’s important that people know this is a family-owned, local operation,” adds Koenig. “It’s not a franchise.” Because they occupy the space that formerly housed Firewood, some diners said with the slick, sleek look of the
operation it must be a chain. That prompted the partners to place a “Born in Napa” sticker on the front door. “This is a brand that started right here in the Napa Valley,” Kupper proudly points out. “ This is operated by two families, so we want to make sure this is a place that families can enjoy, with things on the menu that kids will like. We make available lots of fruit, fruit juices and milk before we even talk about sodas.” The partners have teamed up with Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry program, pledging $25,000 this first year of operation to combat child hunger. That amount will provide 250,000 meals to hungry children around the country. Located at 3824 Bel Aire Plaza (at the rear of the center), Heritage Eats opens daily at 11 a.m., serving diners until 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
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Serving Seniors – Family & Fun F O R I N S I D E N A PA VA L L E Y
ilverado Orchards Retirement Community in St. Helena has been serving Napa Valley seniors since 1978! Always family owned and operated, the Baldwin family has deep roots in the Napa Valley going back several generations. They are actively involved in the business on a daily basis, which makes for a wonderful family feeling and a whole lot of fun! Never bought or sold, Silverado Orchards is one of the original retirement communities in the valley. Many communities have changed hands multiple times over the years and are owned by large, corporate chains. Often they are managed by out-of-state companies, without intimate, local knowledge. It’s almost impossible to have 44
the same level of compassion and interest as a family business. “A local business owned by a local family and serving locals is a really great place to live and to work,” said Janelle Ross, Manager. “Silverado Orchards has been serving the seniors of the Napa Valley for over 35 years!” Without question there is a strong sense of family among both the staff and the residents. They work together, they play together, they laugh together, and they cry together. People very sincerely care about one another. Silverado Orchards Retirement Community specializes in people. One resident said, “The manager is such a wonderful person…compassionate and understanding and always willing to listen. The whole
office team is top-notch. They care deeply about their residents.” Here’s a Letter to the Editor from a staff member: “Three years ago, I walked into Silverado Orchards Retirement Community in St. Helena simply looking for employment, but to my surprise I have received so much more. I have found friends and family in the residents, the staff and the Baldwin family. I truly feel blessed to have found a home. This letter isn’t big enough for me to tell you how much I’ve learned from our amazing residents. Not only have they taught me basics like knitting, they have also taught me many life lessons. I greatly appreciate being able to hear stories and spend time with our great people. I believe this is a
wonderful place for seniors. I have seen how the social environment is very beneficial. There are many opportunities to make new friends, take classes, go on trips and enjoy a wide variety of entertainment. Residents are able to enjoy their retirement at their leisure because we even provide the cooking and cleaning. The family atmosphere is everywhere. I was assured of this by finding out that our morning chef has worked here for 27 years, our food service director for 21 years, our evening chef for 19 years and our manager for 12 years. There definitely is something about this place if they have chosen to stay here for that long. In the short time that I’ve been here, I have grown to consider our staff and residents my family. Not only have
they “taken me in,” but so has the Baldwin family. They built Silverado Orchards Retirement Community in 1978, and since then they’ve been making their staff and residents feel at home.” “Many times over the years,” said the late founder, Alan Baldwin, “I’ve had residents tell me that they wished they’d moved here years ago.” There is a big difference between living alone vs. living in a fun and friendly community. People develop new friendships and enjoy three, balanced meals each day. While in-home care may be an option for some, never underestimate the value of daily social interactions. Eating properly should also not be underestimated. “It’s so rewarding to see people excited about life.” Kerry Baldwin, Alan’s son, is the president of the family business. He said, “We have a full activities calendar every month. There really is something for everyone!” Silverado Orchards has many wonderful music performances, exercise classes, spiritual programs, and fun
games. “Recently, we’ve had special trips to Pier 39 in San Francisco and The Tides at Bodega Bay. We had lunch out and then left plenty of time for exploring. Whether we’re strolling along Fisherman’s Wharf or the Pacific Ocean, it’s always fun to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors.” Imagine delicious, chef-prepared meals complete with a fresh salad bar, activities and excursions, housekeeping, transportation, on-site full service beauty salon, health and wellness program, guest rooms, small town safety and security, and much more all for one affordable monthly rent. This is retirement living at its best…this is a family business at its best…this is the Silverado Orchards Retirement Community in St. Helena. For more information, stop by for a tour at 601 Pope Street in St. Helena, call (707) 963-3688 or visit their website www.SilveradoOrchards.com. Also visit their Sonoma County location in Petaluma www.ValleyOrchards. com.
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J.L. Sousa/Register photos
Chef/owner Scott Kendall of Carpe Diem in the newly opened cocktail lounge. The popular downtown restaurant recently reopened following repairs and renovations due to the Aug. 24, 2014 earthquake.
Polished Carpe Diem rises from the ruins L . P I E RC E C A R S O N lp car s on@nap ane w s . com
cott Kendall may not equate his livelihood to that of the phoenix. Yet, like the long-lived mythical bird that is cyclically regenerated or reborn, Kendall and his popular Napa restaurant and wine bar have been given, like the phoenix, a new lease on life. The Sebastopol native was about to add a new bar and lounge to his very successful downtown establishment, Carpe Diem, when last August’s earthquake wreaked havoc on historic Alexandria Square, the Second Street building that houses his restaurant and other businesses. Held up as city officials and
preservationists weighed reconstruction options, repairs to the building are just about complete — so much so in the Carpe Diem space that Kendall and his crew returned to restaurant stoves this summer. Put a lot of small businesses in the same position Kendall found himself in “and they’re not coming back,” the soft-spoken restaurateur said the other afternoon as staffers readied the dining room for its initial post-earthquake dinner crowd. “We lost months and months due to issues involving the historical significance of the building. I was lucky that I had a little money saved to live on.
“I have to thank the DeSimoni family and All Phase Construction (for getting Carpe Diem ready for customers) — they helped us considerably.” Kendall also praised his new general manager, Jim Foster — who had been hired but 12 hours before the earthquake struck — and his chef de cuisine, Andrew Martin, for keeping Carpe Diem alive over the long winter and interim spring. The Carpe Diem team opened a pop-up eatery and takeout venture in the Oxbow Market. “That was helpful,” Kendall noted. “It kept our name out there and key members of our crew together. We
also gained new clientele ... found a new demographic. It wasn’t about the money — just keeping Carpe Diem alive.” Now, that core group, along with young but experienced frontof-the-house staffers, are eager to bring Carpe Diem back to friends and family who’d made it one of the busiest food and drink spots in downtown Napa for the past five years. One doesn’t have to visit Carpe Diem more than a few times to pick up on the distinct “Cheers” vibe. “Everybody does know your name,” said general manager Foster. “This is a place where customers 47
Smoked Garden Tomato Soup leave their titles at the door.” And he should know as a 30-year veteran of the hospitality industry who, prior to that, worked in Japan/U.S. trade relations. Locals recognize Foster from his recent stints at Tarla, the Bank Bar at the Westin Verasa and Etoile at Domaine Chandon. Not only is the re-energized wine bar and dining room ready to welcome regulars, newcomers and visitors, Carpe Diem has a new add-on — a full bar and lounge as well as a place to hold private dining events. “We had finished setting up the (adjacent) space for our first private party, even had the tables set, that night before the earthquake hit,” Kendall said. “For now, we’ll be using it as an extension of our dining room because of the loss of our patio seating. Eventually, it will become our late-night bar.” The new lounge can accommodate up to 42 guests for private dining functions. With the new liquor license, Kendall and Foster have hired a
yummy flatbreads. Inspired by seasonal ingredients, Kendall’s soups are popular with diners. At the moment, he’s featuring smoked heirloom tomato soup. Regulars like the fact that it’s possible to order a shot ($2), cup ($4.40) or bowl ($7). He makes his own burrata daily, serving the soft, rich cheese with heirloom tomatoes, bacon and caramelized onion jam ($14). Additional starters include ahi tartare ($13) with jicama, avocado, tobiko and taro chips; duck liver mousse ($12) with grilled peaches; plus house fries with harissa and pecorino cheese as well as truffle fries with Parmesan cheese ($6 and $8. respectively). Salads ($9-$12) include garden greens with red onions, candied walnuts, pickled plums and shaved Parmesan; heirloom melons with baby mustard greens, feta cheese, shaved fennel and crispy beets; plus a seasonal chopped salad that tosses together arugula, Israeli couscous, pancetta, tomatoes, crispy corn and local goat cheese.
S C OT T K E N D A L L , C H E F, OW N E R Car p e Di e m 3 pounds tomatoes 1 yellow onion 3 cloves of garlic, minced 3 Tbsp. olive oil 1 cup white wine 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock 1 cup heavy cream 3 basil leaves, for garnish Salt and pepper, to taste Cut all tomatoes in half and load into smoker for 20 minutes. If you don’t have a smoker, you can put on a pan pair of experienced mixologists to offer craft cocktails to guests. The chef said his crew has been helping prepare drink ingredients like a fresh peach syrup and a strawberry/ anise hyssop. Carpe Diem is also brewing its own draft beers, with Aftershock IPA and Belgian Farmhouse Saison just two of the half dozen on tap at
and into a barbecue as an alternative method. Me a n w h i l e , h e a t o l i v e oil in pan. Chop onion and mince garlic and add to pan. Once they are starting to slightly brown, add white wine to deglaze. Add tomatoes and stock. Cook until tomatoes are soft. Remove from heat and add cream. Season to taste. Puree in blender and serve with basil. the moment. MAY I TAKE YOUR ORDER? An easygoing chef whose youthful appearance belies 20 years in the kitchen, Kendall sources all of his produce from four area gardens. His menu is simple, rife with tasty small plates, artisanal cheeses, charcuterie and
Morethan More than
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Heirloom Melon Salad Brick oven flatbreads ($14-$16) S C OT T K E N D A L L , C H E F, OW N E R Car p e Di e m feature roasted wild mushooms with roasted garlic and Gruyere cheese, shredded barbecue 1 heirloom melon, cubed chicken with smoked mozzarella 1 watermelon, cubed as well as heirloom tomatoes I bunch baby mustard with tarragon/basil pesto and greens ricotta cheese. 1/4 cup toasted sunflower A tasty variety of artisanal seeds cheeses and charcuterie — some 1 cup Greek yogurt of the latter made in house — are 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar offered daily, ranging from $6 5 basil leaves to $21. 5 mint leaves Fans of the chef ’s quack ‘n’ Greek feta cheese cheese can take heart — this mix 1 bulb fennel, shaved of pasta, duck confit and caramelSalt and pepper ized onions remains on the small Make dressing in food proplates menu ($12-$17); other cessor by combining yogurt, offerings include an ever-changv i n e g a r, b a s i l , m i n t , s a l t ing selection of tacos, filet mignon and pepper. J.L. Sousa/Register steak skewers, crab-stuffed squash To s s m u s t a r d g r e e n s , Summer melon salad with shaved blossoms and mussels steamed in shaved fennel, equal parts fennel, feta cheese, purple a white wine broth with grilled watermelon and heirloom mustard greens and toasted suncorn and roasted peppers. melon, and feta. flower seeds is a savory seasonal Larger plates ($18-$24) to Finish with toasted sun- dish from Carpe Diem chef/owner be shared — or not — range flower seeds. Scott Kendall. from seared diver scallops with carrot-ginger risotto to pappardelle with oyster mushrooms, ostrich burger with brie, cherry served with truffle fries to the fresh peas and preserved lemon, and caramelized onion compote chef ’s harissa claypot, featuring
harissa crusted lamb tenderloin, Israeli couscous and sumaclemon yogurt. Desserts ($8) include the chef ’s well-liked Mexican chocolate pot de creme as well as any number of seasonal cobblers. “Our shared plate style menu encourages people to enjoy life with wine, food and good company,” Kendall reminds diners on the restaurant menu. “Carpe Diem, loosely translated, means seize the day — eat, drink and be merry, and give thanks for today.” Restaurant regulars are thankful to have Kendall and company back downtown where they started out more than five years ago. They’re welcoming the team with open arms — and mouths. Carpe Diem is located at 101 Second St., Napa. Hours are 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, with service extending to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Happy hour is observed daily from 4 to 6 p.m. For reservations, call 707-2240800.
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Napa Valley Bistro’s comfort food has its roots in Michoacan L . P I E RC E C A R S O N lp car s on@nap ane w s . com Armando Ayala and his brother, Alejandro, grew up in their mother’s kitchen. In addition, both young natives of Michoacan, Mexico, kept busy tending a wealth of farm animals — some hundred chickens, half as many turkeys and a hutch full of rabbits. The brothers also kept watch over the family’s crops, ranging from watermelon to sweet potatoes, cilantro, onions, squash, beans and “lots of corn.” They are but two of the four Ayala brothers. Their siblings didn’t share Bernardo and Alejandro’s culinary ken, feeling rather that cooking was woman’s work. They
were not easily persuaded to help mom in the kitchen and that suited Bernardo and Alejandro just fine. “My mother is a great cook,” Bernardo enthusiastically volunteers as he recalls the wood-burning stove where pots of savory beans and meat dishes, along with the family staple, tortillas, were prepared in Indaparapeo, a village of less than 7,000 named for a fierce battle won by the indigenous Tarascos centuries ago. Without a doubt, the family matriarch’s cooking talents inspired both Bernardo and his brother to seek careers in the hospitality industry. Both have been cooking at valley venues for decades — Alejandro
is the respected banquet chef at Meadowood Resort and Bernardo is chef/partner in Napa Valley Bistro in downtown Napa. The four Ayala brothers came to the United States in 1989, settling in the Napa Valley as friends had before them. Bernardo Ayala was only 17. “I’m a farmer at heart,” the local chef says today. At the time, he decided to seek employment in the food business. Yountville chef Bob Hurley took him on as a line cook and eventually Ayala became the well known Napa Valley restaurateur’s executive sous chef, a post he held for four years. Over the years, Ayala studied at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone,
trading work in the restaurant and banquet operations for tuition. In 2001, Ayala teamed up with Michael Fradelizio, owner of Silverado Brewing Company in St. Helena. He served as restaurant chef until the business closed in 2012. In May of 2013, Ayala and Market owner Ernesto Martinez launched Napa Valley Bistro in downtown Napa. “At the beginning, it’s very scary,” Ayala says of opening one’s own eatery. “But this is the perfect size,” he says of the 72-seat restaurant. The bar area accommodates 18 and on weekends Ayala sets up a chef ’s table for eight overlooking the kitchen, something his regulars enjoy. Ayala and his wife, Anita — who admits to being a Napa Valley foodie (“she loves to eat what I cook”) — have a seven-year-old daughter, Jade Zahira, who already has informed her parents she intends to be a chef. “Dad, I’m your little chef,” is how she speaks of her duties when she helps her father prepare empanadas at home. She’s also a lover of animals and farming, says her proud father. A LATIN TWIST Ask chef Bernardo Ayala to describe his restaurant and he’ll tell you it’s “an American bistro with a Latin twist.” He adds that the diner can also find Asian and Italian influences in a few dishes as he tries to accommodate the American melting pot palate. His mix of American and Mexican comfort food include fish tacos (served at lunch every Wednesday and Thursday with in-house prepared masa), addictive blackened chicken empanadas, mac ‘n’ cheese Sean Scully/Register
Bernardo Ayala, chef/partner of Napa Valley Bistro in downtown Napa, dresses his spicy Cajun prawns before sending the dish to a hungry diner.
Spicy Cajun prawns BERNARDO AYALA
Exe c u t i ve c h ef , Nap a Va l l ey Bi s t ro
A hearty main course option at chef Bernardo Ayala’s Napa Valley Bistro is a heritage pork chop, accompanied by buttermilk leek gratin plus a savory pear, apple and bacon compote.
tossed with English peas and bacon, a popular lamb burger with feta cheese, black Mission fig and pear flatbread and, if you arrive on the right day, corundas — a variety of salty tamale with pork chile verde style found in Michoacan, a specialty of his mother. Ayala features a number of daily specials each week, ranging from wild king salmon and Dungeness crab in season to Sonoma rack of lamb. Wednesday night is prime rib night at Napa Valley Bistro and a wild game week is planned in November, featuring ostrich and buffalo as main dish items. Dinner begins with a selection of small plates ranging from a tiny dice of papaya, avocado and asparagus wrapped in rice paper, a refreshing way to hang onto summer. Napped with cucumber sauce and surrounded by peppery watercress, these vegetarian rolls will set you back $9. Other plates ($11-$14) range from halibut and bay shrimp ceviche on blue corn tortilla chips to sea bass and corn cakes served with a red and yellow pepper salad. Sesame crusted ahi cozies up to Asian slaw, while braised pork belly shares the plate with roasted marble potatoes and an apple bacon compote. The salads at Napa Valley Bistro are hearty fare ($7-$15), including a toss of freshly picked greens 52
Chef Bernardo Ayala teamed up with friend Ernesto Martinez, owner of Market in St. Helena, to open Napa Valley Bistro on Clinton Street in Napa in May of 2013. Ayala was a member of several valley culinary teams for more than two decades prior to opening his own restaurant.
with creamy ranch dressing, roasted organic red and gold beets with feta cheese and red onions, Chinese chicken salad, a classic Caesar and a chopped salad with broccoli, carrots, goat cheese, egg, bacon, avocado, garbnzo beans — everything but the kitchen sink. The kitchen also offers Dungeness crab louie in two sizes ($14, $23). Main courses range from $13 for the Painted Hills grass fed beef burger to $29 for the grass fed filet mignon served with lemon herb risotto and caramelized shallots. One of the kitchen’s specialities is
fried organic chicken with mashed potatoes; another is the crumbled blue corn tortilla crusted halibut over a corn, leek and shiitake succotash. A heritage pork chop comes with a yummy buttermilk leek gratin and apple bacon compote, hanger steak with roasted marble potatoes and wild mushrooms, smoky molasses St. Louis ribs with sweet potato fries and citrus thyme risotto with English peas, asparagus, cherry tomatoes and crispy carrots. The lunch menu features small plates, salads and a range of sandwiches ($12-$15), including the
1 ½ cups unsalted butter 6 garlic cloves, minced 1 Tbsp. fresh basil or 1 tsp. dried basil 1 tsp. ancho chile powder ½ tsp. dried oregano 1 cup chicken stock 4 tsp. fresh lemon juice 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce ½ tsp. paprika 2 tsp. dry mustard 1 tsp. red pepper flakes 1 ½ lbs unshelled shrimp (size 16/21) Melt 1 cup of butter in a saute pan. Add garlic and all dry ingredients to melted butter. Allow mixture to sweat for 1-2 minutes. Add all wet ingredients (not the shrimp!) and let simmer for about 3 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Add shrimp and cook for 3-4 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp. Remove from heat and add the extra half cup of butter. Serve immediately once all of the butter is melted. savory lamb burger, barbecued pork, veggie burger, grilled Reuben, chicken wrap. turkey burger club and bistro burger. Beer battered fish and chips ($15) and garden vegetable farfalle ($17) also also midday options. Sunday brunch specialties ($12$17) include smoked salmon Benedict, huevos rancheros, buttermilk pancakes, spinach and Fontina cheese omelette, Dungeness crab cakes with poached eggs, plus chilaquiles and chorizo. For those with a sweet tooth, chef Ayala and his culinary team offer a variety of desserts ($7-$9) — tres leches and vanilla bean natilla with blueberry and guava compote and cinnamon/nutmeg churros; warm Scharffenbergeer chocolate fudge cake with vanilla ice cream; pear, apple and dried cranberry crumble with vanilla ice cream; and butterscotch pudding with a chocolate
Window with a view!! Succulent prawns are sauteed with garlic and a variety of Cajun spices, then served on a bed of frisee with plenty of lime sections for added flavor at Napa Valley Bistro in downtown Napa.
wafer and vanilla whipped cream. The substantial wine list leans heavily on producers from Napa and Sonoma counties. By-theglass wine options are limited. Local chef Gerry Castro is a member of Ayala’s front of the house team, helping diners with questions about food and wine pairings several days a week and on Sundays.
Napa Valley Bistro opens at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday, serving dinner until 9 p.m., until 9:30 on Friday and Saturday. Brunch is offered Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with the dinner menu available until 9. The restaurant is located at 975 Clinton St., Napa. For reservations and additional information, call 707-666-2383.
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Bob McClenahan photos
Some 850 guests, along with vintners, media and Napa Valley Vintners staff and volunteers, filled the huge 60-by-40-meter air-conditioned tent erected on the fairway at Meadowood Resort in St. Helena for this summer’s Auction Napa Valley 2015. In addition to the usual tables and chairs that ringed the space, a bubble lounge with comfy sofas were also provided for returning bidders.
A look back at 2015 auction Highlights included Legendary serenade, record-setting bids for trips and wine L . P I E RC E C A R S O N lp car s on@nap ane w s . com
hile the aggregate failed to eclipse prior Napa Valley Vintner events, many components of the 35th annual Auction Napa Valley did set records, raising a total of $15.8 million for health care and children’s education locally. Held in a giant 40-by-60-meter enclosed, air-conditioned tent on the fairway at Meadowood Napa Valley — its home since 1981 — this year’s auction in June brought in $2.9 million less than last year’s unexpected record. Nevertheless it set records at the barrel auction, which brought in $1.9 million, $200,000 more than last year, and the popular 200-lot e-auction, which raised $612,500 compared with $490,000 in 2014. 54
The auction chair’s lot — donated by the French and American team at Opus One — provided the successful bidder with a two-week visit to 11 of the most prestigious wine estates in Europe along with a 35-year vertical collection of Opus One magnums. It was initially auctioned off for $800,000. But when two additional bidders indicated they would pay a like amount, the Opus One team agreed to host not one but three couples on the European visit. That lot raised $2.4 million, becoming the top grossing lot of all time. A surprise appearance by Grammy- and Oscar-winning singer/songwriter John Legend brought added excitement to the Saturday afternoon event. Legend collaborated with Raymond
Vineyards owner Jean-Charles Boisset on a lot that includes a private concert following a dinner party for 30 at the vintner’s home on Wappo Hill. His exceptional rendition of the chart-topping “All of Me,” for which Legend accompanied himself on the piano, prompted another vintner, Rick Jones, to offer $850,000 for the very special lot. Legend offered to provide a pair of concerts if two bidders were willing to pledge $1 million each. There were no takers. The lot also includes wine from a new joint venture between the artist and the vintner — a cabernet and chardonnay project called LVE. While spirited bidding occurred as some of the lots went on the block, it seemed paddle
holders were a bit more circumspect this year. On numerous occasions, auctioneers Fritz Hatton and Humphrey Butler coaxed bidders to raise their paddles or up the ante. At one point, Hatton said he’d risk a heart attack just to get one bid up to the next level. As a result, there were a number of steals — vineyard tours, accommodations, meals and more for a Napa Valley stay along with wine from Napa Valley Grapegrowers went for $40,000; a Las Vegas experience for two couples offered by Charles Krug Winery saw a top bid of $50,000; plus the Oakville Winegrowers lot of 33 magnums and Festival del Sole VIP passes for three days raised but $60,000. In addition, the new Flash Lots element of this year’s auction didn’t generate the interest Napa Valley Vintners hoped it would. A total Bob McClenahan photo of 10 lots — sold off about midway Margrit Mondavi, left, and Molly Chappellet were but two of the attendees at the 35th annual Auction Napa Valley through the event — were offered on June 6 at Meadowood Resort. Both ladies have been involved with the country’s most successful charity wine at a starting bid of $100,000. If auction since its inception in 1981. there were no takers, the bid offer dropped at $10,000 a clip until went for $80,000 — Jameson couples at the KAABOO Music weren’t snapped up until the bid the first paddle went up. One lot Ranch Vineyards’ offer to host two Festival in Del Mar — while three offer dropped to $20,000. What
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Bob McClenahan photo
In a surprise appearance at the 35th annual Auction Napa Valley, Oscar and Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter John Legend performed his hit ballad, “All of Me.”
had the potential to raise $1 million instead brought in $360,000. The $160,000 bid for Bill Harlan’s Bond lot — a vertical tasting for 10 of all Bond wines (15 vintages, comprising 62 wines) followed by dinner, accommodations at Meadowood Napa Valley and a double magnum for each couple to take home — was yet another bargain compared with what bidders paid for Harlan’s wines at previous auctions. A likewise bargain was the $140,000 paid for the Alpha Omega lot of a first-class trip to New York City for two couples with opening night tickets to the Metropolitan Opera, a backstage toast with soprano Anna Netrebko, plus Chopard jewelry, plus a Napa Valley stay with a chef ’s table dinner at The Restaurant at Meadowood. However, there was plenty of excitement and willingness to spend big bucks for the top live auction lots of the day. They included: — Opus One Chair’s Lot, $2.4 million (tripled at $800,000). — Napa Valley Vintners FundA-Need, no amount disclosed. According to a spokesperson for Napa Valley Vintners, “we made a decision this year not to release specific dollar results on most of the lots.” (David Pearson, Opus One CEO, said the partners — the 56
children of the late Baroness Philippine de Rothschild and Constellation Brands — each pledged $300,000 to this year’s fund.) — Raymond Vineyards dinner concert with John Legend, $850,000. — Alejandro Bulgheroni Estate’s invitation for two couples to visit his Napa Valley wine estate as well as wine operations in both Uruguay and Argentina, plus a double magnum of the inaugural 2014 Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon, $600,000 (tripled on bids of $200,000 each). — Vine Trail bike ride from Napa to Yountville next June offered by 10 vintners, buy-ins were $5,000 each, with a pair of grand marshals paying $95,000 each; total not provided by NVV. — Screaming Eagle’s 12-liter balthazar of 2012 cabernet sauvignon, $500,000, tying the amount paid for an imperial of Screaming Eagle at the 2000 auction. — Chateau Montelena, Joseph Phelps Vineyards and Quintessa’s VIP experience for four at next year’s auction, plus tickets to Wine Spectator’s annual magnum party, $360,000. — Staglin Family Vineyard’s offer to 10 top bidders of a case of 2013 cabernet sauvignon in custom-designed bottles, plus dinner
and accommodations at the wine estate, a total of $350,000. — Dana Estates’ 10-year vertical collection of cabernet sauvignon, lodging for three couples and dinner prepared by chef Masaharu Morimoto, $340,000. — Colgin Cellars’ collection of double magnums of its hard-tocome-by syrah, cabernet and cabernet blend, plus Italian fashion from Cucinelli, $320,000. — Hestan Vineyards’ cruise of the Italian coast — Portofino to Cinque Terre — aboard a private yacht and dinner for eight at the French Laundry, $320,000. Other lots of note included a 50-year vertical of sparkling wine from Schramsberg Vineyards. Louisiana’s Red Adams, a regular at the auction over the years, offered $250,000 as a tribute to the late Jamie Davies, who founded the winery with husband Jack a half-century ago. A classmate of Jamie Davies, Ad a m s w i l l g e t b e n c h m a r k Schramsberg sparkling wine and Davies red wine selections representing every vintage from 1965 through 2014. The Robert Mondavi Winery lot brought a top bid of $200,000. It included a blending session with the winemaker and a private label designed by Margrit Mondavi,
four paintings by the widow of the industry icon, a dinner party for eight and a white MINI Cooper convertible like the one Margrit drives. Vineyard 7 & 8 offered a 2005 Morgan Roadster as part of its lot, along with three dozen bottles of its Spring Mountain cabernet sauvignon, plus accommodations and dinner at the estate. It sold for $190,000. Trips to Rome, Hong Kong and Las Vegas, along with airfare, accommodations, meals and a piece of Bulgari jewelry were offered by Blackbird Vineyards. That lot was snapped up at $260,000. A tasting for eight of rare Shafer Vineyards vintages, plus dinner and 10 magnums of Shafer Hillside Select from vintages dating from 1987 brought a top bid of $220,000. Lokoya’s trip to next year’s Kentucky Derby for four netted $200,000, while Opus One’s firstclass trip to Dubai, plus bottles from the 1979 and 1980 vintages, received a top bid of $240,000. The top 10 lots at this year’s Barrel Auction included, in order, Atelier Melka, Realm Cellars, Mayacamas Vineyards, Shafer Vineyards, The Mascot, Continuum Estate, Arkenstone Vineyards, Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery, Larkmead Vineyards and Cardinale. Scarecrow Wine and Grgich Hills Estate were the top e-auction lots. Chairing next year’s auction will be Agustin Francisco Huneeus. “Being a second generation to host Auction Napa Valley is a huge honor and a great reminder of the progress we have made in the Napa Valley,” he said, noting his father, Agustin Huneeus, had chaired the charity event two decades ago. “It also underscores the fact that building one of the great wine appellations in the world requires focus and passion, but it also takes time — generations. “In this spirit, the theme of next year’s Auction Napa Valley 2016 will be ‘Generations,’ celebrating the generations that came before us and gave us our heritage, as well as the generations to come with their own new ideas and passion.”
Brunch with a Southern accent L . P I E RC E C A R S O N lp car s on@nap ane w s . com There’s a new fun brunch in town — one with a Southern accent. Gene Tartaglia, owner of The Q Restaurant & Bar in north Napa’s Bel Aire Plaza, feels wine countrry residents and visitors are eager to have more brunch options. “We wanted to do something fun, along with a different menu, so we’ve incorporated music into the experience,” the local restaurateur advised as he opened the doors of a new weekend dining experience. The weekend brunch — offered from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — is billed as Disco Saturday and Motown Sunday, with respective music styles played for diners each day. Opened eight years ago, the Q R&B — initials that coincide with rhythm ‘n’ blues, Tartaglia points out — has become a popular location for its Memphis style barbecue chicken, pulled pork and ribs. Playing off that theme, chef
Brunch is not only a meal, it’s also a fun time to socialize with family and friends. We want to feed you but we also want you to have fun. Gene Tartaglia
David Lugo, who’s been a member of the culinary team for six years, has put together a menu that reintroduces classics from both kitchen and bar. Diners will be happy to know there’s Pulled Pork Benedict ($17.50) along with Fried Chicken and Corn Waffles ($16.50). Those with a hankering for something from the Deep South can opt for Gulf Shrimp and Grits ($18.50), or House Made Country Biscuits and Sausage Gravy ($12.50). Traditionalists can choose either David’s Vegetable Omelet ($16.50) with crimini mushrooms, spring
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onions, radishes, avocado, and Fresno and jalapeno chiles, or Huevos Rancheros ($16.50) with crispy tortillas and salsa. Side dishes ($6-$8) include chicken tarragon sausage, onion hash browns, skillet cornbread, bacon and yummy corn waffles. Specialty brunch cocktails ($11) feature Round Pond Bloody Mary (which includes a couple of splashes of Round Pond cabernet vinegar), The Ima Gimlet (which dates from the days when Tartaglia owned Mecca in San Francisco), Siobhan’s Gin & Juice (which comes from a friend who ran a chic Key West,
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Florida, bar) and a Farmer’s Market Bellini (made with Roederer Brut and peach puree). For those who recall brunch at Sausalito’s infamous Altamira, Tartaglia has placed the Ramos Gin Fizz on the brunch menu. “We open earlier on the weekends, but we offer our lunch menu starting at 11:30, so there are plenty of options for everyone in the group,” the restaurateur added. “Brunch is not only a meal, it’s also a fun time to socialize with family and friends. We want to feed you but we also want you to have fun.” Tartaglia has plans as well to host a fun party monthly, obviously centered around food and beverage. He suggests checking in on social media outlets for details. The Q Restaurant & Bar is located at the rear of Bel Aire Plaza, Napa. For reservations, call 707-224-6600.
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Napa County Historical Society
In 1910 the northern terminus of the electric railroad was in St. Helena, in front of the St. Gothard’s Inn (later the Grandview) on Main Street across from Pratt Avenue.
Before the car, an electric railroad ruled the Napa Valley TO M S TO C K W E L L ts tock we ll@s the le nas tar. com ST. HELENA — The current Highway 29 channelization project is just the latest solution to the Napa Valley’s ongoing transportation woes. But some may not realize that the most efficient and successful transportation system ever built in the county, an electric railway line, once transported 830,000 riders between Calistoga and Vallejo in a single year. Had that system survived, it would be 110 years old. Instead, the only visible remnant is a section of track in the middle of Washington Street in Calistoga. The county roads back at the
turn of the 20th century were not a pretty sight, according to a report prepared by the cultural resource management firm of Evans & De Shazo for the city of Calistoga. Universal automobile ownership may have seemed like science fiction, as the first affordable Ford Model T wasn’t to be manufactured until 1908. The road from St. Helena to Calistoga wasn’t even paved until 1921. Passenger service on an earlier rail system, the steam-driven Napa Valley Railroad, was limited, so in 1901 Col. J.W. Hartzell and his brother H.F. Hartzell secured a
franchise for electric railway lines, which allowed them the right to build on city streets and along county roads. In April 1902, the Benicia, Vallejo & Napa Valley Railroad Company was incorporated. Construction was started in 1903, with the southern terminus in Vallejo (instead of Benicia) and the northern terminus planned to be in St. Helena. By 1907, according to the Evans & De Shazo report, the railroad was in full operation as far as Yountville “with four additional stops that included Napa City limits, Union Station,
Oak Knoll and Trubody.” The extension to St. Helena was to run parallel to the Napa Valley Railroad (later the Southern Pacific Railroad) tracks almost to Rutherford. From there, its path went west to pass behind the Rutherford school house and then, just before reaching St. Helena, turning east to within 200 feet of the Napa Valley Railroad tracks where it crossed Sulphur Creek and continued up Main Street. The extension was opened on New Year’s Day in 1908, connecting St. Helena with the cities 59
Evans & De Shazo
A photograph of the SFN&C train station in Calistoga, circa 1913.
and towns in the lower valley, and with the ferry system that served San Francisco. The railroad went through a number of reorganizations, and in 1906 was called the San Francisco, Vallejo & Napa Valley Railroad, five years later becoming the San Francisco, Napa & Calistoga Railway Company. It had put into service eight of what were considered state-of-theart electric cars from the Niles Car & Manufacturing Company of Ohio, with full Empire ceilings, plush upholstery, baggage racks, dome lights, water coolers, plate glass windows, automatic brakes, and a private compartment for the motorman. According to the Niles records, the cars had a potential top speed of 85 mph, with two Westinghouse electric motors that ran on alternating current, making the electric railroad the first AC-powered interurban train system in the west. In 1911, the SFN&C obtained the right of way extending the line to Calistoga, running parallel to the county road (eventually renamed Highway 29) up to Lodi Lane. Then the tracks headed east toward the Napa Valley Railroad tracks and paralleled those 60
It’s the last living piece of an era gone by. Dieter Deiss
tracks until Calistoga, where they veered west to approach Washington Street. The Calistoga Board of Trustees approved a franchise to run the rail lines into town, where the terminus was at Lincoln Avenue. There were plans to extend the line to Lake County, and poles were set for a distance of three blocks past Lincoln. But this extension was never completed. A Calistoga depot was completed in 1913 at the corner of Gerard and Washington streets, constructed in the Mission Revival style. According to the Evans & De Shazo report, the opening event was advertised as far away as San Francisco, with a celebration featuring a banquet and social dance hosted by the Native Sons of the Golden West. Passenger service on the electric interurban railroad continued to Calistoga until 1936, but the influence of that railroad to the growth of the valley can not be
overstated. According to a report prepared by the cultural resource management firm of Evans & De Shazo for the City of Calistoga, between 1900 and 1910 the population of the valley increased from 16,451 to 19,800. By 1930, the population 23,541. The report theorizes this growth was primarily due to the increased accessibility provided by the interurban rail system, “the chief link between Napa Valley and the metropolis.” The arrival of affordable automobiles and the building of the Bay Bridge, the Carquinez Bridge, and the Golden Gate Bridge in the 1930s, according to the report, created an alternative transportation route that more successfully captured the American imagination. In 1938, about 22 miles of track and overhead lines were removed between Napa and Calistoga, and the rails were removed in Napa in 1940. By 1942, most of the system was gone, sold as scrap metal to support the war effort. In Calistoga, the interurban train depot was torn down and the Calistoga Fire Station was built, but the tracks in front of the fire station remain. In 1999, the
Native Sons of the Golden West dedicated a plaque to the railway as the “only existing traces of the Vallejo and Napa Valley interurban railway” in Calistoga. The century-old rail track on Washington Street is now under consideration for removal or preservation. “It’s the last living piece of an era gone by,” said Dieter Deiss, a Calistoga resident who is among those who believe the piece of rail track deserves to be not only preserved, but celebrated. In recent years, there have been proposals to restore regular rail passenger service to the valley, perhaps by extending the mission of Napa Valley Wine Train, which carries mostly diners from Napa to St. Helena. The economics of passenger rail are considered daunting. Meanwhile, the Napa County Highway 29 Channelization project continues apace, tying up automobile traffic as it channels more and more tourists into the valley. Evans & De Shazo report that passenger service on the electric interurban railroad continued to Calistoga until 1936, but the influence of that railroad to the growth of the valley can not be overstated. The report documents that
between 1900 and 1910 the population of the valley increased from 16,451 to 19,800. It theorizes this growth was primarily due to the increased accessibility of the valley provided by the interurban rail system. This increase created a building boom of residential housing, and by 1930 the resulting population had increased to 23,541. In Calistoga, the report documented, the population grew from 751 in 1910 to 1,124 by 1940, again directly related to transportation accessibility. Accordingly, the report states, the interurban railroad was considered “the chief link between Napa Valley and the metropolis and the transportation it provided was considered one of the valley’s greatest assets.” Unfortunately, the only remnant of that efficient system that is still visible is a small stretch of exposed rails in the middle of Washington St in Calistoga. The arrival of affordable automobiles and the building of the Bay Bridge, the Carquinez Bridge, and the Golden Gate
Evans & De Shazo
This photo is included in a cultural resources study by Evans & De Shazo.
Bridge in the 1930s, according to the report, created an alternative transportation route that more successfully captured the American imagination using the automobile. In 1938, according to the report, about 22 miles of track and overhead lines were removed between Napa and Calistoga, and the rails were removed in Napa in 1940. By 1942 most of the system was gone, sold as scrap metal to
support the war effort. In Calistoga the interurban train depot was torn down and the Calistoga Fire Station was built, but the tracks in front of the fire station remain. In 1999 the Native Sons of the Golden West dedicated a plaque to the railway as the “only existing traces of the Vallejo and Napa Valley interurban railway” in Calistoga. But the century-old rail track on Washington St is now under consideration
for removal or preservation. Mike Kirn, public works director, is in the process of collecting information on the difference of cost and benefit of repairing the road – a necessity – and then putting the rail back in place, something some in the community have expressed an interest in, he said. Unfortunately, though that segment of rail is of historic value, it does not fit the criteria to be protected by federal or state historical groups. But, according to the E&DS report the segment can be sheltered by a local historical group. “It’s the last living piece of an era gone by,” said Dieter Deiss, a Calistoga resident who is among those who believe the piece of rail track deserves to be not only preserved, but celebrated. Meanwhile, the Napa County Highway 29 Channelization project continues apace, tying up automobile traffic as it channels more and more tourists into the valley. Progress seems to be a fickle mistress.
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Chef Curtis Di Fede, left, cooks at his former restaurant Oenotri, in this 2010 photo with co-owner Tyler Rodde of Oenotri. Di Fede plans to return to the Napa food scene later this year with a new downtown restaurant, Miminashi.
Popular wine country chef to open downtown Napa izakaya
L . P I E RC E C A R S O N lp car s on@nap ane w s . com
espected Napa Valley chef Curtis Di Fede will return to downtown Napa’s culinary scene later this year with wine country’s first izakaya.
Often compared to taverns or pubs, the traditional izakaya is a type of informal Japanese drinking establishment that serves food to accompany the drinks. They began as casual places for afterwork drinking. In this country today, they might well be likened to a gastropub. A former partner and chef at downtown Napa’s Oenotri, Di 62
Fede indicated his new restaurant, Miminashi, will offer tasty hand-crafted dishes with a full range of beverage pairings in a relaxed casual setting located in the historic Young Building at 821 Coombs St. The name for his new operation comes from Japanese folklore. The restaurant will accommodate 85 diners, with half of the
clientele seated at communal bars designed for relaxed socializing. Before the restaurant’s opening in late fall, Di Fede will make his second trip of the year to Japan, visiting izakayas throughout the country to further inspire the cuisine and setting at Miminashi. Di Fede said Miminashi’s menu will offer diners “a wide variety of classic casual Japanese fare with particular focus on ramen, yakitori, and steaks made to share as well as vegetable-centric dishes. Having developed strong
relationships with the region’s top purveyors, the menu will change throughout the year to highlight the very best of each season.” While Miminashi’s beverage program will naturally draw from the Napa Valley, the wine list will also feature selections from the Old World, particularly Champagne, as well as Japanese whiskeys, sakes and shochu. Raised in the Napa Valley, Di Fede first brought his love for ingredient-driven cuisine back to his hometown with the restaurant
Oenotri, which he co-founded in 2010. Recognized by Food & Wine Magazine as one of the most exciting new Italian restaurants in the country, Oenotri gave him an opportunity to showcase the best local ingredients through flavorful dishes based in refined Italian techniques. From a wide assortment of handmade pastas to an extensive selection of house made salumi, Oenotri’s reputation was made by the partners’ dedication to ingredients, craft and flavor. Now at Miminashi, he will apply this same passion for technique and desire to showcase the very best to his other great love — the cuisine of Japan. From his days as a culinary extern at London’s Wagamama to his time working with chef Hiro Sone, of the award-winning Terra restaurant in St. Helena, Japanese cuisine has fascinated Di Fede throughout his career. “The first time I went to Japan, I fell in love with the country and the cuisine,” he notes. “Even
during the years I spent focused on Italian cuisine, Japan was always in the back of my mind and I began to see this common ground between the two countries — a dedication to purity and simplicity. But in Japan those ideas are taken to another level and that’s what I’m looking to bring to Napa at Miminashi.” After leaving Oenotri in 2013, Di Fede teamed up with Oceana Cruise Lines and Bon Appetit Magazine to serve as a culinary instructor-at-large, travelling to 65 countries on six continents in 2014 alone. During these global travels he had the opportunity to spend significant time in Japan, and while the idea for Miminashi had already began to form in his mind, his time in the country renewed his drive to bring the traditional Japanese pub experience to the Napa Valley. Information and updates will be available at miminashi.com or on social media at facebook.com/ miminashinapa and @miminashi on Instagram.
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City Winery planning early exit Attendance, restaurant sales disappointing, Dorf says S A S H A PAU L S E N s p auls e n@nap ane w s . com Michael Dorf, owner and CEO of City Winery at the Napa Valley Opera House, confirmed this summer that he is in talks with the Opera House board to end his lease of the historic venue. Dorf said that all of the shows and events books through the end of the year will go on, but he wants to end the 10-year contract that he signed two years ago. “Napa’s a small community,” Dorf said of the decision to pull out of his mult-million dollar investment to turn the theater into a night-club setting, and build a restaurant on the lower floor. 64
Dorf spent close to $3 million in early 2014 on the Opera House renovation, including the addition of a sleek street-level restaurant and oak bar, and remodel of the second-story theater along with state-of-the-art sound and lighting. Dorf signed a 10-year lease with the Napa Valley Opera House’s board of directors after members admitted they could no longer financially maintain the facility as it had been operating for the past decade. The board revealed an ongoing struggle in raising funds to keep the doors open. Eager to take over, the New
York-based venue operator promised locals he would present not only 200 touring acts annually but also help with another 75 events produced by Napa Valley Opera House. “We’re here for the long term, not the short win,” Dorf said on City Winery Napa’s opening night. “We’re not a trendy restaurant. We want to be part of the community, to help local charities. That’s who we are and I hope people recognize that ... it’s part of our DNA.” Dorf ’s optimistic plan never really connected with local residents, he admitted. The restaurant
received a tepid reception and, Dorf said, “some of the nights” shows sold out, but the venue never achieved the response he’d hoped for. Dorf said a more detailed statement will follow when he has worked out an agreement with the Opera House board but he did take issue with the suggestion that he had ever agreed to return the Opera House to the original state if he were to leave. “There was never an agreement,” he said, noting that when he leaves, the Opera House will have a “million dollar renovation.”
GET YOUR HOME READY FOR Bob Almeida, chairman of the board of directors of the Napa Valley Opera House, could not be reached for a comment. Juliana Inman, a Napa council member and preservationist, made a similar point, saying “I guess the good news is they (the Opera House) has all the improvements made by the tenant.” Inman speculated that the Opera House board had always had a contingency plan in case City Winery were to fail. “I’m hoping that the Opera House will pick up and continue operating,” she said. “I think there is hope for this space,” said Inman, who drew a parallel with Copia, another high-profile downtown project that failed in its first incarnation, but is on the road back to a new public use. City Winery’s business plan called on food and beverage sales, which would go on during the show, to support the entertainment. It was a formula Dorf had applied successfully in New York
City and Chicago when he came to Napa. He opened the first City Winery in Lower Manhattan in 2008 and the Chicago venue in 2012. He opened a fourth City Winery in Nashville in 2014, a few months after City Winery at the Napa Valley Opera House opened its doors. When he launched the Main Street operation, Dorf said his goal was to enhance the live singer/ songwriter concert experience for fans who also enjoy good wine and food. The 1880 venue had reopened in 2002 after going dark in 1914, after it was damaged in the San Francisco earthquake and as vaudeville died. A community effort begun in the 1970s saved the Opera House from demolition and eventually was able to restore it. As part of the transformation, Dorf removed the rows of red velvet theater seats, replaced the sloping, raked floor with a flat one and added a bar upstairs. Reporter L. Pierce Carson contributed to this story.
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Margrit Mondavi is honored on her 90th birthday at the last concert of the summer at Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville. Joining in the birthday toast to the festival founder are Karen O’Neill, left, executive assistant to Margrit Mondavi; Julie Prince, who helped produce the summer festivals for nearly two decades; and Wendy Carolo, right, vice president of hospitality and cultural affairs.
Honoring the first lady of Napa L . P I E RC E C A R S O N lp car s on@nap ane w s . com
raised for her efforts in blending culinary, performing community and to the region over among its participants. Other programs quickly followed, and fine arts with the culture of wine, Margrit Biever many decades.” Margrit Biever first joined Robert as the winery hosted a series of classiMondavi was feted on her 90th birthday in August at the winery her late husband founded nearly a half-century ago. Mondavi Winery in 1967 at a time cal music concerts and a winter film
At the final concert of the 46th annual summer music festival season, a crowd of more than 1,300 gave the festival founder a standing ovation. Surrounded by family, friends, artists, filmmakers and a bevy of wine country who’s who the following afternoon, the honoree was informed that the Vineyard Room at the landmark Oakville winery now carried her name. In announcing the renaming to the Margrit Mondavi Vineyard Room, winery Vice President and 66
General Manager Glenn Workman said, “It was in the Vineyard Room where Margrit first pioneered her dream, establishing it as a community gathering place for wine, food and the arts — a first-of-its-kind space in the Napa Valley. “In the many decades since, she has steadfastly continued to champion these causes. On the occasion of her 90th birthday, we are thrilled to dedicate this cherished site in her honor and we salute her many contributions to our winery,
when there were very few visitors to the region, prior to the addition of the wing that includes the Vineyard Room. With the enthusiastic support of founder Robert G. Mondavi — whom she married in 1980 — Margrit’s vision for the winery began with a modest Sunday art show accompanied by wine and food. Eventually the fine arts program at the winery evolved to the stature it holds today with such prominent artists as Richard Diebenkorn, Wayne Thiebaud and Nathan Oliveira
festival, screening a variety of short films for several years. Margrit likewise pioneered the winery’s popular summer concert series — which just wrapped up its 46th season — beginning in 1969 to benefit the Napa Valley Symphony. The festival welcomed such world-renowned headliners as Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Benny Goodman, Oscar Peterson, Sarah Vaughan, George Shearing, Dave Brubeck, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Harry Belafonte, Cesaria Evora, Buena Vista Social Club, Johnny
Mathis, Smokey Robinson, Julio Iglesias, Lena Horne, Josh Grobin and Gavin De Graw. The honoree is also credited with starting the Great Chefs of France and the Great Chefs of America programs, an internationally respected culinary series that brought such world-renowned culinary talents as Paul Bocuse, Julia Child, Alice Waters, Jean Troisgros, Marcella Hazan, Gaston Lenotre, Michel Guerard, Charlie Trotter, Roy Yamaguchi, Wolfgang Puck, Larry Forgione and Roger Verge to Napa Valley. The respect for California wines that resulted from these programs, especially among European chefs, is a sense of pride for Margrit. “Like painting and music, wine and food speak to the heart and contribute to an enhanced quality of life,” she said at Sunday afternoon’s celebration. “It is gratifying to think that I have had a hand in fusing all of these elements together at the Robert Mondavi Winery and to showing the world the goodness that is all around us here in the Napa Valley.”
“You have been our inspiration,” director of winemaking Genevieve Janssens observed. “We have been inspired ... (by your) energy and passion for life.” Daughter Annie Roberts said that during a recent hospital stay, her mother’s nurses were curious about her recipe for longevity. “It’s all of you — the love she gets from her friends, which then she gets to give back.” Growing up, Margrit Biever “never told her age,” added daughter Phoebe Holbrook. “Now this year, she’s telling everyone that she’s turning 90.” Maintaining that her daughters are “angels who take good care of me,” the birthday lady admitted that “when you get to be 90 you’re proud to admit it.” She said a wise thing to do as one approaches an advanced age is to “look forward to something — a week from now, a month from now, a year from now … and be grateful. Thank you for celebrating my 90th … and where I come from we say, ‘Cent’anni.’”
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Festival del Sole wraps up 10th, biggest season S A S H A PAU L S E N Rick Walker, who co-founded the Festival del Sole in Napa Valley 10 years ago, said they wrapped up the best season ever with the final concert at the end of July. It was the best attendance yet for the 10-day festival dedicated to the “art of life,” Walker said. “A lot of events were at capacity, and more than 2,000 attended our free concerts and film series.” The festival comprises classical music concerts, ballet performances with lunches and dinners at wineries, yoga classes, and this year, a Fun Run that attracted 250 people of all ages in a benefit for the Napa County Alliance for Arts Education. “A lot of people gave me grief because I won in my category,” Walker
said. “They said, ‘So you organize a race and then you win it. But it was the old guys category.” Other new events this year included a surprise “vertical dancing” performance at Quintessa winery, a fireworks display at Opus One, and an equestrian performance at Tamber Bey winery. “We want to keep growing and adding more surprises,” Walker said. “Who gets surprises, after all — good surprises, that is.” Music, however, remains at the center of the festival. This year’s lineup ranged from renowned violinist Midori to the Young People’s Chorus of New York City, who performed in the chapel at Mont La Salle on Mount Veeder.
Jim Sullivan/Castello di Amorosa photo
The opening night concert for Festival del Sole featured opera soprano Nadine Sierra, shown here performing in the courtyard at Castello di Amorosa on July 17.
Walker said that while he’s grateful that the festival reached its 10-year landmark, “We’re still like a 10-yearold; we want to keep growing — to be a grown-up.” Still, he noted that they’ve finished every season in the black. “We’re grateful for the support of the community,” he said, adding that the biggest audience for the festival is local, followed by people from the Bay Area,
and then Los Angeles. Increasingly, he added, the festival is attracting national and international visitors. “The hotels are all fully booked during the festival,” he said. Looking ahead, he said that as the festival grows, the organizer hope to increase the money they can give to local arts programs in Napa County schools. “We want Napa to be a role model for arts education,” he said.
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Mumm launches early 2015 grape harvest S A S H A PAU L S E N sp au l email@example.com om Harvest 2015 began on a lovely July morning as Mumm Napa Valley brought in 12 tons of pinot noir grapes destined to become sparkling wine. Although it was Mumm’s earliest start for harvest, by one day — its second earliest harvest was July 23, 1997 — Jennifer Putnam, executive director for the Napa Valley Grapegrowers, said, “It’s not the earliest start on record for Napa Valley.” “The majority of fruit is still in veraison,” Putman added, referring the stage in the growing season when the grapes began to change color. “We’re still quite a ways from all-out harvest.” Harvest in the valley usually begins in late July with sparkling wines grapes, which are picked earlier than still wine grapes to achieve the higher levels of acidity needed in this style of wine. Mumm expects to begin bringing in chardonnay grapes for its
sparkling wine in eight to 10 days. “We have not brought in any grapes yet,” said Matthew Levy, marketing manager for Schramsberg Vineyards, another major sparkling wine producer in the valley. “Last I heard, possibly Monday for pinot noirs from Richburg Vineyard in Carneros.” Ludovic Dervin, wine maker at Mumm said, “Unlike the last three vintages, this year’s crop is more of a ‘diamond in the rough,’ requiring more carving out and polishing in the vineyards to express its full potential. “Budbreak was early,” he said, “and both shoot elongation and flowering were challenged by weather conditions, leading to a fair amount of maturity variability from vineyard to vineyard, bloc to bloc, vine to vine and even cluster to cluster on the same vine. Winemakers and vine growers will have to work hand in hand for the next few months to balance out
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Employees at Mumm Napa celebrate the beginning of the 2015 harvest in July.
the crop load for another successful harvest season.” With the variety of microclimates of the valley and the diversity of grapes being grown, Putnam said she anticipates harvest 2015 will extend into October, as different varieties ripen. “It’s nice when harvest can be spread out,” she said, noting that this means less pressure on the labor force as well as less crowding at crush pads. Putnam predicted that the yield for cabernet sauvignon grapes, the predominant grape grown in Napa
Valley, will be” lighter overall” this year, due to several factors, including extensive replanting going on this year. “Every year is so different,” she said. After the unusually early budbreak, growers had looked at the possibility of an unusually early harvest, “but then the weather cooled down and every thing slowed down,” she said. “Right now, we’re really grateful for the weather. Nice even warm days, light winds and cooler nights” are what the grapes need now as they move into harvest.
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Duke University basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski helped the V Foundation raise $10.6 million for cancer research at the annual Wine Celebration held at Nickel & Nickel winery in August.
Gala tallies $10.6 million for cancer research Coach Krzyzewski helps V Foundation set record
S A S H A PAU L S E N s p auls e n@nap ane w s . com OAKVILLE — For a few minutes on an August night, even nonathletic, over-intellectual types got a glimpse of what it might be like to be in the locker room when a famous coach is exhorting his team to get out there and win. Only in this case, Mike Krzyzewski, Duke University’s legendary basketball coach, addressed some 575 guests wearing suits and slinky dresses, dining on lobster and steak and sipping wines under a massive
tent at Nickel & Nickel winery. And the other guy who Krzyzewski was out to beat was cancer. Krzyzewski, whose team won the 2015 NCAA National Championship, was himself just one part of a team on Saturday night, at the V Foundation’s 17th annual Wine Celebration in Napa Valley. The weekend’s activities included a scientific seminar on cancer research the charitable group has helped fund, as well as Saturday
night’s fundraising gala. When it was over, they’d raised a record $10.6 million for cancer research, including a whopping $7.8 million for the Fund-a-Need pledge that this year was targeted at pediatric brain cancer. This included a $3 million matching grant from an anonymous donor. “While we raised millions of dollars, what we really raised was hope,” Krzyzewski said.
THE V FOUNDATION The V Foundation was inspired by the story of basketball coach and sports commentator Jim Valvano, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 1992. “But he didn’t just sit in his hospital room saying I’m going to die,” said Bob Lloyd, Valvano’s former roommate at Rutgers who went on to play professional basketball. “He wanted to do something.” “It may not save my life,” said 71
Valvano, who died in 1993. “But the V Foundation gala. Nickel had tonight,” he said. of the game, if it’s close, you can it might save my children’s.” been diagnosed with melanoma, His team included Michael text my assistant with a play.” Valvano’s family, friends and another form of cancer with an Heywood, representing Bentley “I won’t look at it,” he added, colleagues rallied around him often grim prognosis. Motors, the British luxury auto- as an afterthought to create the V Foundation for “We didn’t know about the maker, a corporate sponsor. “It’s Their lighthearted banter did Cancer Research, which has, since V Foundation at the time,” said the only event we sponsor,” said not belie the seriousness of their 1993, awarded more than $115 Nickel’s business partner, Larry Heywood. “And it’s the only one purpose, as guys with a passion million in cancer research grants McGuire, who helped organize a where I inevitably find myself for winning. throughout the U.S. An organi- round-table meeting that resulted tearing up. But whether it’s our “Jimmy was about winning,” zation that gives 100 percent of in a $500,000 donation to the employees or our customers, we Krzyzewski said, “and if as a result, direct cash donations to cancer group, and Nickel became an hon- have all been affected by cancer.” we’re finding cures, cancer is losresearch, it has a four-star rating orary founder, before his death in Throughout the evening, Lloyd ing; but we haven’t won yet.” from Charity NavKrzyzewski led igator, which ranks the way into the it in the top 10 live auction by percent of charities s h ow i n g a c l i p nationwide. of his team at In 1999, this year’s chamJulie Allegro, the pionship game, daughter of a V describing how a Foundation board battle cry of “let’s m e m b e r, c a m e go!” ignited the up with the idea team “like a lighto f t h e V Wi n e ning bolt.” Celebration and And, indeed, approached Lloyd. it seemed to work He signed on. like a lightning Lloyd served as bolt, as well, for chairman of the V the crowd of docFoundation from tors, researchers 1994 to 2014. and V Foundation “It’s funny, peosupporters. During ple ask me why the Fund-a-Need I did it, why I’ve portion of the been chairman for auction, launched so long,” Lloyd with a $500,000 said. “My response opening gift, donai s s i m p l e : My tions were coming Keith Rosenthal photo friend asked me.” in so fast and furiIn 2 0 0 1 From left, David Duncan, Anne and Chuck McMinn and Rick Jones at the V Foundation Wine Celebration. ous, the auctioneer Krzyzewski and The McMinns were successful in their bid for courtside tickets to the Duke vs. University of North Carolina Curley appeared to basketball game during the live auction. his wife, Mikie, be in danger of loshosted the V Wine ing his voice as he Celebration in Napa Valley, and October of that year. and Krzyzewski traded jibes and called out each one. “Jimmy, you since then the support from vintSince then, McGuire and Nick- colorful anecdotes. see what’s happening?” he asked. ners has been a crucial element in el’s widow, Beth, have provided the “What’s wonderful is hear“There are rare times in life its success. To acknowledge their site for the annual gala at Nickel ing Lloyd use the word ‘dichot- that feel like everything you efforts, the V Foundation awards & Nickel winery in Oakville. omy,’” Krzyzewski noted, adding, have done before led to this one a Vintners Grant each year. “We just felt bonded to the V “When Jimmy (Valvano) said to moment,” said Julie Allegro, chairIn 2001 it was in honor of Dick Foundation,” McGuire said. me, ‘Lloyd’s going to be on the woman of the event. “Tonight was and Ann Grace for neuroblastoma team,’ he asked me to hammer one of those times. The feeling in research at UCSF. This year it THE CELEBRATION him whenever I could, because he that room — the excitement, the recognized the support from Rick It’s the personal connection never passed me the ball.” tears, the energy — was palpaand Elaine Jones of Jones Family that forms the powerful emoLloyd later provided a colorful ble. I think everyone felt it. And Vineyards. Elaine Jones was diag- tional spirit of the evening. As he definition of dichotomy for him. together, we exceeded our wildest nosed with stage 2 pancreatic can- addressed the group, Krzyzewski During the live auction, when goals, raising over $10 million that cer in 2012 and after more than asked diners to stand if they were the auctioneers Ursula Hermac- will surely lead to big strides in three years is doing well in com- a survivor of cancer and then inski and Jim Curley introduced finding a cure to cancer.” bating one of the deadliest forms to stand if they knew a friend Lot 27, courtside tickets to the “We didn’t come here to do of cancer. or family member who had had Duke vs. University of North Car- something ordinary,” Krzyzewski In August 2003, Gil Nickel, cancer. “Is anyone still sitting?” olina basketball game, Coach K, as said. “When the research guys the owner of Far Niente Winery, he asked. It didn’t look like it. he is called, quipped that he’d add come in and say ‘We did it,’ it will made his last public appearance at “Everybody’s part of the team to the lot, “in the last two minutes be because of tonight.” 72
Abandoned Catholic statuary gets a home Couple find inspiration living with icons C H LO E F. J O H N S O N cjohnson@na pa news.c om The first thing you notice walking into Jim and Vicki Asbury’s house in Browns Valley is that it is full of grandchildren and pets. The second thing you notice is the life-size statue of Jesus at the top of the front staircase. Jim Asbury, a retired construction company owner and longtime Napa resident, has been collecting Catholic statuary for over 20 years. He has about 40 of the statues in the house, plus several smaller figurines. Since learning that many Catholic churches and schools
have phased out elaborate religious iconography in recent decades, he has “adopted” the figures in the effort to get them back into churches. “Some of the people think we’re kind of strange for collecting so many of them,” Asbury said. “There’s visitors who have been intimidated.” Asbury has rescued discarded Catholic statues from closed churches, bought them from antique stores, and found them online. He has given several to St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Napa. Others have
Vicki and Jim Asbury are seen with Jesus and other religious statues in their home collection. Some were damaged in last August’s Napa earthquake.
gone to churches and con vents around California and the nation. Asbury converted to Catholicism in 1991, after hearing a particularly moving eulogy from a priest at a friend’s funeral. Although his family was Baptist, Asbury said he had never been very religious until that moment.
“I felt I was a Christian, but I saw organized religion as a crutch,” he said. “I guess I got the tap on the shoulder.” The statue collection suffered a setback during the earthquake nearly a year ago, when several of the figures were damaged or destroyed. Asbury is still in the process of painstakingly
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Damaged religious statues of, from left, Mary, mother of Jesus; St. Sebastian; St. Lazarus; and Joan of Arc are seen at the Asburys’ home in Napa.
Pieces of religious statues damaged in the South Napa Earthquake are seen on a table at the Asbury home in Browns Valley.
reattaching broken limbs with glue and plaster of Paris to figures of angels and saints. “We lost two of the largest statues that were almost lifesize, and 10 smaller statues,” Asbury said. “The majority of them suffered some kind of damage. It upset us that we lost so many statues that we had to
damaged, and since they did not have earthquake insurance, they suffered serious financial losses. The house itself was not damaged. Despite the damage to the statue collection, it still features prominently in the decor of the three-story house, with several religious figures in every room.
throw away.” The Asburys’ neighborhood in west Napa was especially hard-hit by the quake. “I had to figure out if we had an earthquake or if a bomb had gone off,” Asbury said. “It felt like a plane had crashed into us.” The Asburys’ backyard and swimming pool were severely
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Among the most valuable pieces are a life-size Virgin Mary statue from 1890 and a nativity scene from the 18th century, both of which suffered only minimally. “The statues are made to give us comfort,” Asbury said. As a bonus, he added, “I think anyone who would burglarize this house would just turn around.”
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