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napa valley Fall/Winter 2017

The Napa Valley


3341 Solano Ave. (Redwood Plaza), Napa • (707) 252-8131 www.creationsfinejewelers.com


In this Issue

napa valley




Holiday shopping suggestions


A season for design


Holiday events across the valley


Where in the Valley?


A taste for granola


Wine and coffee?


Napa Generations; Boomers


Napa Generations: Gen-X


Napa Generations: Millennials


Napa Generations: Teens


Great Estates


CrossFit: a lifestyle


Living the life: Harvest adoration


Custom House: a legacy


Getting to know you: Steve Potter


Dining in the Napa Valley


Vine Cliff: A phoenix in the vineyards


Paul Block: Usable beauty


To advertise in Inside Napa Valley, please call us at 707-256-2228 | A publication of the Napa Valley Publishing Company

The resilient Napa Valley spirit N O R M A KO S T E C K A Ad ve r ti s i ng Di re ctor


he Napa Valley is resilient. We’ve weathered floods and earthquakes and economic ups and downs. And this year, we survived fires that raced through Wine Country with unprecedented ferocity. Through it all, we’ve lived life with that special Napa Valley style. In this edition of Inside Napa Valley, we’ll celebrate that unbroken spirit with a wide look at life here in our close-knit community. We’ll start with a look at the holiNORMA KOSTECKA days, how to decorate, where to shop and how to find fun throughout the season. We’ll visit with some local businesses that have persevered through the decades and learn about a winery that went from being a

“ghost” to one of the gems of the industry. We’ll visit with an artist whose passion for recycling led him to use old wine barrels to create usable beauty. Speaking of artistry, we’ll have a look at a Napa coffee roaster who’s gathering national attention by infusing his product with the essence of Wine Country – literally. And a Napa mom whose passion for healthy snacks led her to a successful home business. Napa’s well-loved Police Chief Steve Potter, who is set to retire next year, will join us for another edition of “Getting to Know You,” and we’ll look in on a grand French chateau on the heart of the valley. You’ll get to test your sharp eye for detail with another edition of “Where in the Valley?” But given all Napa County has been through lately, we thought we’d take a

deeper look at our home: where it’s been and where it is going. We asked four writers of various ages to talk to their contemporaries about Napa County from their unique generational perspectives. The result we’re calling “Napa Generations,” the voices from Boomers, Gen-Xers, Millennials, and today’s teens. Their perspectives may differ, but they’re all united in the view that this is one pretty special place to live. And as always, we’ll bring you a selection of our favorite stories on the wine, food, and lifestyle that make Napa Valley, from our family of Napa Valley Publishing newspapers. Grab a mug of holiday cheer and join along. On the cover: : Photo courtesy Bob McClenahan Photography, napasphotographer.com. 3

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Two stores bring quirky spirit and customer service to holiday shopping


hroughout the holiday season, The Napa Valley dazzles with its world renowned wine and culinary excellence. Where holiday merriment highlights every street corner, shop and restaurant and the community gathers to embrace the spirit of the season. For two downtown merchants, the season is a time for giving, a time for family and a time of local celebration. “During the holidays, tourists have gone home and I get to see more of my regular customers and spend more time and enjoy them. It’s intimate,” said Patricia Trimble, Founder of the Roost Napa. Located in downtown Napa, the Roost is dedicated to creating a stress free environment by offering customers a fun-loving experience. “I focus on having things in my store that are interesting and fun,” said Trimble. “I like to have a good time and want people to have fun when they are here.”‘ A former “banker that no longer wanted to be a banker,” Patricia delved into the retail industry with a consignment shop off Lincoln. However, once she moved to the downtown location, Patricia transitioned her shop into a full retail boutique. During the holidays , The Roost participates in community events and provides customers with everything they need to experience the season. From gift wrapping to creating memories, The Roost focuses on their relationships with their customers and provides a place of tranquility throughout the season. “I enjoy watching the kids getting excited for Santa. The

Raphael Kluzniok/Register

J.L. Sousa/Register

Paige Smith, co-owner of Cake Plate Boutique with her sister Lindsay Kroll.

Napa parade is a big deal to me, I always make sure that I watch it,” said Trimble. “I have my VIP seating in front of the store. The only requirement I ask of my customers is to bring their chairs the night before so they can be ready the next morning.” Dedicated to the customer experience, Cake Plate Boutique, also located in Napa, adds charm, personalization and sophistication during the holiday season. “We have an annual guys night that will be held Thursday Dec. 14 where our ladies come in advance to create their ‘wish list’ and the

men are invited to come and shop from the wish lists as a guarantee their significant other will love their gift,” said co-founder Paige Smith. A collaboration between two sisters, Cake Plate Boutique was founded in 2007. “The store is a haven for ladies and gentlemen looking for a perfect blend of oldworld sharpness and modern-day sophistication,” said Smith. “Feminine frocks hang side-by-side with comfortable (but polished) separates.” To g e t h e r, L i n d s e y a n d Paige Smith relish in creating

meaningful relationships with their clients and focus on providing them with, “carefully edited, classic, yet modern styles,” said Smith. During the holiday season, Cake Plate is a special place for tourists and locals. While providing a one of a kind experience, the two passionate sisters enjoy every aspect of the season and participate in all of the festivities that make the valley such an exceptional place to live. “The holiday season in the valley is a family affair,” said Smith. “Downtown Napa collaborates with the City, the 20/30 club, the Riverfront Property as well as merchants to make sure that the holiday season is felt throughout downtown by offering trolley rides, hot cocoa, horse drawn carriages, Santa photo opportunities, parades, caroling and tree lighting ceremony.” The Roost Napa and Cakeplate Boutique are among so many wonderful local spots in the valley that are welcoming and provide exceptional service all year long. Throughout the seasons, tourists and locals can embark on a retail adventure and during the holidays, all of these exceptional merchants make shopping in the Napa Valley a memorable experience. 5

Alena Ozerova, Dreamstime

A Season for

Design Bringing Napa Valley spirit to Christmas decorating



uring the holiday season, the iconic Napa Valley landscape provides an exquisite backdrop to a community surrounded in artistry. During the season, the valley is draped with decadent decor and twinkling lights that shine below the clear, night sky. Where carolers sing of peace and goodwill and in the center of each town rests a tree trimmed celebrating the spirit of the season. “The valley,” as locals call it, is a model of joviality and charm and for two local Interior Designers, a haven for style. “My personal favor i t e


decorations at the holidays come right out of the garden. Living in Napa is like living in Paradise,” said Annette Boss of A Boss Design. “Pine trees offer boughs and pine cones to decorate fireplaces, mirrors and staircases. They are festive naked, or with lights, ribbons and ornaments. If you are crafty and have the time, gather twigs from birch trees to be enhanced with glitter (your choice of color). They will catch the light and make your room glow. I like to mix a few great fake berry branches into the boughs for their red color.” Boss’s interest in decor started in her youth and blossomed as

she grew. Once married, her loving husband encouraged her to develop her talents and pursue a career. Upon graduation from UCLA, Annette’s passion for design led her to fulfill her dreams. “UCLA opened my eyes to art, history, architecture and to the greatest designers. I learned about color theory, space planning, furniture design and lighting,” said Boss. “I know there are those who feel learning the principles of design is unnecessary, but I thrived on that education. When I graduated, I got a great position, with one of the best designers in Los Angeles, and the rest is my history.” Annett’s career has given her the opportunity to work with a wide array of clients over the years. She offers full design services and specializes in color and materials. During the holidays, Annett’s

talents enable her to embody the season through her work. “The holiday season can be met with mixed feelings. We love to see our family and friends, but often the pressures of daily life take the fun out of the festivities,” said Boss. “Sometimes my clients just can’t seem to get it all together. When the feeling of overwhelm gets too heavy, they call me for help. I can bring in additional décor pieces that will help, but often I use all the traditional stored decorations that they have saved over the years. A pair of new, well-trained eyes can sort things out in a hurry. I use the ornaments my clients have collected in new and innovative ways to give their spaces a traditional and personal feel, with an unexpected twist. “ Local designer Patti Cowger of PLC Interiors also utilizes her

Svetlana Larina, Dreamstime

talents to provide her clients with memorable decor during the holiday season. “It’s a particularly fulfilling time of year for me professionally and personally,” said Cowger. “Design projects are just wrapping up in time for my clients’ holiday visitors and festivities. It’s always rewarding to see the end result of weeks or months of planning, preparation, and implementation.” With an eye for detail, Cowger encourages her clients to start the planning process well in advance. “Most of my work starts weeks or months before the holidays but if clients want help decorating, I like to use miniature starry lights on live topiary plants (boxwood, junipers, pittosporum, or herbs). “I also like to focus on only one or two colors because it makes a bigger impact,” said Cowger. “I might put all orange and red fruit in bowls and branches of

red berries in tall vases, and make groupings of orange and red votive candles. One year I concentrated on blue and purple and Boss another year white and silver. For holiday aromatics, I have my clients pour a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves on a cookie sheet and bake on low heat. They can reheat these spices throughout the season. “ For 28 years, Cowger has made her mark in the world of design. A former computer software programmer, she gravitated toward a creative outlet which ignited her passion. “I had been a computer software programmer in the Financial District in San Francisco and desperately needed a creative hobby. I formed relationships with a few

fabric mills and started making table linens and selling them at trunk shows,” said Cowger. “ The next year, I went to Italy to visit Cowger my grandparent’s home town. The historic beauty of the country profoundly affected me. “My hobby and my Italian visit, along with a later visit to the formal gardens of France, led to a dramatic career change,” she said. “I started my first design business in San Francisco in 1989. It was called Tavola Bella. When I moved back to my home town in the Napa Valley in 2003, I changed it to PLC Interiors.” Cowger’s talent for design has enabled her to create memorable holiday pieces throughout her career.

“A few years ago, Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, hosted an event auctioning off hand-made wreaths benefitting various charities in the Valley. On behalf of CANV (Community Action of Napa Valley), I made a four-foot square wreath made of grape vines, pine cones, and paper birds, with a few burlap and red velvet ribbons. Very rustic and the only square wreath in the whole castle,” said Cowger. Author Mary Anne Radmacher once said, “May your walls know joy, may every room hold laughter, and every window open to great possibility.” For Patti Cowger and Annette Boss, the spirit of the season is captured within their work. Providing an artistic expression of a space through hours of dedication and impeccable taste, both designers leave their imprint by creating a feel that is unique and memorable for everyone to enjoy. 7


N A PA V A L L E Y J E W E L E R S 1317 Napa Town Center • Napa 224-0997 • NapaValleyJewelers.com Convenient free parking in the Pearl Street garage. Enter near Kohl’s and park at the far end. It’s a short walk to our store, next to the new Archer Hotel.

Holiday events in the Napa Valley

Gifts n Tyme Holiday Craft Fair NOV. 17-19 NAPA VALLEY EXPO • A holiday tradition in Napa for more than four decades. More than 85 vendors assemble to sell arts, crafts, and goodies, perfect for your early holiday shopping.


The Napa Valley Santa Wine Train NOV. 18-DEC. 29 NAPA winetrain.com/package/santa-trains • Experience Christmas on the rails with holiday-themed events on the Napa Valley’s iconic Wine Train. Enjoy games, sing-a-longs, and treats during a 90-minute trip up and down the valley.

Holidays in Yountville NOV. 20-DEC. 31 YOUNTVILLE yountville.com/events/holidays-in-yountville • The town glows with holiday lights and shops and restaurants are decorated and offer a myriad of special events. Festivities include free carriage rides through town, photos with Santa, music at the Lincoln Theater and other locations, and more.

Christmas Tree Lighting NOV. 22 VETERANS PARK, NAPA donapa.com • Join Napa’s mayor for the annual tree-lighting ceremony to kick off the Christmas season downtown.

Napa Christmas Parade NOV. 25 DOWNTOWN NAPA donapa.com • A line of seasonal floats and fun winds through downtown.

Napa Valley Turkey Chase NOV. 23 NAPA VALLEY COLLEGE/VINE TRAIL napaturkeychase.com • Work up your Thanksgiving hunger with 10k and 5k runs, and a 100 meter dash, sponsored by Athletic Feat.


Sixth Annual Reindeer Run DEC. 2 AMERICAN CANYON khopeinternational.org/ReindeerRun • Two runs – 3 miles and 6.5 miles – to raise money for KHOPE International. Deck yourself out in Christmas finery while you run for a good cause.

Calistoga Holiday Village and Christmas Faire DEC. 1-2 CALISTOGA visitcalistoga.com/calistoga-holiday-village-christmas-fair • Experience the community Christmas tree lighting on Dec. 1 and wander the festively decorated downtown, with events and special offerings. On Dec. 2, visit the annual faire, featuring artists, handicrafts, baked goods and a collection of unique and affordable stocking stuffers for sale.

Lighted Tractor Parade DEC. 2 DOWNTOWN CALISTOGA visitcalistoga.com • One of the nation’s quirkiest Christmas traditions continues with vehicles of all sorts festooned with Christmas lights parading through downtown.

VOENA: Voices of the Season … Winter Wonderland DEC. 9 LINCOLN THEATER, YOUNTVILLE lincolntheater.com/events • The beloved Bay Area VOENA Children’s Choir transports you to a Victorian Winter Wonderland with a rousing must-see performance that will delight the whole family.

Napa Lighted Arts Festival DEC. 9-17 DOWNTOWN NAPA AND OXBOW naparec.com/napalight • Explore more than a dozen original art pieces displayed around Napa, featuring creative use of light. Pieces will be illuminated 5-10 p.m. daily.

The Nutcracker DEC. 16-17 LINCOLN THEATER, YOUNTVILLE lincolntheater.com/events • The Napa County Regional Dance Company returns with their 17th annual production of the holiday classic “The Nutcracker.” 12


in the Valley? How keen is your eye for Napa landmarks? Our photographer J.L. Sousa travels a lot of miles in pursuit of his images and along the way he’s taken some shots of interesting, quirky, and unusual objects, many of them in plain sight from major roads. But it can be surprisingly hard to identify these places when you zoom in just on the details, even if you pass by the spots every day. How many of these Napa County places can you identify? Answers are on Page 80.


Celebrate the tastes of the season at Napa Valley Bistro. Let us Cater your next event, or host your party in our dining room. And don’t forget Sunday Brunch


From an intimate brunch to a full family gathering, we strive to not only provide the freshest, most flavorful meals, but also to nurture the welcoming family restaurant atmosphere our customers love. Also, don’t forget about our “Wine, Bubbles, & Bites”

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A taste for

GRANOLA A dedication to healthy snacks leads Napa woman to new business



iving in the Napa Valley affords locals and tourist with world class vinification and culinary enlightenment. The cultural experience of the valley offers a taste of the terroir that produces impeccable produce. With a community focused on health and purity, Napa is a haven for organic enthusiasts and for one local Mother, an ideal region for the finest granola. “Living in Napa Valley has provided me with the best organic ingredients and the most inspiring community to cook for,” said Deborah Wasserman, founder of Local Eden. “As a result, I’ve worked on creating the most balanced, indulgent, and rewarding granola.” A granola aficionado, Deborah Wasserman met her husband while

Deborah Wasserman, founder of Local Eden Sakhon Nhek Photography

Please see Granola, Page 18


Sakhon Nhek Photography

GRANOLA From Page 17

completing her studies in culinary school in 2007. Together, they enjoyed a passion for the famed “health food” snack and wanted to find a flavor profile that was healthy, fresh and delicious. “We wanted to come up with our own original flavor,” said Wasserman. As a result of her love for granola and passion for her family, she founded Local Eden. “We live here in Napa and Napa is the garden of eden,” said Wasserman. With the ability to work from home while raising her children and work with the freshest ingredients, Deborah built her company out of love and dedication. With three distinct flavors: Peanut Butter Maple, Cashew Almond Apricot and Macadamia Coconut Ginger, she specializes in local, gluten free granola. “I don’t think my granola is typical. Local Eden has a completely different percentage of ingredients than most,” said Wasserman. “With 70 percent fruit, nuts and seeds and 30 percent gluten-free oats, it’s chunky and 18

full of protein. You can be full without consuming a large amount.” As the holidays draw near, Local Eden can be found at the forefront of any table. With a fine assortment of flavors, a monthly granola club available and first class service, Deborah’s granola is a healthy and delicious addition to any menu or alternative to traditional holiday

indulgences. Scott Belsky, co-founder of Behance once said, “It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen.” For Deborah Wasserman, Local Eden is just that. Her dedication to quality and commitment to living a healthy lifestyle has enabled her to reach for the stars and make a difference in the Napa Valley.












1350 135 350 THIRD STREET NAPA, CA 94559 | 707.259.0123 19

J.L. Sousa, Register

Rick Molinari is now producing Molinari Private Reserve wine infused coffee that is available for purchase at his downtown Napa coffeehouse or online.

Molinari’s Wine-Infused Private Reserve


One coffee that’s as big in the nose as it is in the mouth.


escribing the beautiful bouquet and flavor notes of a coffee make take a little getting used to, but it comes with the territory when you’re brewing Molinari Private Reserve


wine-infused coffee. The creation of Napa’s Rick Molinari, owner and operator of Molinari’s Caffe, his private label alcohol-free, wine-infused coffee has become the darling of talk shows and magazines across the nation and is the only one of it’s kind anywhere. “A couple of years after starting my coffee shop in 2013,” Molinari recalled, “my best friend

John Weaver, who roasts all of my coffee, recommended I come out with a private label. I kind of looked around at the possibilities, and I remembered my dad and some of the well-known vintners in the Valley always used to put wine in their coffee.” “I decided to try infusing and went out and got some 15 different varieties of red wines and also some blends,” said Molinari. “I

really liked one of the blends and one of the single variety wines. I took two gallons of the wine over to John in San Rafael, and told him I wanted to try something out. He has a warehouse of coffee beans from all over the world. I started sampling his beans, without telling him why, and found two beans that I wanted. He then realized what I was doing. “Initially, he thought it was a

joke,” Molinari said. “The next day he called me at 4:30 in the morning and said ‘you need to come over here tomorrow because I think you are on to something and I want to show you something I tried.’ When John gets onto something, he goes after it 120 percent same as I do. He had already done research and said: ‘Rick, no one is doing this. No one has ever done this in the world.’” “We were rehydrating coffee beans with wine,” Molinari explained, “not just adding wine to coffee. The full-bodied coffee beans relax in a beautiful wine, absorbing the wine’s nose and history, then the coffee is carefully dried and hand-roasted in small batches. It took us about 3-4 months to get it to where we wanted it, to know how long to let it sit and how long to let it dry.” The details, of course, are a closely guarded secret. But then Mother Nature stepped in, and not in a good way “The Napa earthquake happened,” Molinari said, “so I had stop what we were doing temporarily and sell my house, car and some property just to keep my coffee shop going.” Despite the interruption caused by the Napa quake, Molinari and Weaver pushed on. “We continued to work on the private label coffee and were doing little batches here and there, because we knew we could get it done eventually.” They spent some two years with trial and error before they deemed it ready to take to market. Molinari says they can now produce 50,000 pounds a month if they need to and could triple production by purchasing another roaster. “We decided on a wine-based name, Molinari Private Reserve,” he said. “On the label, it has our signature M for my last name, and a photograph I took near Oakville. The black label is our regular coffee and our decaf has an orange tinted background. The decaf actually tastes better in my opinion,” Molinari noted. “The decaf process dries out the bean

J.L. Sousa, Register

Rick Molinari, right, explains how a French press works to employee Maya Christensen. He recommends brewing his wine infused coffee in a French press.

J.L. Sousa, Register

more so it soaks up more of the wine during the infusing process.” Molinari said the word is getting around: “A lot of people are noticing what we’re doing and that’s a good thing. I’ve been written up all over the world, and just returned from a trip to Europe promoting the Private Reserve Coffee. There’s also been interest from Australasia and Asia, but tariffs make it hard to sell overseas. I’m still working on the best way to go international, but right now I want to keep it in the Valley and continue to use wine from here. I

could eventually be ordering 800 gallons of local wine a month if this goes the way I am hoping it will,” he said. “My coffee is between a medium and a light roast. There’s virtually no alcohol in the bean at the end of the process, but a tremendous bouquet of wine with wine flavor.” I could smell the bouquet across the room, and found it to be extremely mild yet very flavorful. “Coffees should not be harsh,” Molinari shared. “There is not a

lot of acid to our coffee. And if you add creamer to it, the fat from the milk is going to give you a totally different taste, but it’s going to be really, really good. While it’s not particularly higher in caffeine, people do report to me there is a caffeine buzz from the caffeinated version.” Molinari said this is not just a coffee for special occasions. “It’s a good everyday coffee, I have customers that brew in the morning because it makes the house smell good, and then they stick it in the refrigerator and drink it as a cold brew at night. The cooler it gets before you drink it, it’s going to open like a wine and give you more flavor.” Molinari Private Reserve is sold only in the whole bean form. “The way we’ve developed it,” said Molinari, “you can use it for all different kinds of coffee depending on how you grind it. We can grind it for you at the restaurant or you can do it yourself. “Now we’re cooking with it and also finding out it’s great for other things, like using it as a rub on meats. “I won’t tell you Please see Coffee, Page 22


J.L. Sousa, Register

COFFEE From Page 21

we haven’t started testing the wine in other things besides coffee,” he said slyly, “but that’s all I can say at the moment.” Molinari said sales are coming along. “We are selling 50 to 100 units of coffee online a week, with an 8 oz. bag of beans sells for just under $20. I’m using a building near where I live for storing, packing and shipping the coffee. “ According to Molinari’s website, his Private Reserve coffee is sold at Molinari Caffe, Robert Mondavi Winery, Franciscan Estate Winery, JCB Wines, Plum Markets, and right here on this website. Soon, it will also be available at Detroit Airport and “Feast it Forward” which is opening soon in Napa. It will soon be carried on several major cruise lines and hotels. Molinari Caffe is located at 828 Brown Street and is open from 7 a.m. – 3 p.m., Monday through Saturday. You can find out more about Molinari Private Label coffee at: molinaricaffe.com. 22

J.L. Sousa, Register


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From sleepy town to

BUSTLING CITY Older Napa residents see growth, changes as a mixed blessing KIRK KIRKPATRICK


Author Kirk Kirpatrick and grandson Duane Rodrigues enjoy the pool at Indian Springs Submitted photo


here’s no question there’s been a lot of change in Napa over the years, but amongst the over-60 crowd, that’s not necessarily a good thing. I talked to a cross-section of locals, who have spent much or most of their time here, for their thoughts. Kathleen Thomas, retired nurse and current president of the local writer’s club, came to Napa many years ago from San Francisco to take an RN position at the state hospital. Thomas, now in her late 60s, said: “retirement gave me a pension and a PTSD bubble that periodically rises up to bite me. Now, instead of writing chart notes, patient updates and incident reports, I write my own stories.” The changes she’s seen bring more worries than hope: “The lack of affordable local housing and the consequent number of commuters driving our busy roads just to keep food on the table and a roof over their head worries me,” Thomas said. “I seethe at our current president, whose words and deeds disgust, frighten and anger me and many others here. The state of our healthcare is problematic to people here on low or fixed incomes. Too many people don’t have healthcare at all, or what they have is inadequate.” Napa’s rising cost of living is changing lives and lifestyles in Thomas’ opinion. “The high cost of living, eating out, shopping and entertainment is

challenging and I don’t have much hope for big change. But I hold out a bit of hope with our local activists and elected officials. “I volunteer my time with Napa Valley Writers and other arts organizations. I continue my annual RN volunteer stint with Lighthouse for the Blind summer camps on Mt. Veeder. Fortunate to be healthy and fit, I regularly get on my bike, see a few friends and family, and occasionally launch my kayak. Hanging by a thread to my 60s, time on a comfy couch with an entertaining TV show, ice cream, and good company is my favorite way to end the day. I’m good with that.” Rob Orr, builder and developer, has been in Napa since junior high school, aside from a few years in Australia after his graduation from Chico State. Builder of homes and boutique hotels in Napa, Orr recalled when Napa was a slow-paced and comfortable little community: “My earliest recollections are of a languid, somewhat isolated Bay Area community which embraced my parents who were seeking respite from vigorous overseas tours of military duty. “We appreciated the small, family-owned clothing, surplus, shoe, paint and hardware stores. And the novelty of a downtown Montgomery Ward with squeaky wooden floors and a lunch counter that seemed, even then, like a dream out of a black and white movie,” Orr remembered wistfully. “I recall also weekly vigils to the Uptown movie theater with its antiquated orchestra pit and double features, and summer volleyball in Fuller Park played over a net strung between two palm trees,” he said. “As a young fisherman I often toted my gear through town down to the river on drowsy Sunday afternoons, every store closed in dead silence and often not a car or person seen on First Street, oblivious to the specter of the impending disastrous revitalization of the ‘70s,” Orr recalled. “The heart of downtown was torn out by a bureaucrat’s dream, the venerable stone office and retail buildings that imbued the town with a sleepy sense of place now suddenly

Napa County Registrar of Voters John Tuteur

Submitted photo

Rob Orr enjoying golf at Vintners

rubble, replaced with a fabricated Town Center that residents never comprehended nor even touched, setting downtown adrift in the doldrums for ensuing decades.” Later, as a hotelier, Orr said: “I can still summon the disheartening recollection of guests I proudly directed from my hotel to downtown walking tours, who returned only hapless and confused by their experience.” He believes Napa today is changing rapidly and may soon be unrecognizable to many longtime residents. “This injection of restless capital into wine bars, restaurants, boutiques and hotels has brought an unfamiliar, explosive energy that a long timer greets with reticent enthusiasm. A brave new town, a core humanity now

of visitors and investors perhaps in too exuberant celebration,” Orr said. Some quintessential aspects of Napa are not likely to change ever in Orr’s opinion. “But no matter, I think it will be fine here: the river uninterrupted, unchanged, the fine edges of the encompassing hills and the relentless Mediterranean sky rendering unending solace.” Sue Kesler, in her mid-70s, transplanted to Napa with her late husband many years ago. She has noticed many changes, but not necessarily for the better where the retired crown are concerned. “Being a long-time resident,” said Kesler, “and having achieved a mature status, entitles me to voice my opinion and pretend to be an expert.” “In the past year, I’ve discovered Napa is a different place to live without a partner,” she sighed. “I doubt I am alone. I gained a new granddaughter-in-law and grandson-in-law my partner scarcely knew. Adjusting for me, and others who have found themselves in a similar position, is difficult. “When we moved to Napa, we found an agricultural community divided into ‘Old Napa’ and the rest of us who came in the past couple of decades. Now my current age group here seems to be the dominant demographic,” Kesler observed. Changes over the years have been good, and not so good, in her

J.L. Sousa, Register file photo

opinion. “In the years following, we rejoiced as the town acquired more culture: the Opera House, Jarvis Conservatory, etc. But I now find myself an unexpected creature, a local in a tourist destination. What did this mean?” she said. “The Town and Country Fair, once a gathering place to meet up with old friends is now a concert site. The local symphony is replaced by traveling big name acts not of the classical persuasion. The annual Arts and Crafts Fair is history. “Five-star restaurants abound. In the days when we could dine on someone else’s nickel, this was great. As a retired person, as any retired person who lives here well knows,” Kesler observed, “an affordable restaurant is rare, even with a senior discount. “The other change I would mention is Napa’s gone corporate. The locally owned wineries are scarce, long time retailers closed, the local hospital now part of a large conglomerate seems less attuned to the local health needs and concerns.” Kesler concluded: “I suffer from incurable condition called old age and realize change is inevitable, but not enviable.” John Tuteur, longtime public servant and current county assessor, has been a local institution. Tuteur moved here when his parents purchased a ranch in1951. Please see Residents, Page 26


Submitted photo

Sue Kesler relaxing on a her sunny deck

RESIDENTS From Page 25

“I have had a connection with Napa County for all but 10 of my almost 76 years,” Tuteur admitted. “Over the past two-thirds of a century, our family has tried to provide stewardship for our that ranch so that the fourth generation will be able to keep it for many more generations to come. “When we moved here from Ohio, the City of Napa had about 18,000 residents. While its population has grown more than four-fold, the city still maintains its small town qualities; some of which are good—caring for each other and being community oriented; some of which are bad—gossip, backbiting, knowing everyone else’s business,” he said. “ Compare Napa today with Concord or Walnut Creek and you understand the difference between a small town and a metropolis.” Tuteur noted the local economy has changed dramatically. “In 1951, Napa County’s animal products, including dairy products, accounted for almost twice as much dollar revenue as prunes and grapes combined,” he said. “Today, thanks to the vision of property owners and elected officials who created the Agricultural Preserve on the valley floor almost 50 years ago, there are probably 500 wineries and the major crop is grapes with dairy and livestock barely registering.” He said the foresight of local politicians and citizens will serve Napa well for generations to come. 26

Submitted photo

Elizabeth McKinne with dog Sadie at Saintsbury Winery

“Given Napa County’s location in the fifth largest metropolitan area in the United States, we are blessed by geography and concerted action by our citizens in preserving the environmental integrity and natural beauty of this national treasure. As Napa County Assessor I know that Napa County enjoys one of the three highest per capita assessed values in California because of the managed growth policies that have been followed for the past 50 years,” Tuteur concluded. Elizabeth McKinne, a resident for the past quarter century, says in her 60s she is old enough now to be grateful for many things in her life. “I’ve lived here since 1990, when my husband, already a Napa resident, and I were married. He is the reason I came to Napa—for love,” she said. “I’m a visual artist (a painter) and color consultant,” McKinne said. “Napa is experiencing some growing pains. People are asking: ‘How big do we want to be? What are our values? What matters most to us as a community?’ We are in a time of flux.” McKinne feels Napa has a lot going for it, and becoming bigger is not necessarily going to make it a better place to live. “Napa is beautiful, has great weather and it’s still possible to get close to nature here while enjoying some of the finer things in life, like good restaurants. And for now it’s still small enough to feel like a big town rather than a city,” she said cautiously. “I don’t know that trying to make it into a big city is going to make it better, just bigger. I like knowing my neighbors and I love

Submitted photo

Kathleen Thomas ballooning

my Old Town neighborhood for its beauty and its history. I don’t want to lose any of that,” McKinne said. McKinne has a few ideas of where the city should go. “Napa needs to find a balance between new development and preservation in the cities and the county. I don’t think we want to ‘pave paradise and put up a parking lot’ nor do I think we can freeze this moment in time,” she said. “We have to take a hard look at some of the regional factors that are putting pressure on us, and all of the Bay Area, and try to find our own solutions to some of those problems. I don’t think one size fits all when it comes to fixing traffic and housing, but clearly some work needs to be done in those areas.” Although noting it was beyond her control, she wishes one thing for the area: “If I could change one thing I would make the natural disasters, like fires and earthquakes, go away,” she said emphatically. As for the writer of this article, I am 67 and am presently I am a freelance journalist and adjunct professor at Chico State. I spent my high school and college years growing up in Napa in the 1960s, returned to live here for several years in the 1980s, and have finally come home here to retire, so I may be more aware of the changes than others. The first most obvious change that’s impossible to miss is the cost of living. It has skyrocketed, particularly in the area of housing, which makes it very difficult to live here if you have not been a homeowner all along. And,

Submitted photo

JohnTuteur is an avid cyclist

nothing affects your quality of life more than where you hang your hat. With the growth restrictions and the fact my big earning days are well behind me, that will not change in my lifetime. Yes, Napa has many more highend restaurants than it once did, and yet I never had a problem with the restaurants we had in the 1980s or even the 1960s. The main difference now is I can rarely afford to eat out. All of the above has led to an inevitable change in the culture and nature of the populace here. It is definitely swinging towards the nouveau riche, and forcing out the old guard little by little. Although I came back this time to be close to family, I may well be one of those people forced out by the high cost of housing in the not too distant future. Of course, many in my age group here have enjoyed great careers, invested well, and most importantly, have owned their own homes in Napa all along setting themselves up for a cozy retirement. Even though I can afford to eat at Napa’s chic new eateries, I would give anything for the days of an Alfredo’s Pizza, Chic’s Burger or grilled cheese at the Woolworth lunch counter. It’s impossible not to reminisce about the good old days in Napa, and as many have pointed out, good they were. All the new eateries, hotels and fancy retail shops cannot change that. Kirk Kirkpatrick is spending his retirement as a freelance writer and college instructor.

Napa Regional Dance Company presents

Come Celebrate the Season with

Napa Regional Dance Company’s Seventeenth Annual Nutcracker Production Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Theater in Yountville, CA December 16 – 2:00 p.m. & 7:00 p.m. December 17 – 2:00 p.m. Tickets: $35-$45 TICKETS ON SALE NOW! Lincoln Theater Box Office 707.944.9900 Online at: www.lincolntheater.org w w w.naparegionaldance.com 27

portraits . events landscapes . wine . food



How good we have it JENNIFER HUFFMAN jhuffman@napanews.com

40- and 50-somethings reflect on life in in the Napa Valley


hether Napa transplant or Napa native – most locals can agree on one thing: They know how good they’ve got it. “There not a day that goes by that I don’t pinch myself and say I can’t believe I live here,” said Kim Northrop, 53, of Napa. Napa is “a jewel” of a place to raise family in, said Lori Wear, 44, Napan. “There are people that would give their right arm to live in such a beautiful valley,” said Napa local Kip Atchley, 60. Napa has a Normal Rockwell feel to it, said Joe Brasil, 45, of Napa. “We’re lucky in so many ways.” “I’m so grateful to live in this town,” said Rachael Clark, 49, longtime Napan. In a series of interviews with Napans in their mid-40s to early 60s, residents offered a wide ranging view of “their” city. They appreciate the small town feel and community connection. At the same time, they also worry about losing those same qualities, while the city grows. Wear moved to Napa in 2000 and eventually started her own business called Spinelle Fine Jewelers. Today, she is also the mother of twin toddlers. “What attracted me to Napa was the sense of community,” she said. “I looked around and thought, ‘Oh my goodness, this is the perfect family community.’” Unlike in a larger city or urban area, in Napa, “you can still go places and know quite a few people and have direct relationships.” “When we came here in ‘72 it was amazing,” recalled Clark, who is a local realtor. “We had a real small town feel. All our neighbors knew each other, our parents would parent each other’s kids and we could have meals at each other’s houses. It was a community,” she said. Atchley recalled moving to Napa in the early 1960s as a young child. “Life was much simpler, safer and less complex,” said Atchley, who is now a local entrepreneur and Napa Nissan employee. He remembered riding in cars around town without wearing seat belts, picking “lots and

Napan Joe Brasil with his two daughters. He’s lived in Napa since 1998.

lots of prunes,” visiting his favorite mom and pop merchants, raising animals for 4-H, swimming at Vichy Springs and going to see movies at the drive-in theater in Napa. “When the first McDonalds opened in Napa on Jefferson Street it felt that Napa was starting to ‘grow up,’” he said. Northrop, who previously lived in Cincinnati, has lived in Napa for 18 years. “I had come to Napa on my 30th birthday and I fell in love with it,” she said. “I’m a happy transplant,” said Northrop, who owns Betty’s Girl Couture and Betty’s

Brie Buhman photo

Girl Napa. “I love the outdoor part of it. But I also love that I’m surrounded by entrepreneurial people,” such as artists, business owners and “people following their dreams.” Her social group of friends “are very much Napa lovers,” said Northrop. Brasil was born in Vallejo, grew up in Fresno and first moved to Napa after enrolling at Napa Valley College. He worked for the Napa Valley Register for Please see Gen-X, Page 30


GEN-X From Page 29

nine years, but has been a realtor since 2004. “I love it,” he said of Napa. “As a realtor I see people from everywhere coming to Napa and wanting to be here. That’s just makes me feel like I’m blessed to be here.” When Brasil’s clients ask what it’s like to live in Napa, “I tell them it’s a real community,” he said. Whether running into people at Trader Joe’s or at a Friday night football game, there’s always a connection. Plus, Napa is not just all about restaurants and wineries. “It’s a real town,” said Brasil. “It’s a place you can really live. We have a hospital, doctors, Target, a movie theater… all the conveniences.” But as those conveniences have been added, so have new challenges for the city. Brasil wondered if city services were keeping up with the growth. “Our streets, especially downtown, are still pothole ridden. We have issues with code enforcement. We’re experiencing some growing pains and I don’t know if the city will get to a point where they can keep up,” said Brasil. “I feel like there is a definite shift that is happening with the tourism component,” said Wear. The sense of community she felt in Napa when she first moved here has changed, she noted. “The community is still there,” she said. “It’s intact, but I want to focus on keeping it intact before it slips from us. We don’t want to turn into Yountville or St. Helena,”

Submitted image

Napa resident Lori Wear said the city is the ideal place to raise her young twins.

Wear said. “We’re kind of at a crossroads,” said Wear. “It can go one of two ways. It could go in the direction of all tourism,” she said. Or locals can work together to retain that sense of community. “I’m cool with tourism,” said Wear. “But we need to keep focus,” on accommodating both visitors and locals. “Why can’t we have it all?” “It’s like a marriage. We have to choose to work on our marriage, our community too. It can be done.” Clark said she does not like seeing the increase in hotels in the downtown Napa area. “We have lost the mom and pop stores,” she said. “We don’t have Brewster’s, the Napa Valley Emporium, McCaulou’s.” Today, downtown “is geared more towards tourism,” said Clark. Housing costs are another significant issue, said Atchley. “I don’t know how people who make minimum wage survive,” paying Napa housing costs, he said. Then there’s the traffic. “In the last few years it’s significantly

J.L.Sousa, Register

Kip Atchley of Napa has lived in Napa since the ‘60s. The entrepreneur is pictured here with one of his business ideas, a Napa Valley Doggie Diner.


increased,” said Atchley. “You used to not have to wait through three cycles of stoplights to get through an intersection. On the weekends it’s almost impossible to go across traffic up valley.” Wear thinks Napa could offer some kind of rent control to help support small businesses, “so they can swim with the sharks,” or the national retailers who have deeper pockets and can afford higher lease rates. “We need to stop building overpriced hotels,” said Clark. “Napa needs affordable housing,” for its workforce. Atchley said he hopes the local government can help encourage more affordable housing, or even micro-housing. It’s something he would personally like to help develop. Brasil said that those that shun new affordable housing in their neighborhoods need to be more flexible. “That needs to be spread out, in my opinion. That creates some balance in the community,” said Brasil. The city should do all it can to

Submitted image

Kim Northrop of Napa designs and sells clothing at her two local businesses: Betty’s Girl Couture and Betty’s Girl Napa. She’s pictured here with her step-daughter who is wearing a custom Betty’s Girl design.

accommodate the small businesses that give Napa its character and its charm, said Northrop. “Small business owners create the fabric of the valley,” said Northrop. When people come to Napa, they want an authentic experience, she said. “They can shop at Anthropologie at home. But they can’t shop at Betty’s Girl at home.” “My hope is that we are able to maintain that local feel and flavor but also continue to be attractive to more and more people,” said Northrop. “It’s finding that balance. We don’t want to become cookie cutter,” she said. “We don’t want to become Walnut Creek.” Jennifer Huffman is the business editor of the Napa Valley Register.

Submitted image

Rachael Clark and her niece Emma Brooks at the 2015 July Fourth parade in Napa.

Submitted photo

Kip Atchley and his dog, Miss Poodles.



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Can we maintain

THE GOOD LIFE? JESS LANDER As a millennial living in Napa, I’ve always felt a bit out of place. When I moved here from Boston for a job at the Napa Valley Register seven years ago, I was just 22 years old and drowning in the culture shock of small town life. Finding other friends my age was tough and people often asked me what I was doing there, when Napa was a place to retire, not start your adult life. Where was the nightlife? The Apple store? Why is the airport so far away? I never thought I’d still be here seven years later, but I’ve since gotten married and settled into this town that’s grown on me immensely. Napa has also come a long way in that short time— there’s Uber, a Bevmo, and soon even a Costco (so they say)—and I personally love the renaissance it’s undergoing, with new restaurants, bars, tasting rooms and shops to check out every week. We still don’t have that Apple store, but I’ve managed. At least I have my choice of five airports. Elana Hill, 34, grew up in Napa, but took a 14-year hiatus after high school (most of which was spent in L.A.), pursuing her degree and living as a professional artist. She was admittedly a bit weary to leave the big city life when she moved back to Napa two years ago. “Napa was really small, downtown didn’t really exist at that time. It was basically a couple of yarn shops, The Beaded Nomad and an old department store,” she recalled of her childhood. “Growing up, when people came, everything was Upvalley. Downtown Napa wasn’t cute; you didn’t stay there.”

Charles Yeo and his wife Krystie at Farmstead in St. Helena

But she too has settled back in, enjoying the benefits of both country life and city life at once. “Where I live, it’s rural, quiet, peaceful, but because there’s stuff to do at night, I’m getting the best of both worlds: the benefits of being in a city, but getting to live in the country. I was pleasantly surprised by how much there was to do,” she said. And yet, with that growth comes some consequences. Fo r i n s t a n c e , C h r i s t i n a

Nicholson, 32, grew up in Calistoga and has spent most of her life in Napa Valley, and she’s a bit saddened to see her hometown lose some of the familial farming roots that it was so proudly built on. “Before it was all very family owned, family-farmer driven, and it was always kind of dominated by a couple big families, like the Trincheros and Mondavis,” said Nicholson. “Now it’s a lot more, I don’t want to say commercial, but developed, and more densely

Submitted photo

visited. There’s not a lot of family farmers anymore. Families are getting bought or pushed out, and a lot of dot-commers, or foreign investors are kind of taking over.” Charles Yeo, 34, relocated to Napa from Orange County with his wife in 2011 seeking the small town life of his childhood. Both are teachers in the Napa Valley Unified School District and recently welcomed their first Please see Millennials, Page 34



child, a girl. “When I first came up here, it was super different from where we came from. In Orange County, everything is right next to each other, but here, you can live in the suburbs, but still feel like you’re far away from the big city, the traffic and all that,” said Yeo. But as development in Napa is booming, he’s feeling a sense of deja vu creeping in, fearing that the town headed in the same direction of the home they left behind. “I feel like it’s trying to be something that it was never meant to be. It’s expanding far too much. There’s breweries opening up, all these restaurants opening up, there’s more houses being built, and I think it’s turning into something that obviously business owners like, but not something Napa residents like,” he said. “I grew up in a small town too, and I know the feeling of how big city things or big city ideas can come and basically destroy a way of life.” Although Yeo understands the economical pros of this growth, he also pinpoints some inevitable drawbacks, including increased traffic congestion and crime rate. His family moved here for the quiet, and Napa is undeniably turning up the volume. Hill on the other hand, believes Napa can have its cake and eat it too, in other words, handle the growth, and still keep its rural side. “I really believe in a European structure of developing town centers, with rural areas around them. I’d much rather have a 10-story building in downtown Napa—as long as they have parking—but if you can keep it super central, it’s going to benefit the restaurants and shops, while protecting the spaces in between,” she said. “I like that it’s difficult to get permits to build and the land is super protected, and I think downtown Napa can handle being bigger.” Yet across the board, the main outcry from millennials when it comes to Napa’s growth is that there’s a severe lack of affordable housing. While many lucky friends of mine, like Yeo, could now cash 34

Submitted photo

Christina Nicholson with her mother Maggie in downtown Calistoga.

Submitted photo

Author Jess Lander, left tastes wine with out-of-town friend Sammie Nunziata.

Submitted photo

Christina Nicholson, left, tasting wine at Ladera Vineyards with her mother Maggie, right, and a friend.

in big on investments they made just a handful of years ago, my husband and I find ourselves with extremely limited options. Basically, if we want to stay in Napa Valley, we’re going to have to continue to rent (at least for now), but even the rental prices aren’t easily manageable. According to Zillow, “Napa home values have gone up 3.5

percent over the past year and Zillow predicts they will rise 0.7 percent within the next year. The median price of homes currently listed in Napa is $733,000. The median rent price in Napa is $2,700.” If half of our income goes to rent, how will we ever save up enough to buy a house in the current seller’s market?

Elana Hill

Submitted photo

Jess Lander is a freelance writer and former sports reporter for the Napa Valley Register.

Thank you very much

to the 8,000 donors near and far who are helping us assist those affected by the Napa fires through the Disaster Relief Fund at Napa Valley Community Foundation.

The Disaster Relief Fund was established with a $10 million lead gift from Napa Valley Vintners following the 2014 South Napa Earthquake.

To learn more, please visit www.napavalleycf.org 35

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NAPA’S 2017 HOLIDAY ACTIVITIES SCHEDULE Not that we need reminders, but disasters like the October fires remind us how important friends and family are – first among all else. Thanksgiving and Christmas are perfect times to come together and celebrate both. The festivities in Napa begin with the annual Christmas Tree Lighting in Veterans Park. Wednesday, November 22nd at 6 p.m., Jill Techel will lead the community and light the tree. Enjoy free cookies and hot chocolate, and holiday entertainment that will warm your heart. The Christmas parade is Saturday, November 25th at 5 p.m. The theme of this year’s parade is “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Three cash awards of $500 each will be given to the parade judges’ choices in three categories: Best Use of Lights, Best Theme-Oriented, and Best Use of Music. Anyone can enter the parade, and it’s free to do so. “Although winners can come from anywhere, a lot of non-profits have benefited from these awards over the years,” said Steve Pierce, owner of the Executive Room Barber Shop and president of the Downtown Napa Association, the primary parade sponsor. Whether you choose to build an elaborate float, simply march along with your group, or just watch, the Napa Christmas parade is a hometown tradition that has grown over the years. The parade begins on Second Street at School, east on Second to Brown, north to Third, and east back to School Street. The Grand Marshals for the 2017 parade are Greg Cole and Beth Fairbairn, co-founders of Celadon and Cole’s Chop House. The husband and wife team opened Celadon in 1996. Cole’s industry peers opined that a restaurant would never succeed in sleepy downtown Napa, and told him that it was a mistake. The two took the plunge anyway, living off of Beth’s nurse’s salary while working long hours to get the new restaurant up and running. In 2000, Cole’s Chop House opened. Despite the early skepticism of some, both restaurants prospered with rave reviews. Greg and Beth have always made giving back to the community a priority, and have generously supported numerous local causes including Napa Valley Education Foundation, Reach for the Stars, Napa County Hispanic Network, Napa Valley Museum, Napa Valley College Foundation, NEWS and COPE. Honoring them as Grand Marshals for their contributions to downtown Napa and the community is a natural. For the second year, the parade is being presented by the team from Napa Printing, Design Studio & Mail Center. The company was founded by Bob Johnstone in 1981, who made giving to the community a cornerstone of the business. John Dunbar went to work there in 1997 and purchased the company in 2000, when Johnstone retired. “As a company Napa Printing is honored to support the community. We have a vested interest in continuing to try and keep Napa a great

place to live as well as a great place in which to do business.” For six years, the Kiwanis Club of Napa has been very involved with the parade. Their members handle the parade set-up, do all the judging for awards, and emcee the event. Without Kiwanis, there would be no parade. This year’s parade will follow the same route as last – down Second from School, right on Brown, right again on Third and back to School. Judging will occur on Third, just west of Brown. Santa will be in the Big Chair in the breezeway of the Napa Riverfront Building on Main Street immediately after the parade. Everything is free. Parade applications can be found at donapa.com or by calling 257-0322. Other Christmas events include:


Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. December through Christmas Eve Free Gather your friends and family and enjoy a free Holiday trolley ride in downtown Napa. Hop on or off at any of four stops. The Christmasdecorated trolley will be playing music of the season as it travels between four regular stops –at the Oxbow Public Market, Historic Napa Mill, First & School Streets near the Andaz Hotel, and at Main & Pearl Streets.


Saturday, December 9th Free Downtown buildings will be ablaze in art. Check out the Napa Parks and Rec website for times and specifics.


Veteran’s Park Sunday, December 16th Performance from 2:00 to 4:00 PM Free Tuba Christmas is a series of concerts presented throughout the world and now downtown Napa is one of the locations. Traditional Christmas music is performed by over 50 tuba and euphonium players. A unique and wonderful way to get into the holiday spirit.


Thursdays, Dec. 7, 14 and 21st, 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Napa River Inn at the Hatt Building Free Bring your friends and family and enjoy free horse drawn carriage rides through downtown Napa. Carriages depart every fifteen minutes. Visit DoNapa.com for details about all events



Submitted photo

Author Jolene Markarian surveys the Napa Valley.


SAFETY, BEAUTY but bemoan lack of youth-friendly activities JOLENE MARKARIAN


apa is world-renowned for its wine and gorgeous scenery. Both the tourists and the locals take advantage of those by going on nature walks and visiting bars. It’s an amazing place and people are always constantly flocking to wineries or downtown Napa. But what about the people under 18? The teens, who are thinking about college and starting to live their lives? What do they think about Napa?


“Well, I think, personally, it’s a fine place, if you are an adult,” Marcus Lex, a junior in high school said. Many teens believe that Napa is centered on wine too much. When asked about their complaints about the town, most answered that there is “There is too much focus on the wine.” The tourism in Napa affects things that the locals can do, especially if the tourism is based on wine. It also affects the youth

of the town because they are unable to do the number one thing Napa offers: wine. This leaves them bored because they have nothing to do. When asked about what they hope in the area as they get older, they hope to be able to participate and enjoy what comes out of Napa. “Just let us drink wine already. Wine is the biggest reason to come to Napa.” Lex said. He said growing up in Napa

wasn’t always the best, but it has been interesting. “But that’s because I’m always preoccupied with school and extracurriculars,” like football. When asked to predict where Napa will be in the future, teens answered that Napa will still be centered around wine and tourism, maybe even more than today. Downtown is expanding will most likely expand further, whether the locals like it or not. But Napa will still be a

Irlanda Silva Falcon Lori Sarsfield

Submitted photo

tight-knit community and will still care for its environment, hosting events and trying to find things for everyone to do. “As a teenager, Napa is just a small town with beautiful scenery.” Irlanda Silva-Falcon, a senior, said. “It’s definitely home, and it’s where I’ve been half of my life. I consider the community to be really open-minded and friendly.” Teens feel that Napa is a very safe place, where everyone is caring to one another. Maybe it’s because of the small-town tourism? It’s just different then other places. Silva-Falcon has lived in Mexico, Vallejo, Fairfield, and Suisun in the past and she thinks that Napa is a much better place to live compared to those. “Napa is beautiful, it’s such a calm town and I like to feel safe,” she said. She wants to major in film studies in college and says she will probably leave Napa to get the practice and the skills needed for her career, because Napa doesn’t offer the resources she needs. “However, I do plan to come back after college,” she said. “I have a dream of purchasing a house here in Napa, so I have to come back.” Due to the emphasis on tourism, Napa is known to be an extremely expensive place to live. Not only is it difficult for young

Lindesy Lindenau

people to find things to do here, it is also difficult for them to live here when they are just starting out. “As a child I used go out and play with the kids in the neighborhood.” Lindsey Lindenau, senior at Napa’s New Technology High School, recalls. “I loved playing by the water and finding water skippers and fish. I still like visiting the streets occasionally. Though now I spend most of my hours at home. There is nothing else for someone who is a teen and poor to do.” Lindenau also plans to eventually come back to Napa to work, but she wants to commute from a nearby town. She loves Napa because of the community but she’s “tired of living poor.” She hopefully plans to live here when she gets enough money to live in Napa.

Submitted photo

Submitted photo

“There’s more options here than Sonoma, the town is a lot bigger, and not everyone knows who you are.” And she thinks that neither good or bad, but just different. But Napa is a very nice town, and many are happy to grow up here. It used to be a small town, and some wish that it was back to the way it was. “I liked the small-town vibe that came from it years ago and I have to say I now dislike what it has become,” Jesse Ortiz, a senior, said. “I haven’t decided whether or not I will stay in Napa” once he graduates. He also believes that many of the younger generation look at their phones instead of doing something, which kinds of ruins the point of having activities for them. Lori Sarsfield, a senior, is really happy about living in Napa and how nice and familiar the community is. “I like going to local places like Ben & Jerry’s where I see the same people working there, the owner is really nice. Small things like that make me feel like I’m at home, not in a densely populated tourist attraction. We’re super lucky to live in such an expensive, beautiful area.” “Napa is a great place to live,” she adds. “There’s lots of tightly knit communities, great schools, and beautiful scenery.”

Teens wish there was more places that they can go to in Napa. There is the bowling alley and the movie theater, but teens get bored of them quickly. Maybe if there were a mini golf course, a laser tag center or any others cheap places to go to for entertainment, they would be much happier. Collectively, they also wish there was cheaper places to eat. Fast food is cheap, but isn’t the best, and the restaurants downtown are usually too expensive. “I think Napa is a beautiful town if you go to the right places,” Leslie Jimenez Aceves, a junior, said. “but I think that it is very expensive to live here. Also, there’s not much places to go to hang out.” She has been raised in Sonoma and she thinks “Napa is better Jolene Markarian is a senior at than Sonoma in its own way.” New Tech High School in Napa.


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ave you ever dreamed of living in a French country manor, but don’t want to have to leave the country in search of your dream home? Located at 1050 Olive Hill Rd, sits a gated, private estate just waiting for you. In the heart of beautiful the Napa

Valley countryside resides a French country manor, occupying 5.14 acres with panoramic views of vineyards, Mt. George and the surrounding hills. It can be yours for the price of $9.8 million. This single family home was built in 2003. At 5,284 square feet, “This French Countr y Residence encompasses a Napa Valley feel that embraces family and social lifestyles,” says Real Estate Agent, Please see French, Page 50


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Mark Lesti of Windermere Napa Valley Properties. You will enter the home through nine-foot wood/iron/ glass entry doors into a round vestibule with a large chandelier. Within a few steps you enter a parlor with a wood/gas fireplace. The first floor also has a family room with a 20-foot ceiling, a floor-to-ceiling wood/gas fireplace, and a built-in entertainment center that is open to the gourmet kitchen with two islands and top of the line appliances, The property surrounding it contains an in-ground, gas heated pool and pool house, with bocce court. Also, an outdoor kitchen with pizza oven, and a vineyard that produces 450 to 550 cases-worth of high quality Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine can be enjoyed and stored in the properties’ wine and dining cave, that holds 1,000 bottles of wine. If it happens to be a nice,


sunny day outside, you may choose to have your meal either in the properties’ alfresco dining area or loggia. All of which you can expect to be served breakfast, lunch, brunch, or dinner from the outdoor kitchen and serving bar. The home is perfect for

entertaining and guests can either stay at the guest house or any one of the three bedrooms, which have their own private bathrooms. The grounds, like many properties in the Napa Valley, were originally planted in prune orchards but have since been replaced with vineyards and

olive trees. “The owners Frank and Fran Grasso, love their home and have enjoyed hosting wonderful parties for their family and friends,” Lesti said. It is the perfect property to entertain. However, they feel it is time to transition to the next wonderful chapter of their lives.”

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CrossFit becomes a community, a way of life JESS LANDER


ven if you haven’t tried it, chances are you’ve heard a lot about it. Founded in 2000, Crossfit has since grown into a worldwide phenomenon. It’s not just a workout; it’s a way of life for some and a competitive sport, with its own annual, televised competition, the CrossFit Games. There are currently more than 10,000 CrossFit affiliated gyms across the United States alone, including a few in Napa Valley. “CrossFit is without question, the most effective method for getting your body fit and strong on the planet,” said Beth Rypins, a former captain of the US Women’s World Champion Whitewater Team and owner of Napa’s first CrossFit gym, Wine Country CrossFit. She’s been doing


Weights at Crush Fitness St. Helena

CrossFit for 12 years and opened the gym nine years ago. “People feel themselves get stronger, even by the end of Week 1 they start feeling changes, and they feel changes from the head to the waist to the toes.” Rypins says this is because of

J.L. Sousa, Register

the unique way CrossFit incorporates strength and conditioning elements and exercises from multiple training programs, like high-intensity interval training (HIIT), Olympic weightlifting and gymnastics, to name a few. Moreover, a wide range of

fitness equipment is used throughout each CrossFit workout, including barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, jump ropes and gymnastics rings. This variability is what keeps CrossFit fun and exciting, according to Ignacio “Nacho” Franco, owner of Franco Fitness, a Napa CrossFit gym, and the Napa High School wrestling coach for the past 21 years. “It’s always constantly varied, it’s challenging and it’s never the same, that’s the beauty of it. You need to have exercise be fun; it’s what makes working out something you look forward to doing every single day,” said Franco, who started his CrossFit business after seeing the immediate impact it had on his wrestlers’ performance. Workouts are generally an hour and comprised of a warm-up, skill development section, the workout of the day (WOD), and stretching.

J.L. Sousa photos, Register

J.L. Sousa/Register

Matt Cia, left, and Ruben Perez are co-owners of Crush Fitness St. Helena. They describe their business as a functional fitness facility offering bootcamp, crossfit, endurance and yoga classes.

Ignacio, left, and Manya Franco are co-owners of Franco Fitness “100ProofCrossFit” on South Coombs Street in Napa. They are a CrossFit affiliate providing constantly varied functional movement performed at high intensity.

The goal isn’t just weight loss, but to also build overall strength, mobility and self confidence, improve sports performance and for some, simply be able to move more efficiently throughout your day-to-day. Daniel Gomez Sanchez, 38, started CrossFit three years ago at Wine Country CrossFit. “I got really, really out of shape, to the point where it was uncomfortable to bend down and pick up my daughter. I just knew I needed to change that,” said the busy chef de cuisine of La Toque. “It’s one hour a day, so if you’re really

Cancer Run and took second. It’s completely changed everything for me,” he said. Although it may sound intimidating, CrossFit isn’t just for advanced athletes. Anyone from kids to seniors can do it to reach their individual goals. Even though the workout is done in a group setting, each person’s CrossFit workout is scaled by the coaches to their level and abilities. “The community that you have in a CrossFit environment makes you realize that nobody is expecting you to be a high-level athlete,” said Franco. “Everyone is there to make a healthy lifestyle change. Everyone was on Day 1 at one point.” That “community’ Franco

busy like I am, it’s convenient to have that one hour where you get in, get out. There’s always a coach, it’s all programmed, so you show up, the workout is written on the board, and there’s someone there to guide you and motivate you. At the end of the hour, you leave and go on with your busy day.” He said he’s since lost 45 pounds and made incredible advancements on his mobility. “When I started, it was difficult to squat, and do a lot of things, and I’ve gotten that back. I can squat, touch my toes, move again. I went from barely being able to run, to last week, I ran the 5k for the Zero Prostate

speaks of happens to be one of the largest, most passionate fitness tribes in the world, bonded together by a mutual, arguably-healthy addiction to pushing their bodies further than they ever imagined. “There’s a bonding that happens because you’re sharing this intense experience called CrossFit,” said Rypins. “You’re working out hard together, sweating together, and because of that shared experience, we’re all part of the same tribe. We share this drive to better ourselves each day through CrossFit, and that sense of belonging to this tribe creates a sense of community.” Try it out



The Harvest Adoration COLIN MCPHAIL

Why the fall is the Napa Valley star season


id you ever watch one of those vast shoals of small fish suddenly darting this way and that in unison? How do they all know what to do, and which way to go? I ponder on this again as the roads swell to overflowing in Napa Valley during harvest. Everyone seems to have the same idea and they all suddenly appear, darting in unison from winery to winery. Someone asked me recently, “Why is it so busy in Napa during harvest?” It seemed a rather obvious question at first, but then you start to think about it and it merits answering. What is the ‘Shoal Think’ behind this phenomenon? The answer is in the symbolic power of harvest. Every year I take pictures of crush for my own amusement, and sometimes for the benefit of those I am working with. I have been struck more than once by how the sight of a small crew hard at work in the cellar at harvest feels like the many nativity scenes I remember from childhood. Mary, the winemaker, nurtures the arrival. The owner is a Joseph, fretting around the manger. The international interns get to be the Magi, bringing their exotic languages and habits from other climes to our cellars. Each year this repeated cycle of life creates a new entity. It will have its own personality and allows us to keep talking and writing about the same product again and again. There will be updated tasting notes and new sales conversations. They will be laced with details of how the heat did this, or the early rain did that. We can mesmerize the visitor with the small complexities. These


Colin McPhail

details then validate the cerebral sophistication of this year’s purchase investment. The approaching wine is also wreathed in a ritual welcome. Winery owners decry all the vagaries of the weather and the season for that vintage. They do not want to have the ‘evil eye’ cast upon their work. Then after 18 months in barrel they will laud the wines that emerge from the darkness as superlative as the ones that came before it – in some clever way. We yearn for this ritual in our lives, for tradition, and for meaning. Why else would the ‘7th inning stretch’ be the best thing that ever happened in an American sport? Or why would we travel across country to sit in Nowheresville USA in a camper van, with a vast crowd of others, to look at our moon passing in front of our sun for a tiny moment in time? Movie theatres have survived videos, and DVD’s, and still hold up pretty well against Netflix and Hulu. Turns out we want to sit in the dark with strangers and share some emotions, gasp, laugh, and cry together. We are drawn to feel part of something bigger than ourselves, while still feeling we have made an individual choice to participate.

for harvest, it was awesome!” You made it to the agricultural Superbowl. You got to see the weary gladiators of the crush pad and see their battle scars up close and personal. You got to watch the black pearls drop from the destemmer. You picked a few berries and tasted them so that the DNA of 2017 harvest became part of you. Who could blame anyone for wanting all that – no wonder it’s so busy at harvest. The rest of the year our cellars and crush pads are romantic, but frankly rather dull and sterile by comparison. At harvest the dragon awakes and breathes fire into the air. Lest the “Wineries have ruined Napa Valley” crowd start nodding sagely, I must interject that there are many entities complicit in this yearly drama. Hotels, restaurants, marketing organizations, press, media and many other service providers stand to make a lot more coin per head than wineries do from these harvest disciples. They have promoted this agrarian adulation of harvest just as heavily, if not more so, than the wineries. Inconveniences aside, I think we should throw open our doors to this harvest celebration and welcome the many travelers who seek it out. It is a blessing to be made aware of the season and have nature give you markers that so beautifully illustrate the passage of time in your life. The wine vintage itself may not actually be that important in the end. But feeling the breath of the land heave and fall is an annual rhythm to be cherished. We are lucky, those of us who are connected to this industry. As we inhale and exhale at harvest time, we are indeed part of something grand.

Being in Napa Valley for harvest means being part of something that is big. We have not lost our primal urges; we can feel the power and energy of harvest. It is nature and humanity in their dance, it smells, it’s sticky and tactile, and the sounds of hard endeavor reverberate at every property visited. Most importantly the end result is expensive and has stature. If it was corn or walnuts, the crowds would not be here with eyes like saucers. The more luster we add to these coveted trophies the greater the desire to see them birthing will be. Every time I read ‘Super Ultra-Premium Boutique Cabernet’ I feel slightly despondent, but this is where we are. The great thing about harvest is that it’s not as dangerous as going to Pamplona, but you still get to brag about your athletic prowess when you get home. The bulls you run with are the other ‘big hitters’ who join you in the narrow, congested confines of Highway 29 and Silverado Trail, bumping and jostling each other as you hurtle from one wine experience to the Colin MacPhail is a wine connext. sultant and writer who lives in “Yes, we were in Napa Valley Calistoga.

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J.L. Sousa, Register

Warren and Barbara Magee, front row, have owned Custom House Furniture since 1958 and have been at the current Trancas Street location since 1968. Their son Michael Magee, standing left, is the general manager and Tony Shroyer, standing right, is the warehouse manager.

Custom House Furniture K I R K K I R K PAT R I C K

Napa’s family-owned, oldest local furniture store sticks to successful formula


hen Gene and Florence Noriss built a new building for Custom House Furniture on Napa’s north side in 1968, locals were telling the couple they wouldn’t make it, according to son-inlaw and current owner, Warren Magee. “There was very little in North Napa at that time,” Magee said, “but the folks knew the 58

city couldn’t really expand east or west, and was unlikely to go south, so it had to grow north eventually.” Almost 50 years later, the local institution founded in 1958 remains a thriving family-owned and operated business. “When I joined the business in 1970,” Magee shared, “there were four or five local furniture stores in Napa and we’re the only one left.” Magee, who operates the venerable store with the original owners’ daughter, Barbara, has welcomed the couple’s son Michael to the business. “We’ve always wanted to keep this a family business,” he asserted.

“We deal in medium to higher end product lines,” said Magee, “the advantage of carrying quality furniture is you’re going to have less trouble with it over time. We don’t carry the brands where you are likely to have issues right after you buy it. We’ve discontinued several brands for that reason.” “Most furniture will have warranties, but if you do have issues with anything, we go back to the factory for you. You don’t have to get involved with returns and such. I’m the factory’s customer, and you are buying from me. Factories don’t want to deal with individual customers, so we take care of that. We always treat our customers the way we want to be

treated,” Magee said. But the store does a lot more than sell furniture. It also sells custom draperies, blinds, shades, shutters, upholstery, pillows, bed ensembles, headboards and laminate or hardwood flooring. “We do a tremendous amount of window coverings,” Magee stated, “everything from shutters to drapes or swags, and we’ll install them for you. Many come with remotes these days, and you can even open or close your drapes remotely if you’re not home.” Magee says you don’t have to go to a chain or big box store to find value. “We never sell anything at

a full retail markup and try to always give the customer a better product at a lower price. That’s the way we’ve always done it,” he said. “We’re noticing with the advent of a lot of cheaper furniture stores that young people seem to have a little more of a disposable mentality. They’ll buy it, use it for a couple of years, and when it wears out they’ll go get another one.” Magee made it clear that’s not the kind of furniture Custom House carries. The store will also visit your home and make interior design recommendations. “My wife, Barbara, does design consulting and helps with everything from color choices to space planning,” Magee noted. Magee said that Napa is still a small town and the store is largely dependent on repeat business and referrals from loyal customers. “I think a store like ours is going to do pretty well in the years ahead,” he said, “because our emphasis is doing a nice job for our customers and keeping them happy.” Although he doesn’t completely rule out opening another location in Napa, he said Custom House is never going to be a multi-store chain because that’s not who they want to be. “Our business used to be primarily repeat customers,” Magee said, “but lately there have been a lot of new people moving to the Valley that we’ve helped. In fact, we’ve had several customers recently who moved out here from the East Coast who sold their homes as is, including the furniture, and came here needing to start over … It makes a lot of sense because it’s expensive to move a whole house full of furniture all the way across the country.” While the store maintains a website, Magee said they are not comfortable selling furniture sight unseen over the Internet. “People need to come in and experience the product themselves for such an important purchase,” he said, adding that you don’t have to purchase the

furniture on the floor like some store; you can special order different colors and features based on what you see at Custom House. “We help people update a lot, where they’ve had furniture for 25 years and it’s time for something new,” Magee said. “We help everyone from those who know exactly what they’re looking for, and also people who have J.L. Sousa, Register no idea.” Warren and Barbara Magee have owned Custom House Furniture since Magee also pointed out the store doesn’t have commission 1958 and have been at the current Trancas Street location since 1968. sales people so you can come in and take your time browsing without pressure. “If you just want to come in and look around, we won’t chase you all over the store,” he promised. “We welcome new customers,” Magee said, “but we’re still here because we know how important it is to take care of the customers we have.” Custom House Furniture is located at 706 Trancas Street. It’s open from 9 a.m. -5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Saturdays. Its phone number is 707224-5544, and the website is J.L. Sousa, Register customhousefurniture.com. A variety of window coverings at Custom House Furniture.

A variety of chairs at Custom House Furniture.

J.L. Sousa, Register


Are cannabis caves coming? HENRY LUTZ hlutz@napanews.com

Wine cave tunnelers would like to serve a growing new industry


ince the passage of Proposition 64 last year, speculation about the blooming marijuana industry somehow blending with the established local wine industry has reached a fever pitch. Among those with backgrounds in the Napa Valley wine industry now hoping to attract cross-industry interest is Cannabis Caves. Founded in the past year, the endeavor today is an unofficial extension of sorts from Glen Ragsdale Underground Associates, Inc., whose consulting and building credits include the caves of Pine Ridge Winery, Rombauer, Harlan Estates, Quintessa, Davis Estates and others. The brainchild of Graham Wozencroft, mining engineer for Glen Ragsdale Underground Associates, and Alan Skinner, president and CEO of VirtuaLabs, a design and infrastructure contractor, Cannabis Caves touts a vision of underground growing its founders contend is superior to outdoor growing in

terms of marijuana quality. “There’s already a large difference between those who grow bulk outdoors and those who grow high-quality, high-intensity material indoors, whether it’s medical or recreational,” said Skinner. Demand for high-quality marijuana is spurred in part by cannabis connoisseurs, Skinner said, similar “to those who drink wine and seek out the best wine and spend time, effort, money, vacations going around the country, going around the world and looking for this thing.” Indoor growing enables greater control over temperature, light sourcing, humidity, carbon dioxide and other growing variables, leading to more aesthetically pleasing flowers and higher concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, cannabis’s psychoactive compound, advocates say. The element of growing underground adds a layer of security and, Wozencroft speculated, may lend itself to what would be an easier permitting process than that for above-ground structures. “We’ll see how it goes, because it really hasn’t gone there yet,” he acknowledged. “But we think that that’s one of the big plusses.”

Glen Ragsdale Underground Associates, Inc.

Contractors with Glen Ragsdale Underground Associates blast shotcrete on the walls of the wine cave at Davis Estates, which opened last year.


While not its own company today, Cannabis Caves would contract work for any eventual clients through Glen Ragsdale Underground Associates, offering to excavate and build underground growing spaces, though Wozencroft also suggested ambitions of providing more for growers in terms of consultation. The endeavor has yet to find its first clients, but Skinner and Wozencroft are confident there will be interest at the Wine & Weed Symposium. “We’re definitely there to more than spread the word,” Wozencroft said. “We’re actually looking for active clients who are looking for solutions and we believe we’ve got solutions for them.” The hitch? Following legalization last November, Californians above the age of 21 can now use marijuana recreationally and grow up to six personal-use plants within their homes. But, it remains at the discretion of local governments to allow commercial marijuana growth in cities and unincorporated areas, leading to a patchwork of permissibility across the state. “It’s really a reflection of local community values and priorities,” said David Morrison, director of the Napa County Planning, Building and Environmental Services department. Napa County does not allow for the commercial cultivation of marijuana “indoors, outdoors, whatever,” Morrison said. The city of Napa also remains opposed to commercial growth, though the Napa City Council in May motioned its support for personal outdoor growing, with a vote expected in the fall. A month earlier, the Calistoga City Council approved outdoor growing of two of the six personal plants the state allows. Regarding the possibility of Napa County one day allowing commercial growths, “Most definitely we expect that that will happen,” Skinner said. For now though, he and Wozencroft anticipate the bulk of their prospective clients will likely come from Mendocino, Sonoma or Lake counties; areas that have been more receptive of the growing industry. As for marijuana one day taking a place alongside the long-established wine industry in Napa, Skinner said, “We don’t believe that wine and weed is vinegar and water ... and we think that there’s a place for both.” “I mean it’s the law now and it looks like it’s going to stay,” said Wozencroft. “And so this is an industry that’s certainly not going away and we think that we’d like to get involved.”

Napa Valley A Catholic High School in the Lasallian Tradition



Napa Police Chief Steve Potter Scariest movie ever: I don’t watch a lot of scary movies but “The Silence of the Lambs” is the one that sticks out in my mind. What’s your go-to day off: I really enjoy working around the house on my days off and spending time with my (adult) kids when they come to town. Favorite law enforcement-related TV show: I used to enjoy the series “Barney Miller” because the cops were humanized through comedy. Least favorite law enforcement-related TV show: “COPS.” Is it still on? It’s just not how I see law enforcement in Napa. What’s with all the cheesecake: I have a recipe that everyone seems to love. When I start making one, I generally make several to share — and I don’t have any problem giving them away. What’s top on your retirement bucket list: Community involvement! I am currently involved with several non-profits and a mentoring program but I would like to give back to our community because of all of the support I have received through my career. What did you want to be when you grew up: I got hooked on law enforcement at a young age and I never really considered anything else. Last time you laughed out loud in the office: I find a lot of humor in life but I laugh on the inside, rarely out loud. Favorite part of your job: Interacting with people from all walks of life and getting to know them for who they are. Least favorite part of your job: Meetings that are not productive. Plain-clothes or uniform? Discuss: Uniform. I spent many years wearing plain-clothes and it worked for what I was doing at the time. Now I am out in the community a lot more and I wear a uniform almost every day. I want everyone to feel comfortable talking to a person in uniform and to try to correct some of the perceptions in our society. Weirdest place you ever vacationed: I can’t think of a weird place I vacationed but I did go to a conference in New Orleans shortly after Hurricane Katrina passed through. The town was still recovering and huge sections of it were still uninhabitable, but the food was excellent! Last time you got lost: As a kid we went camping at the Pipi Valley Campground. One day we went fishing in the streams with half of the family going one direction and the other half heading out the other direction. We did quite a bit of walking around in the dark that night until we finally found our way back in. Favorite pets: Dogs and pygmy goats. They all have great personalities and they are always happy to say hello. 62

J.L. Sousa, Register

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WINE DINE in the Napa Valley

Holidays 2017 65


Pemba Sherpa, left, is the chef and co-owner of Yak and Yeti restaurant in Napa, along with co-owner and manager Mingma Sherpa. The restaurant is located at 3150 Jefferson St.

The Yak and Yeti opens in Napa SASHA PAULSEN spaulsen@napanews.com

New restaurant serves the foods of Nepal and India


emba Sherpa notes that a lot of famous climbers have come from his village in Nepal, among them, Tenzing Norgay, who, with Sir Edmund Hillary, made the first ascent of Mt. Everest in 1953. “One of my cousins has climbed Mt. Everest 22 times,”


he added. Sherpa, however, preferred to take a different, and possibly more comfortable path in life: He went to culinary school and learned to cook. “Our parents did not have a choice,” Sherpa said. “But we have a choice.” Sherpa, with four partners, has opened a new restaurant in Napa, the Yak and Yeti, serving both Nepalese and Indian foods. This is his second restaurant venture; he also owns a Mexican

restaurant in Sonoma, where he lives and, with his wife, operates a restaurant delivery service. At the new restaurant on Jefferson Street, Sherpa and his brother, Gyalzen Sherpa, discussed what customers can expect to find at the Yak and Yeti, as Gyalzen Sherpa cooked up a plate of momo, the steamed dumplings that are a staple of Nepalese cuisine. A plate full of these neat little packages come in two variations, chicken ($15.95) or vegetarian,

(spinach, onion and cabbage, $13.50). Each is served with a tomato-based sauce, which, according to diners’ preferences, can be mild, medium or spicy. Spicy is, indeed, quite spicy. Much of the menu resembles an Indian restaurant offerings,with a variety of curries and tikka masala, as well as condiments including raita (homemade yogurt with cucumbers and spices ($4), mango chutney ($3.50) and mixed pickles ($3.50). The brothers have

Alu cauli kerau with garlic, cilantro naan from Yak and Yeti restaurant in Napa which serves Nepalese and India cuisine.

installed two Tandoori ovens to serve both meat and vegetarian sizzling platters of lamb, mixed grill, salmon, chicken and seasonal vegetables as well as naan, the Indian-style bread. There are, however, differences between the cuisine of Nepal and its giant neighbor to the south, India, Pemba Sherpa said. “It is mostly the way we use spices,” he said. “We use similar spices, but less.” And while Indian regional cuisine varies greatly from north to south and east to west, Nepal’s food traditions are also influenced by its other neighbors, Tibet and China. “For example,” he said, “on our menu you will see that one curry, Lukshya Ra Phing, is lamb curry served with glass noodles. That is from Tibet.” Another Nepalese dish on the menu of curries is Alu Bhanta, a Himalayan style curry of eggplant and potato. The curries, which include chicken, salmon, and garbanzo bean, range in price from $12.50 to $15.95 and and are served with rice (brown or basmati) and naan. The Tandoori items, too, get a Himalayan touch from the spices that are used in the yogurt marinade. The Tandoori platters range from $15.95 for the vegetarian to $25.95 for the rack of lamb,

which, the brothers agreed, “is the best way to eat lamb.” In Nepal too we have variations from village to village,” said Gyalzen Sherpa, who studied classic European cooking. “We have 64 to 67 different tribes, so we probably have that many ways of cooking rice.” The name of the restaurant

The tandoori rack of lamb sizzling platter from Yak and Yeti restaurant in Napa.

also comes from Nepali culture. “Every family has a yak,” Pemba Sherpa said. As for that yeti, they explained, that this popular folklore figure is reported to be a little hairy manlike creature. “Like your Big Foot, but shorter.” The Sherpas said that while they have never seen such a creature, their mother insisted she had, several times.

“We are planning to get two statues of a yak and a yeti to put at the door,” Pemba Sherpa said. Meanwhile, inside diners can view a picture of a yak — but no yeti. There are however, photos of those incomparable mountains. The Yak and Yeti is open daily, for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. at 3150 Jefferson St., Napa. Info, 707-666-2475.

Chicken momo, or steamed dumplings, served with tomato sauce from Yak and Yeti restaurant in Napa.




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Reservations: 707-255-5121 www.galpaogauchousa.com 68

A burger at Norman Rose Tavern in Napa. Submitted photo

Want to watch

FOOTBALL? 10 spots among the best in the valley

JESS LANDER The recipe for a great football viewing is simple: mix several big TV screens and the NFL Sunday Ticket, greasy bar food (preferably hot wings), and free flowing beer. Bonus points are awarded for Mimosas and Bloody Marys. Here are 10 establishments to in Napa Valley. Downtown Joe’s The award of most equipped sports bar

in town goes to Downtown Joe’s. Thanks to their 16+ TVs (and 14 satellites), Fantasy Football owners won’t miss a single play on Sundays, when in the spirit of Game Day, bloody mary’s are aptly garnished with a chicken wing. Open daily at 8 a.m., you can snag the best seats early and enjoy breakfast (I Please see Football, Page 70


FOOTBALL From Page 69

recommend the Banana Foster French Toast), or wait for the lunch menu, packed with football-friendly delights like buffalo chicken wings, potato skins, multiple burger options and Joe’s in-house brews to wash down another season of 49ers woes. 902 Main St., Napa, downtownjoes.com The Meritage Resort & Spa Crush Lounge The Crush Lounge had me at their Bloody Mary Bar. But if you’re still not convinced, they’ve also got a dozen big screens, all day food and drink specials, pre-game breakfast offered until 1 p.m., and the RedZone channel for Fantasy addicts. Munch on elevated bar food, like Smoked Maple Honey Wings and a Crab Cake BLT, and then fit in a game of bowling, shuffleboard or billiards at halftime. Hot wings at Napa Palisades. 875 Bordeaux Way, Napa meritagecollection.com/meritageresort/luxury-napa-valley-hotel/ their Beaker of Bubbles, 1,000 ml of mimosa that comes in an actual lab beaker. Sunday Hop Creek Pub Brunch starts at 10 a.m. and includes buffalo Broadcasting across 10 TVs, this Browns style chicken wings and Tavern Tater Tots with Valley gastropub caters to fans waving all col- a “loaded dip.” ors. Cheer for your team in between bites of 1304 Main St, St Helena, www.cooktavern. jumbo fried chicken wings tossed in house- com/ made beer barbecue sauce, or one of their six savory burger options. With a name like Hop Johnny’s Restaurant & Bar Creek, you won’t be disappointed by the local Head to the bar side of Johnny’s inside Calcraft beer selection, but cocktail fans can also istoga’s Mount View Hotel where the games order up a carafe of mimosas ($19) or the can be watched on five TVs. Gourmet brunch Creekside Green Chili Bloody Mary, served is served daily from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and with brunch from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Get there Johnny’s Famous Buffalo Wings, the Fried for MNF and TNF pre-game and enjoy their Chicken Sliders, or Creekstone Ranch HamHappy Hour specials. burger (add the foie gras if you’re feeling a vic3253 Browns Valley Road, Napa, hopcreek- tory) have game day written all over them. Pair pub.com/ it with a bloody beer, or bottomless mimosas or poinsettias (cranberry juice and sparkling) Napa Palisades Saloon for $15. What do you get when you add together 1457 Lincoln Ave., Calistoga, www.johnnyeight TVs and 32 beer taps? The ultimate Sun- scalistoga.com/ day Funday. Napa Palisades Saloon opens up with a to-die-for brunch menu at 9:30 a.m. Calistoga Inn Restaurant & Brewery for the early games, and the kitchen stays open As the only brewery Upvalley, the Calistoga until 10 p.m. — serving up buffalo wings so Inn practically has a duty to local sports fans big they look like pterodactyl wings—so you to show football on the four TVs inside the won’t go hungry through the Sunday night restaurant. Opening at 10 a.m., their weekshowdown. Stop in on Sunday, Sept. 10, when end brunch menu features spicy “Best Wings” Palisades will be donating a portion of proceeds served with a gorgonzola cheese dipping sauce, to Houston and those affected by the flooding. and also the “Best Hash & Eggs,” where the 1000 Main St #100, Napa, napapalisades. corned beef come braised in the brewery’s Calcom/ istoga Red Ale. 1250 Lincoln Ave., Calistoga, calistogainn. Cook Tavern & Pizzeria com/ St. Helena’s Cook Tavern, which recently added Pizzeria to its name, has five big screens Napkins Bar + Grill and eight California craft beers on tap, plus For just $15, you can sip endless mimosas more in bottles and cans. Or, you can order up and bellinis at Napkins, ensuring you’re well 70

Submitted photo

hydrated for a full day of football (just kidding, make sure you drink water too). You can also garnish your own bloody mary for $12, or take advantage of other food and drink specials while you nosh on non traditional chicken wings with citrus habanero glaze and avocado cream sauce. Napkins has four TVs and the only waterfall bar in town. 1001 Second St., Napa, napkinsnapa.com/ Norman Rose Tavern On the first Sunday of the season, Sept. 10, Norman Rose will run its weekday happy hour all day, which includes $5 beers, $3 Coors Lights and discounted wings and sliders. All other weeks will rotate different food and drink specials while the games broadcast on four big screens. 1401 First St., Napa, normanrosenapa.com/ Tannery Bend Beerworks If you haven’t yet stopped in the new brewery in town, Tannery Bend Beerworks, football season is a great excuse. The taps will be flowing during all football games along with a small menu of tasty bar snacks, like grilled cheese and sausages. For the week’s main event, order up their MNF special: a Coombs Combo featuring nachos with Tannery Bend beer cheese and a pint of the refreshing Coombs Saison for $12. I promise you this: what they lack in TVs (they’ve only got two), they make up for in fantastic beer and chill vibes. 101 S Coombs St., Suite X, Napa, tannerybendbeerworks.com/ Jess Lander is a freelance writer living in Napa Valley. Email her at jesslander11@ gmail.com.

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Nell Sweeney designed the modern facilities on the property and calls herself the “proprietress” of Vine Cliff. Submitted photo

vines A phoenix in the

Vine Cliff resurrected a long-defunct “Ghost Winery” in the Napa Valley


espite Vine Cliff Winery producing cabs and chards that Wine Spectator magazine regularly scores in the 90s, the third oldest winery in the Napa Valley remains largely unknown. Founded in 1871 by George Burrage and Thomas Tucker, Vine Cliff is set on 100 acres of hillside property just east of



Silverado Trail near Oakville where George C. Yount planted some of the first vines in the Napa Valley. Today, current owners, Nell and Chuck Sweeney, are returning the winery to the greatness and grandeur it once knew. Vine Cliff is known as a “ghost winery,” as many Napa Valley wineries are, which simply means they were founded prior to 1900 and then fell into disrepair for decades due to

vine disease, financial difficulty, Prohibition or a combination of those factors. Many of those original wineries, like Vine Cliff, are back in operation today. Had the Sweeneys not been looking to relocate from the Peninsula to Napa in the mid-80s, the miraculous rebirth of Vine Cliff may have never happened. Mrs. Sweeney, who describes herself as the winery’s

Submitted photo

The Vine Cliff logo at the gate pillar

“proprietress” today, recalls how it all came to be: “I had been coming up here weekly looking for a property or a house or whatever it would be. My husband and I came up together one weekend in 1985 and passed by this property on the way back. I told my husband I knew it was for sale and he just said ‘well why don’t you buy it?’ We put in an offer, I like to be spontaneous, it was accepted and suddenly we had 100 acres of land in the Napa Valley. Property was still affordable then,” she said. “So, my husband said ‘you know, this is such great property that I think we should grow grapes.’ So we did. Later he said ‘everyone seems to want the grapes from our, hillside so I think we should make wine.’ So we did. “Nothing was here, it was just a piece of land except for the foundation of the old winery,” Mrs. Sweeney recalled. “We knew nothing of the history of Vine Cliff when we bought the property. We knew the foundation was here but no one seemed to know much about it. I was very surprised to learn it was a thriving winery at one point with a wonderful history.” Michael Sweeney, son of the owners and chief financial officer, said it’s hard to know what sort of grapes were grown on the property originally: “It’s difficult to know but one of the more popular wines back then was Riesling. And also, claret. “We’re not sure what all was here at one time,” Sweeney said, “but you can still see where five or six or the original terraces were from back in the 1880s. I try to imagine what it must have been like trying to work it and harvest it with no trails or roads, we’re not even sure about where the labor force came from in those days let alone how they did it.” “The first thing we decided to do was make white wine to keep our license alive,”

Vine Cliff Winemaker John Cook examines the crushed fruit

Mrs. Sweeney noted. “We made six barrels of chardonnay, and it was so successful, that we have continued to make chardonnay. At that time, we had to buy the grapes. We made our first wine with our own grapes in 1989, which we released in 1990, and that’s where it all started. I can’t believe it’s been that long ago, 27 years now. “Today, we grow cabernet, merlot, cab franc, malbec and zinfandel on our property here and in the Los Carneros area,” Mrs. Sweeney observed, “and our wines are getting critical acclaim. Our goal was always to simply make top quality wines, we don’t want to make 100,000 cases and be an also-ran. We just want to be small and good at what we do.” “Our goal is the passionate pursuit of extracting, harnessing and capturing the essence of what you can pull from this terroir (the set of all environmental factors that affect a crop) in this very special region,”

Kirk Kirkpatrick

observed Michael Sweeney. Three and a half years ago, in order to expand the awareness of the brand and its award-winning wines, the Sweeneys bought a building in St. Helena on Highway 29 and opened a state-of-the-art tasting room. Mrs. Sweeney, who designed the facilities, said: “it took us 12-18 months to get it the way we wanted and I think it’s working very well.” Mrs. Sweeney hired chef Tom Stafford who brought with him an impressive resume of experience both here and overseas. “He’s very creative,” said Mrs. Sweeney, “and now we’re very busy Thursday-Sunday.” She said they get drive-by traffic, word of mouth referrals and also appointments via their newly re-designed website. “People also like to take tours of our winery and taste wines here, so we make that available to the public by appointment only.” In addition to being available for purchase at the tasting room and on the internet, Vine 73

Cliff wines are available across the country as well as Japan and Canada. “Here you can find them at Dean and Deluca in St. Helena, and also in highend restaurants like Mustards, Coles Chop House, Morimoto and Cook,” she said. “We’re also available in Duty Free Shops for our international audience.” Vine Cliff wines are not inexpensive by any means. Its cabernets run in the $120 range with private stock in the $185 a bottle neighborhood. Chardonnays run between $40-65 a bottle. Michael Sweeney explained, “our wines are expensive for many reasons, primarily it’s a function of our cost to produce and sell. We don’t sell a lot, but we still have plenty of overhead, capital expenses, labor costs and barrel costs.” He went on, “there’s also a subjective aspect in there related to how well our wines stand up to the other wines in their category.” A tour of the property is impressive by anyone’s standards. The winemaking operation features all the latest technology with no expense spared. Because the winer y’s original caves were too dangerous to use, the

An undated photo of the original Vine Cliff winery

Sweeney’s built a brand new cave system that’s 100 yards long by 50 yards wide, featuring a dining room. The caves are well lit and wine barrels are not stacked so they feel quite roomy and spacious. The family’s expansive hilltop mansion has commanding views of the valley. The estate also features a guesthouse and a quaint tasting room for appointment tastings. Because the Sweeneys want to continue improving their wines, they hired new winemaker John Wilson this past year. “He’s been

Submitted photo

well-received and we like him a lot,” said Mrs. Sweeney. “He’s calm, thoughtful, creative and good at what he does.” Michael Sweeney added, “he’s passionate and brings a whole new vitality and focus. We like him because he is not set in his ways like some of the older winemakers. John is out in the vineyards constantly, he’s very hands on and has a huge passion for the viticultural side of things.” Wilson joined Vine Cliff from the Russian River Valley producer Thomas George Estates, where he had been winemaker since 2014.

Prior to that, he was assistant winemaker at Littorai Wines. After building a new winery and winemaking operation, the family could have called the wines by any name they liked, yet they chose to stay with Vine Cliff. “Why did we keep the name?” said Mrs. Sweeney. “We didn’t think Sweeney Wines had a lot of cache to it … But seriously, it had been Vine Cliff before we just decided to go back to it. There’s a phoenix on our labels to signify the winery rose from the ashes,” she noted. The historical record is unclear, but some believe the winery did indeed burn to the ground at one time. But despite a loyal following and wines that are as good as any, Vine Cliff remains largely unknown in its own backyard. “People still don’t know we’re here, I really don’t understand it,” proprietress Sweeney said. The Vine Cliff winery and estate is located at 7200 Silverado Trail, while the tasting room is located at 699 St. Helena Highway and is open daily 11-5. Winery tours and tastings can be arranged by calling 944-1364.

Kirk Kirkpatrick

The cave at Vine Cliff


Submitted photo

The cake of pressed fruit left over after the wine press does its job.


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Mobili-Tea embraces afternoon ritual


here’s a new happy hour option in Napa Valley, but this one doesn’t involve alcohol. Inspired by exploration of tea times in San Francisco over the years, Calistogan Kathleen Bakula has started an on-the-go afternoon tea service in Napa Valley called Mobili-Tea. “I’ve always loved the idea of having tea. To me, it’s just one of the few civilized experiences that we can have, where we’re enjoying each other’s company without texting and being on the phone, just being in the moment and slowing down. I know that’s kind of old-fashioned, but I think it’s healthy,” said Bakula. The service isn’t operated out of a truck, if that’s what you were envisioning. The “Mobili” part of the name simply signifies Bakula’s ability to host tea time at various locations, including local inns, private residences and wineries. She can also host at the customer’s home for a special occasion, like a birthday or bridal shower. Mobili-Tea provides pretty much everything for the tea party, styling it tastefully, not “frilly, with a bunch of doilies,” she said. The host provides the water, table, chairs and linens, if needed. The two-hour experience is $65 per person and includes a substantial lunch. Tea time is usually between 1-4 p.m., and it’s limited to 6-12 people to keep things intimate, she said. Bakula sends attendees a menu beforehand, so that they can select their tea and choice


Anne Ward Ernst/ Weekly Calistogan

Kathleen Bakula has a collection of teapots, teacups, and small plates that she uses for afternoon tea services for Mobili-Tea.

Brannan Cottage Inn photo

Kathleen Bakula serves at a Mobili-Tea event. Bakula’s business offers on-the-go afternoon tea service.

of two finger sandwiches. There are nine options of sandwiches, like cucumber and cream cheese, green apple and sharp cheddar and smoked salmon mousse. Mobili-Tea currently pours three kinds of tea: Yunann Black, which is similar to a traditional English Breakfast tea, a lighter White Peony, and for those who don’t want caffeine, a herbal Lemon Lavender. All high-end teas are small lot and organic. The experiences includes a mixed green salad, sandwiches, fresh fruit and classic deviled eggs, fresh scones with preserves and clotted cream, and the meal

finishes with a selection of mini desserts. All the while, guests are leisurely sipping bottomless tea and engaging in distraction-free conversation. “Even if you bring a friend and you may not know anyone else, you’ll probably leave making new friends,” said Bakula. “Just come and show up. It’s always a wonderful discussion.” Bakula launched her business idea at the Brannan Cottage Inn, where she works part time. It’s offered as an extra amenity to the guests, held in the parlor or courtyard, and once a month,

opens up to the public. “Doing afternoon tea at Brannan, it’s really kind of cool because it’s historical and takes you back in time. The vibe is very, very good,” said Bakula. She’s been busy working on developing partnerships with other local businesses that are interested in offering tea services to their guests. Recently, she’s added a Calistoga winery to her list and says she’s in talks with a unique St. Helena location. And despite the fact that most visitors to Napa Valley are seeking out wine, Bakula has identified a need for something different. So far, she says tourists have been receptive to an afternoon tea break in between scheduled wine tastings, or after wine tasting and before dinner. “Nobody is offering tea in the Napa Valley, as far as I can tell, and I thought, why is that? People come here to drink wine. But not everybody drinks wine, and there’s a time where people take a break from drinking wine,” she said. Bakula can be reached at info@mobili-tea.com.

New sports


planned for South Napa S A S H A PAU L S E N sp a u l sen@na pa news.c om Michael Galyen has been working as general manager of Morimoto Napa since it opened in 2010; now the restaurant pro will be taking all the lessons he’s learned — and taught — to a new project of his own: a sports bar in south Napa. “I am beyond excited,” said Galyen, who has been planning his project for several years. “It’s going to redefine how people look at sports bars.” NapaSport will be “a fine dining sports bar,” he said; he wants great food, great service — and televisions. “It will be Napa’s version of a sports bar,” he said. At least, the televisions will be in one part of the 200-seat restaurant in South Napa Century Center; another part will be television free. There will also be booths for private groups. But, consistently, Galyen said, he’ll aim for the highest standards in Submitted photo food and service. Michael Galyen, who helped open “People may come Morimoto Napa, is opening a new sports for the food, but they bar in South Napa. The anticipated date is January 2018. remember the service,” said Galyen. Galyen first worked at Bistro Don Giovanni when he arrived in Napa, and he helped open Morimoto Napa. He has since gone on to open other restaurants for Masaharu Morimoto around the world, and his Napa restaurant has become the training hub for staff in Morimoto’s new restaurants. “Those restaurants both were game-changers for Napa,” Galyen said. “This is an opportunity to put South Napa dining on the map.” Galyen, who is now married and a father living in Napa, said his primary goal however is to create a place where patrons can feel comfortable, eat well and just have fun. “Napa has done so much for me,” he said. “This is my chance to give something back.” He anticipates opening NapaSport in January 2018.

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tomatoes The bounty of Forni-Brown-Welsh Gardens



hen the New York Times’ influential food critic Mimi Sheraton approached, her impeccable outfit and business-professional demeanor were in stark contrast to the dusty gravel road leading to her final destination, a rustic plot of land in Calistoga called Forni-Brown-Welsh Gardens. Looking more like she might have been headed to a night at the opera rather than a working farm, she was skeptical but slightly hopeful, having heard rumors of the amazing tomatoes and other unique vegetables that had remained the coveted secret of some of the most influential chefs in the Napa Valley and beyond. “As we toured the garden she told me that she’d never tasted an heirloom tomato that she actually liked,” said Lynn Brown, the founder and one of three partners who now own the gardens. “I guess she’d come to see what we were up to.” That late-summer day had been perfect, according to Brown. “As we walked along and talked I reached up and

Peter Forni, one of the three partners who own ForniBrown-Welsh Gardens in Calistoga, monitors the sun as he prepares the soil at their farm on a particularly hot day. LEFT: Lynn Brown, the original founder and one of three partners who own Forni-Brown-Welsh Gardens in Calistoga, still hand-picks every tomato sold. Tim Carl photo


picked one of my favorite types of tomatoes that grow here — a Giant Syrian. It was still warm from the sun, and I cut out a big wedge and handed it to her. People think you need salt, but I never use salt on my tomatoes.” Later, Sheraton often relived the moment in her writings and interviews. “But of all the native tomatoes, none is so breathtaking as the Giant Syrian still custom-grown to strict organic standards for the innovative upscale restaurants of Napa and Sonoma by Forni-Brown-Welsh Gardens in Calistoga,” she wrote in her book, “1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die.” “The huge, meaty, radish-red fruit nurtured there fairly quivers with succulence and an almost bloody, beefy richness — its flavor so complete, even salt may be unnecessary.” In “Inside the California Food Revolution” Joyce Goldstein (author, chef and former owner of Square One restaurant in San Francisco) also wrote about Sheraton’s experience with the tomato: “She almost wept when she tasted it.” “It was just a revelation when I tasted that tomato,” Sheraton said during a phone interview. “I bit into it and it hit me so unexpectedly and so wonderfully — I’d had plenty of good tomatoes in my life but none like that.” As to why the tomatoes are so good, Brown points to picking them ripe as one of the keys. “In the case of Mimi Sheraton, here was somebody whose entire life and passion has been food, but she’d never been given a properly picked tomato,” he said. “Most tomatoes people eat have been picked green and unripe for transit. Here we pick them only when they are ripe and then make sure the skins do not get punctured or the flesh bruised. Same goes for our vegetables, including eggplant and salad greens.” I’ve picked plenty of ripe tomatoes in my life, but none seem to rival those grown at this particular few-acre garden in Calistoga. When I asked Brown what made the difference he just shrugged. RUSSIANS AND HILLBILLIES Of the dozens of types of heirloom tomatoes my favorite of the selection offered at the gardens are the ruby-rust-colored Russian Blacks and the striated rose and sun-orange-colored Hillbilly varieties, each of which has its own subtle difference in flavor, texture and aroma. But the season for such wonders is fleeting, especially this year when high temperatures have reduced the crop considerably. Along with throngs of others, I actually mark my summers by the Forni-Brown-Welsh calendar. The highlights include a plant sale in early April through May of each year when a dizzyingly broad array of plants and seeds are available for purchase at the garden. The next

important time is midsummer, when the first vegetables begin to ripen and can be found at various local markets and restaurants. But it is August that represents the highlight of my culinary-calendar year because it is then when the Forni-Brown-Welsh Padrón peppers and tomatoes have ripened to their peak. It is then that I often find myself drawn to local markets such as Cal Mart or Sunshine in search of the transient, fresh-picked tomato treasures. Once purchased, I delicately transport my coveted cargo home, secretly hoping that my wife and children might be out so I can greedily cut the first thick wedges from the ripest of the offerings. With a tiny splash of local olive oil and a light dusting of sea salt (I do like salt on all my tomatoes), I lift that first slice into the air and dangle it teasingly in front of my mouth. Aromas of earth and sun flood my mind with images of the tomatoes of my youth and then I take a bite and everything in the world seems right somehow, the sweet luscious fruit melting into mouthwatering savory flavors that call only for another taste. And I am not the only one who has modified their life to center around the ForniBrown-Welsh Garden. “It’s one of the reasons we moved here,” Sophie Gullung said. “My sister Martine introduced us to Forni-Brown about 20 years ago. Forni-Brown is really the heart of Calistoga — For me they represent the true and authentic Calistoga, which is slowly disappearing. It is not about money first. It is about the product, the connection with the customers. A labor of love.” Growing food that tastes good can have many benefits. “The seeds of the heirlooms have had to have been saved and nurtured over generations,” Goldstein said during a phone interview. “The seeds and plants have to be cared for and tended by meticulous farmers and the tomatoes are often presented to customers by innovative chefs. The result connects us to humanity by bringing back vivid taste memories.” “Eating a wide range of foods from different cultures provides us an idea of what others love,” Sheraton said. “By exploring these different foods we gain a greater understanding and more tolerance for other people and their traditions — this is especially important now.” “The food revolution in California was centered first around making food that tastes good, but there have been other benefits,” Goldstein said. “To grow these kinds of foods the farmers must care for the land and the products. And now there is a dazzling array of items for people and chefs to choose from. But that wasn’t always the case. For a long time we had only tomatoes that had been picked green and transported and stored in refrigerators — one should never put a tomato in a refrigerator!”

BEFORE PADRÓN PEPPERS “Back when we first started in the late 1970s items like mesclun salad mix, arugula, Padrón peppers, French green beans (haricots verts) and heirloom tomatoes were nearly unheard of around here,” Brown said. “But chefs like Bruce LeFavour and the late Masataka (Masa) Kobayashi, then at Auberge de Soleil, were asking for special items and we were happy to oblige.”

Tim Carl photo

Barney Welsh, one of the three partners who own Forni-Brown-Welsh Gardens in Calistoga, prepares for his next delivery of tomatoes and Padrón peppers.

For all the acclaim, the operation at Forni-Brown-Welsh Gardens remains a humble operation with a few long-term employees and the three partners each actively engaged in the farming activities. Where as each of the three partners play their own special role in the operations, Brown himself still picks all the tomatoes by hand. When I asked Brown why he insists on hand-picking all the tomatoes he looked out into the garden where one of their longtime employees was finishing up picking baskets full of Padrón peppers, the morning sun’s heat already causing small mirage waves to hover above the ground. “I pick them because I know how to do it without bruising the fruit and because I can keep track of where I left off the day before,” he said. But then Brown looked at Welsh, who just smiled at me before he turned to the back room to prepare a few boxes of tomatoes for delivery. “Is there some other reason?” I asked. Brown hesitated. “Well, you see,” he finally said but then paused and looked back toward the garden. “One of our employees has a tough time distinguishing between colors, and it would break his heart if we hired someone besides me to pick the tomatoes instead of him — so I just keep picking them, which seems to work best for everyone.” 79


Here are the answers to our Where in the Valley quiz from Page 13.

LEFT: Silo’s Nightclub at the Hatt Building. BELOW: Osprey Seafood Market, located at 1014 Wine Country Avenue, for Where in Napa Valley.

Harvest Middle School.

J.L. Sousa, Register photos


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Anne Ward Ernst, The Weekly Calistogan

Silverado Vineyards winemaker Jon Emmerich puts his nose in the glass during an August 2014 tasting of aromatic whites.

A magic

KINGDOM? Focus stays on grapes in Disney-owned winery C AT H E R I N E B U G U E catb ug ue @g m ai l. com


atching winemaker Jon Emmerich and General Manager Russ Weis banter back and forth prior to a Silverado Vineyards trade visit is like glimpsing a portion of a concert tour documentary: you see the inside workings of a team before the big show, yet it is a 82

not-to-miss show in itself. Their talk is both smart and humorous, making them shoe-ins for a non-snobby wine web show. Such at ease with, but also still in awe of, the Silverado wine estate, their passion for the property is infectious. And not because they say so, but because

you see it for yourself at every turn. It is beautiful to tour; the stunning views from the stone patio span out before you, and no matter how many vineyards you have seen, you are likely to take in a breath. Despite Disney family ownership, this is not a northern outpost for Mickey Mouse

fans. If you look, there are hints of the family’s other great venture, such as the French version of a Ratatouille film poster (where Remy is allowed to be shown holding a glass of wine). But the focus is on the grapes, the estate vineyards and the wines — and sharing these things with visitors. Following Russ Weis on a tour is like hearing an audio appendage to Charles Sullivan’s “Napa Wine: A History” book. There are great stories, facts and figures shared every step of the way. Abel McFarland, for example, planted vinifera on the Silverado property in the 1870s, and named the area “McFarlandville” – a narcissistic fact that is not left without comment. McFarland also ran a Calistoga mine, and when the silver ran out, he mined mercury that was used to refine gold. Who knew? Winemaker Jon Emmerich is fanatical in his constant pursuit of wine perfection. Cellar experiments are an ongoing project. Mad scientist comes to mind, but he instantly dispels this as he methodically explains the details of characteristics from various vintages, weaving together historical tracking of the grapes and wines into his cellar explorations. Weis calls Emmerich an “amazing luxury,” such is his intimate knowledge of the fruit and wines at Silverado over the decades. Emmerich worked with previous winemaker Jack Stuart for eight years before becoming Silverado’s Winemaker in 1998. In 1968, Silverado’s Stag’s Leap vineyard was only the third to be planted to cabernet sauvignon, along with cab pioneers Nathan Fay and Warren Winiarski. All Silverado wines use estate fruit only, but the vineyards are only a part of the story when it comes to their wines. The 2016 Estate Grown Chardonnay from Los Carneros, Emmerich explains, has Dijon and Clone 4 vines to thank for the wine’s flavorful character. The Vineberg vineyard on the Sonoma side of Carneros, he adds, brings a steely, flinty, mineral character to the wine, with lots of vibrant acidity. Stainless steel and Burgundian barrels (20 percent new French oak) define the final “stone fruit and gentle toast” style of the wine. The tasting of the 2013 Mt. George Merlot from Coombsville comes with its own stories: the Mt. George property is one of the oldest sites here for vinifera; planted in 1868 by William Woodward. In 1889, a red wine made from this vineyard won a silver medal at the Paris Exposition; the same Exposition where Thomas Edison exhibited his incandescent lamps, and the Gustave Eiffel showed off his new tower. Silverado’s 2013 Merlot has depth across the palate, with the broader earthiness of Coombsville. Phenolic ripeness and acid balance defines this wine. As Emmerich explains, this property,

purchased in 1988, “joins the house style with kinetic acidity,” making Coombsville an easy fit into family. GEO is a newer wine (first vintage in 2012) that showcases cabernet sauvignon from Coombsville. The 2013 has deep dark fruit and spice complexity. A taste of the 2013 SOLO Cabernet Sauvignon from Stag’s Leap leads to a discussion on Napa Valley’s heritage clones. After the 1980s phylloxera outbreak threatened the existence of some of our earlier, historic field clones, work was done to single out and circulate the best of these historic clones used in Napa Valley wines. By 1993, UC Davis named three heritage clones: FPS 28 To Kalon, FPS 29 Niebaum, and FPS 30, the Silverado clone. Silverado’s flagship wine, SOLO, is made exclusively from this clone.

The common thread through all of the winery’s red wines is the richly textured, vibrantly fruity-spice-and-toast complexity balanced by refreshing acidity. Never do you feel like you are sucking on fresh wood planks before the fruit comes in to save the palate from a Pinocchio-like fate. Pop quiz: Who owned the property before the Disney family? The See’s candy family — and they were the ones to change the property’s name to Silverado Vineyards. Make a visit to Silverado for more fun facts and stories, as well as their excellent wines. Catherine Bugue is the St. Helena Star’s tasting panel writer and is the co-founder of the Napa Valley Wine Academy in Napa.

Russ Weis, general manager of Silverado Vineyards. Submitted photo


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Craig Schauffel of Valley Fine Foods in Benicia develops a recipe of radish leaf pesto linguini with salmon.

J.L. Sousa photos, Register

The world-wide adventures of Chef


ometimes connecting with old friends is a “long and winding road.” This last spring, I attending the wedding of my dear friend, Patrick Revoyre, the owner of the Chateau de la Barge, in Burgundy, France. (The chateau is home to my “Let’s Go Cook le Bon Cuisine culinary adventures) when I met up with an old friend — from Napa. First, I have to mention: What an experience! The wedding was a three-day event. Once the Champagne began to flow, it didn’t stop until the end of the third day. The food, both simple country fare and over-the-top cuisine prepared by the chefs of the chateau, the spontaneous singing of wedding guests, cars winding through the vineyard laden countryside with horns honking, the dancing into the wee hours

DIANE DI FILIPI by young and not so young alike, the sheer joy of the people who were there to celebrate a very special couple helped to create a purely magical, once in a lifetime gift. Amidst all these celebrations, one guest set her dress on fire — but she was fortunate to be standing next to a chef who is used to dealing with open fire on a regular basis. Acting quickly, he vanquished her fire. No harm done, other than a singed jacket. The chef was none other than Craig Schauffel, a native New Yorker who has called Napa Valley home since 1990. When I thought about it, it wasn’t really a surprise to find Craig in France, escorting his mother, Lorraine, who had participated in Let’s Go Cook adventures and want to celebrate the wedding.

Winery chef, restaurateur, caterer — Craig has done it all. Traveling the world has been a large part of his culinary education; but what was this versatile chef up to now? The culinary adventures of chef Craig Schauffel reads like a travel journal: amazing locations, astonishing adventures and serendipitous moments with food history icons. Craig knew about “farm to table” before it was a “thing.” Having grown up near the shores of Long Island Sound, Craig learned by example about collecting and preparing fresh produce, fish and game. This was just the way his large family approached food in upstate New York. At age 15, and in need of some fun money, Please see Schauffel, Page 86


J.L. Sousa, Register

Some of the ingredients that Chef Craig Schauffel of Valley Fine Foods in Benicia uses as he develops a radish leaf pesto linguini with salmon recipe.

PAIRS NAPA VALLEY SESAME SALMON BURGER WITH CITRUS SOY MAYONNAISE CHEF CRAIG SCHAUFFEL Pairs Napa Valley Sesame Salmon Burger with Citrus Soy Mayonnaise Serves 2 „ 2 6 oz. salmon filets „ 4 oz. sesame seeds „ 2 oz. canola oil „ 4 oz. pickled ginger „ 2 each sweet buns „ 6 oz. daikon sprouts „ 4 oz. Citrus Soy Mayonnaise (Recipe follows) „ 4 whole green onions „ Freshly ground white pepper to taste Prepare the Citrus Soy Mayonnaise. Preheat barbecue. Season the salmon filet with salt and pepper, then dredge in sesame seeds. Lightly coat the salmon filet and green onions with the canola oil. Turn the BBQ flames to low and then place the salmon and green onion on the low flame of the BBQ, turning the salmon filet over when one side of sesame seeds is golden brown. Turn 86

the green onions over when marked with grill marks and remove from heat when soft. You want to keep the salmon away from high heat where you can burn the sesame seeds. Remove salmon filet when cooked to medium or your desired temperature. Toast the sweet bun on the grill, then spread the citrus soy mayonnaise. Place the salmon filet on the bun, then top with the grilled green onions, daikon sprouts, and pickled ginger Leftover soy mayo is great as a dipping sauce using sweet potato fries. CITRUS SOY MAYONNAISE „ 3 egg yolks „ 1/4 cup lemon juice „ 2 Tbs. soy sauce „ 16 oz. Corn oil Combine egg yolk, lemon juice, and soy sauce in a mixing bowl. Slowly infuse the corn oil into the egg yolk mixture until thickened. Season with more soy if necessary and fresh ground white pepper.

SCHAUFFEL From Page 85

Craig went out and found himself his first job, washing dishes at the only fine dining restaurant in his area, the “Country House.” Over time he built his kitchen skills by advancing to the various stations of a professional kitchen. Discovering his natural culinary abilities and even more importantly, his passion, Craig entered the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, when he graduated from high school. While at the CIA, Craig had the opportunity to work with Chef Seppi Renggli, his first culinary mentor, at the renowned Four Seasons restaurant in Manhattan. Renggli saw something in the tenacity of this young chef-in-training and continued to provide support, encouragement and direction to his apprentice over the years. In 1987, when Craig completed his CIA program, Renggli enlisted the new graduate as part of the culinary team, along with Alain Sailhac and Anne Rozenaweig, to reopen the famous “21 Club” in New York City. Fast-forward a few years, with work in a number of the top restaurants in Manhattan, Craig made a move to Welsley, just outside of Boston, and opened his first restaurant, “The Sherborne Inn.” It was at this location that he was privileged enough to work with Julie Child while earning 3 1/2 stars from the Boston Globe. In the world of food, Craig said, “It’s requisite to stay current. Continuing education in the culinary arts is a matter of survival.”


J.L. Sousa, Register

Craig Schauffel of Valley Fine Foods in Benicia, slices radishes for a recipe he is developing, radish leaf pesto linguini with salmon.

Realizing this early on in his career, Craig left Massachusetts and began months of travels throughout Europe to hone his skills and sharpen his international culinary understanding. In the Champagne region of France he worked at the 1 Michelin Star restaurant, L’Assiette Champeonoise, and in Munich at the three Michelin star Aubergine restaurant. Reenter Chef Renggli, who encouraged Craig to move to San Francisco, pointing out what great and innovative things Wolfgang Puck was doing in the City By The Bay. Almost as a natural step in the process, Craig arrived in the Napa Valley in 1990, as chef at Auberge du Soleil. In this location, Craig realized the importance of wine pairing with his cuisine and his fascination not only in the pairing but in the wine-making process moved him further into the world of food and wine. Craig became the winery chef for Cain Cellars, educating himself by working alongside their wine maker during the harvest, both in the cellar and with tasting. A continuation of his ever-continuing education. Another close and very important winery relationship developed with Janet and John Trefethen encouraged him to “learn as much as possible about wine and food pairings,” he said. This relationship evolved into key food world events, like James Beard House and his involvement in the International Association of Culinary Professionals. It was during the ’90s that “farm to table” became a mantra in the Napa Valley. Of course, having grown up with this concept, this was not a new idea to Craig. The bounty of produce, artisan cheeses, farm raised live stock and fresh coastal seafoods made Craig’s next decision a fairly easy one. In 1993 Craig and his brother Keith, also a CIA graduate, opened “Pairs Parkside Café” in St. Helena. This is when I discovered the brothers and became a fan of not only the café, but of their

Shiitake Mushroom Bolognese with Three Bridges Triple Cheese Ravioli Serves 4 „ 1 18 oz. package Three Bridges Triple Cheese Ravioli „ 1 15 oz. tub Three Bridges Heirloom Marinara Sauce „ 1 cup olive oil „ 1 cup onions, diced 1/2 inch „ 5 cloves garlic, minced „ 1/4 cup carrots, chopped small „ 1/4 cup celery, chopped small „ 1 lb. shiitake mushrooms, diced „ 1/2 inch 2 Tbsp. tomato paste „ 1/2 cup Madeira Wine „ 1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped „ 1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped „ 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shaved or grated catering expertise, as well. Being a hotelier in the Valley at that time, I don’t think there was one guest of mine that I did not refer to the restaurant. I still don’t know if the name “Pairs” comes from pairing food and wine, or if it was for the pair of brothers. I tend to think it’s a little of both. Pairs Parkside Café gave way to Pairs Napa Valley in North Napa. The Register’s Sasha Paulsen wrote the following in the Register about the full fine dining restaurant: “Pairs Napa Valley is ‘a class act of imagination and comfort,’” and described the California Asian-inspired restaurant as “Zen romantic.” Paulsen called the roasted mussels with tomato-coconut broth and cilantro-lime fettuccini “a definite winner” and praised the “signature (and terrific) lemon calamari with citrus aïoli.” During the “Pairs” years, I was the owner of the Ink House Bed & Breakfast and I have to share that when guests asked for restaurant recommendations, Pairs was always at the top of my list. Pairs Parkside Café and Pairs Napa Valley, along with their catering company, served the Napa Valley well for over 10 years, with menus that were always seasonally determined, farm fresh and created to pair with Napa Valley wine varietals. Craig continued traveling the world, encouraging foodies everywhere to “explore and experience Napa Valley cuisine and wine,” he said. Whether in Asia, or in the U.S. at James Beard House or the Biltmore, or in Europe, Craig was expanding his culinary profile and

Kosher salt and black pepper to season In medium sauce pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, carrots and celery. Cook 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue cooking 5 more minutes. Add in tomato paste. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Deglaze the pot with Madeira and cook until reduced, about 2 minutes. Add in the Three Bridges Marinara and herbs. Stir well and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper. Keep warm. Cook Three Bridges pasta according to package directions. Drain well. Layer ravioli on serving platter and top with the Shiitake Mushroom Bolognese and Parmesan.

flavors previously unexplored by him. Craig’s ethnic explorations continued to influence his culinary styling and still impact the high power range of flavors he uses to this day. When “Pairs Napa Valley” closed, Craig took a year off to spend time with family. The life of a restauranteur does not leave much time for self, he admitted. In those rare quiet moments, of “what will I do next”, serendipity stepped in and Craig met the owners of Valley Fine Foods, located in Benicia, California. That 2005 chance meeting has lead to 20-plus years of culinary development in the realm of food manufacturing. Now vice president of Research and Development and Quality Assurance for Valley Fine Foods, Craig and his team have had a leading role in growing the company from a single facility in Benicia to three production facilities in the U.S. Products Craig has developed include fresh and frozen filled and cut pastas, gourmet sauces and prepared meals for sale in local grocery stores, club stores and specialty markets. Each product begins with ingredients that are farm-sourced, and include organic, fresh cut vegetables, artisanal cheeses, both domestic and imported, meats free of antibiotics to create distinctive international flavors. It’s possible for us to enjoy a variety of products created in Craig’s kitchen in our own kitchens. At Safeway, Raleys and Vallergas look for Please see Schauffel, Page 88


SCHAUFFEL From Page 85

the “3 Bridges” label, at Costco you will find “Pasta Prima” and at Whole Foods, “Artisola.” When I reconnected with Craig recently, back in the Napa Valley, he had just completed his certification as a Master Gardener. It came as no surprise that the future will hold other new avenues for Craig, including a culinary garden project. I remembered Craig as always being very generous, and nothing has changed. Here, below, are recipes he’s been kind enough to share with us, one of his favorite recipes from the “Pairs Napa Valley” restaurant menu, one from his Valley Fine Foods repertoire, along with one of his personal favorite appetizers for entertaining. Craig and I had to travel 5,735 miles to reconnect, and I am beyond happy that we did. Diane De Filipi lives in the Napa Valley and leads cooking tours to Italy and Burgundy, J.L. Sousa, Register France. Visit letsgocookitalian.com or Craig Schauffel of Valley Fine Foods in Benicia is working on a recipe for this dish, radish leaf pesto ila-chateau.com/cook-italian for more linguini with salmon. information.

CINNAMON ROASTED DUCK BREAST WITH CABERNET FIG CHUTNEY ON WALNUT WILD RICE FRITTERS C H E F C R A I G S C H AU F F E L Cinnamon Roasted Duck Breast with Cabernet Fig Chutney on Walnut Wild Rice Fritters Yields 24 individual bites CABERNET FIG CHUTNEY „ 1 pint Black Mission Figs, diced „ 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced finely „ 1/2 cup cabernet vinegar „ 1/2 cup dark brown sugar „ 1/2 cup cabernet sauvignon wine „ 1 tsp. chopped garlic „ 1 tsp. pickling spice „ 3 each black peppercorns, cracked Combine pickling spice and black peppercorns in a cheesecloth, and tie into a sachet. Combine onions, vinegar, sugar, Cabernet Sauvignon, garlic, pickling spice/pepper sachet in a sauce pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer. Cook until onions are clear and mixture is reduced to a loosely thickened mixture. Remove sachet and fold in figs, then hold room temperature until ready to serve.

„ 1/2 cup all purpose flour, sifted „ 1/2 tsp. Baking powder „ 1 egg—beaten „ 1/4 cup milk „ 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, finely chopped „ Cooking oil Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste Whisk together flour and baking powder in a bowl, then add egg, mix well. Slowly whisk in milk, then fold in wild rice, caramelized onions and walnut pieces. Season mixture with salt and pepper. In a non stick pan, lightly oil and cook small test pancake to taste the seasoning. Adjust as salt and pepper as necessary. Using a 2 inch circle cutter, place it onto the lightly oiled non stick pan, pour 1 tablespoon of the mixture into the center, then repeat until pan is full. Cook pancakes over medium heat until lightly browned on one side then turn over and cook until batter is cooked through. Repeat until you have 24 pan cakes. Keep warm.

WILD RICE CAKES „ 1 1/2 cups wild rice, cooked CINNAMON DUCK „ 1/2cup onions, diced small and car„ 1 Muscovy duck breast amelized „ 1 Tbs. ground cinnamon 88

„ 1 tsp. sugar „ Fresh cracked black pepper and Kosher salt to taste „ 1 tsp. corn oil Season both sides of duck with salt, fresh cracked black pepper. Then coat only the meat side of the duck breast with the sugar and then the cinnamon. Place duck skin side down in a medium hot skillet with 1 tsp. corn oil then immediately reduce heat to very low. Continue to slowly render fat from the skin until crisp, about 20 minutes. Turn heat to high and turn the duck over to meat side to sear quickly, for about 30 seconds. You want the temperature of the meat to be no more than medium rare. Allow to rest for 20 minutes. Hold warm. To assemble place warm rice fritters on a platter. Slice the duck breast thinly. You will need 24 slices. Place one slice duck on each rice cake Spoon 1/2 tsp. chutney on top of duck, allowing some of the duck breast to show. Garnish with a fresh fig wedge and a dusting of cinnamon Recipes by Chef Craig Schauffel

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Turning waste into

ART 90

Calistoga’s Paul Block revives used barrels and defunct vines to create usable beauty



hen Paul Block, owner of Wine Barrel Furniture, moved to Calistoga he had no idea that his future would include making artful sculptures and furniture from discarded wine barrels and torn-out grapevines. After all, he had been trained as a chef. “I had come out to Calistoga from New York to work with Jan Birnbaum at Catahoula Restaurant,” Block said. “But I was working six days a week for $10 an hour, and I just couldn’t make it work. I remember thinking, here is the master chef Birnbaum and he’s barely making it. It was pretty discouraging.” After leaving Catahoula, Block bounced around the Napa Valley culinary scene as a cook for a while before taking a job as a busboy at Pizzeria Tra Vigne in St. Helena. “I was making $25 an hour bussing, which was twice as much as I was making as a chef with a culinary degree and 10

Paul Block, owner of Calistoga’s Wine Barrel Furniture, at his workshop and showroom just north of Calistoga on Highway 128. Tim Carl Photography

Tim Carl Photography

Clive Richardson, co-owner of Calistoga Roastery, sits on a bench made by Paul Block using discarded wine barrels. Some of Block’s chairs and other items are on display at the restaurant.

years of professional experience,” Block said. “Plus I got tips — it was so much money for me at the time.” But another benefit of his new job was that he was also working only four-hour shifts each day, which provided him time for creativity. “Cooking was my first career choice, but early on I knew that I wanted more,” Block said. After going to culinary school but before moving to California, Block had taken a few years to go back to school to receive an engineering degree from Parsons School of Design in New York City. “After spending some time in the world of restaurants I thought I might actually design them, helping build up concepts from the ground up — you know, kitchen design, menus, even uniforms,” Block said. “At Parsons I learned how to conceptualize, design and engineer everything from buildings and bridges to furniture.” Besides learning the fundamentals of engineering at design school, Block also learned the importance of recycling and reusing materials. “The movie ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ had come out, and we were just starting to better

understand climate change — it all had a big effect on me,” he said. “Because the process of design requires a lot of drafts and model-building I started using previously used materials — scraps of cardboard, used paper, nearly any garbage really — to make my models and even my prototypes. It was a real breakthrough for me.” But after graduating from Parsons, Block found himself back in the kitchen, grinding away trying to make a living and finding little time or energy left for his creative design work. But that was before he’d left cooking altogether and became a busboy at Tra Vigne. “I bumped into a wine barrel one night when I was wandering around Honig Winery, and the metal rings that held it together just collapsed like one of those collapsible cups — click, click, click,” Block said. “Then the staves — pieces of barrel wood — fell outward like the wedges of an orange or a blooming flower.” The barrel had fallen apart, the wood staves were lying on the ground and the metal hoops had rolled off into the distance. When he noticed that one of the staves was rocking back and forth — it was his “Eureka!” moment. “I’m looking at that thinking, hey, this

Tim Carl Photography

should be a rocking chair. The idea came to me instantaneously,” he said. He went to a few local vintners with the idea, and when Koerner (KR) Rombauer donated 50 used barrels, he was on his way. “Back then a lot of wineries just threw away or even burned the old barrels,” Block said. “This was before anyone had made barrel furniture and no one really knew what to do with them. At one point Beringer was burning up to 9,000 barrels a year. When I asked if I could have them, they said sure. That was before they sold to Foster’s and when they did that agreement ended.” By that time, though, Block had transitioned to making barrel furniture full time and was growing both his inventory and reputation for producing high-quality items. He found homes for his products at such famed wineries as the Niebaum-Coppola Estate, Mondavi and Bennett Lane wineries, and he’d also approached the chef Michael Chiarello of Tra Vigne to see if he might have use for a few of his pieces. “I’d come in with a piece and ask Chiarello Please see Art, Page 92


ART From Page 91

if he wanted to buy them or even have them on consignment,” Block said. “And they actually brought a few items, such as my salad bowls and a couple other items that I am still making today. And there are lots of other examples where local business provided support, too.” The range of items made by Block increased to include chairs, benches, tables, racks, stands, food-safe platters, garden art and planters and has now reached more than 100 different design options. But for some it’s his benches and chairs that stand out. “We love Paul’s work and so do our customers,” said Clive Richardson, co-owner of Calistoga Roastery, one of the oldest coffeehouses in the Napa Valley. “We have a few of his pieces in the shop and a beautiful bench and a few chairs outside. People are always commenting on both their quality and beauty.” One of the reasons wine-barrel furniture is so valuable is because of the quality of the wood, according to Block. “It takes 150 years or more for an oak tree to reach the grain density required for the highest-quality barrels — the older the tree, the better the flavor,” he said. “So the oak from these barrels is not only beautiful with its wine stains and patina but also because of the very wood itself. Most of the pieces I’ve made will outlast me.” Barrel furniture was becoming more popular “For years after I started I didn’t see a shred of other wine-barrel work,” he said. “The first piece I ever saw that I hadn’t made myself was at NapaStyle in Yountville.”

Tim Carl Photography

But Block isn’t bitter that his idea has inspired others to go down the path of making items from reclaimed wood. “I think that the world benefits from using recycled items,” he said. “No one can make exactly what I make, anyway, because I make each piece myself and because of my unique background. Besides, what I’ve found is that ideas are simple but execution is hard.” Using discarded grapevines for furniture and art “Back when I started using barrels in the early ‘90s they were just being thrown away or burned — same thing that’s going on today with grapevines,” Block said. “ I’d like to change that and I have been developing old grapevines into chandlers, jewelry holders,

tables and even just beautiful wall ornaments.” Because vineyards that have been removed often harbor plant viruses, Block heats the wood to kill off any microbes or other transferable pests or diseases before he turns them into art. “There’s about 20,000 planted acres of vineyard in the Napa Valley,” Block said. “The estimate is that about 5 percent of vineyards are replanted every year, so that makes for a lot of discarded vines that are typically just put into a pile and burned. Let’s take these beautiful pieces of natural sculptures and honor them in a way that is fitting, pulling them out of the waste stream and instead make art that inspires.” Website at barrelrecycling.com.

Tim Carl Photography

Ariel photo of Paul Block’s Wine Barrel Furniture workshop and showroom just north of Calistoga on Highway 128. The building survived the Tubbs Fire, which swept through the area in October.


Tim Carl Photography

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The door is open at the Davies Vineyards Grayson Building, located at 1210 Grayson Ave. in St. Helena. Hosting guests are hospitality manager Rimple Nayyar, left, and Kelly Duarte Bernys, assistant hospitality manager. David Stoneberg photos, Star


hirty-two still and sparkling wines make up the list of those available for tasting in the Grayson Building, the new Davies Vineyards tasting room and visitors center. On a recent visit, the list included cabernets and pinot noirs from the 2012, 2013 and 2014 vintages and sparkling wines from 2008 and 2011 to 2014. Red wine prices ranged from $35 for two pinot noirs – one from the Napa Valley, the other from the Sonoma Coast – to $400 for a three-liter bottle of 2013 J. Davies Cabernet Sauvignon, made from estate grapes grown on the family’s Diamond Mountain property, where Schramsberg is located. Prices for the Schramsberg sparkling wines range from $40 for a current release, 2014 Blanc de Blancs to $150 for a 2008 J. Schram Rose. The tasting of five wines – one sparkling and four reds – two of the 2014 pinot noirs tasted included one from the Carneros region, the other from the Goorgian Vineyards in Anderson Valley, Mendocino. In a side-by-side tasting, Kelly Duarte Bernys, assistant hospitality manager, was impressed. “It is just fascinating to me with the pinots, which is the same varietal, same vintage and same winemaking team, but grapes grown in different locations, how different the characteristics can be, both in flavors and aromas,” Bernys said. The pinot from Carneros is a blend of grapes grown in the Hudson Vineyards (75 percent) and Hyde Vineyards (25 percent). The Hudson Vineyards are planted on the rolling hills at the north end of the Napa-Carneros District. According to tasting

David Stoneberg, Star

The Chevrolet bench is appropriate at the Davies Vineyards Grayson Building, since the property was the site of the former Epps Chevrolet car dealership.


David Stoneberg, Star

These beautiful chandeliers hang in the main part of the 4,300-squarefeet Grayson Building, the tasting room and visitor center for Davies Vineyards.

notes, “Moderate temperatures and slow cloud burn off allow for longer hang time of the grapes on the vines, which develop complex flavors and layers.” The Hyde Vineyards are planted in the foothills just north of the Carneros Bayview District. “The grapes are favorably influenced by the nightly cooling effect from the San Pablo Bay,” the tasting notes state, “retaining the wine’s balanced acidity.” Jack and Jamie Davies bought the 200-plus acre Schramsberg property in 1965, named for German immigrant Jacob Schram, who bought the property from the government in 1862. The Davies began making sparkling wine and in 1967, the Davies first used pinot noir grapes to make the inaugural vintage of Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs sparkling wine.

“Over the last five decades, we have built long-lasting relationships with some of the best pinot noir growers in the North Coast,” according to the tasting notes for the 2014 Davies Vineyards Pinot Noir from the Goorgian Vineyards, located at the northwestern end of the Anderson Valley in Mendocino County. The 2014 is the first single vineyard release from the Goorgian Vineyards for winemaker Sean Thompson and his crew. The tasting notes state, “Cooler daily temperatures are ideal for pinot nor with nightly coastal breezes dropping into the 50s, creating the perfect sugar to acid balance in the grapes. This environment provides a long, even growing season which delivers mature fruit depth with a vibrant, acidic backbone.”

The Grayson Building tasting room is located at 1210 Grayson Ave., St. Helena. Tastings, which are by appointment, may include a 2011 Schrasmberg Brut, 2014 Davies Vineyards Pinot Noir from Carneros, 2014 Davies Vineyards Pinot Noir Goorgian Vineyards from Anderson Valley, 2013 Davies Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, and a 2013 J. Davies Estate Cabernet Sauvignon from Diamond Mountain District. Seated tastings ($50) are held at various times throughout the day. Wine and cheese pairings ($105) are held at 11 a.m. daily. RSVPs required, call 707-963-5555 or visit daviesvineyards.com

Sitting on the Grayson Building’s outside patio, Bernys said the Sonoma Coast pinot “is some of our favorite pinot noir.” Interestingly enough, grapes grown in Carneros are some of the earliest harvested, while those from Anderson Valley are harvested somewhere “in the middle of the harvest,” which could start as early as mid-August and last until mid- or late October. Schramsberg crews are often the first to harvest grapes, since grapes for sparkling wines are picked earlier, at a lower sugar, than grapes for still wines. The first vintage of the pinot noir under the Davies label was in 2009. For the 2014 vintage, there are seven pinot noirs produced, from the Sonoma Coast and Carneros as well as five single-vineyard wines: from the Ferrington

and Goorgian vineyards, both in Anderson Valley; the Hyde and Hudson vineyards from Carneros and from the Nobles Vineyard in the Fort Ross-Seaview region. GRAYSON BUILDING The Grayson Building, which opened at the end of April, is located at the corner of Highway 29 and Grayson Avenue, next to the Davies Vineyards Winery. The property is the former home of Epps Chevrolet. The building’s exterior is stone, quarried from both the Mayacamas and Vaca Mountain ranges. The two-story building was designed to look like it had been there for years and the interior also has elements of local stone, recycled barn wood siding and exposed steel Please see Grayson, Page 96


David Stoneberg, Star

After three years of construction, the new Davies Vineyards Grayson Building, a tasting room and visitors center, opened in April. It is on the corner of Highway 29 and Grayson Avenue.

GRAYSON From Page 95

beams that support vaulted ceilings. A large map shows the sites of its two wineries, Schramsberg Vineyards in Calistoga and the adjacent Davies Vineyard

Winery, and the numerous vineyards where grapes are bought: from Napa, Marin, Sonoma and Mendocino counties. The 200 acres that make up the historic Schramberg Vineyards Winery sits on the southern-most part of Diamond Mountain and all of the estate fruit, mostly cabernet sauvignon grapes, goes into the top four

Davies’ Bordeaux blends: the Jamie Cabernet, the J. Davies Cabernet, the second label, jd Cabernet and the J. Davies Estate Malbec. “The fruit was so good up there, the winemaking team decided to make a second label, calling it jd,” Bernys said. The tasting notes mention that the J. Davies Estate Cabernet

Sauvignon was named in honor of patriarch Jack L. Davies, who along with his wife, Jamie, revived the Schramsberg property and established the preeminent American sparkling wine house 50 years ago. The vineyard blocks total 41 acres, laid out in three isolated pockets, ranging from approximately 550 to 1,000 feet in elevation. “These are the southernmost vineyards in the Diamond Mountain District AVA,” state the tasting notes. “Flanked by two cool creek canyons (Nash Creek to the north and Ritchie Creek to the south) and surrounded by dense coniferous and deciduous forests, the vines here produce late-ripening, richly concentrated fruit with average yields of just two tons per acre.” Additional single vineyard cabs come from the Winfield Vineyard at the base of Mt. St. Helena in Calistoga and Round Pond in Rutherford. Other cabernet grapes are bought from select locations in Yountville and Howell Mountain. Additionally, displayed in the Grayson Building are some of the family’s treasures that include Navajo blankets, one from 1865, and headdresses from Peru and Chile, some that date to 500-800 AD. They are part of the collection from Jack and Jamie Davies.

ABBREVIATED HISTORY OF SCHRAMSBERG, DAVIES VINEYARDS • 1862: Jacob Schram bought 200 acres Mt. Diamond property from government • 1870: Chinese laborers dig Napa first’s hillside caves • 1878: First hillside vineyards planted in Napa Valley • 1905: Jacob Schram dies, his son, Herman, inherits the property • 1912: Winery ceases operations, Herman Schram sells property • 1916-1965: Property transferred ownership seven times • 1965: Jack and Jamie Davies buy 200-acre Schramsberg property, crush grapes onsite. Hugh Davies, Jack and Jamie’s youngest son, born • 1996: Hugh Davies joins Schramsberg as enologist, named head winemaker in 2000 and five years later named CEO/president, while Jamie is board chairman • 1998: Jack Davies passes away


• 2004: Hugh Davies and Monique Nelson married • 2004: First vintage of J. Davies Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon, vintage 2001, released • 2006: Sean Thompson joins company as assistant winemaker, promoted to senior winemaker in 2015 • 2008: Jamie Davies passes away • 2009: First non-estate pinot noir produced • 2012: Davies family buys former Epps Chevrolet dealership, 555 Main St., St. Helena and converts it to a winery to produce J. Davies still wines • 2012: First crush at new Davies Vineyards property • 2012: 150th anniversary of Schramsberg’s founding • 2014: Davies Vineyards starts construction on a new tasting room next to the

winemaking facility • 2015: 50th anniversary of the revival of Schramsberg property • April 2017: After three years of construction, the Grayson Building, the new home for Davies Vineyards wines, opens in St. Helena • From Davies and Schramsberg Vineyards websites • Grayson Building history • September 2014: Planning commission OKs request to expand production facility from 20,000 to 75,000 gallons; and to allow construction of Grayson Building, a 4,300-square-foot tasting room and visitor center located at the corner of Highway 29 and Grayson Avenue • September 2014: A local group, Citizens’ Voice St. Helena, appeals planning commission approval to City Council, citing the proposed Grayson Building’s impact on traffic, water, parking and proximity to the

high school • October 2014: City council denies appeal and upholds planning commission decision • July 2015: Citizens’ Voice St. Helena files lawsuit against city in Napa County Superior Court. They claim the Grayson project violates the General Plan, exceeds the size limits set in the city’s zoning ordinance and deserves a full Environmental Impact Report. • September 2015: Napa County Superior Court Judge Rodney Stone rejects lawsuit, upholding the city’s approval of the project. Legal fees are paid for by the applicant. • November 2015: Opponents appealed Stone’s ruling to the First District Court of Appeal • July 2017: The case is still pending, and no court date has yet been set, according to Susan Kenward of Citizens’ Voice St. Helena. • From St. Helena Star archives


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Del Dotto’s


Italian splendor defines Piazza Del Dotto


fter eight long years and several setbacks on the official opening date, Piazza Del Dotto has finally opened to the public for tastings and food pairings — fittingly on the 20-year anniversary of the Del Dotto family’s wine journey. Proprietor Dave Del Dotto is calling the family’s third winery “the gateway property to Napa Valley,” as it’s the first winery visitors will see as they pass Yountville heading north, and Highway 29 goes from two lanes to one. “It’s the first winery when you come off the highway, and you can go right off the highway, directly into the driveway,” he said. That driveway was built with a million-and-a-half red bricks, hand laid by Italian professionals. Though subtle, it’s the first sign of the thought, detail, time — and money — put into this project. For Piazza Del Dotto isn’t just another venue to experience the Del Dotto family’s signature caves and barrel tastings. Instead, this property takes things outdoors, with a large courtyard, gardens, second-floor decks and an outdoor kitchen. “It’s very Tuscan,” said Desiree Del Dotto, daughter of Dave Del Dotto and COO of the family business. “It has that Old World Italian vibe, where you come in, you eat off the land because you have the gardens, but maybe a little bit fancier than you’d see there. “This is what Piazza is all about, the beauty of Napa Valley, the indoor/outdoor vibes,” echoed

J.L. Sousa, Register

Piazza Del Dotto in Yountville.

Dave Del Dotto. “When people come to the Valley, they want to enjoy the outside. All of our other properties are in the caves, so we wanted to do something a little bit different and get outside.” Of course, there will be caves and barrel tastings at Piazza Del Dotto too, but we’ll get to that later. THE BARN The Piazza’s tasting room is named La Barchessa, which translates to “The Barn.” But La Barchessa, a yellowish, two-story, Tuscan-inspired villa, carries virtually no resemblance to a barn. “It’s a Del Dotto barn,” joked Desiree Del Dotto.

Some people likely won’t notice, but just before entering through the Italian chestnut doors, sits a little reminder of the original, intended opening date. Set permanently in marble, the floor reads, “La Barchessa 2015.” But for the Del Dottos, that little detail isn’t very problematic. The family acquired their first winery, the Napa Historic Winery & Caves, in 1997. The second, St. Helena Venetian Estate Winery & Caves, opened in 2007. It’s actually a bit poetic that Piazza Del Dotto will now open in 2017. The facade of the tasting room is deceiving, seemingly modest and traditional, not unlike the wineries you might stumble into

while rolling through the hills of Tuscany. Yet inside, it’s dripping in luxury, and in true Del Dotto style, practically floor-to-ceiling marble, even in the bathrooms, where the antique sinks resemble ancient drinking fountains. La Barchessa’s large, open space on the ground floor features a couple of tasting bars, a VIP lounge and an open kitchen that most of us can only dream about. The kitchen’s range, for instance, has been nicknamed the “Rolls-Royce,” because according to Dave Del Dotto, “it cost as much as a Rolls-Royce.” In front of the kitchen is a Please see Barn, Page 100


J.L. Sousa, Register

Piazza Del Dotto co-owners from left, daughter Desiree Del Dotto, founders Dave and Yolanda Del Dotto and son Giovanni Del Dotto in the Yountville winery’s gardens.

BARN From Page 99

horseshoe bar meant for food and wine pairings. Del Dotto is bringing their Delicacies by Del Dotto experience from the Venetian to the Piazza. For $95, it includes five, gourmet small plates and seven Piazza Del Dotto wines, like a Maine lobster roll toasted brioche paired with chardonnay, or American wagyu black truffle slider with cabernet sauvignon. The final pairing matches a dessert or cheese with Del Dotto Port. The Piazza Del Dotto label consists of three tiers of cabernet (sourcing from Napa Valley vineyards and their estate Oakville vineyard), in addition to many other varietals, including sangiovese, rosé, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, petit verdot and pinot noir. E x e c u t i v e C h e f Jo s h u a Schwartz, formerly with Thomas Keller at The French Laundry, Per Se, and Bouchon, has been with the family as Executive Winery Chef for a decade now. “Dad used to eat lunch like three times a week at Bouchon, so he could actually tell the difference in the food with the different chefs,” said Desiree Del Dotto. “So when Josh would come on, Dad was like, I need to meet this guy, the food’s gotten even better.” At the Piazza, Schwartz and his team will now find themselves working just down the street from 100

his old stomping grounds. While Delicacies will be the tasting room’s signature experience, guests can also come in for a traditional bar tasting of five wines, which for $45 includes a cheese plate. Or, they can opt for the Poppers experience ($60), featuring five wines and four, snacksized bites, like crispy frog legs paired with chardonnay, or housecured bacon and black truffle in sfoglia (egg pasta dough), perfect with pinot noir. On some days, they also plan to churn out free pizzas in their outdoor brick oven. “What we’re all about is hospitality. We’re connecting with people, spending time with people; it’s all about that interaction,” said Dave Del Dotto. “We’re highlighting Napa Valley. We want people to want to come back to the Valley after having that quality experience. That’s why we’re adding the food. When you add the food to the wine, it really rounds out the experience. We’re connecting with people on a one-on-one basis.” Hanging down from the topfloor ceiling (the center of the second floor has been cut out) is La Barchessa’s biggest ‘wow’ factor: a colossal, 1,500-pound chandelier made in a small workshop in Florence. It’s a recreation of 18th century lanterns with gold metal shavings. “Everything is from Italy, all the materials. We’ve had 77 containers come in from Italy over the last three to four years,” said Dave Del Dotto. Another two purple

The tasting room of Piazza Del Dotto in Yountville.

chandeliers (these ones made from Murano glass), tasting areas and a large dining table flank the second floor, as do several outdoor decks looking out over the estate’s Oakville cabernet, all also available for Piazza Del Dotto’s experiences. Out back in the gardens, you’ll find patio seating, a 17th-century fountain and a collection of handcarved “nani” statues, dwarf-like characters that play tribute to Italian folklore. They’re a subtle reminder of the local controversy surrounding the new property’s original fairytale theme and name, Ca’Nani, meaning House of Dwarfs. Following local backlash, the family renamed to Piazza Del Dotto. In retrospect, they agree that the new theme is a better fit and reflection on the overall Del Dotto brand. “As we were building, we realized this is much more sophisticated and a bigger property than just having fun with the fairytale theme,” said Dave Del Dotto. “This is a little more serious.” And perhaps the only resemblance to a barn that La Barchessa bares is the animals on property: chickens providing farm fresh eggs, doves, pheasants, Heritage turkeys that they raised from chicks, and peacocks. A dozen peacock eggs are expected to hatch any day now. Desiree Del Dotto is hoping to add some pigs.

J.L. Sousa, Register

I of Piazza Del Dotto. To the right of the barn is a lot of unfinished construction— so much that one can’t really yet envision what’s to come without seeing the plans themselves. Phase II involves a pool-sized fountain, with statue heads spitting water. Over it, will be a walking bridge, which guests will journey across to reach the cave. Currently 8,500 square feet, the Del Dotto’s plan to nearly triple the size of the cave, expanding to 24,000 square feet. The cave will be completely lined in Carrara marble and feature 100-year-old, colored terrazzo floors. Parts of the ceilings will be frescoed, Sistine Chapel-style. It will likely take several more years before the finished product is unveiled, but you can be certain that it won’t be like anything else in Napa Valley. Instead, it will be much more akin to the monuments built in ancient Rome, from the inside and out. While they don’t make buildings like that in modern day, the Del Dotto’s are sure putting in the effort. “We’re doing it old-school,” said Dave Del Dotto, adding that the entire project is inspired by his belief that “wine is sacred.” “My dad believes that wine is art, and so it’s like building a museum for your art,” said Desiree Del Dotto. Del Dotto Piazza is at 7466 St. Helena Highway, Napa. For PHASE II details, call 707-963-2134 or But even after nearly a decade visit deldottovineyards.com/visit/ of work, La Barchessa is just Phase piazza.



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Calistoga Inn’s turns

30 YEARS ANNE WARD ERNST editor@weeklycalistogan.com

Brewery goes from craft beer upstart to local institution


ong before the craft brew craze exploded over the last handful of years, Calistoga had its own brewery, the first commercial brewery in Napa County since Prohibition. This year, Napa Valley Brewing Company – the brewery of Calistoga Inn Restaurant and Brewery – celebrates its 30-year anniversary. Co-owners and mother and son team Rosie and Michael Dunsford have owned the business since 1989, when Michael was still attending college studying fermentation science in the Department of Enology at UC-Davis. “We’re also one of the pioneers in the country, because the craft brewing industry was founded in Northern California,” Michael Dunsford said. The brewery’s founder, Phil Rogers, was good friends with Fritz Maytag – of the appliance company lineage – who, in 1965, purchased and revitalized Anchor Brewing Company, and while Napa Valley Brewing Company is tiny in comparison to Anchor, it has held its own for three decades selling beer only at the Inn’s restaurant and bar – though that may change soon, Michael Dunsford said. The four beer mainstays – Calistoga Wheat Ale, Red Ale, Pilsner, and Porter – are made with the original recipes from the brewery’s inception, with a few tweaks to accommodate for such things


Anne Ward Ernst, Weekly Calistogan

Rosie and Michael Dunsford, co-proprietors of Calistoga Inn Restaurant and Brewery, are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the brewery — Napa Valley Brewing Company — this year. The brewery started in 1987, and they purchased it and the inn and restaurant in 1989. To celebrate the anniversary and harvest, they will hold a Bier Fest on Oct. 1 in the beer garden from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. with live music, food and, of course, beer.

as not being able to find “certain hops,” for example, that might not be available at the time, he said. The brewery also produces seasonal beers, that the brewer, Shawn Siedel, has liberty to create with his own formula, but they’ve been producing seasonal beers for 28 years, so many of them are the same recipe, Dunsford said. Things just fell into place for Michael and Rosie about the time they purchased the business in 1989, and the team that Rosie assembled at the beginning gave them the foundation on which the business was built. They’ve managed to survive and thrive in

business, weathering such adversities as a fire in 2012 that shut down the inn for 10 months, and now the construction of the Lincoln Avenue Bridge that not only comes with a lot of jackhammering and other disruptive noise, but large equipment and construction barriers that block the view of the building and have caused a reduction in diners and drinkers in their restaurant and bar – something that hurts not just the Dunsfords, but their employees, too, Michael said. Michael was in his second year at UC-Davis and was on the rowing team with his college

roommate and best friend, Keith Nilsson. The rowing team had a race over spring break so on Easter his roommate’s parents, Ken and Leslie Nilsson, came to school to cook them an Easter dinner. Over dinner Ken and Leslie, who were real estate investors, were discussing the Calistoga Inn property and considering purchasing it. “They knew nothing about the restaurant and beer business,” Michael said. But the Dunsfords did. “It’s in my blood,” Michael said. Rosie and Michael’s father moved to Lake Tahoe in 1974

Calistoga Inn Restaurant and Brewery, 1250 Lincoln Ave., at the corner of Cedar Street, has been owned by Rosie and Michael Dunsford since 1989. They are celebrating their brewery’s 30th anniversary with a Bier Fest on Oct. 1 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

to take over management of the Stanford Alpine Chalet, which is a small 20-room bed-and-breakfast in Alpine Meadows for Stanford alumni and faculty. “My mother was the cook, and my dad was the (general manager). My mother had no professional training but that’s where she earned her wings cooking for large groups of Stanford alumni,” he said. She also built strong and lasting relationships that later led her to owning her own restaurant, Rosie’s Café in Tahoe City, backed by Stanford alum investors. Rosie wanted to be in wine country and was in the process of searching for a restaurant to buy in Sonoma at the time the Calistoga Inn business came up. Ken Nilsson had a pilot’s license and a private plane and “he literally flew up to Lake Tahoe within days and picked (Rosie) up and they flew here and landed at the old airport in town, walked down the street and did a tour of the place, and he asked her do you think you can make a go of this?” She said she could and they shook hands. Michael has since bought out the Nilssons and now he and Rosie are 50/50 partners. Rosie brought with her a full team, some from Rosie’s Café, which she sold to get into the Calistoga Inn business. “She brought one of our chefs who was a homebrewer so he took over the brewery, his wife took over all the accounting. One of the other chefs became the executive chef. She brought down the baker who was a longstanding family friend, and another friend

of my mother’s who was a really good cook. They were the backbone of the inn. Another frontof-house restaurant manager who came with them as well,” he said. Immediate changes were made to the restaurant and patio area. Rogers used the patio and beer garden to serve hot dogs and hamburgers to go with the beer, and the inside restaurant was a white linen seafood restaurant. “My mother basically saw the patio as the asset. That’s where people really wanted to dine and also have a nice meal, not just a hot dog. We literally moved the restaurant out on the patio, and it quickly became known as an outdoor destination restaurant,” Michael said. They continue to upgrade the patio, inn and restaurant over time, but the biggest change came as a result of the 2012 fire, which started in the attic due to faulty wiring. “We had to do a complete renovation. Thank God nobody was hurt. At the same time it did allow us to bring it up to code and position us for the next 100 years,” he said. They lost a room in the inn to an emergency exit, but added a cottage compliant to ADA laws, keeping their total room count at 18. The water tower was converted into the brewhouse in 1987 and coincidentally Dunsford’s professor at UC-Davis, Michael Lewis, was the one who did the design and installation. They’ve changed little in the brewhouse other than to upgrade equipment for efficiency and quality purposes. They are currently working on

distributing their beer to other restaurants in Napa County, and potentially growing their wort business. Napa Valley Brewing Company has provided the wort – the liquid extracted from the mashing process – for Johnny’s, which Dunsford owned for a short time. He designed and installed Johnny’s brewery where they finish making the beer. A few years ago the Dunsfords purchased a food truck, which is not set up for concession sales, but is used as a portable kitchen capable of putting out food for up to 450 people in just about any style – from casual to gourmet. Michael started working at Calistoga Inn full time after he graduated from college in 1992, but he had been spending all his school breaks working there up to that time. He and Rosie have been working together most of his life, he said. “I always worked for my mother as a young kid, working in the kitchen doing dishes, prepping, cooking, doing front of the house, basically doing it all. I was managing Rosie’s Café when I was 16 years old,” he said. “We’re very close, and we work very well together.” Their bond extends to their employees that include multiple generations of families working for “Several staff worked for us in 1989, and now their kids work

for us,” he said. Their restaurant manager, Salvador Cortez, was a bus boy, and executive chef Nicolas Montanez was one of the first employees starting there in 1989. They both left to work at Culinary Institute of America, and then returned. “By coming back here I was able to inherit all those things they learned working (there),” he said. Michael, who is also Calistoga’s vice mayor, is an advocate for affordable housing, voicing concerns about the cost of living in Calistoga and saying that when two new resorts open in a few years, creating about 500 more jobs, the housing options will be even more difficult for hospitality and winery workers. Fewer diners and drinkers have been stopping in since construction on the Lincoln Avenue Bridge began in the spring, and it’s hurting not only the Dunsford’s business, but the employees’ pocketbooks. They’ve endured other challenges such as the Great Recession, Y2K, and other Caltrans interruptions, he said, but nothing could make them give up. “First of all, we love this place, we love the town, we love what we do. We never thought for a minute we would do anything different. It’s never been an option for us to do anything other than get through it,” he said.

Brad Smisloff is the former brewmaster at Napa Valley Brewing Company, which is celebrating 30 years in business this year. Located at the Calistoga Inn, the water tower on the property was converted into a brewhouse in 1987 by Dr. Michael Lewis, a professor at UC Davis, whose student, Michael Dunsford, would ultimately own the brewery with his mother Rosie Dunsford.



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Take a seat at

‘The Chef ’s Table’ SAMIE HARTLEY shartley@napanews.com

A culinary adventure at the CIA Copia, a new attitude toward fish As soon as the Schramsberg splashed into my wine glass, I knew I was in for a treat. I was seated at a tall, round table covered in an olive-colored table cloth.

Candlelight reflected off the place settings, and soft jazz music flowed through the room like a morning fog in the vineyards. The Culinary Institute of America at Copia in Napa sure knows how to make a girl feel welcome. I was one of six guests attending The Chef’s Table: Food For Entertaining course. The course was billed as an “intimate, interactive

dinner event” that promised “an evening of food and fun.” Who doesn’t love food and fun? I know I do. As we settled in at tables in front of the kitchen station in the culinary theater, we began to survey the hors d’oeuvres that had already been set out for us. Before I had a chance to decide where to start, Chef Anne Cornell Krauss

entered and welcomed us. She identified our starters as crispy herbed chickpeas; marinated feta with cucumber, lemon and dill; and a handmade flatbread made of fermented pizza dough. I sampled all three, but decided the flatbread was my favorite. It was herbaceous and salty in all the right ways. It was a shame I had to share.

Chef Anne Cornell Krauss served as host and meal-maker during the The Chef’s Table: Food For Entertaining course at CIA at Copia in downtown Napa. Samie Hartley, Register


Chef Anne cheerfully chatted with us as we sampled the starters and sipped our wine. Before she got started on dinner, she walked us through the menu. Appetizers would include a creamy summer squash soup with fried zucchini blossoms and an heirloom tomato and parmesan tartlet. My excitement was mounting as she described each dish until she mentioned that the main course would be cedar planked salmon. My heart sank. I don’t like fish. I wasn’t about to let that revelation dampen my mood though. I was a picky eater as a child, but in adulthood, I’ve tried to be more adventurous. I had faith that Chef Anne would deliver a meal that would inspire me and potentially convince me to be bolder in my dining adventures. As she began working on the zucchini soup, Chef Anne invited us to approach her kitchen station to get a better look at her prep work. She narrated everything she was doing and offered tips as she went about preparing the menu. “Always taste your food first before serving,” she said. “You could be cheating your guests out of the meal’s full potential. You want the flavors to be just right.” She happily answered questions as she worked. She mentioned that the team at CIA Copia makes as much as they can in house, such as the crème fraiche she was using in the soup, so I asked her what goes into making crème fraiche. She said to combine 1 cup of buttermilk and heavy cream. After you’ve mixed it together, cover the container and allow it to rest at room temperature for 24 hours. Then refrigerate the crème and it’s good for up to two weeks. I wrote everything down as she went over the recipe. That sounds easy enough, I thought to myself. As I watched her work, I could tell Chef Anne loves cooking. She glowed as she moved about the kitchen, and you could hear the passion in her voice as she talked about the advantages of making your own vegetable stock rather than buying it from the store. We were all strangers, but she was treating us like friends, telling stories and asking us questions about

Samie Hartley, Register

The main course for the evening was cedar-planked salmon topped with a sorrel salsa verde and edible flower petals, paired with a side of roasted fingerling potatoes and glazed baby vegetables.

CEDAR-PLANKED SALMON WITH SORREL SALSA VERDE C U L I N A RY I N S T I T U T E O F A M E R I C A , “THE CIA COOKBOOK” „ 3 lbs. salmon fillet pepper „ 1 Tbsp. salt „ Cedar planks, soaked „ 1 tsp. ground black overnight, 2 per portion Place cedar plans on a sheet pain in the oven and set the oven to 350, allowing the plant to preheat in the oven. Clean, dry and trim the salmon to remove any remaining belly bones or pin bones. Cut the salmon into 8 equal pieces and then season with salt and pepper. Once the oven and planks are hot, place the salmon on the planks in the oven and bake until salmon is just cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes. SORREL SALSA VERDE „ 3 cups sorrel 3 oz. Ital„ 1/2 tsp. capers, drained ian parsley „ 3/4 cup pure olive oil „ 1 Tbsp. garlic, finely „ 1/2 tsp. lemon zest chopped „ 1 Tbsp. lemon juice „ 1 anchovy filet, rinsed „ Salt and ground black in water pepper to taste Clean and trim stems from fresh sorrel leaves, place in blender. Rinse and pick Italian parsley leaves with small tender stems, and add to the blender. All the garlic, anchovy and capers. And the pure olive oil, just enough to start the blending process. Add the lemon zest and juice, then add the remaining olive oil into the mixture while blending to emulsify. Continue blending until all the olive oil is incorporated and the sauce base is well mixed. Season with salt and black pepper and adjust thickness. Strain the sauce to achieve a smooth consistency. our own cooking adventures. As she ladled the soup into tiny cups, I noticed my mouth was watering. The creamy green soup, speckled with thyme, was comfort in a cup. The flavors she’d developed in a matter of minutes hypnotized me. My table-mate

said he could easily devour another cup, but I was taking my time. I’d never had a soup like this, and I was loving every drop. Had I been at home, I would have licked the bowl clean, but in the company of strangers, I maintained my table manners.

Chef Anne mentioned that the soup is also good served cold, and I believed her. I’d enjoyed everything she’d made up to this point. Maybe I’ll even like the salmon, I thought. After eating the heirloom tomato and parmesan tartlet, which was paired with a petit salad featuring house-smoked bacon lardons and shaved egg, I was in food heaven. I silently pledged to follow Chef Anne and eat whatever was put in front of me. When the cedar planked salmon arrived on a plate with roasted fingerling potatoes and glazed baby vegetables, I was game for anything. She’d impressed with every part of the meal leading up to this point, so I had high expectations for the salmon. The salmon looked beautiful topped with a sorrel salsa verde and edible flower petals. I’d never had salmon or sorrel, so I was getting a two-in-one food experience. As I put my knife into the salmon, the meat flaked under the delicate pressure. I set my knife down and cut into the salmon with my fork. I dabbed my forked helping into the salsa and took the bite. The fish was tender and juicy, and the salsa was bright and acidic, covering up any “fishy” taste on my palate. I went for a second bite and a third. I would have finished the whole serving if I hadn’t eaten the side dishes, but it was all too delicious to pass up. When the meal was over, I thanked Chef Anne for the meal. I told her about my aversion to fish, and she seemed surprised that I’d managed to avoid salmon for 30 years. I told her I wasn’t completely converted, but if I ever happened to be at one of her events again, I wouldn’t hesitate to question the menu. She made a believer out of me. The CIA at Copia offers several versions of The Chef ’s Table course. Tickets are $125 for the two-hour experience. Attendees must be 18 or older. The Chef ’s Table: Food For Entertaining is offered monthly through December. For a schedule of classes, visit ciaatcopia.com/classes/ copia-class-calendar. 107

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Drs. Stephen and Sylvia Taplin own Taplin Cellars along with Stephen brother Bill (not shown)

Tim Carl

UNITED against breast cancer TIM CARL

Family loss leads Napa wine dynasty to support research


tephen Taplin and his brother, Bill, and their sister, Melinda, grew up together on their family’s property on the southerly end of St. Helena in the Napa Valley. Each left to pursue his or her own passions and explore the world.


When Melinda died of breast cancer in 2015, her brothers knew how best to honor her memory. “She was such a wonderful spirit,” Stephen Taplin said. “She always brought people together and cared for their well-being. We wanted to celebrate her life and felt that a 100 percent charitable wine, ‘Melinda’s Rosé, was the perfect vehicle to help fund Dr. Susan Love’s cancer research foundation.” The profits from the small production wine are donated to the

Dr. Susan Love Foundation, whose work is dedicated to research on the causes and prevention of breast cancer as well as patient advocacy and education. Taplin’s desire to honor his sister’s life with a wine that supports cancer research makes sense, given his background: First, he’s the co-owner of a vineyard who traces his Napa Valley roots back multiple generations, and second, he has had a decades-long career as both a medical doctor and a

world-renowned cancer researcher, focusing much of his life’s effort advocating for increased access and improved breast-cancer screening for women in the United States and beyond. “I’ve conducted my own research on breast-cancer screening and have overseen the work of others through the National Cancer Institute,” he said. “We know the importance of screening, but in my Please see Cancer, Page 112

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sister’s case, because of the type of cancer she had and the limitations of our current technology, finding her tumor through screening alone was difficult, if not impossible.” Regular screening encouraged “I encouraged her to seek regular breast-cancer screening and she did,” said Taplin. “But in 2009 she actually found a 4-centimeter lump in her breast herself that, based on further testing, turned out to be lobular cancer. “I was kind of reassured at first because the type she had was, in general, one of the easily treated types, but there are a few weird exceptions, and she had one that was aggressive,” Taplin said. “This is an important part of the story because we use the term ‘breast cancer,’ but it’s really many different conditions, and the kind you have is really important to determine. “She had a subtype of aggressive lobular carcinoma, which was more like a slime mold that had the same texture as the surrounding tissues (called isodense), which means you can’t really see it on a mammogram.” Conditions for breast cancer “Our grandmother died of breast cancer and my sister had no children, both of which correlate with an increased likelihood of the disease,” Taplin said. “The good thing is that mortality is dropping for breast cancer, but of course there’s much work to be done.” According to the American Cancer Society a woman living today has about a 1 in 8 chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer at some time during her life. After increasing for more than two decades, female breast-cancer incidence rates began decreasing around 2000. Since 2004, overall female breast cancer incidence rates appear to have stabilized, and the death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1989, with larger decreases in women younger than 50. These decreases are believed to be the 112

Tim Carl photos

Bringing together people to help improve breast cancer outcomes. (L to R) Ana Scofield has helped coordinate events held at the Taplin vineyard property; David J. Tate, is a radiation oncologist at the Martin-O’Neil Cancer Center; Steve Taplin is an internationally recognized breast-cancer researcher who currently works for the National Cancer Institute based in Bethesda, Maryland; Sylvia Tapin runs the winery operations; Cherie Lee Goulard former chair and professor for the nursing program at Pacific Union College.

result of earlier detection through screening, improved treatments and increased awareness. In the United States in 2015 an estimated 250,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed among women, about 2,500 new cases in men. In Napa County alone there were an estimated 115 breast-cancer cases in 2014. There were also an estimated 20 deaths in Napa County from breast cancer in 2014. Also, the NCI’s website highlights the correlation between alcohol consumption and an increased rate of breast cancer. “I am reluctant to put a number on it (how many glass of wine is OK to consume) as the studies are large epidemiological studies which suggest that women who drink alcohol have a higher risk of breast cancer than women who don’t,” Love said. “However, it is impossible to tell from these studies whether the alcohol is the culprit or whether they are also less likely to exercise or eat a healthy diet or are overweight. You cannot prove cause and effect from these kinds of studies. In general

Aerial view of the Taplin vineyard on the southwest border of St. Helena.

moderation is a good idea as well as living a healthy lifestyle. I think we should stay away from giving strict advice. “I wish we had something that could have saved Melinda,” Love said. “Metastatic breast cancer is not currently curable. When I trained to be a surgeon many years ago women with an abnormal Pap smear had an immediate hysterectomy and lost their fertility, but once we figured out it was caused by a virus we were able to develop a vaccine. We need a similar

approach to cancer, not finding it early but preventing it from happening in the first place.” Taplin Cellar’s history Although the Taplin Cellar wine brand was only officially launched a few years ago, the Taplin family has been living in the Napa Valley since the early 1870s, when John Taplin came to California for the gold rush, eventually opening a dairy farm along the Silverado Trail near what is now Taplin Road.

Taplin winemaker Julien Fayard. For generations the Fayard family has grown grapes and produced their own expression of the region’s signature wine, Provençal rosé. The Taplin’s wine is made through custom crush at the Covert Estate, located east of Napa.

Aerial view of the Taplin vineyard on the southwest border of St. Helena.

“My brother, Bill, sister, Melinda, and I founded Taplin Cellars in 2011 to reflect our history and passion for the valley, wine, and our desire to contribute to gathering people around great food, great wine and great conversation,” Taplin said. “Bill Ballantine Jr. made our wine initially and helped us get into the marketplace. Winemaker Julien Fayard joined our effort in 2012 to give us more capacity to focus on the expression of our estate wines.” Fayard is one of the world’s leading experts when it comes to making rosé wine. He grew up in the French town of Saint-Etienne and spent time working at his family’s winery and vineyard, cru classe Chateau Sainte-Marguerite, located in the village of La Londeles-Maures near the French Riviera. For generations the Fayard family has grown grapes and produced their own expression of the region’s signature wine, Provençal

rosé. By the age of 16, young Julien had blended his first wine. After obtaining a master’s in agriculture and winemaking he worked at renowned French wineries such as Château Lafite Rothschild and Château Smith Haut Lafitte. “This is a very special place and the wines help support an important cause,” Fayard said. “We make this rosé with a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grapes to create a wine that represents this unique piece of land and a family with deep roots and a mission. The Melinda’s Rosé has textural elements from the Cabernet but beautiful floral components from the earth and the Cab Franc that we’ve included.” Fayard also makes two other wines from the property for the Taplins, including the Taplin Terra 9 Cabernet Sauvignon ($65 a bottle and 600 cases made) and the Taplin Cabernet Sauvignon

($130 a bottle and 100 cases for many cancers. made). Only 50 to 100 cases of “The cancer that Melinda had the Melinda’s Rosé are made each is difficult to detect on a mamyear ($28 a bottle). mogram,” he said, “ so we are always looking for better ways to Taplin Cellars: fostering health- both detect and treat the variety of care collaboration cancers that exist out there. What Beyond supporting cancer kind of screenings do we need to research, Taplin’s efforts are a way do, how often do we need to do to bring together local healthcare them are all still debates, but getprofessionals to help foster collab- ting people together is an importoration and communication. ant first step.” “What the Taplins have done here is not just about a wine but Cancer care: Beyond discussion about bringing people together “We have two employees at with the shared vision of improv- the St. Helena hospital that are ing health outcomes,” said Cherie supported through grants from Lee Goulard R.N., Ph.D. and the V-Foundation and the Napa former chair and professor for the Valley Vintners that are focused nursing program at Pacific Union on research, and we try and recruit College. “Bringing world-class as many people to those research medical practitioners such as Love projects as possible — that is really and Taplin himself, along with where we are making the new disresearchers, nurses and doctors coveries,” Tate said. “Our goal is to into one room is a wonderful way improve the quality of healthcare to foster both a sense of commu- and the access to that healthcare. nity and to help improve care for It’s at this juncture that a commuthe people of the Napa Valley and nity like the Napa Valley can really beyond.” make a difference.” “I’ve been working in the Napa Valley since 2009, and really the Napa Valley: making a difference reason I am here is because this is in cancer care a special community,” said David The Taplins are attemptTate, a radiation oncologist at the ing to bring together local and Martin-O’Neil Cancer Center internationally recognized cancer in St. Helena. “The Napa Valley researchers and healthcare profesVintners and the V-Foundation sionals in an attempt to advance and a lot of charitable donors, outcomes. According to Taplin along with the vision of the local there is much work yet to be done. physicians and nurses, have helped “Mammograms are not a silver to create an exceptional cancer bullet, and they are not sufficient center here in St. Helena. Now to protect all women,” Taplin said. Steve is helping to bring together “We need more knowledge about a community that will help foster the different types of breast-cancer collaboration, communication and biology, and we need to underimprove outcomes.” stand that we can comfort people According to Tate, there are faced with the disease but we can’t still debates regarding the optimal save all of them, even with the best detection protocols and treatment of care.” 113

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Inside Napa Valley - Fall Winter 2017  

Inside Napa Valley - Fall Winter 2017