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napa valley WINTER/SPRING 2018

Seasons of


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

In this issue




A real estate dynasty


Getting to Know You


Living the Life


Get started running


From a hobby to a marathon


Napa means poetry too


Cycling For sight


Nature preserve perseveres


Napa County’s golf courses


Family Centers: a tradition of service


Great Estates


A long lost castle


Events in the Napa Valley


California’s Spanish heritage


Young musicians breaking out


Where in the Valley


Doug Keane breaks new ground


Mi Sueño—a dream come true


To advertise in Distinctive Properties or any Napa Valley Publishing outlet, contact Randy Dowis at

A burst of color in the Napa Valley N O R M A KO S T E C K A Ad ve r ti s i ng Di re ctor


he holidays are over, but winter in the Napa Valley is anything but a drab letdown. Our hills are covered in green and our vineyards are a riot of yellow as mustard season sets in. Crews are pruning the vines and carefully tending to the delicate buds that will soon burst out into new growth. But it’s not just mustard season – it’s also running season, as temperatures improve and we gear up NORMA KOSTECKA for the annual Napa Valley Marathon. In this edition of Inside Napa Valley, we’ll ask the experts what newcomers need to break in the sport of running, and we’ll talk with two county residents who went from inspired amateurs to hard-core marathoners.

We’ll visit with a multi-generation dynasty in the Napa real estate scene and we’ll catch up with celebrity chef Doug Keane, one of the faces behind St. Helena’s Two Birds One Stone. We’ll have a look at a new recording studio set up in Napa by some ambitions young local musicians. We’ll look at a couple of important community-building institutions. We’ll talk about the history and heritage of the UpValley Family Centers and take a look behind the annual Cycle for Sight fundraiser. We’ll also look ahead at events of the winter and spring that make Napa Valley such a special place to live and visit. And we’ll dig deep into Napa County history, examining the Spanish roots before statehood and remembering the fantastic castle that used to stand at what is now

known as Napa State Hospital, but is now nothing but a memory. We’ll get to know Larry Coomes, the new CEO of Queen of the Valley, and we’ll bring another edition of Great Estates, this time looking at a sprawling hilltop compound that offers amazing views but is only minutes from downtown Napa. You’ll get to test your sharp eye for detail with another edition of “Where in the Valley?” 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. So tie on a study pair of running shoes and join along. On the cover: Photo courtesy Bob McClenahan Photography, 3












1350 135 350 THIRD STREET NAPA, CA 94559 | 707.259.0123

A legacy

Gularte is a name synonymous with real estate in Napa

in sales



hen veteran local real estate man Randy Gularte says “the only thing my family knows is real estate,” you had better believe that’s true. In fact, you probably can’t drive two blocks in the city of Napa without passing a property the Gularte family has sold, owned or help someone purchase. “My dad, Loyd, and my mom, Lovina, got into the real estate business here in 1947,” Gularte recalled. “Dad was a partner with Harry Stover, and then he started Homefinders with Art Bowen. Dad then he went into business with Al Giavanoni, and the two of them formed Gularte/Giavanoni Real Estate. His father later started his own company called Gularte Real Estate. In the late 1950s, he started Crown Realty and later became affiliated with Gallery of Homes. “One of the first things my did was sell sub-divisions,” he said, “And, in fact, my sister still has his first little ‘sales house’ in the backyard of his old house that she owns today. “Now, it’s a pool house,” he said, chuckling. “Dad was quite the salesperson, and integrity was very important to him as it is to me today,” said Gularte proudly. “A lot of people would not list with him because they wanted to fiddle around with disclosures and such, and dad was the type that didn’t go for that.” As the business grew, the Gulartes found themselves looking to upgrade their offices. Originally, the office was down on Clay Street, then later Gularte bought a place up at 1155 Trancas St. “Everyone asked Dad why he would want to move to north Napa because then there wasn’t much out there,” Gularte said. “And my dad said it was because that’s where the growth will be.”

ABOVE: Randy and Crystal Gularte are co-owners of Heritage Sotheby’s International Realty in Napa. J.L. Sousa, Register

LEFT: Randy and Crystal Gularte with his parents, Lovina and Loyd Gularte. Submitted photo

He was correct about that. Today, Gularte’s office is located on a piece of property his parents purchased in 1978, at 780 Trancas St. The Gularte business has changed with the times and has been through several versions and names, allied with various companies and brands. “In 1992, we joined ReMax and it was

called ReMax Napa Valley, and we were with them for 15 years. Then I joined Sotheby’s in 2007,” where he remains an agent today. “Eventually I split my two corporations, so now we have a sales side and Crown Realty Property Management, which is our property management side.” Today, he is president of Heritage Sotheby’s International Realty. 5

As a young man, Gularte had not yet acquired the passion for real estate he would carry for the rest of his life. “At Napa High School, I was not a great student, but I had a blast and it was a fun time,” he said. “Even so, I was sure every college would want Randy Gularte. So I applied everywhere and got denied everywhere, so I went to the JC here.” “The first year I still struggled, but the second year all of a sudden the light bulb went on,” he said, “It hit me that if I really wanted to be something in life, I was going to have to start studying.” He got his first real estate license while still a sophomore, and after graduation was accepted at Sacramento State for his junior year. “They had a good real estate program there and I started studying real hard knowing my know that me whole thing was real estate, real estate, real estate,” he recalled. “Then right out of college with my B.S. degree and minor in real estate, I immediately went for my broker’s license and started full time with my dad in 1976, and my whole career has been in Napa ever since,” Gularte said. Times have changed a lot since then, he said, illustrating the point with one of his favorite stories. “In 1976, when I would show property to people from out of town, I would put them in the back seat, drive up Silverado Trail to St. Helena, cut across the valley and come back down the highway to Napa,” he said. “ And that was the tour of the valley. “On one of these drives in 1976, I had one of the San Francisco radio stations on as a background and all of a sudden I hear that two Napa wines win a Gold Medal at the Judgment of Paris wine competition, which changed the view of Napa Valley wines forever,” he said. “Across from Stag’s Leap, all I saw were prune orchards. You could buy them for around $25 6

J.L. Sousa, Register

Crystal Gularte

J.L. Sousa, Register

Heritage Sotheby’s International Realty at 780 Trancas St.

Lovina and Loyd Gularte

an acre back then — had we only known.” “I love to tell that story because it just shows how young we are in this valley as far as our wine industry goes. We don’t have that huge history that France, Italy and Spain have.” In 1985, he and his wife bought the company from his parents. “My goal was to retire when I was 35 and here I am 63,” he said. “Over the years, I found out is it’s not the retirement that you shoot for, it’s success and everyone has a different definition. If you love what you are doing, and still have

Submitted photo

the passion, that’s success. “I’ve enjoyed every day, well, most days anyway,” he said, laughing. “I never thought about doing anything else. “ And he’s brought a new generation into the business as well. “My oldest, Danielle, is now in charge of our property management company,” he said. “When she was in middle school, she took one of those aptitude tests to determine what she was going to do when she grew up. When my wife Crystal picked her up from school that day, she was crying because the test said she was going to be a property manager some

J.L. Sousa, Register

Randy Gularte

day. She did not want to do what her dad did! Lo and behold, what is my daughter doing today? “She has the same drive that I have, she has the same desire to get things done and do them right,” Gularte said. Gularte said he bought the company when his dad was 63, “which is my age now,” he said. “So would I sell the company to my daughter right now? No way, because I still want to work. I wonder if my dad was that way. But he let me buy the company anyway because he knew that was what I really wanted.” Even though many in the real estate business work 24/7 and their hours are never their own, Gularte realized 25 years go that working 24/7 was not a good thing. So he made a deal with my family that he would be home for dinner at 5:30 or 6 o’clock and then if I had to go back out, he would. “As time when on I was able to explain to my clients that there is a balance of life, and when you a balance everything is better in life. I tell my clients now that I work from 8 to 6:30, and I don’t work weekends. If you explain to your clients right up front this is how you work, most clients will understand and accept it,” Gularte said. A lifetime in the business has given Gularte a lot of status in the local real estate world. “I’m kind of the go-to guy in town for people developing sub-divisions, and I have probably done 60-70 projects like that over the years,” he said. “When I look at all the properties in the area my family has been involved in, I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish, But I still have the passion. I would like to stay in the business another 5-10 years if I can keep my health.” It wouldn’t be wise to bet against him.

April 27-29, 2018

Chefs, Bikes, Fun & Games!

Hosted by Chef Chris Cosentino, CampoVelo combines world-class cycling (road and mountain), hiking, yoga, mouth-watering cuisine, and incredible beer and wine into an unforgettable Napa Valley weekend.

Featuring Special Guests:

Michael Voltaggio

Chris Cosentino

Host, Chef, Cockscomb & Acacia House

Executive Chef, ink.well and Top Chef Winner

Duff Goldman

Rebekah Wineberg

Pastry Chef Charm City Cakes

Winemaker Quintessa

Jess Cerra

Pro Cyclist & Chef Fit Food

Ben Hoffman

6x Ironman Champion

Steve Matthiasson

Bertus van Zyl

Winemaker of the Year: SF Chronicle and Food & Wine Magazine

Head Winemaker Farm Collective

Bob Roll

Alison Tetrick

Former Pro Cyclist, Author & Broadcast Personality

Pro Cyclist Cylance Pro Cycling

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Queen of the Valley CEO Larry Coomes What’s your guilty pleasure? Peanut butter – extra crunchy. Where’s your happy place? A little beach town on the west coast of Michigan named Pentwater. It’s right on Lake Michigan and the sunsets are phenomenal. It’s been a landing spot for my family since the mid-1800s. Weirdest job (other than your current)? Cleaning horse stables at a farm outside of Chicago – it was tough to get the horses to cooperate. Why healthcare? I was drawn to healthcare through my wife who is a cardiac nurse by training. She has such a passion for the patient that it drove my interest in utilizing my previous business skills to help do what I can to provide the best patient, employee and physician experience possible. It’s been a wonderful journey. You worked at Porsche for many years. What’s your favorite model? Not to offend any Porsche purists, but my favorite model is the Cayenne SUV. The reason is because I was lucky enough to have an indirect hand with the product design but I was also directly responsible for designing the national layout of the Porsche dealership network to optimize the sales and service of this new product line – it effectively doubles the sales of Porsche in the U.S. Most unusual vacation? This past Christmas – went to Florida with my wife and son to thaw out. Thanks to the weather bomb in the northeast, it was warmer in Napa than it was in South Florida! Favorite way to relax? Massage, stretching, and golf. What sport are you best at? At this point in my life, it has to be golf – I was big into baseball and basketball when I was younger. What sport do you love to play but are no good at? I think lacrosse is one of the coolest sports out there – they did not have it when I grew up in Chicago, but I was able to quickly pick up how to throw the ball with my son, but my understanding of the game isn’t what I would like it to be just yet. Favorite Star Wars movie? The original – I’m old school in that sense. Favorite thing about Napa? I guess the wine and food are so good that I cant use that as my answer – I’m particularly pleased with the people here – the sense of community is tremendous and my family is thrilled to be a part of it! 9


The Rain Men I C O L I N M AC P H A I L

love the way the rainy days amplify the comfort level of so many things. Like the smell of coffee in the morning, warm, hearty soup at lunch, any kind of baking, an outdoor kiss, the aroma of damp earth, a hot shower, the radio in the background at night, and the crack of a good new book. One rainy winter’s day in February many years ago, I was cleaning out the tasting room cupboards and getting a few things done, as we had no appointments. It’s the time of year where you enjoy taking care of the small things. Everyone in the winery, the cellar, and vineyard is kept busy, but often with tasks that are all about girding your loins for the season ahead. Like many others, the wine business is slow in February. Owners get irritable and you become a lot less fussy about your opportunities. Ironically, you have more time to spend with folks. Sometimes what occasionally washes up at your door seems somehow shinier and more interesting than usual, like wet stones on a beach. It was not long after the tasting room had opened, and I was working all departments by myself. Suddenly, the door opened and in out of the rain emerged four gentlemen without


an appointment, stamping their feet and brushing raindrops off their suits and overcoats. It is so unusual to see people in suits in Napa Valley wineries that you are immediately wary as to who and why these people are on your doorstep. Three of the gentlemen were large, dark and swarthy, and had a Mediterranean countenance. One was thinner, wispier and had a Northern European visage. They introduced themselves; they were from “New Joisyee,” and were looking for “donations” for their charity. I felt like I had walked onto a Scorsese movie set. I was careful to indicate that our giving program was strongly local and an East Coast charitable event, worthy though it might be, was outside our remit. My care came from being acutely aware that you don’t usually have your charitable requests standing right in front of you, and they don’t usually look like they “take care of business” in a very hands-on kind of way. They were softspoken and almost excessively polite throughout our encounter. As they tasted through the wines they volunteered that they were in the limo business, nightclub “entertainment” business, and in construction. The front man (I swear) was called “Frankie.” The fair-haired

gentleman was their traveling Austrian sommelier here to evaluate the donations and their value. Despite being turned down, they decided that they would pause anyway and taste through our wines. It wasn’t long before the sommelier was waxing lyrical and saying, “Oh zees are very goot vines, very goot...” Frankie stepped outside to make a call. Afterward, he came back in and ordered six cases of wine. Well, six cases is six cases, and on a rainy February day it’s hard not to get a little lift in your step and a sparkle in your eye. I scurried around pulling the wines together while the four gentlemen enjoyed the last of their wines. As Frankie slid his credit card across the counter I noted the thick hairy fingers and the solid gold and diamond studded rings, with a heavy gold bracelet dripping down over his wrist. As I went to lift the credit card I realized he was applying pressure to the flat surface. I looked up and he was staring at me with lazy but penetrating brown pupils set in relaxed but confident eyes. “So… …about the donation…?” he said without letting up on the pressure. I did a very quick and easy calculation and said, “I’m sure we can come up with something to match your enthusiasm for our

wines.” A few select magnums later they donned their overcoats and stepped back out into the drizzling rain. I did wonder if the charity they represented even existed, so a few weeks later after the wine had shipped, I phoned the New Jersey number listed on a website listed for the charity and asked for “Frankie.” People think I make this up, but the receptionist really did say something like, “Frankie who? We got three Frankie’s, you want Frankie Falucci, Frankie Donara, or Frankie Lucce?” In the end, they proved to be a totally legitimate charity. Every year after that, someone from the organization would visit, and every year buy significantly less. I suspect this was all part of the plan, but by then I was too scared to say ‘no.’ So I simply kept making a “donation” year after year. I didn’t mind – unlike many donation requesters, they put skin in the game, they came to see us, spent well to get attention, did not give the impression of entitlement. And they looked you in the eye — good advice for anyone getting into the long-term donation business. Colin MacPhail is a wine consultant and writer who lives in Calistoga.

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Joining a training group is a great way to get motivated, coaches say. Athletic Feat

Going the


Running is a great test for body and mind, but how do you get started?


unning is a sport that requires commitment. The determination required to run mile after mile tests the body in a multitude of ways while providing a sense of accomplishment worthy of the physical challenge. For trainers and professionals devoted to the sport, running is a passion parallel to none. The time, focus and energy required are both gratifying and ambitious.


But how do you get started? “In a word, slowly,” said professional trainer Matthew Forsman of Given the physical demands of the sport, Forsman encourages newer runners to start at a pace that is achievable and appropriate. “Running can generate 3-7 times your body weight in impact force per footstrike,” he said. “Just for some context, your average runner sees their feet hit the ground 160-200 times in a single minute of running. Given this, I think it’s fair to think of running as an ‘extreme sport.’ There’s a reason why it’s one of the fastest ways to burn calories; it’s an extraordinarily demanding physical act. ”

For the person totally new to running, don’t expect immediate results, he said. “If you’ve never run before, don’t run more than two or three times per week and avoid consecutive days of running,” he advises. “For the two or three runs, start slow (and small). Focus on comfortable/conversational pace (which might feel quite slow). Focus on time on your feet rather than mileage initially. “Specifically, start with just 10-15 minutes of running,” he said. “Incorporating walk breaks of a minute every 5 minutes is a good idea as well. Once this starts to feel easier, gradually add a few minutes of running to each run. From here, look to shorten your walk

Submitted photo

Professional trainer Matthew Forsman of

breaks gradually and extend your run segments.” Getting started or getting back into any sport can be overwhelming. However, professional trainers and specialized local shops such as Athletic Feat in Napa, can provide equipment, education and customized programs to help any level marathon runner be successful. “I like to figure out what their goals are first. Figure out what they want and come up with a plan that will help them accomplish their goals,” said Dame’ Rahal, owner of Athletic Feat. “As far as educating them, I use what I have learned throughout my running career and share it with them. One of the most important things is to know how to properly warm up and properly cool down. People also need to learn the difference between dynamic stretching versus static stretching.” Along with providing tips and offering quality products to suit every runner’s needs, the local shop provides customized programs to their customers to help them meet their goals. “Athletic Feat offers a great six-week run/walk training program that is tailor-made for specific goals,” said Rahal. “You will finish the program running the Napa Marathon 5k. We also analyze your gait and hold a Good Form

J.L. Sousa/Register

Dame’ Rahal, owner of Athletic Feat.

Forsman. “Conquering a marathon (or any other distance one trains for) can open the door to all kinds of other goals that one might not have considered previously. “Running can be a Submitted photo profoundly life-affirming experience, but it can Running Clinic for you.” be heartbreaking as well,” he said. The physical strength required to “Training for a marathon is a long and become a serious distance runner can be demanding process. Many things can demanding and rigorous. When asked go wrong over the course of four to six what equipment is needed for the sport, months (the typical time frame needed both professionals had a simple answer, to train for a marathon). Aggravations a quality pair of running shoes. and injuries can occur and it’s not easy “The best part about running is you to provide solace to someone who has don’t need any equipment,” said Rahal. invested days, weeks, and months only “All you need is a good pair of running to find themselves felled by an injury. It shoes, where you can get at Athletic doesn’t happen often. But, when it hapFeat. Other than running shoes, there’s pens it’s tough for me and the runner not a whole lot you need.” I’m coaching.” Though running may not require a Long-distance runner Kara Goucher vast array of accessories, the time com- once said, “Running allows me to set my mitment and work ethic required to mind free. Nothing seems impossible, run something like a marathon is con- nothing unattainable.” siderable. Professional trainer Forsman No matter where you begin the knows too well the ups and downs to journey, becoming a marathon runner working with clients to achieve their is possible. Whether hiring a trainer or goals. working on your own with the help of “Being a trainer can be extremely local specialty shops, all that is required gratifying and inspiring. There’s noth- is the desire to achieve, mental and ing quite like helping someone achieve physical commitment – and, of course, or transcend their running goals,” said a good pair of running shoes. 13



Two local moms take running to the next level - the marathon


he commitment and perseverance required to running a marathon is altitudinous. From the time invested in training to the overall physicality of the sport, determination and dedication is on full display in those who aspire to thrive. For two local women, the decision to go the distance was an easy one. The love for the sport and the thrill of the race heightened their experiences in a way that not only inspires but motivates those around them. It started with Girls on the Run “I started running about 12 years ago when Gio, the older of my two daughters, was in third grade,” said local mother and coach Shari Costanzo. “I became a coach for her Girls on the Run group at Yountville Elementary. After running a few 5Ks with my daughters, I decided to do a half marathon. After a few half marathons, she decided to try the Napa Valley Marathon in 2012. “My goal was just to make it to the finish line,” she recalls. “I finished in 4 hours and 4 minutes. So I thought I’d sign up the following year with the goal to break 4 hours. It was that year, with my family and students cheering me on, that I finished in 4 hours and 1 minute. I wanted them to see that I could break 4 hours, and I knew that I could do it.” Setting personal goals allowed Costanzo to finish in a time that she was proud of and worked hard for. Her experience and dedication motivated her to continue on with the sport and flourish year after year.

By 2014, she finished in 3 hours 41 minutes, which qualified her to run in the Boston Marathon. “I ran Boston in 2015 with three of my closest friends,” she said. “It was an amazing experience, and I decided to set a new goal to qualify for the New York Marathon.” “I trained harder, and continued to coach my Girls on the Run groups,” said Costanzo. “I also became the coach for the Vintage High School Cross Country team. Running with the high school students helped me increase mileage and get faster. I finished my fifth marathon with a time of 3 hours 26 minutes and 54 seconds, which was only 54 seconds over my qualifying time for New York.” Determined to qualify, she ran the Giants Half Marathon next, and missed my qualifying time by 65 seconds. So she ran in Napa for the Napa Half Marathon and qualified (with 8 seconds to spare) to run in New York. “2017 was my first year where I ran two marathons in the year,” she said. “My goal was to finish in the top 5 percent. I finished the Napa Marathon in the top 4 percent, and the New York Marathon in the top 3 percent.” Training is a component of the sport that supports time management, physical development and longevity. Though each runner trains in their own time and capacity, all runners agree on the importance of pacing and variation. See Running, Page 16

Liz Green


RUNNING From Page 15

“I run at least six days each week, and I cross-train one day. Each week I try to switch up my routes and include hills, speed work, tempo runs, and long runs at a slower pace to keep my body and my mind challenged,” said Costanzo. “The most challenging thing about marathoning is the battle between the body and the mind when the body starts to get tired, and the mind has to stay positive and encourage the body to keep going. It’s the battle that happens within yourself. The battle reminds you that even in your weakest moments, you are strong.” As a cross country coach for Vintage High School, Costanzo knows the importance of staying motivated. Her love for the sport Shari Costanzo reveals itself when the feat is surmountable and requires extreme dedication. “I’ve learned that I can lift myself up when I’m down, that failure is a stepping stone to success, and that discipline is doing what needs to be done even when you don’t want to do it.” Finding a new sport For local mother Liz Green, the sport provides a “sense of accomplishment” that keeps her going back year after year. “So far, I have done one full marathon, three half marathons and more 5Ks and 10Ks than I can count. I am training for another half marathon in S.F. in April. I’d like to think I’ll run another full in my life,” said Green. But she didn’t set out to be a runner. “I got started by having a series of knee injuries from my previous sports that limited my ability to compete in such sports as soccer and rugby, so I took up jogging,” she said. “I casually ran a lot of 5Ks and 10Ks in my 20s and early 30s. After I had my second baby, I found a Sunday running group in my quest to get back out on the pavement. “Having always been very 16

Tom Stockwell, CALISTOGAN

competitive, the thought of running ‘with’ other people intimidated me. What if I couldn’t keep up? My running group sisters have been the most empowering group of people I have ever met, and there is no competition, just love, support and postrun coffee dates,” she said. “We all encourage each other and celebrate each other’s accomplishments.” Having a group of runners that she could confide in, reach out to and train with made a tremendous impact on the local Mother.

Working full-time and having young children did not stop her from running. It motivated her. “I trained for my first half marathon with my running group less than a year after having my son. A few of my friends decided to register for the Napa Valley Marathon and I just followed along. After all, I was halfway there already, right?,” said Green. “ It was an impulsive decision because up until that point, I had never believed I could complete the elusive 26.2. After I crossed the 13.1 hurdle for the

first time, I just felt like I had this forward momentum and had the urge to keep going and test my boundaries.” Training for such mileage is exhausting and requires extreme motivation. Green worked with mentors such as Dame’ Rahal of Athletic Feat in Napa, and friends with the same dedication and drive to help her achieve her goals. “I call my training program the ‘weekend warrior approach,’” Green said. “With a full-time job and two toddlers, finding time to run during the week is a great feat. I commit to my Sunday long runs and just wing it during the week, squeezing in two or three miles here and there when I can. “The ladies I run with on Sunday’s are my inspiration and they make the long runs, dare I say, fun,” she said. “I look forward to my long runs because of my ‘soul sisters,’ as I call them. My Sunday runs are times when I can reflect, meditate and enjoy the camaraderie of people who are just as crazy and addicted to the great outdoors as I am.” For Green, running is not only a goal-oriented activity. The sport provides clarity and perspective that enriches her life. “It goes beyond the feeling that I accomplished something only a handful of the population has done. My running is my time to reflect, meditate and cast all my worries aside as I breathe in fresh air and bask in the beautiful landscape that is the Napa Valley,” said Green. “I feel very fortunate to live where I do and be able to raise my kids where I grew up. When I come home from a run, it’s like I have flushed all the metaphoric toxins from my life and hit the reset button.” Like many ardent runners, both Shari Costanzo and Liz Green have put miles of heart and dedication into their journey. Their passion shines through each practice, each race and into their daily lives. Though the sport may be arduous at times, the moment they cross the finish line is well worth it, they say. For Shari and Liz, running is much more than a hobby; it’s a way of life.





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‘O, for a draught of

VINTAGE’ Poetry pairs with wine in the Napa Valley


apa Valley wine, Robert Louis Stevenson famously wrote, is “bottled poetry.” The unbottled variety of poetry thrives here too – although without the renown of its vine-born trope. Poets have always loved wine. Take John Keats, for example: O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been Cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth, Tasting of Flora and the country green, Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth! O for a beaker full of the warm South, Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene, With beaded bubbles winking at the brim, And purple-stained mouth;


M I C H A E L WAT E R S O N That I might drink, and leave the world unseen, And with thee fade away into the forest dim: Ode to a Nightingale At one Napa winery, the feeling is mutual; Judd’s Hill is a promoter and publisher of poetry. The winery holds an annual poetry contest, and has a page dedicated to poetry on its website, The winery also puts out a newsletter “mainly as a vehicle to send out the wonderful wine-related poems . . . solicited from our friends and wine buyers,” according to an online statement by the winery’s co-founder Bunnie Finklestein. Like its wine, Napa poetry has a pedigree: since 2003, the county has designated a poet laureate, joining what a 2013

New York Times article called “a rapidly growing list” of communities throughout the country with official bards. Initiated by Supervisor Brad Wagenknecht at the behest of a school principal, the unfunded position is administered by Arts Council Napa Valley and county library staff, according to Wagenknecht. A two-year position, the poet laureate’s job is to be an “ambassador for poetry” and promote public awareness of poetry, according to the Arts Council website. Napa’s current poet laureate is Jeremy Benson, a 31-yearold native of Michigan. As an organic farmer working for

Raphael Kluzniok/ Register photos

Ariana Golingo performs her poem “Sweater Weather” during the teen poetry slam at the Napa County Library in Napa in 2015. Golingo was awarded first place for her performance.

Submitted photo

Author Mike Waterson was Poet Laureate of Napa County from 2010 to 2012. Here he is performing his official duties by offering a public poetry reading.

Submitted photo

A participant revises his poetry at the 2014 Napa Valley Writers’ Conference. Maria Sestito, Register

Napa County Poet Laureate Jeremy Benson.

Frog’s Leap Winery, and holding a degree in creative writing from Hope College, Benson is perhaps the perfect link between words and wine. His favorite poets — Mary Oliver, Robert Bly and Wendell Berry — each voice intimacy with the land. In a recent interview, Benson said he would like to get the Hispanic and youth communities more involved in the poetry scene. “Young people working hospitality hours can’t go to (literary) events,” Benson said. “It feels like there’s nothing happening in Napa Valley, so there’s a brain drain to San Francisco.” In order to bring poetry to the people, Benson holds regular “office hours,” rotating among the valley’s five libraries. He’s available to discuss an individual’s poetic efforts, or anything poetry related. His appearance schedule is on the county library website. Like libraries, bookstores are another good place to find bards, and there are

California Writers’ Club begun by Jack London and others in 1909, Napa Valley Writers recently published its first anthology, a collection of fiction, essays and poetry titled “First Press: Collected Works from Napa Valley Writers 2017.” Monthly meetings on the second Wednesday at the Unitarian Universalists Church Sanctuary in north Napa feature talks by well-known authors. The club offers critique groups for writers who want feedback, as well as quarterly workshops and open mics. Kathleen Thomas, a retiree from Napa State Hospital, is the club’s president. She joined the group, she said, because of a feeling of belonging from the first meeting. “I said, ‘Wow, this is my home! I like these people!’” For information visit napavalleywriters. net. In St. Helena, a group of poets meets every Thursday morning at the Rianda House senior center, according to poets Nathaniel “Bob” Winters and Peggy Prescott. Like many writers, Winters, who just published a poetry collection titled “Another Revolution,” and Prescott are retired teachers. With the advent of wine writing and increasingly rhapsodic descriptions in tasting notes (No doubt some will soon lift lines from Keats), the pairing of wine with poetry as forms of artistic expression/appreciation seems complete. As master sommelier Geoff Kruth was quoted as saying in a recent New Yorker article about wine writing: “At the end of the day, we’re selling poetry.”

several bookstores in the valley which hold readings and book signings. Bookmine on Pearl Street in Napa holds monthly discussions of poetry and prose, and readings of both. The store issues an email newsletter with scheduled events. Copperfield’s Books, in Bell Air Plaza in Napa, and on Lincoln Avenue in Calistoga, also hosts readings, book signings and workshops. For information, visit and No discussion of the valley’s poetry scene would be complete without mentioning Napa Valley Writers’ Conference. Entering it’s 38th year, the five-day gathering of poets and authors at the end of July is one of the longest-running, premier conferences in the country. With workshops, as well as public readings and lectures, the conference is a project of Napa Valley College. For information, visit There are several local writers’ support groups, among them Napa Valley Writers and the Library Writers’ Club of St. Helena. Michael Waterson was the Poet Laureate A four-year-old branch of the 22-chapter of Napa County from 2010 to 2012.


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Annual ride draws thousands to the Napa Valley to support good causes


Submitted photo



pringtime is the best time to ride in the Napa Valley,” Cycle for Sight producer Rebecca Kotch says. Why? Because spring is when she gets almost 2,000 riders from 12 states, ages 14 to 84, to come together to support two powerful causes. The April 21 event is now in its 11th year and benefits two local charities: the Pathway Home Program for veterans and the Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind and Visually Impaired. “We’ve raised over $2 million to benefit these two fantastic non-profits with great need,” said Kotch. “That’s $200,000 every year. This year, the money is more important than ever because the Pathway Home would like to expand its programs and double the number of veterans they can accommodate, and the Enchanted Hills Camp was heavily damaged by the fires in Napa.”

Raphael Kluzniok/ Register

Signs dedicated to veterans line California drive in Yountville, to create Memorial Mile.

Cycle for Sight was started by the Rotary Club of Napa, and Gary Rose has been leading the charge, Kotch said. You can register online to ride, volunteer or just come to the festival, “which is really a fun thing we take great pride in.” Riders can sign up for a 15-mile ride, the easy family level, a 25-mile ride or a 50-mile ride with climbing and great vistas. “There’s something for everyone,” she said. “We get businesses and even have every politician in the area turning out.” Kotch, who is a rider and participates in the event, said, “Cycling is such a fantastic community event. People can come together, ride their bikes and have a great afternoon. “A marquis aspect of the event is what we call the ‘memorial mile’,” she said. “It’s all the way down the entrance of the Vets Home. For $100 each, people can put up signs in memory of someone, to honor someone, or simply to support the event, whether you are a business or an individual. You really feel an emotional connection when you ride through that.” The rides begin and end at Justin-Siena High School, which also hosts the post-race festival. “They’ve been really generous to the event in allowing us to use their space,” Kotch noted. At the post-ride festival, they have 30 different wineries pouring wine, three local Napa Valley restaurants serving food, a silent auction and live music featuring San Francisco band Pride and Joy. “It’s a great way to celebrate your bicycling success with your friends or family,” she said. It’s affordable, she said, and you get all that when you sign up for $65 (early bird price available until Feb. 21), or $25 for youth. They love to have families, but if you just want to come out for the festival in the afternoon, you can sign up for that only for $35. “People are sometimes not sure what this event is for because we are trying to accomplish a lot of things, but primarily it’s to give back to the two fantastic entities the ride supports,” Kotch explained. The Pathway Home is an on-property

Submitted photo

Maria Sestito/Register

program at the Veterans Home; it’s a live-in facility that presently benefits 10 residents. “They’re working with veterans and making them feel more connected to the community as they work through their mental, physical and spiritual issues,” Kotch said. “We want them to feel as successful in the public arena as they did in the military.” Enchanted Hills is the only camp of its kind in the western United States and provides a once-a-year opportunity for children, adults, and veterans to experience the wonders of nature on a 300-acre camp in the western hills of Napa Valley. It offers cycling and hiking trails, horseback riding, fishing, swimming, and a variety of other activities. “At Cycle for Sight, you’ll see tandem bikes so blind cyclists can participate, and men and women there from the military service either riding bikes or helping as volunteers,” said Kotch. She added that people love this event because it’s so “real,” you’re right there with the people the day benefits. Safety is important, and all riders must

wear helmets. The rides are fully supported with SAG vehicles, and all rides have rest stops with food and drink. “We are definitely looking for volunteers and sponsors,” Kotch said. Sign-up information can be found on the event website. People are also welcome to simply make a donation. About 60 percent of the riders are local and 40 percent from out of town, organizers said. Most of the riders participate in the 50-mile ride. One of the great things about Cycle for Sight, said Kotch, “is it’s homegrown, downto-earth, and anyone can do it. It’s not a race, it’s a ride.” Major sponsors for the event are the Rotary Club of Napa and St. Joseph Health Queen of the Valley Medical Center. Information on the rain-or-shine event and sign-up forms for participants, volunteers and donors are available at cycle4sight. com. Same-day registration is available from 7-9:30 a.m. at the event. 23

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Reemerging and

recovering TIM CARL

After being swept by fire, Pepperwood Preserve takes on a new research mission


n the initial hours of the devastating wine country fires of 2017, nearly 85 percent of the Pepperwood Preserve’s 3,200 acres of grassland, forest, wetlands and numerous structures had burned. But just a few miles away, Michelle Halbur, an ecologist who has worked at the preserve since 2011, and her husband, Dave, woke at 2 a.m., not from the fires, but instead by their toddler’s cries. “Rowan, our son, woke from a nightmare, and my husband, Dave, had gone in to help him settle down; we didn’t smell smoke or hear anything at that point,” Halbur said. “So we went back to sleep, but we think they’d already perished by then.” What the Halburs didn’t know at the time was that the neighborhood near Santa Rosa’s Cardinal Newman High School had been burned to the ground and had taken the lives of Dave’s 80-yearold parents. “Dave spent Monday morning going from shelter to shelter looking for them,” Halbur said. “As the day wore on, he came back home with tears in his eyes. He was starting to realize what must have happened.” I sat stunned, listening to Halbur as she recounted her story. We were touring the preserve a few weeks after the fires and just after a light rain had fallen, bringing

Tim Carl Photography

Pepperwood scientists and staff assess one of the many sensor stations after the recent fires. Green grass has sprouted even in meadows that were severely burned.

with it some freshly sprouted green grasses that appeared in stark contrast to the charred remains of many blackened trees and shrubs. “With the help and support of family, friends and our community, I find strength knowing that the Pepperwood Preserve mission remains intact,” she said. I had come to learn more about what the preserve was doing and why ecologists seemed excited by the work going on there. What I was not prepared for was the strength and courage of nearly everyone I met, especially when I

heard stories like Halbur’s. What I came to learn was the history and mission of the preserve and why it provided a unique opportunity to study what was one of the most disastrous fires in the history of California. Pepperwood, a model preserve There are likely no other locations positioned or staffed to understand the impact of the recent fires on the local environment better than Pepperwood. Located between Calistoga and Santa Rosa in the Mayacamas Mountains that form

a bucolic border between Sonoma and Napa counties, the preserve was in the direct path of the Tubbs Fire. The brainchild of Healdsburg residents Jane Dwight and her husband, Herb, the former CEO of Santa Rosa’s Optical Coating Laboratory, Pepperwood has been collecting data, educating locals and providing scientists with an opportunity to study the effects of natural phenomena, such as fire and drought. But it is more, too. “Jane and I both love nature See Recovering, Page 26


Tim Carl Photography

the community,” she said. “People are very familiar with our kids’ programs, education programs, and they kind of know we do science, but for me, as a scientist, these long-term records — they’re just gold in science because they allow for more accurate computer modeling, but computer modeling is only as good as the data sets we have to feed them.”

$9 million, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) -certified, 9,400-squarefoot solar-powered center for environmental research and education. The building, made mostly of potash cement (with a lower carbon footprint than normal concrete) houses scientists and staff members and serves as a place where science and the community come together to solve today’s critical environmental challenges. “Jane and I may have provided the stage, but it is really Lisa and her team that are making this dream into reality,” Dwight said. He was referring to Lisa Micheli, Ph.D., president and CEO of the preserve since 2009. “I came here because of the opportunity to advance conservation through science,” Micheli said. “It’s a testament to the vision and persistence of Herb and Jane and all the many others that were involved to create a living laboratory that is helping to advance the conservation of nature in our area, while we are building communities through bringing science to everyone through our collaboration with local schools, including junior colleges, universities and K-12 education in both Napa and Sonoma counties.” Presently, Micheli is leading her team and a collection of outside scientists to learn as much from the fire’s footprint as possible, using high-tech equipment and good old-fashioned on-the-ground fieldwork. “We are passionate about our long-term data collection program here at the preserve, which is a less visible aspect of Pepperwood to

Refining computer models to help inform future planning. The preserve has 24 wildlife cameras and more than 200 data-collection stations that record everything from soil, water and air temperatures to stream turbidity that will help monitor post-fire erosion. “We have a unique opportunity to take all the data from what we’ve been collecting over the years and watch, measure, analyze as the environment recovers from the fires — this is truly an enormous opportunity,” Micheli said. “It will take a lot of work, and many of our remote sensing data stations are still being assessed to determine how they were affected by the fires, but we’ll be back up and running full speed soon and collecting data as we go.” Beyond the return of the environment — animals and plants — Dwight Center itself, the building, is also being looked at as a potential model. “Tragically we lost a few structures on the site, but the center came out in really good shape,” Halbur said. “It’s built in such a way — made of noncombustible material, nestled into the hill with gaps between the structure and the earth — that it appears the fire had no way inside and nothing to burn. It’s pretty amazing.” She paused and gently patted her round belly, weeks away from giving birth to her second child. “We’ve seen deer, coyotes, spiders, amphibians and quail. Our grasses are already coming back and even a few rare plants— like the redwood lily, that only grows after major fires. As the weeks go by and the rains sprinkle the earth, we’re seeing life re-emerge and recover.”


and believe that people are happier when they spend time and can have space to appreciate the natural world, and so that was really why we started down this path,” Dwight said. The Dwights had always been enamored with wilderness, Herb having hiked “most” of the Sierra Mountains with his father growing up and Jane skiing and hiking in Colorado, where she went to school. But Herb was not just a back-to-the-lander; he was the co-founder of “the first” laser company, Spectra-Physics in the early 1960s. Even when they were in their high-tech world of lasers, the Dwights always kept their appreciation for ecology, and when a large parcel of land became available in the wine country mountains they jumped at the chance to fulfill a dream. “The land was put on the market in 1996 for all comers — developers and the like — but when my wife and I hiked the site we came to understand that such a wonderful expanse of land should be preserved and shared,” he said. They found that the land had originally been gifted to the California Academy of Sciences in 1979 by Nancy and Kenneth Bechtel, who had, by the late 1960s, created one of the world’s largest construction companies. Twenty years later, the California Academy of Sciences came to view the site as a, “non-earning asset and so decided to market it,” Dwight said. The Dwights made an offer that was originally accepted. But because of the complexity of the deal and because of competing interests between state and local governments, the final sale was not completed until 2005. “By then the price had doubled, but our fortunes had improved, too, so we were able to make the purchase,” Dwight said. “Since then we’ve transferred 26

Aerial view of the Dwight Center for Conservation Science building, highlighting how close the fires came. Mount St. Helena is in the distant background.

Tim Carl Photography

Lisa Micheli, president and CEO of the Pepperwood Preserve at the state-of-the-art, Dwight Center for Conservation Science that remained unscathed in the fires

ownership of the preserve into a public foundation as a stand-alone 501 c (3).” The Dwight Center for Conservation Science In the intervening years, the Pepperwood Preserve has developed a vision for the property that is explained on their website as being, “…a nonprofit organization dedicated to conservation and education, … a living laboratory where researchers and partners from some of our nation’s finest institutions are developing solutions to adapt to climate change and drought, maintain clean air and water, and effectively enhance and protect limited natural resources today and into the future. And with programs beginning in first grade and extending through adulthood, Pepperwood is at the forefront of conservation education, creating the next generation of environmental stewards.” As part of that mission, the Dwights funded the completion of a state-of-the-art facility, a


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There are great

GOLF COURSES all around the Napa Valley


would like to spend one day, preferably during the summer, when there is so much more daylight, playing golf all around the Napa Valley. I would like to play a few holes at each golf course – from Mount St. Helena Golf Course, which is located at the Napa County Fairgrounds in Calistoga, to Eagle Vines Vineyards and Golf Club in American Canyon. I would plan my day accordingly – getting a very early start and not returning home until after dark – so that I can spend as much time as possible at all nine courses. I’ve played each course at some

M A RT Y J A M E S mj am e s @nap ane w s . com point over the years and have had a lot of fun at each one. I celebrated my 50th birthday by hosting a tournament at Vintner’s Golf Club in Yountville. Earlier this year, I played the South Course at Silverado Resort and Spa on my 60th birthday. My wife, Karen, and I got to play a few holes at Eagle Vines a few years ago with Johnny Miller, a World Golf Hall of Fame member, who co-designed the course. Chimney Rock was a favorite of mine to play over the years, but it no longer exists. Aetna Springs Golf Course, an historic nine-hole layout in Pope Valley, closed on Jan. 14. The course, one of the oldest west of

the Mississippi, had been redesigned by Tom Doak in 2007. The course was founded 125 years ago. Aetna Springs management said about 4,800 rounds were played at the course last year. Still, there is great golf up and down the Napa Valley – excellent courses that offer different challenges and characteristics, as well as an all-around test, from tee to green. “Everybody in the Valley loves golf,” said Dave Solomon, who joined Napa Valley Country Club on Oct. 30 as its new head PGA golf professional. A look at each course, with information on how to contact the facility:

SILVERADO RESORT AND SPA 1600 Atlas Peak Rd., Napa (707) 257-5460 With 36 holes, Silverado, the home of the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open, is one of the top golf complexes in the country. There is the North Course, re-designed by Johnny Miller. There is the South Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. “One advantage that we have is that we have two different golf courses, in style and playability,” said Jon Vesper, Silverado’s Director of Golf. “The North Course is more of a traditional layout. The

The eighth hole at Chardonnay Golf Club & Vineyards, which is an 18-hole semi-private golf facility in American Canyon. Submitted Photo


Submitted Photo

Submitted Photo

Hole No. 15 at Napa Valley Country Club. A private club, Napa Valley offers The second hole at Eagle Vines Vineyards and Golf Club, which is an a par-72, 6,148-yard layout. 18-hole, par-72 championship golf course in American Canyon.

South Course has more undulation, you have more doglegs, the greens are more undulated and hard to read. It may be a shorter course compared to the North as far as yardage, but I think it has a unique challenge, just around the greens.” Brendan Steele has had a lot of success in Napa, winning the Safeway Open in back to back years, 2016 and ’17. The Safeway Open is the kickoff event of the PGA Tour’s 201718 schedule. This is the fifth year of the PGA Tour’s wraparound schedule that bridges two years, with 45 events leading up to the FedExCup Playoffs. The season includes eight events in the fall, all of which award FedExCup points. Steele became the first repeat winner of the Safeway Open, a $6.2-million event. He battled difficult conditions in the final round – winds out of the north at 15-25 mph, gusting to 30 mph – to shoot a 69 and win with a 15-under 273 total. “As a host of a PGA Tour event, that’s huge,” said Vesper. “Being able to have an event like that, we all take pride in that.” Silverado is semi-private. Resort guests have access to the course. The Silverado Showdown, a major college women’s golf tournament co-hosted by the University of Colorado and University of Oregon, is played at Silverado in the spring each year. Future Collegians World Tour events for juniors are played at Silverado twice a year. Silverado is also host to the

of the Year in the Northern California Section of the PGA – an honor that gets him an exemption into the field for next year’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, a PGA Tour event at Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill Golf Course and the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club. Solomon plays in NorCal Section PGA events throughout the year, fitting in practice and play when he can. Rick Manahan Photography

The par-4, 360-yard eighth hole on the North Course at Silverado Resort and Spa plays across Milliken Creek. The green presents a tough test, as it is sloped from back to front.

Johnny Miller “Champ” Junior Classic. It’s a Junior Golf Association of Northern California event. The Johnny Miller “Champ” Junior Classic, open to boys and girls, ages 12-18, is put on by the Johnny Miller Champ Foundation. Johnny Miller created the Johnny Miller Junior Golf Foundation in 1993 to promote junior golf. In 2015, the foundation was renamed the Johnny Miller Champ Foundation. NAPA VALLEY COUNTRY CLUB 3385 Hagen Road, Napa. (707) 252-1111. Golf was first played at NVCC in 1915 when it was a nine-hole course. The club purchased additional property in 1988 and Ron Fream designed a second nine, which opened for play in 1990.

Set among oak-studded hills in the Coombsville area of Napa County, it’s the 16th-oldest course in Northern California, according to the club. A private club, Napa Valley offers a par-72, 6,148-yard layout that is absolutely beautiful. “It’s a great club and a really, really good golf course,” said Dave Solomon, who joined Napa Valley Country Club on Oct. 30 as its new head PGA golf professional. “It’s just an unbelievable golf course. I’m here to really promote it and get the word out and really want people in the area that don’t know about it to be able to see it and possibly join. “The members are super excited about golf. They love golf. I’m just going to take that love and passion that they have and that I have for golf and just make it the best club that I can make it.” Solomon is the 2017 Player

THE VINTNER’S GOLF CLUB 7901 Solano Ave., Yountville. (707) 944-1992 The nine-hole course was originally designed by Casey O’Callaghan. It was redesigned by Bob Boldt in 2012. “This is a nice, nine-hole golf course,” said Jason Boldt, the course’s general manager. “The shape of it is beautiful. The surrounding area is beautiful. The nine holes is challenging. “It’s just friendly for all golfers and it doesn’t beat people up. It’s just a nice Cheers-family atmosphere up here. The backdrop of the mountains is absolutely gorgeous. That’s what I never get tired of – it’s just beautiful. Just looking at the mountains and the beauty of the place and the nature, is what always hits me. It’s just really pretty up here.” Residents of the Veterans Home of California play golf for free. “We take care of them. They’re See Golf, Page 96


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Founder of the UpValley Family Centers, Anne Carver at her home in Calistoga.

Tim Carl Photography

Making a

difference UpValley Family Centers has grown to a vital part of Calistoga and St. Helena


n the nearly 20 years since it was created, UpValley Family Centers has grown from a small dream of public service to a vital institution in the communities it serves, around Calistoga and St. Helena. The Calistoga Family Center was created in 1999 by a team of


TIM CARL educators and community members who believed healthy families are the foundation of a strong community. Let by vintner and philanthropist Anne Carver and spurred on by generous donations and a grant from the federally funded Healthy Start program, the newly formed organization quickly

became a valuable resource. A few years later St. Helena opened its own such center, and by 2014 the two towns joined forces, hired a professional manager, Jenny Ocon, and have been off to the races ever since, now serving nearly 4,000 local individuals in need.

“As a county we are fortunate to have such dedicated and generous organizations like the UVFC,” said Napa County Supervisor Diane Dillon. “It would have been difficult to imagine the level of success back when Anne Carver and so many others spearheaded the efforts back in 1999.”

But Carver declined to take the credit. “It was never me alone who founded the family center,” she said. “It was a group of people who served their community — hospitals, churches, school boards, city officials — all who rose to the occasion to ensure access to support services where needed.” CARVER’S HISTORY Before moving to Calistoga in 1992 with her husband, Denis Sutro, to, “find some peace and quiet in the country,” Carver had lived what she calls a “privileged life,” but often at the cost of emotional connection with her parents. “My father was a ‘ wildcat’ oil producer out of Denver and had negotiated the first U.S. contracts with the Indonesian government in the ’60s for exporting oil,” Carver said. “So he was often traveling and my mother was busy with her own complex life.” When both parents died before the age of 60, Carver, in her late 20s, and her sisters were left to manage the family resources. “It was a lot of responsibly, and we felt it both a great honor and also, at times, a great burden to ensure what we were doing was the right thing,” she said. But one thing that always felt right to her was helping those in need, especially the young. “In San Francisco I worked in rehabilitation medicine,” Carver said. “Then I moved to childbirth education at UCSF after I had my first child. After I became a certified drug, alcohol and sex educator. I also worked at Planned Parenthood as a volunteer for a couple of afternoons a week. I was always attracted to working with youth.” Beyond philanthropy and volunteering, Carver was busy raising her children, including her two identical- twin boys. And like

most of what Carver touches, even her children turned into something special. Now in their late 20s, Max and Charlie have found success working in Hollywood. Their bestknown roles include being twins on the “Desperate Housewives” television series and on the MTV television series “Teen Wolf,” as well as on the HBO television series “The Leftovers,” among other films and shows. “I have walked the red carpet twice with them, a mortifying experience with a little thrill on top,” Carver said. “That Max and Charlie are identical twins but have different birthdays, is always a point of great interest, and there are also plenty of questions about what it was like to raise them, tell them apart, recognize their differences.”

mountains to the east of Calistoga. In 2015 they sold their winery and moved into town. “Vineyards require a 24/7 diligence, which we grew weary of,” Carver said. “There was glamour, even some fame, over the years, but it ran its course. The beautiful head-trained vines and bonded winery aged and so have we. I do miss living under the sacred Palisades, having acres to roam, adventures with our grandchildren, but I do not miss the stress. We are now free to roam the world, depending on Mother Nature in a different way.”

One thing Carver noticed living in Calistoga was that there were limited resources for families in need and also that there seemed to be cultural divides between the Hispanic and Anglo communities that seemed only to be growing. LAYING THE INFRASTRUCTURE FOR A SUCCESSFUL FAMILY CENTER “When we started it was clear there was a broad commitment for unifying our community’s See Family, Page 34

MOVING TO THE COUNTRY By the early 1990s Carver had become weary of living in San Francisco and wanted to “try on new shoes, live for a while anonymously, unencumbered by others’ expectations.” When they arrived in the Napa Valley, she and her husband started Tim Carl Photography Carver Sutro Winery and made wine from their vineyard in the Jenny Ocon, executive director of the UpValley Family Centers with board members Elaine Jones and Karen Cakebread.

RIGHT: Volunteers, staff and participants enjoy an outdoor barbecue and community informational annual picnic held at Calistoga Elementary School. Tim Carl Photography


make additional resource linkages (i.e. legal assistance, mental health services).”

Tim Carl Photography

Program Director Indira López, who has worked at the center for more than 10 years, sits with local volunteers, Silvia Deniz and Isaura Espinoza, at the Calistoga branch of the UpValley Family Centers.

FAMILY From Page 33

rich cultural heritages,” Carver said. “The end result was due to thousands of volunteer hours, raising money to sustain it and to give our Hispanic brothers and sisters a voice and vested interest in something important to all of our successes. I was so proud of raising money within all segments of the entire community, with the funds matched by one of our dear friends from San Francisco 3-to-1. We could all honestly say this is ours, we made this happen.” Building on the roots and the merger with St. Helena’s center, the board hired Jenny Ocon in 2014. OCON’S HISTORY Prior to joining UpValley Family Centers, Ocon was the executive director of the Parent Services Project in Marin County and coordinated family resource centers at the Children’s Network of Solano County. She currently serves on the steering committee of the Napa Child Abuse Prevention Council and the Leadership Council of Live Healthy Napa County. “I am thrilled Jenny Ocon leads the way as executive director,” Carver said. “She has vision, leadership and intelligence that benefit all. I think that Jenny comes from outside the Napa Valley is one of the reasons she understands new 34

horizons, directions for the center.” Ocon joined the UVFC because, as she put it, “I’d been training people all over the state, supporting parent engagement, but I wanted to dig into some work that had tangible impact on local families, and so this seemed a perfect fit.” She continued, “I also really wanted to get back to a family center. I’d worked in one in Solano County and found it a wonderful experience to help foster a center that is a safe, local, trusted place where any family might come in with a problem and get help — it’s a direct-service model versus a training and technical-assistance one.” Growing up in the Bay Area, Ocon had always been drawn to public service. In high school she joined the Amigos de las Américas youth development organization and volunteered in Latin America during her summer breaks. “Those experiences highlighted that I wanted a career in social work,” she said. “My hope was that I might help make the lives better for everyone in my community. That desire, I think, set me on my path to getting my degree and to try and understand what it’s like to be an immigrant in this country.” Ocon attributes her desire for a life in service to her parents. “I was raised a Catholic and was taught the importance of giving back to the community, supporting people when they need it and also to follow my passion,”

Ocon said. “When I told my mom about wanting to go volunteer in the Dominican Republic I was only 17, but she really supported and encouraged me. It made a big difference.” SERVICES AT THE UPVALLEY FAMILY CENTERS The UVFC has become a one-stop shop for programs that include health and wellness, ensuring economic stability, educational programs for both youth and adult students, immigrant services, help with tax preparation, senior programs and emergency help, which was evident during the recent fires. The wildfires hit on the night of Oct. 8, and by the next morning the UpValley Family Centers went into “immediate response mode,” according to Ocon, setting up information and translation services at various shelters throughout the valley. One of the biggest immediate needs from families displaced from both their homes and work was to help cover rent. “From the end of October to date, UVFC has been providing emergency financial assistance and case-management services to households affected by the fires,” Ocon said. “We have had three full-time case managers and three part-time case managers assisting us, as well as a temporary receptionist to manage calls and appointments. Our case managers meet with clients to assess their case, gather documentation and

THE UPVALLEY FAMILY CENTERS BECOMES A MODEL “The early days were fraught with challenges, biases, barriers, but here it is after all these years and the organization is nimble and has become a sturdy model of how to create and deliver services based on need,” Carver said. “At the center we measure outcomes to help understand what works and what doesn’t. What we have now is a clear demonstration of the importance of public/private partnerships and how they can work.” Between a full-time staff of 19, 13 active board members, hundreds of volunteers and thousands of people seeking services, things can get busy. “I’ve seen some changes over the years, and things have grown, but what has not changed is the needs within the community for the services we provide and also the dedication and enthusiasm from all the volunteers, staff and board members,” said Program Director Indira López, who has worked at the center for more than 10 years. “In many ways we are so fortunate to live in this community, and it has been a gratifying experience to play my part.” Ocon agrees. “I think having a place like the Family Center is a reassurance to the community where they might ask a question or get a resource in a place where they are not judged or put at risk,” she said. “It is also a mechanism for the community at every level to give back and become involved.” And so do board members. “Serving on the board of the UpValley Family Centers is a perfect way for me to continue my life-long support for my communities and our students,” said Elaine Jones, who has been involved with the UVFC since 2006. “We have so many great organizations in this valley. This is one that I put my time, talent and treasure behind because I know that we make a difference.”

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Napa Living at its best K I R K K I R K PAT R I C K

Hilltop house offers stunning views, rural character just minutes from downtown


t’s nice to know $14.5 million will still get you something here in paradise. It’s no surprise to anyone that the world-famous Napa Valley would feature some really spectacular homes, but one in particular that’s recently come on the market seems to demand and deserve something more than the usual real estate clichés. Imagine your own private hilltop, high above the bright lights of downtown Napa, 34.85 acres worth, with 360-degree views that extend across the Valley and all the way to the Bay. This is the full 360 degrees, no exaggeration. Oh, let’s not forget your own private winery. Are there adjectives that do a property like this justice? “I don’t believe there is a property like this in all the Napa/Bay Area,” said current owner Nancy Otton, “and we’ve maintained it to the standards you’d expect.” Nancy and her husband, Terry Otton, bought the property at 3100 Old Sonoma



Road in 2004 and with the idea that the 7,135-square-foot, six-bedroom home would require only some slight renovation. However, what took place over the next few years was almost a complete rebuild, completed in several phases. Over $700,000 was spent on the windows alone, many of which are floor to ceiling to maximize the eye-popping views. Although Otton swears the home was not built to be ostentatious, it’s hard not be blown

away by the finishes and detail found throughout the home. “The home is not intended to be anything but friendly and comfortable,” said Otton. And while those adjectives certainly apply, this home is light years away from a cozy, cottage. “It is a modern home with a large floor plan,” Mrs. Otton says, “but it doesn’t feel oversized and is ideal for elegant yet casual living.”

The indoor and multiple outdoor spaces are also idea for entertaining on a small or large scale. “The largest party we’ve had was probably around 125 people.” Ted Bartlett, who’s representing the property for Pacific Union International, noted it’s an ideal space for large families as well for people who frequently have houseguests. The guest suites, he pointed out, are private and a comfortable distance from the higher traffic areas. “One thing I particularly admire about the property is there are outdoor living spaces facing every direction,” said Bartlett. “So you can follow or run from the sun throughout the day depending on how you want to live.” Mrs. Otton also said, “We’ve got the best sunsets in the entire Bay Area.” Even when there’s weather, the residents and guests can flock to the covered deck featuring an outdoor fireplace and full outdoor kitchen including wood-fired pizza oven. “It can be pouring rain and cold,” Otton explained. “But here you’re sheltered and the warm fire is burning.” As one might expect from a home on the market for $14.5 million, the main kitchen would be the envy of many of the Valley’s top eateries. A true “chef ’s kitchen,” it boasts several ovens, a six-top gas burner and additional Wok burner of epic proportions, giant Viking double door fridge and freezer, expansive walk-in pantry, massive center island with a 40-foot counter and more. Stylish pool and generous hot tub? Check and check. Five-acre pasture for the ponies? You betcha. But, as Bartlett said, the pasture area could just as easily host a tennis court or two, or bocce court if you prefer. I was thinking a nice little par-three, with killer views, might be the ticket. Earthquake-proof, you might wonder? The 2014 South Napa 6.0 earthquake did a lot of damage to Napa area homes, particularly on the west side of the Valley. But, not this one. Nary a scratch. “You have to admit, that’s impressive,” said Bartlett. Otton credited “the strong foundation and thoughtful design for its performance. It’s virtually indestructible.” Another natural threat deservedly on everyone’s minds lately is wildfires. While the recent Valley fires fortunately got no closer than a couple of ridges away, Bartlett pointed out the property comes with a special form of fire protection: Some 40 goats that roam the property that the owners are willing to leave with the house. It’s no joke, Bartlett added. “Goats remove all the loose flammable material from around the house. That’s why the local firefighters look on this home as the role model for

If you want to buy Interested buyers can contact Ted Bartlett at ted@, or his partner, Bart Moore of Compass Realty at Their phone numbers are (415) 345-3153 and (707) 334-8811 respectively. Showings are by appointment only.

maintaining a ‘defensible property.’” Other finishes that were hard not to notice included the polished Travertine tile floors throughout the house, the Euro-style walk-in showers, with sloping floors so no enclosure is required, recessed lights, solar panels, pieces by renowned valley artist Gordon Huether inside and out, half a dozen wood-burning fireplaces framed by natural stonework and, of course, a “boy toy” barn for your selection of cars and/or motorcycles, complete with adjacent office. As for the on-property winery and vineyards, capable of producing a couple of hundred barrels a year of some nice pinot noir, merlot and other red varietals, there’s everything a winemaker could want. Well, this is the Napa Valley after all. The winemaking operation is the domain of Mrs. Otton, and the wines she produces carry the “Ramspur” label. The winery is not currently a commercial operation, but it could be, according to

Bartlett, if the access road were widened. Also adjacent to the house is some 20 acres of natural oak woodlands with all sorts of possibilities, Bartlett said: “We are going to put together a vision for what the next owners could do with this area, the recreational possibilities are many. The next owners can customize these areas, and that’s a neat feature of the property.” He went on to note the entire property is fenced, which adds an extra measure of safety for children and animals. But despite the rural setting, it’s not like this is an out-of-the-way place, cut off from the world. Far from it. “It takes 5 minutes on a bad day to get to downtown Napa,” said Mrs. Otton. “And we’re only 15 minutes from Sonoma, and about an hour from San Francisco.” Mrs. Otton said she and her husband are reluctantly selling their home for “downsizing” purposes and will be relocating out of the area. Although the home has been on the market for a couple of months, Bartlett said: “We put the house on the market on a Friday, two days before the fires, then we had the holidays. So, from my perspective, the property is just coming on the market now.”

Dr. Oza Provides a Higher Level of Care for the Tiniest Patients at Queen of the Valley’s NICU


elida Ursino, mother of four, thought she was prepared for anything when it came to childbirth. But when she was 37 weeks pregnant with her fifth child, she got a surprise. Three weeks before her planned delivery date, her water broke and she felt a pain more severe than she had ever experienced before during labor. “It felt like something had ruptured inside me,” said Nelida. “I knew something was wrong.” Nelida left their home in American Canyon and drove to Queen of the Valley’s Maternal and Infant Care Center. After an evaluation, Nelida’s care team identified the cause of Nelinda’s pain. She had a uterine rupture—a rare, lifethreatening event for mother and baby that requires an emergency cesarean (C-section).

Nelida with baby Sophia and Dushyant Oza, MD, Neonatologist

Her care team quickly jumped into action, preparing Nelida for the surgery and Amanda Holthouse, DO, OB/GYN at St. Joseph Health Medical Group, welcomed Nelida’s baby, Sophia, into the world. Immediately aftewards, Dr. Holthouse gave Sophia to Nelida so they could begin bonding right away. While uterine ruptures are rare, they become more likely if the mother has had multiple C-section births, like Nelida. “Unfortunately, there is no way to predict a uterine rupture will occur, but in the event it happens, Queen of the Valley is prepared. We practice this scenario frequently and have an anesthesiologist available 24/7,” said Dushyant Oza, MD, Chief Neonatologist and Director of Newborn Services Maternal and Infant Care Center. Due to her early arrival, Sophia and Nelida stayed in the hospital for a few days. When the care team noticed Sophia’s skin and eyes were developing a yellow hue, the neonatologist was called.

“Sophia was experiencing moderate jaundice,” said Dr. Oza. “Babies born before 38 weeks more commonly experience this because it is more difficult for them to process bilirubin, a substance that forms as the red blood cells break down.” According to Dr. Oza, high levels of bilirubin can result in serious complications if not treated. Sophia was admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) so that Dr. Oza could begin phototherapy, a treatment which shines fluorescent light on the baby to help the bilirubin return to normal levels. “I loved that the NICU was right down the hallway. It ensured I could breastfeed Sophia and I could see her whenever I wanted,” said Nelida. Soon thereafter, Sophia’s skin and eyes restored their natural color and Nelida returned home to introduce Sophia to her big, happy family. To learn more about Queen of the Valley’s NICU and Maternal and Infant Care Center, visit

The Maternal & Infant Care Center features: • 6 NICU beds, commonly used to treat jaundice, pneumonia, respiratory distress, low blood sugar, and more • 10 private post-partum suites with sleeper chairs/ couches for family members to stay overnight • A 24/7 certified nurse anesthetist • A board-certified neonatologist • International Board Certified lactation consultants, offering inpatient and outpatient services • Skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth • Vaginal Birth After C-Section (VBAC) • Wireless fetal heart rate monitors so mom has the freedom to move during labor

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San Francisco Public Library

A collage of views of the grounds of the Napa State Hospital included in an annual report to the state Legislature in 1905.

Once upon a time Napa State’s beautiful castle was Napa Valley’s centerpiece 46

K I R K K I R K PAT R I C K With its near perfect climate and idyllic setting, many would rightfully say the Napa Valley is like something out of a fairy tale. And what is a good fairy tale without an enchanted castle? Indeed, such a castle welcomed visitors to the Napa Valley for some 75 years before being torn down after World War II. According to the Napa Historical Society, the gothic castle was built primarily of 10 million red bricks made on hospital grounds. And what is a castle without royalty? Amongst hundreds of early residents, this castle was home to a woman self-described as the “Queen of England and the World,”

according to an 1893 Overland Monthly article titled “Life in an insane asylum” by Charles Coyle. The article went on to say the castle hosted a weekly ball every Friday night attended by the townspeople of Napa, residents, and people who worked at the castle. “The hall was thronged (and residents) dressed in such fantastic costume as only a disordered fancy could arrange.” A strange description, until you learn the ball was called: The “Crazy Dance.” The name of the castle? The Napa Insane Asylum. The residents, as I have referred to them, were actually patients, according to Coyle,

transferred to Napa to ease overcrowding in the Stockton Asylum. Now known as the more politically correct Napa State Hospital, the castle was built over seven years at a cost $1.3 million, or $1.5 million, depending on whose account you believe. That was big money for the times. Indeed, it was so grand it was compared to European castles, and many in state government, primarily Democrats, and others outside of government, thought the expense and the grand structure itself were grossly extravagant. In 1876, according to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle: “The ornate front entrance with its stone archways carved with quotations of possible biblical origin; the sculptured figures (including the four cardinal virtues) and other decorative carvings, which surpasses the State Capitol, is more suitable for millionaires than a housing place for the indigent insane.” Its footprint once totaled some 2,000 acres and stretched from the Napa River to what is now Skyline Park. According to Ralph Montano, spokesperson for California’s Department of State Hospitals, when this facility first opened on Nov. 15, 1875, it was a massive and imposing castle surrounded by its own dairy, poultry, vegetable gardens and orchards. It contained 26 wards and accommodated 600 patients. Within 15 years, the facility was full and additional construction stretched the capacity to 1,400. “This was supposed to be a big improvement, and it was over other systems of treating madness and psychiatric problems,” says local historian and author Lauren Coodley, who once worked at Napa State Hospital teaching “living skills.” She said the hospital, when built, was “the mental health facility for the entire Bay Area.” Coodley noted that the early hospital was in the forefront of “occupational therapy” with its farms and workshops. In fact, according to many early accounts, the hospital was entirely self-sufficient. She also mentioned many of the patients of the time were very involved with art and crafts. According to historian Patricia Prestinary, in her book titled “Napa State Hospital,” the geographical area of the castle was known as “Imola” taken from another scenic town with an asylum, Imola, Italy. Not everyone agrees with that, but it is now generally accepted as true. She described the castle as a mile in circumference and from three to five stories high. The gateway to the asylum was known as Magnolia Drive, a wide thoroughfare lined with trees on both sides. According to Prestinary, “to reach the hospital, (people would) travel by ferry, then walk, ride a horse, or take

J.L. Sousa, Register

A marker at Napa State Hospital recognizes a burial ground on hospital property that was used between 1876 and 1923. The California Memorial Project held a number of ceremonies throughout the state in September of 2016, called a Day of Remembrance, to honor individuals who have died at state hospitals and are buried without recognition.

a wagon the three miles north to the hospital grounds.” She went on to say this about the first patients: “Most of them were homeless or suffered from alcoholism. In 1891, the asylum had 1,373 patients, which was double the amount it had been built to accommodate.” Surprisingly, death records from the archives of the Napa Historical Society reveal patients from all over the United States and the world. Men made up the majority of the patients in the beginning. In 1898, according to Prestinary, the majority of women were diagnosed with acute mania, melancholia, or paranoia. “The staff was composed of 88 employees, including one resident physician and two

assistant physicians, 40 male and 30 female attendants. Staff lived in the same units as their patients, two to a room.” As the number of occupants grew, so did the number of staff. And by 1901, they numbered 200. Although the structure was worthy of royalty, it would be a stretch to say the food was fit for a king. Coyle’s article notes that breakfast was served at 6:30 a.m. and “consists of oatmeal or cornmeal mush, bread and butter, molasses and coffee.” Lunch, known as “dinner” in those days, was served at noon and “consists of either stew or soup, with boiled meat, potatoes and either cabbage or carrots, bread and butter, molasses and tea. Roast meat is provided once a week.” For the evening meal, or supper as it was known then, “Only a light meal is served of tea and bread and butter.” Not everyone was in a condition to sit down and enjoy a more or less normal meal. Those patients (or residents) were confined on a lower floor of the asylum, according to Coyle, where they also took their meals. He observed them at dinner one day and described the scene: “Four or five attendants stood behind the chairs of the patients. They were not served with separate articles of food, but all was made into a cake-like hash. Knives and forks are not given to this class of patients, who consequently, are compelled to eat with their fingers.”

A postcard of the Napa State Hospital castle from 1905.

See Castle, Page 48

Wikimedia Commons


CASTLE From Page 47

Nightlife was non-existent for all but the staff, said Coyle, and patients “go to bed at an early hour, half past six in the winter and seven in summer.” Afterwards the doors were locked. Only after the patients were safely tucked in was the staff allowed to eat. “Staff are allowed a half-day a week to go to town, and also every other night after their duties have been performed. They are privileged to walking the grounds after patients have gone to bed until 10 o’clock. If not in the building promptly on the hour, they are reported and censured.” It was possible on admission for some of the less violent patients to bring articles of their own clothing. For patients who were not considered violent or dangerous, they were instructed to fold their clothes and place them outside their rooms every night before going to bed. The more violent patients were placed in a straightjacket and fastened to the bed by straps. In Coodley’s book, “Napa, the transformation of a town,” she reports that the patient population had ballooned to 4,000 with eight doctors living in cottages on the grounds. Thinking of modern day Napa, largely detached from the doings at Napa State Hospital beyond employment, picture the grand 4th of July celebrations where town and hospital came together in the 1940s. “The Male Attendants’ Marching Band and floats made by the inmates paraded up the main drive to the castle, where the Mayor of Napa gave a speech from the balcony followed by a picnic and a fireworks show,” Coodley reported. Can you imagine such a fantastical scene today? Thousands of patients passed away while housed in the Castle. Coyle describes the burial of such patients as a solemn affair “not marked by much grief or great expense.” The deceased “is taken to the deadhouse and remains there a short time. The coffin is a rough pine box; an uncovered spring wagon answers for a hearse. Three persons at least are present at the funeral: the supervisor, the driver and the gravedigger. Any sympathetic person so disposed may climb into the wagon and take his seat upon the coffin,” after which a brief graveside service takes place. While the graves were once marked, the markers have long since been removed for reasons unknown. The Napa Valley Register reported in 2002 that 4,363 dead lie in an ordinary vacant lot on the grounds of the present hospital. Indeed, according to the story, later the cemetery became home to a pig farm and livestock. To this day, despite efforts by state government and other 48

An undated view of the old Napa State Hospital

A 1900 photo of the castle at Napa State Hospital

J.L. Sousa/Register file photo

non-governmental entities committed to making a change, nothing has been done to rectify the situation. Where once a castle stood, a number of non-descript buildings now stand, which would not warrant a second look by anyone. According to spokesman Montano, there are

Courtesy of the Napa County Historical Society

Wikimedia Commons

2,338 people working at Department of State Hospitals-Napa as of fiscal year 2016-17. About 35 percent of them also live in Napa County and almost 50 percent live in Solano County. “Many local families have worked there for two or three generations, some have even been there for four generations,” he said. The Department of State Hospitals put the patient population at approximately 1,250 as of September, 2017; 75 percent are there “under criminal commitments,” most of which as the result of not-guilty-by-reason-ofinsanity pleas. Today’s Napa Valley “castles,”—large wineries or homes of “ millionaires” high in the hills,—pale by comparison to the magnificent edifice that defined the area for near 75 years. Another magnificent victim of the “not safe in an earthquake” era.

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EVENTS of winter and spring in the Napa Valley

Food & Wine weekend with the CIA

40th Annual Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon

FEB. 16-18


CIA at Copia, Napa The powerhouse magazine Food & Wine joins with the new CIA at Copia for a weekend of immersive experiences, where you’ll learn, laugh and encounter some new flavors and ideas. 52

Calistoga to Napa One of the nation’s most scenic marathons turns 40, as about 3,000 runners wind south along the Valley, starting in Calistoga and ending in Napa. A 5k course is available as well.

County Fairgrounds; Flowerbomb, a floral take Celebrate the countywide Arts in April festion contemporary art; a Storytelling Speakeasy; the Creativity Crawl; and Art in Bloom, a series val by strolling up and down Washington Street, of family-friendly events and activities at the Cal- visiting artist booths and galleries while enjoying the best of the town’s legendary food and wine istoga Art Center. scene.

First Street Napa Art Walk APRIL 21

Napa Solano Home & Garden Show

APRIL 27-29 First Street Napa Napa Valley Expo, Napa The downtown open-air shopping plaza will MARCH 9-10 One of the largest Home & Garden Shows host murals and art installations from artists all Napa Valley Marriott Hotel and Spa, Napa across the Bay Area. Enjoy food, wine, and live in Northern California. You’ll find hundreds of local, national and international exhibitors and music. Join the crowd for two days of tasting at some the newest in organic gardening, energy-saving home improvements, and many new innovaof the Valley’s best wineries. Chartered transportions. tation provided.

Wine Crawl Napa

Cycle for Sight

5K Run to Rebuild Wine Country



Justin-Siena High School, Napa Three scenic courses for riders or all ages and APRIL 27-29 Clif Family Winery, St. Helena ability offer a chance to raise money for two good MARCH 11 causes: Enchanted Hills Camp For The Blind & Napa Valley College, Napa Chef Chris Cosentino is joined by his felVisually Impaired and The Pathway Home low chefs and some of the best pro bikers in gram, which serves returning military veterans. Run for a good cause, raising money for relief the world to offer attendees three days of food, from last year’s devastating North Bay Fires. The Join riders from all over the country. wine, cycling, and games in St. Helena and Calrace starts at Napa Valley College and winds istoga. Proceeds go to support a variety of local south along the scenic Napa Vine Trail. nonprofits.

Beringer’s 142nd Founders’ Day Celebration

Yountville Live MARCH 15-18

Various locations, Yountville A weekend of food, wine and music throughout the town. Performers include X Ambassadors, Sawyer, Cory Harper, and Kingsborough. Local chefs and wineries will offer some of their best.


Arts in the Streets APRIL 22

Beringer Vineyards, St. Helena A day of food, music, seminars, and tastings in honor of the historic winery, founded in 1876.


Lyman Park, St. Helena MAY 25-27 Napa Valley Expo, Napa Enjoy a day of arts of all sorts, including ects from Nimbus Arts, poetry readings from the Three days of wine, food, and music at one Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, and live music. of the nation’s hottest new music festivals. Headliners this year are Bruno Mars, The Killers and Muse.

Vineyard to Vintner APRIL 27

Auction Napa Valley

Various locations in Stags Leap AVA MAY 31-JUNE 3 A weekend of open houses, tours, tastings, Various locations dinners and vineyard walks at wineries all across one of Napa County’s most famous wine disThe nation’s premier charity wine auction has tricts. A portion of ticket sales will be donated to evolved to a full weekend of dinners, activities relief efforts of the 2017 wildfires. and fun, climaxing with the auction on Saturday. APRIL 5-8 The action starts with a series of welcome parVarious locations, Calistoga ties Thursday at wineries across the valley, with Friday’s Barrel Auction at Charles Krug, then A weekend of art, food, wine, and fun, APRIL 28 onto the traditional auction and after-party including the Engage Art Fair at the Napa Various locations, Yountville at Meadowood.


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A painting of a Vaquero in action roping cattle during 1830s Spanish California.

The Bale Grist Mill, Historic American Buildings Survey by Robert W. Kerrigan, Feb. 18, 1937.

Napa’s deep


When dashing Dons once ruled the lands


magine standing high on a ridge, looking down on a vast expanse of 5,000 cattle watched over by scores of vaqueros, resplendent in their sombreros, nestled in chaps lined with glittering conchas and sprouting jingle-bob spurs on their boots, ruling the range from one side of a picturesque valley to the other. We’re not talking about Mexico, or even Texas. This scene played out right here in the 94558––on a vast 23,000 acres land grant called Rancho de Napa, that spanned the Napa Valley, north of Trancas Street and Redwood Road. The giant rancho was ruled by military man Salvador Vallejo, the younger brother of the better-known General Mariano Vallejo, who presided over the Sonoma lands to the west. If you know where to look, the evidence is all around you. There’s the stone monument in Trancas Crossing Park, near Salvador Vallejo’s family adobe: Casa Las Trancas. Familiar and


J.L. Sousa, Register

Salvador Vallejo was the brother of General Mariano Vallejo who was commander of Northern California during the Mexican Era (1821-1846). Salvador was the head of the militia based in Sonoma. He received two land grants in the Napa Valley and had three homes here.

well-known street names such as Trancas, Salvador, El Centro and even Big Ranch Road made their initial appearance from the Salvador Vallejo days of yore. You can easily visit the final resting place of Vallejo and his wife, Maria, in a large family plot in Napa’s Tulocay Cemetery. This is only a part of the proud

and noble heritage of the Hispanic population in the Napa Valley, later blurred by the more-publicized braceros story some 100 years later. It’s a history that’s as fascinating as it is inspiring. And one that changed forever the way this reporter looks at the area I call home.

As Luis Valdez, renowned Mexican/American director and playwright, said: “A community needs to know its history. It needs to know where it’s been, so it can decide where it wants to go.” “In the case of today’s Mexican-American youth, this history gives them a sense of who they are and, most importantly, a sense of belonging in Napa,” observed Dr. Sandra Nichols, a local consultant and expert in Hispanic migration and development. “Their families come from the some of the same regions in Mexico that the Californios came from in the 18th and 19th centuries; and while today’s Mexican families have come more recently, in the 1950s, ‘60s, ‘70s, they too have put down roots in the Napa Valley; their parents and grandparents have worked hard and helped make Napa and the wine industry what it is today, and they themselves have a role to play in shaping Napa’s future.” Salvador Vallejo, like many of us who live here today, was not born in the Bay Area. He was born a Spaniard in Monterey, Alta (upper) California, in 1814. As an 8-year-old, he became a citizen

of Mexico after it gained its independence from Spain in 1822. Eleven years later, Salvador’s older brother, General Mariano Vallejo, was sent from Monterey to settle in Sonoma as Military Commander and Director of Colonization of the Northern Frontier. Salvador soon followed him and was appointed a captain, becoming the trusted aide and confidante of Mariano at the tender age of 19. Salvador’s first official assignment from his brother was a not a military foray, but a romantic one. On a visit to San Diego, General Mariano had fallen in love with a beautiful young woman of Spanish descent named Benecia Francesca Maria Felipa Carrillo. Unfortunately, he had not been able to bring her north with him. So, in the spring of 1833, he dispatched Salvador, with an escort of 20 troopers, to safely accompany Benecia to her new home in Sonoma. Possibly because romance was in the air, while in San Diego, Salvador met and fell in love with Maria de la Luz Carillo, who just happened to be Benecia’s younger sister. Imagine Mariano’s surprise when Salvador arrived back in Sonoma with two brides-to-be instead of one. A big celebration was at hand. After Salvador and Maria were wed, they first made their home in Sonoma, where the Swiss Hotel stands today. Land grants were often granted by governing officials, and Salvador himself received a large grant in 1838. In the early 1840s, Casa Las Trancas, a 40-foot long adobe, with walls two feet thick, became the family home of Salvador and Maria and would soon be populated with many children. Vallejo named his home “Las Trancas,” meaning “The Bars” or barriers. The name referenced redwood-hewn bars that had been erected to prevent his cattle from straying across the nearby Napa River ford. These timbers, about 18 inches square and 30 feet long, were dragged by oxen a long 5 miles from the hills above what we call Redwood Road today. For the next decade or so, both

Vallejo brothers, known as Californios to the American settlers, lived in relative peace and prosperity with Salvador raising cattle and wheat, establishing a soap factory and helping his brother with the occasional Indian uprisings in the area between Napa and, at times, all the way to the Oregon border. “Essentially, Californios paved the way for American settlers,” said Dr. Nichols. “In the 1830s and ‘40s, the Californios welcomed the Americans, gave them land and often the means to work it, including Indian servants and the hands of their sisters and daughters in marriage. These high-born Californio women were essential for running the ranchos in Napa when the men were away.” According to one observer, “Salvador could ride as well as the best cowboy of the Southwest, and with more grace. And he could throw the lasso so expertly I have never heard of any American who was able to equal it.” The Vallejo brothers’ wives each had many children. Salvador’s Napa adobe became known the “happy casa,” where he enjoyed entertaining nobles and dignitaries travelling in the area. Not all the landholders and land grantees in the Valley were of Spanish descent, of course. Explorer and mountain man George C. Yount, was granted land in the Yountville area known as Rancho Caymus by Mariano himself in 1836. A few years later, Dr. Edward Bale, whose grist mill survives near St. Helena today, married a niece of the Vallejo brothers and was given land between St. Helena and Calistoga known then as Rancho Carne Humana. Said Dr. Nichols, “Mexicans and Anglos have a long history with each other in Napa, going back more than 180 years. At times, the relationship was welcoming and appreciative; other times, much less so.“ To Dr. Nichols’ point, the controversial Dr. Bale proved to be far from a friend of his neighbor to the south, Salvador Vallejo. One year, it became known to Don Salvador, as he was then known,

that Dr. Bale had been spreading rumors calling into question Vallejo’s propriety related to Bale’s wife. When Salvador confronted Dr. Bale about the scandalous rumor, the hotheaded doctor, who, in retrospect, should have thought twice, challenged him to a duel. This was not the pistols at 10 paces sort of duel, but an old-school challenge with swords. Don Vallejo, being a soldier and expert swordsman, had no trouble fending off Bale. To complete Bale’s humiliation, Vallejo ended up giving him a flogging with the flat of his blade while a crowd looked on. The epitome of a sore loser, Bale later took a shot at Vallejo, but missed and instead struck Cayetano Juarez, the don of nearby Rancho Tulucay where Napa’s Old Adoba, built in 1845, still stands today. Bale ran off and was later captured by a group of Patwin Indians

from the Suisun area who had an alliance with the Vallejo brothers. Bale spent some time in jail before being found guilty of attempted murder and, generously, was eventually let out on bail. Eight years after their arrival in Napa, California’s short-lived “Bear Flag Revolt” reared up in 1846, changing everything for the Vallejo brothers. The “happy casa” would not be happy again for some time. Fearing they might be driven from what they considered their land, a group of 33 men confronted Mariano and Salvador Vallejo in Sonoma and took them captive. The Mexican flag was lowered and the crude, homemade Bear Flag of the California Republic was raised, the forerunner of today’s California flag. Ironically, in jailing the Vallejos, See Latino, Page 97

Salvador Vallejo, center



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Putting a name to

NO FACE From English class to recording music, Napa’s self-made rap label has high aspirations


nything short of perfect was unacceptable. While Bash unleashed one take after the next, VEIN was stationed a few feet away, intensely staring at the computer screens of what was essentially No Face Entertainment’s pop-up mission control. This time, the session was in a detached storage space on QTin’s parents’ property in north Napa. 60

YOUSEF BAIG No Face had been getting together almost daily during the holidays so they could pump out as much music as possible while everyone in the 11-man rap collective was around. Most of the label members were present this night in late December, spread around sunk-in couches and other improvised seats. Half the room was taken up by a covered-up pool table and the forgotten boxes scattered beside it. Against the wall were shelves filled with a life’s worth

of random toys and action figures. Some had been, let’s say, modified, like the T-Rex with Woody from “Toy Story’s” head on it. Before Bash began recording his verse, VEIN played the beat on a loop over the loudspeaker so everyone could get familiar with it. This track would be featured on the third group project, No Face III, so that meant everyone was contributing a few bars. I was invited be a fly on the wall and see how they created

ABOVE: A group of longtime friends and Napa natives have joined together to form No Face Entertainment, a group of rappers and producers with high aspirations. Pictured are nine of the 11 members. J.L. Sousa, Register

the underground rap music that began bubbling around Napa some four years ago. They scribbled on notepads or typed lines into their smartphones. Malik ill Asad was foregoing both options and memorizing his part. They all played with different cadences to try to find the best way to attack the audio they were given. When side conversations stopped and each rapper was focused solely on their lyrics, all you heard was the sound of everyone mumbling to themselves for practice. If you closed your eyes it sounded like a satanic cult ritual. Bash and VEIN spliced up the verse and bandaged any sore spots until it flowed flawlessly. Between takes, they inched closer to analyze the audio frequency and uncover any detail in the recording that wasn’t right. “That was clean,” was the signal to save it and move on. Once the verse was laid down, they repeated the process to a similar degree to layer the vocals on top of each other. The ad libs to emphasize the punch in each line were recorded after. This is what a grassroots music label looks like in action: A converted studio space, heightened productivity courtesy of cans of Starbucks espresso and vape pens, and man-cave debates about the legitimacy of John Cena as an actor. While each rapper waited their turn, they listened to whoever was recording, critiqued and showed praise for dope lines. It’s not necessarily unique or groundbreaking or anything the world hasn’t seen before. For decades, young people have gravitated toward freestyle rapping when tightknit friends start rhyming words together on those nights that turn into mornings. But where others reduced it to a hobby, No Face kept pushing. Now, with years of experience and momentum on their side, they have a chance to change the way people view music from Napa, one of the most unlikely places to conceive a rap label. *** A lot of the credit – or blame – for inspiring No Face Entertainment goes to Justin Aaron, an English teacher at Napa High.

It was 2015, senior year for the founding members of the collective, and more than half of the current ensemble somehow ended up in this class. Rather than see it as a nightmarish challenge to control them, Aaron embraced the opportunity to make an impact on an impressionable group of kids. He encouraged them to be creative and take deep dives into anything that they were passionate about on a regular basis. Owen Weber (Big O) recalled a story Aaron once told them about a similar group at his high school. They were your stereotypical garage band – a bunch of guys playing rock music in someone’s garage, capturing the essence of suburban teen spirit. But the part of the story that stuck was the self-imposed ceiling. “That’s like all they ever did, was just sit in their garage and play music. They never did anything with it,” Weber said. “I think that inspired us to put it out there. Originally the music was all for ours, so we (thought we) might as well make something out of it and get other people to listen to it.” That led to their senior project, The NoFaceGang EP, a 10-track compilation that’s gotten over 10,000 plays on Soundcloud since its release in 2016. Half of the mixtape features original beats from founding producer Evan Gregory (e_gregz); the other half is a collection of random instrumentals or nods to beats from other artists they chose to record on. The most notable was “Diablo,” a remix of a Mac Miller original that became a favorite around the Napa High campus. Their classmates would shout out their favorite lines in the hallways, indirectly reinforcing No Face’s credibility for creating likable music. Later in the year, after the EP had slowly made its way around Napa, Alexander Humer (Z3), the unofficial mastermind of the operation, took a leap of faith on senior night at Napa Valley College. There was a DJ playing music and he talked him into adding “Diablo” to the playlist. When he agreed, they immediately started texting and rallying

everyone to the booth. Suddenly, in a matter of minutes, No Face was set to make its live debut. “We performed it and everybody was shouting the words

As individuals, they hardened their resolve and started performing wherever they were, establishing connections and building a new base beyond the Napa Valley.

Yousef Baig, Register

Capital T (Antonio Poire), left, and Owen Weber (Big O) bounce ideas off each other during a No Face Entertainment recording session in December.

Yousef Baig, Register

VEIN (Julian Quitoriano), left, is seen at the production station while Bash (Sebastian Espinosa) lays down his verse during a No Face Entertainment recording session in December.

back,” Humer said. “It was such a surreal feeling. It was crazy. I need to make this more than a hobby.” After graduation, No Face kept the momentum going. They were spread out around the West Coast, in Irvine, Santa Barbara and even Eugene, Oregon, but they viewed their geographic reach as a positive.

“When we’re more spread out, we spend more time planning and constructing a track,” said Antonio Poire (Capital T). “But when we’re all together in the same space it’s more fluid. We can just put one together in a few hours.” See No Face, Page 62


Yousef Baig, Register

QTin (Quinten Kobylka), left, Malik ill Asad (Saleem Ali Musa) and Yung Grizzly (Willis Plowman) share a laugh during a No Face Entertainment recording session in December.

NO FACE From Page 61

“Especially if we’re feeling the beat,” added Marcello Checchi (Dior Addict), the youngest member of the group. That made summer 2017 crucial. When everyone was back in Napa for a few months, the itch to record a new mixtape had to be scratched and the product of that energy was So Far, the most mature project up to that point. The themes, the vocal manipulation, the concept, the rising production quality – all of it was on display on the seven-track LP. In what was maybe a nod to their English teacher or even just the metaphor for the mood, the album art was a stenciled drawing of a garage. The most important aspect of the project’s reception was the positive response from one listener in-particular – an old friend from elementary school, Julian Quitoriano. He had grown into a jack-of-all-trades musician, obsessing particularly over thrash metal and actually ended up playing in a metal band for a period of time. “He really liked our music and our work ethic, and he had a similar work ethic and he made music,” Humer said. Quitoriano had become a proficient producer, creating original instrumentals with an obsessive pace. His Soundcloud page is sprawling, with 80 published tracks and likely countless more buried in his hard drive. He also has more followers than the entire No Face label itself. Humer asked Quitoriano to join the label, and it was that move that pivoted No Face down a whole new path. With Quitoriano (VEIN) came Checchi, and shortly after they expanded the roster even further to the 11-man ensemble they boast today, which also features 62

Saleem Ali Musa (Malik ill Asad), Sebastian Espinosa (Bash), Quinten Kobylka (QTin), and Tyler Morgenlaender (The General). With VEIN taking charge of production, the music has reached a professional standard and been elevated to a level worthy of widespread play. This is why the holiday sessions were everything for the No Face gang. In peak form, with the right pieces in place, they were seizing their best opportunity yet, creating their ultimate group project – one that would legitimize every tiny step they’ve taken since the classrooms at Napa High. *** When there’s nearly a dozen individuals in a group, it’s hard to isolate an identity, but the first album No Face was able to get on household streaming sites like Spotify and Apple Music might be a good start. It’s a solo project by Yung Grizzly called In My Head, which features seven songs bookended by the two-part title tracks. Willis Plowman exercises the various forms his depression takes, and the therapeutic nature of the music he creates from it. It jumps from the relentless fury of VEIN’s style to the melodic boom-bap from e_gregz. Versatility is No Face’s defining attribute, but the most important one to the artists is their lyricism. They want your undivided attention and your ears to perk up while you listen. If your face rounds to an ‘O’ in approval for a rhyme that resonated, they’ve done their job. “The pattern is a lot of emphasis on really making our words count,” said Poire. “A lot of rappers nowadays, they’re very invested in the sound of their music rather than the lyrical content. I think we have a nice balance between that while bringing all our individual styles together.” But that doesn’t mean they’re just chasing stoners who play video games and eat cereal for

dinner. They’re wise to what mainstream listeners are feeling right now. And if No Face wants to take the next step, they know they have to dumb it down to turn it up, as Checchi put it. “Being an up-and-coming artist, you also have to think about what people want to hear as opposed to what type of music you really want to make or you’re passionate about,” said Humer. “You’ve kind of got to conform to that until you get some kind of platform to be like, ‘Now I got my fans; let me make the music I want to make,’” Checchi added. If there’s a hurdle No Face will have to overcome, it won’t have anything to do with style or sound – it’s their perception. A mostly white group of millennials and teenagers from wine country will have to earn every ounce of its credibility in areas where hip-hop heads carve up the genre’s landscape. Naturally, they embrace that challenge, and they aren’t the slightest bit ashamed of their hometown. “I like to rap about what makes me an individual and what makes our music our music,” said Poire. “It’s kind of more about the idea that music can come from anywhere rather than where you think it’s supposed to come from.” Rap has evolved over the last decade, shifting some of its most successful origin stories from the ghettos and epicenters of economic strife to more middle-class settings where struggles take different forms. Whether that’s the result of cultural appropriation or the palatable expression of hip-hop is a debate for another day. But No Face is encouraged by the crest others higher up the ladder are riding. They wear shades of BROCKHAMPTON or Odd Future, channeling the eclectic nature of modern collectives that tell stories, champion emotion and celebrate wordplay. Without question, there’s a sizable audience for a group like No Face. It’s not that hard to imagine the next phase of their narrative, either, one that features a perfect storm of exposure, shifting from word-of-mouth to something greater, lifted by a viral moment on social media. Maybe the right person takes notice and they book a gig that turns into a tour, and that tour creates a fan base full of people they’ve never met all because a handful of kids were nudged in a direction that encouraged them to express the things that filled their minds. “A lot of people look to rap from people that grew up in the ‘hood and had really tough childhoods because of the systematic environment they grew up in,” said Weber. “Obviously, growing up in Napa, we’re very blessed. But … we all have individual things we’ve battled with. We all feel like we have something to say and we all want people to listen to it. That has nothing to do with where you’re from.”

Where in the Valley?


ow 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 72. 63

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Celebrity chef Doug Keane poised for yet another culinary adventure


elebrity Chef Doug Keane has a new project up his sleeve, but he’s being coy with the details. The former owner of the renowned Cyrus in Healdsburg, and lately co-owner and chef at Two Birds One Stone in


St. Helena, says he is looking forward to breaking ground this spring on another newly imagined restaurant in the nearby Alexander Valley. He will say that his new culinary concept will take small groups of diners on a journey where they will travel from room to room while experiencing a wide -range of tastes and visual sensations ranging from a wall that flows with chocolate to glass rooms that float over the vineyards. “Doug is a really passionate person that continues to make a big difference in the

world of food and beyond,” said Traci Des Jardins, chef owner of numerous restaurants in San Francisco, including the highly regarded Jardinière, where Keane spent time as executive chef. “When he first came to work at my restaurant we really connected — he’s got an amazing work ethic and is exceptionally talented and thoughtful. I can’t wait to see what he has planned up there.” Add me to a host of others to the list who would like to learn more about his next culinary adventure. What seems apparent is that

it will include a passionate and driven chef ’s desire to create a wholly new and immersive gastronomic experience within wine country. “We want to create something that reflects what is good about this place — the land, the people, the animals, the produce,” Keane said. “We are not going for stars or going to be cooking for reviewers — in fact, I don’t even read reviews anymore because it’s like giving crack to an addict.” On the one hand, such a comment about reviewers and Michelin stars might seem strange coming from such an accomplished chef. But because I’ve known Keane since the early 2000s, when he and his business partner, Nick Peyton, had opened Cyrus, such comments don’t seem out of character. He has often told me that the problem with getting two stars at his restaurant was that he’d then fixated on getting three stars and had started to modify his behavior toward that goal; something that he felt ultimately compromised his food. “I remember when all the fourstar chefs ranked by Michael Bauer from the San Francisco Chronicle gathered to celebrate our four star-ness,” he said. “What I heard at that event was that we were all obsessed with either keeping our rating or getting more Michelin stars or higher on the Pellegrino list (top 50 restaurants in the world) — I just thought, ‘This is nuts. This isn’t about food anymore, it’s about ego.’” We were sitting outside at his rustic ranch home in the hills east of Healdsburg, where we were treated to expansive views of vineyards and oak-tree forests that faded into the mist-covered Mount St. Helena toward the south and fog-covered valleys north toward Ukiah. During our time together, I was also treated to being checked out by his many pets, including goats, lambs, chickens and numerous dogs, most of which he and his wife, Lael, have rescued over the years. While he talked, I came to understand that all the details of the new restaurant are still being held close to the chest, but I am

Tim Carl Photography

Tim Carl Photography

left with an understanding that there are some substantial investors behind the project, the designs have been drawn up and the land for the building is under lease. Beyond that, I am reminded of Keane’s propensity for what can be brutal honesty when it comes to the culinary world and also his genuine interest in just causes and what seems a deep concern for animal welfare. “After we closed Cyrus back in 2012, I had some time to think and get involved with local animal-rescue efforts,” he said. “I’d been involved with one rescue that wanted to put down one of the dogs and I said that I’d take him home with me. When they refused to hand him over, I sued. In the end, I got the dog and helped start a new rescue center (the Green Dog Rescue Project in Windsor) with Colleen Combs. We wanted to make a place where all dogs might be safe from euthanasia.” To help fund the new rescue center, Keane donated all of his proceeds — $120,000 — from his winning of Bravo’s Top Master Chef award in 2013. Keane’s interest in animals goes

back to when he was a child growing up in Michigan. “I originally wanted to be a vet,” he said. “But the chemistry and math were just too much. Besides, I was really drawn to jobs where there was a distinct completion to the work, like plating a dish.” A family friend — Stan Bromley — became a mentor to Keane. “Stan was the GM at the Hyatt in Dearborn, right next to my father’s law firm, and our families became really close,” Keane said. “He became a big influence.” A c c o r d i n g t o B r o m l e y, throughout Keane’s journey — from a child wanting to be a vet, to entering Cornell intending to go into the hospitality business, to eventually becoming a celebrity chef — he has maintained, “a desire to co-exist with others” and has also found a way to become one of the world’s finest “culinarians” that Bromley’s ever experienced. “When I first met Doug, he was 8 or 9 years old, but he was a real cute kid,” said Bromley, who now works as a consultant to luxury resorts such as Meadowood

and was the former GM at Hyatt and the Four Seasons. “He’s a unique guy in that he’s quirky in a lovable way — and boy, can the kid cook.” Bromley asked me during a phone call if I had ever seen Keane at his home. When I said I had, he laughed, “Then you know what I mean — this guy is probably the only chef in the world whose pets are barnyard animals.” “I pretty much love all animals,” Keane said. “I’ve considered becoming a vegetarian because if I had to slaughter all the animals I ate or cooked I’d pretty much starve.” Keane’s next culinary adventure is likely to be his best yet. He’s at a stage now where he’s maintained a collection of friends and top talent from his previous engagements (Nick Peyton, Kevin Reilly, Drew Glassell, Barbara Gordon and others) and formed a group of likeminded colleagues, all focused on creating something unique and experiential in wine country. “Nearly everyone who meets Doug becomes a lifelong friend,” said Des Jardins. “I know when I first met him, there was a real connection and I felt very motherly toward him — or maybe it was more like a mentor. Lots of young people don’t listen to advice, but he did. He and his amazing team are going to do something wonderful up there.” Bromley agrees. “I can only imagine that Doug’s next adventure will likely be the capstone of what’s already been an astonishing career,” he said. “It seems to me that he’s dropping anchor, and I expect this new venture to be a perfect storm of a stunning setting, mind-blowing architecture, exceptionally crafted cuisine — all within a broader community that he loves and who love him back.” Bromley paused before repeating, almost under his breath, “And man, can that kid cook.” The new restaurant is expected to break ground this spring and open sometime in 2019. Keane expects to continue his involvement with Two Birds One Stone in St. Helena, even after the new restaurant opens. 67

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Mi Sueño is a dream come true R

olando Herrera and his wife Lorena had a dream — create their own Napa Valley winery. But what to call it? Waking early one morning, Rolando turned to his wife and said, “We have to call it Mi Sueño.” “When we first started dating I knew he’d have his own winery someday — it was his dream and I always knew that, so the name made perfect sense,” Lorena said as we sat in their warehouse winery just south of downtown Napa. I’d just spent the last few hours with them touring one of their vineyards, exploring their clean and orderly winery, and tasting wines from their collection. During the entire visit both Rolando and Lorena had talked passionately about wine, their family and the adventure of building what has become one of the bright stars in the crowded night sky of wines in the Napa Valley. By the end I, too, had


Hard work and persistence drives a journey from rural Mexico to Napa Valley success come to understand that there was only one name for their winery, Mi Sueño — Spanish for “My Dream.” Rolando was born and grew up in El Llano, a small village in the state of Michoacán, Mexico. There he went to school, played with friends, and helped his parents and grandparents on their small farm. Even at an early age he enjoyed farming and found that he had an entrepreneurial spirit. “I used to bet my friends a peso that I could bounce a soccer ball on my knee longer then they could,” he said. “I was pretty good and made quite a bit of money that way. She’d never ask for it, but I loved to provide my mother with a few extra dollars to help out when I could.” Unbeknownst to him at the

time, his future wife was growing up in a nearby village only a few minutes’ drive away. “We lived a simple life with many of our needs coming directly from our garden,” he said. “I can remember living in a very small house with three kids sleeping in a single bed and not even having electricity when I was very young. We didn’t have much, but when you’re a kid that’s what you know and all I remember was being very happy.” When Rolando turned 8, he and his family moved to the Napa Valley, where his dad had procured a job at Whiting Nursery. “When I arrived I fell in love with this place — I felt like I’d come home,” he said. “But after about five years my father

decided to move us back to Mexico. I lived back in Mexico until I was 15 and then told them I was moving back to Napa.” As Rolando explained it, the idea of leaving Mexico and heading off to America at such a young age might seem strange to many now, but at that time it was normal because, “I was considered an adult at 15 and so my parents agreed.” Making his way back to Napa, he joined his older brother, Jose (17), and more than a dozen other acquaintances who all lived in a single-room apartment in Napa. “It was crowded, but I was busy going to school and working, so I didn’t notice it much,” he said. “When I went to sign up for high school they said I should enter the 10th grade, but I asked to be placed in the ninth because I didn’t want to miss anything.” I first met Rolando and Jose in 1982, when we all worked as dishwashers and prep cooks at

An aerial view of Mi Sueño vineyards. Tim Carl Photography


Auberge du Soleil. We were in our mid-teens and worked after school and on weekends. I distinctly remember both Rolando and his brother possessing a wonderful capacity to work hard while keeping a sense of humor during challenging working conditions. They both also had extreme confidence and resourcefulness, teaching me the staying power of a simply prepared sandwich of fried eggs on toasted dayold French bread that had been smothered in spicy hot sauce. “We’d go to school and then work — we’d get home at midnight most nights and then be up for school early,” Rolando said. “I missed my family and started to realize that it is a lot of work even being able to feed yourself when you are on your own.” After bouncing around as a dishwasher and a short stint in San Francisco when Auberge Chef Masa Kobayashi asked that he join him in his newly opened restaurant, Rolando found himself back in Napa working as a stone mason for one of the most famous winemakers in the Napa Valley, the founder of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Warren Winiarski. “When I saw Rolando working on the stone wall he looked up and there was a look in his eyes that told me he had an aspirational quality in his soul and he was going to do something more than just build that stone wall,” Winiarski said. “And so we offered him a job at the winery for harvest.” “I didn’t even know what ‘harvest’ meant,” Rolando said. “At first, I told them that I was busy with school and really didn’t know anything about wineries, but Warren was adamant and I eventually took the job. I’m happy I did because it really sent me on my path.” A few years later, Winiarski promoted him to cellar master and Rolando had started reading about winemaking and taking classes at UC Davis. “I may have given him a job, but he worked tirelessly to learn everything he could about winemaking,” Winiarski said.

Tim Carl Photography

Rolando and Lorena Herrera in their Napa winery tasting room.

“I found that I really loved being around the winery and in the vineyards,” Rolando said. “The tanks, the smells of fermenting wine and the aroma and feel of the earth in the vineyards were wonderful.” After working at Stag’s Leap, Rolando was hired as assistant winemaker for Marketta and Jean-Noel Fourmeaux at their old-school style Chateau Potelle, located on Mount Veeder. There he continued to learn more about the value of terroir and how to work in what was — compared to the famously clean and well-ordered operations at Winiarski’s winery — a more rustic setting. “Hearing Marketta talk about the importance of the earth, sun and water reminded me a lot of what I’d heard my grandmother tell me when I was younger and working on the farm,” he said. “It made me feel at home and that I could contribute in a real way to what they were doing.” After Potelle, he was hired as winemaker at Vine Cliff Winery and then director of winemaking at Paul Hobbs. He’d been dating Lorena for a few years, and in 1997 they married and started their own winery. “It was really tough to make things work at first,” Rolando said. “I had to borrow and work on the side so that I might bring in enough to cover costs. For a while, I tried to just do our winery, but I quickly realized that I needed to keep my clients and also work for at least a few more years as a winemaker for Paul. He was gracious to really encourage me to keep working on my own projects.” “Rolando wanted to make great wine and was willing to sacrifice anything to do that,” Hobbs

said. “Hard work, long hours any time of the day or week, he was ready to go, ready to do whatever was required, always with a grin on his face from ear to ear. He was entirely plugged in. I felt like he was like an extension of myself. He never let down, never gave up. He really added his own signature to our wines.” Today, Mi Sueño Winery employs 17 full-time workers, owns 40 acres of their own vineyards with plans to plant more of their land in the coming years, has long-term leases on many of the valley’s most prominent and well-regarded vineyards and runs Herrera Vineyard Management Co. Mi Sueño makes a variety of wines, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Tempranillo, Malbec, Petit Verdot and the “El Llano” red blend made primarily from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. All the wines I tasted that day were lush and rich and yet retained a sense of the earth throughout both the distinct aromatics and textures, which I found to be the most compelling elements of the wines. The 2014 Los Carneros Chardonnay ($42 a bottle and 4,500 cases made) shimmered gold in the glass and had aromas and flavors of baked apple, nutmeg, lily flower and ocean stones. The Syrah ($55 a bottle with only 150 to 200 cases made per year) was opaque in the glass, had aromas of black cherry and duck confit, and was chewy and meaty in structure with an almost umami-soy richness. The Pinot Noir was from a vineyard in Sonoma’s Russian River ($55 per bottle and 500 to

600 cases made per year). This wine is full of red and blue fruit, wet-Madrone forest floor and earth. The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon from Coombsville ($75 per bottle and 600 cases made per year) is silky with aromas of black current, cherry cola, sweet tobacco and moist cedar wood. The finish is full of candied violets and smoky oak. The “El Llano” ($49 and 4,000 cases made) is something entirely special and reminded me of a “thicker” version of a classic Chateauneuf-du-Pape. As I tasted the El Llano for myself, the words of Winiarski and Hobbs echoed in my mind. “One of my favorite wines from Rolando is named after the village he comes from,” Winiarski had said. “I love all the textures and nuances and how he’s brought together so many different elements so beautifully.” The name of the winery and wine, Hobbs said, “speaks from the heart and celebrates his roots — does it get better than that?” As we talked and sipped wine, other guests toured the winery and tasted wine, their muffled voices, clinking glasses and bursts of laughter echoing through the cavernous space. “I always felt like something wonderful was going to happen,” Lorena said. “I knew that if we worked hard every day we might build something meaningful for ourselves and for our family.” Rolando smiled, nodded slowly and then looked down at his glass for a long time. “I love when a wine can give me a light beam into their soul, their origin, their earth,” he said. “It’s like when I find the trail of a wine and learn about where it comes from and where it might be going. Smelling the native earth, its flowers and herbs, or when it rains and there’s the aroma of wet earth, but earth from only a single place. “That’s what I love about wine. And that’s what I love about people, too. We are sharing a dream and not afraid. Instead we feel truly blessed.” 71


Here are the answers to our Where in the Valley quiz from Page 63.

ABOVE: Archetype Restaurant in St. Helena. LEFT MIDDLE: Judd’s Hill Winery, located at 2332 Silverado Trail, for Where in Napa Valley. LEFT BOTTOM: Ekam Yoga and Wellness, located at 1115 Jordan Lane, for Where in Napa Valley. Acumen Wine Gallery on First Street in downtown Napa.

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‘The rules don’t apply’ to these inventive wine coolers from St. Mayhem

A craft beer approach

TO WINE I H E N RY LU T Z hlutz@nap ane w s . com

t starts as wine. But before a concoction from St. Mayhem reaches its growing audience, founder-owners and winemakers Kat and Rob McDonald tweak the equation, removing from the final formula as much convention as possible. They prefer peppers. “Mounds and mounds” of them, Kat said of the jalapenos and habaneros that are blended with a Lake County sauvignon blanc, imparting their flavors on the wine


before being strained off. Or peaches; there are the Pacific Northwest varietals of the fruit that are pureed to join a mashup between dried ginger and chardonnay from Clarksburg and Napa. Or the fresh mint, hundreds of pounds worth, on which a blend of chardonnay and sauvignon blanc sits with raspberries and Matcha Tea before bubbles are added, becoming what its creators call Tao of Mint, or, “the lovechild between a rosé and a mojito.”

Speaking in the St. Mayhem headquarters on Coombs Street in Napa, McDonald attempted to define the fusions dreamt up with her co-founder, co-owner, co-winemaker and husband Rob. “It’s not just wine,” she said. “We just kind of kept going.” Kat, a native of New Orleans and Rob, of Australia, began traditionally, producing sauvignon blanc and cabernet sauvignon through labels like Girls in the Vineyard. The couple still produces their customary

wines which, like St. Mayhem, fall under the purview of their winery Art + Farm Wine. “And then St. Mayhem is its own kind of separate animal,” Kat said. “We started just making really good wine and then we just didn’t want to stop.” Experiments with co-ferments and aging the wines on a litany of ingredients, from chocolate and dried cherries to the eventual peppers, gradually began to yield creations that clicked. “For years, we were just playing around,” McDonald said, “… and eventually landed on a few that just worked.” While polarizing, St. Mayhem’s inventions have cultivated a steady momentum over the brand’s short six- or seven-year history, pushing it into a growing number of stores and onto wine lists, garnering praise from the likes of Wine Spectator, and prompting the McDonalds to now seek a permanent home for the brand in the form of its own production facility. Ahead of the expansion, the team grew its ranks this year by six new employees and in July began tackling the market for cans or as McDonald dubs them, “craft wine coolers.” In the works since about 2010, the first bottles of St. Mayhem were made and sold in 2015. Since then, production has inched up, McDonald said, mostly taking place at Mendocino Wine Company in Ukiah and Bin to Bottle in Napa. Though exact amounts today are elusive, lots are small, she said, estimating that numbers for their latest cooler, Hückfest, came to roughly 1,500 cases of 250 milliliter cans. A collaboration with family friend Andy Erickson, one of Napa’s most celebrated winemakers whose credits include the highend wines of Mayacamas Vineyards, Ovid and Screaming Eagle, Hückfest offers a St. Mayhem take on mulled wine; a marriage between red varietals from Amador County and a cast of spices. The concept matured from the flasks of mulled wine Rob and Andy would devise on trips to Squaw Valley for their children’s ski races. To McDonald’s knowledge, the wine is the first of Erickson’s efforts to make its way into a can. Adding another foothold to St. Mayhem’s growing reach, the Hückfest debuted this month in all Whole Foods stores throughout Northern California. Before the advent of St. Mayhem in cans, such distribution was more challenging, McDonald said. Though buyers would eagerly take on bottles of St. Mayhem,

she said, many then faced the hurdle of “‘Where do I put this in my store?’” “We sort of created a category. We weren’t just creating a new wine. It’s a whole new category.” The coolers continue to defy consumer-friendly categorization, yet with each can coming in at slightly more than a serving size, curious drinkers are offered a slightly easier point of entry. As for wine lists, St. Mayhem is available mostly in Southern California restaurants and brewpubs, per its distribution through Stone Brewing. In that vein, the brand

The craft wine coolers of St. Mayhem.

has a place reserved on the menu at Stone Brewing’s upcoming brewery and restaurant in downtown Napa, and is thus far the sole ‘wine’ being offered. Explaining the decision to carry the brand earlier this year, Stone co-founder Greg Koch, also a longtime friend of the McDonalds, noted its appeal from a brewer’s perspective. “It’s a very craft beer approach to wine,” he said. “A lot more of the ‘why not?’” Working with Stone also brings full circle a back and forth of distribution between the McDonalds and Koch. The couple previously owned and operated Old Bridge Cellars — the first to distribute Stone Brewing outside of the brewery’s hometown San Diego area. Fast-forward to the creations of St. Mayhem, “We were enjoying drinking them,” McDonald said, “but we were like, ‘No one’s going to buy them’. And (Greg) said, ‘Yeah they will. I’ll prove it to you.’”

Today, the demand speaks for itself. “More people want it than we can make right now,” McDonald said. “We’re kind of at the tipping point … We can’t get on canning lines fast enough.” Hence the need for a production facility specifically for St. Mayhem, which the McDonalds are hoping can be found in Napa. “This is our home,” she said. “…it’s the center of wine. It’s geographically beautiful. All that aside, this is an incredible community of people. I can’t say enough about them.”


Such a facility would likely include a tasting room, she added, though “it couldn’t be what everybody else is doing. We would kind of have to St. Mayhem it.” With Hückfest bringing the current St. Mayhem portfolio to four craft wine coolers, the sights for long-term production are set on a dozen coolers being available yearround and another half a dozen appearing seasonally or as one-off experiments. For now, the next concoction is in the works, something McDonald calls an “ode to sangria,” while on the distribution front ‘Tao of Mint’ is set to hit Whole Foods shelves next year. In the meantime, as the hunt for a facility continues in tandem with a widening reach and mounting demand, McDonald counts St. Mayhem’s limits as few. “If there’s anything that’s going to prevent us from growing,” she said, “…it’s going to be if we can’t get the quality of ingredients we want.”



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The meaning of Terra’s

30 YEARS A husband-and-wife team created a St. Helena classic


ust walking up to restaurant Terra is transformative. Located on sleepy Railroad Avenue, just off St. Helena’s Main Street, the building’s rough-cut stone exterior, windows and deep-green planters are consistently full of colorful seasonal vegetables, herbs and flowers, all of which set the stage for what husband-and-wife team Lissa Doumani and Hiro Sone have in store for their guests. Entering through the heavy doors continues the transformation and is akin to visiting a friend who moved from the Napa Valley and is now living in a charming alleyway walkup in Paris. Inside, exposed stone walls and wooden beams cause the welcoming sounds of happy voices to echo, and irresistible aromas of savory roasting foods envelop the entire space like a comfortable blanket. “When I walk through the restaurant during service and I hear the clinking of glasses and dishes, the soft voices of laughing and talking and the smells of something wonderful coming from the kitchen, it is my nirvana,” Sone said. A MATCH MADE IN HOLLYWOOD Sone grew up and trained for his culinary career in Japan before moving to Los Angeles in 1984, where he became the chef at Wolfgang Puck’s new Spago, a hip nouvelle-cuisine inspired hotspot that helped solidify Puck as a leader in California’s culinary landscape. “When I trained in Tokyo other chefs would go to France or Italy


Tim Carl photography

Lissa Doumani and Hiro Sone, owners of Terra and Bar Terra, sit in front of their St. Helena restaurant. The 19th century building, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, housed many other businesses, including a chicken hatchery, before becoming Terra 30 years ago.

and come back with recipes that they’d follow perfectly — the idea was to re-create the exact same dish, but when I went to work with Wolfgang the emphasis was more on creativity and creation — it was a real epiphany,” Sone said. Doumani also worked at Spago at the time, having trained as a pastry chef under Nancy Silverton and others. Doumani was also familiar with the Napa Valley. Although she’d lived in Los Angeles as a child, she had moved to the Napa Valley when she was 14 with her father, Carl Doumani, founder of Stags’ Leap Winery.

location for our own restaurant for about a year,” Sone said. “We had looked in L.A. and even at a couple of places in Yountville (including the French Laundry).” “We both wanted a restaurant, but Hiro wanted one in the Napa Valley,” Doumani said. “I’d lived here growing up and knew it was pretty sleepy compared to Los Angeles, so I was a little reluctant to give that up unless we found the perfect spot.” One morning, after she had worked a long shift at Spago, Lissa’s father called, waking them up to say there was a building for sale and they should come up and see FINDING THE RIGHT it. They did, and a few weeks later SPOT FOR TERRA they were the new owners. “We’d been looking for a “When we saw it we really,

really liked the building,” Sone said. A BUILDING WITH A TASTY HISTORY The Terra building is a beautiful 19th-century stone structure that is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1884, the space had been a foundry, a glove factory, a chicken hatchery and even the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum before becoming a series of higher-end restaurants. The first food was served in the building in the mid-1960s when the bohemian Hatchery Cafe opened and served “natural food” to both hippies and the curious See Terra, Page 78



Area restaurants were included in the yearly guide), Sone’s being From Page 77 named “Best California Chef ” by the James Beard Foundation alike, eating while they might lis- in 2003 and Doumani’s managten to folk music played by local ing the front of the house that musicians. garnered the 2008 James Beard’s In the 1970s, Philippe Bonafont Outstanding Service Award.‌ and his bombastic, opera-singing partner, Chef Gregory, opened La TWO CULINARY Belle Helene Restaurant, which DESTINATIONS IN ONE‌ they eventually sold to Marc In 2011, Terra obtained a Dullin, who cooked French-in- liquor license and used the opporspired meals with menus peppered tunity to create two separate spaces with words such as terrine, pâté, — a more intimate 30-seat dining demi-glace, tourne and soufflé. room and a larger, more casual Beyond La Belle Helene, by the 40-seat dining area, referred to as early 1980s St. Helena had grown Bar Terra. into a culinary destination with a The two rooms have different distinctly French bent, with restau- menus, although many items can rants like Miramonte, Le Favour- be found on both. Regardless, all Cafe Oriental (one of the first menu items highlight the art of French-Thai fusion restaurants in combining Japanese-, MediterraAmerica), Trilogy and the nearby nean- and Middle Eastern-influAuberge du Soleil and Domaine enced cuisines with regional and Chandon. seasonal ingredients. After La Belle Helene was sold All items are offered à la carte, in the late 1980s, the building but a prix-fixe menu option is spent a few months as Duckworth’s available in the dining room that restaurant (presumably named after can include four ($89) to six Taylor, Duckworth and Co., which courses ($126) with guests picking had originally built the building) their selection from more than a before becoming Terra. dozen savory options and five difDoumani and Sone had found ferent dessert options. the perfect location for what they The items specific to the bar wanted to create — a culinary include the popular Bar Terra experience housed in a beautiful Ramen made with a classic Japastructure where they might serve nese soy broth that is customizable well-executed, expertly prepared but comes with Chashu jowl, pig food without a strict limit on the trotters and Jidori Egg ($18.50).‌ food’s origin, pulling ideas and food traditions from around the TASTING TERRA‌ world.‌ Soft lighting, floor-to-ceiling wine racks and original art decoFIGURING OUT HOW TO rate the walls, while Hoshigaki perRUN A RESTAURANT‌ simmons dangle from the ceiling, “We’d never run a restaurant adding an air of authenticity and before — I was a pastry chef, and hominess to the stony space. Hiro was a chef, so we needed lots My tasting experience started of help,” Doumani said. “Luckily with an espresso cup of creamy for us, most of the staff had stayed crab bisque that was fresh and had on and we had help from one of a hint of hot spice, reminding me my father’s local friends, Barbara that the local Dungeness crab seaNeyers, who had been one of the son had recently begun. founding chefs and managers at Next the delicately prepared Chez Panisse in Berkeley.” and colorful salmon crudo was Since then Terra has grown seamless in both execution and into one of the most enduring and its broad range of simple flavors, endearing restaurants in the valley, including roasted onion cream, receiving numerous accolades, trout roe and crunchy pickled including the rare distinction of leeks. This was followed by a brilmaintaining a Michelin star since liant rendition of Chawanmushi, a 2007 (the first year that any Bay Japanese savory silky custard with 78

chunks of tender lobster and flavors of bonito, kombu and egg. Miles Davis’ “Freddie Freeloader” floated in from unseen speakers, and guests talked, sipped and ate. I wondered what the chef might make of tonight’s sounds and what nirvana might be like. I didn’t have to wait long to find out. The broiled sake-marinated black cod with shiitake mushrooms, a shrimp dumpling and shiso broth was divinely textured, exquisitely balanced and sublimely satisfying precisely because it seemed to honor both the fish itself and also the Japanese culture that inspired the dish. After, an umami-rich roast of lamb-shoulder stew atop creamy polenta all dressed with paper-thin slices of locally foraged porcini mushrooms showed a masterful understanding of flavor and texture. The dessert, inspired by Doumani’s Lebanese heritage, was a wonderfully balanced — not too sweet — phyllo dough Bisteeya filled with apples and almond butter, poised on a pool of tangy yogurt and cinnamon. There is also Chocolate Bourbon Ice Cream, Coconut Marshmallow With Fudge Sauce and Thunder Crackers (found on both menus, $13) that I will certainly try next time. Throughout the evening, I enjoyed tastes of various local wines (the list is distinctly Napa, with the wines by the glass all from Napa), and I learned about each offering from both the attentive waitstaff and Craig Bistrong, the wine director. Stephan Hebding from La Condesa has recently joined the team as bartender and is continuing the tradition of, as Doumani put it, “using good products to make creative cocktails that span a broad range of drink styles. Not just using trendy new alcohols but using fresh ingredients and a clean palate.” Both Sone and Doumani have their own special cocktails on the menu, his is the “Hirotini,” and hers is the “Old School Margarita.” As a parting gift Doumani handed me a takeout box that contained one of the delightfully

wrinkled Hoshigaki persimmons that had been dangling from the ceiling, drying and curing for weeks. The next morning, I savored slices of the surprisingly sweet and apricot-like flavors on my morning granola and pondered my most recent experience at Terra.‌ THE MEANING OF TERRA‌ Terra turned 30 this year, and thankfully, Sone and Doumani have signed another 10-year lease. They have built and maintained a tradition of expertly prepared foods and attentive but not too fussy service, all of which is comfortably infused with different cultures and food traditions. What makes Terra different from many other restaurants is that it manages to express creativity while honoring the origins of each dish and ingredient — not in a hyperbolic, food-as-entertainment manner but more in the vein of, “We really love food and we want to share a special evening with you.” This philosophy was evident when I watched as Sone or Doumani interacted with their guests, not as customers but more like old family friends. Terra is a place where one feels at home and comfortable, knowing that the hosts have thought of everything, providing both the security of the familiar but also the thrill and charm of being surprised and delighted. Restaurants such as Terra are of the rarest type, and because of the nature of our rapidly changing world and a California food culture with most restaurants not lasting more than a couple of years — much less multiple generations — I accept that at some point in the future everything must go back to the earth. But my hope is that for all of our sakes, 10 years from now Sone and Doumani once again decide to grace the world with another extension of their lease. “The meaning of Terra for me is about coming back home to the earth,” Sone said. “There is a lot of food out there that makes you exercise your brain, but for me eating is all about speaking to the heart.”‌



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CLASSICS Chiarello opens Platform 8 in Yountville, with flavor, fun, and science

ABOVE: Michael Chiarello makes a creation for his Nitro Ice Cream Lab, using a charcoal powder made from grapevines. Sasha Paulsen, Register


hef Michael Chiarello estimates he’s spent about 180,000 hours behind stoves in his career, opening highend Italian restaurants like Tra Vigne and Bottega, which became landmarks in the Napa Valley, as well as starring in television shows, and cooking at fundraisers and demos. All of this experience has led to the pinnacle of culinary achievement: the perfection of the American classics, the burger, fries and ice cream. “You would not believe how many hours we put into this,” he said cheerfully as he conducted a tour of his newly opened, newest enterprise in Yountville. With him was his daughter, Giana, who is working with her dad these days. Together they posed in front of a sign: “Platform 8, Finally...Open.” “After 24 years here in the valley, I thought about what was missing here, what was missing in Yountville,” said Chiarello. The answer is here in his new eatery, subtitled, “a modern burger joint and ice cream lab.” That’s the menu for Platform 8, which opened in December in a building that once was part of the Yountville train station, hence

the new name. Also, “Platform 8 is my favorite in the Milan train station,” Chiarello said. “From there you go to all kinds of great places.” Last year, the enterprising chef opened the nearby Ottimo, which serves pizza, panini and other fast-casual Italian specialties. In addition to Bottega, at V Marketplace, he also has a new tasting room for his wines. Platform 8, however, is his homage to pure Americana, from the music — rock ‘n’ roll — right down to the servers’ uniforms, 1930s-style Ben Davis striped shirts, with American flags on the sleeves and mechanics aprons. The redesigned white space is divided in half: one part is the Platform 8 Nitro Ice Cream Lab, and the other is where cooks will be turning out burgers and fries. “Everything we know, we’ve put into this,” Chiarello said. Part of the innovations, diners will be able to see their ice cream being made to order, in seconds, and the French fries being shot at 60 miles an hour from a French fry cannon. “The idea is to have entertainment value,” said Chiarello, who collaborated with his business partner, David O’Malley, in creating Platform 8. “But there is as much that’s unseen as well.” By this, Chiarello is referring to the science behind all the decisions that lead to the perfection of American classics. Take the burger. The beef is Chiarello’s blend of Five Dot Ranch beef, ground on site four times a day. They micro-freeze the outside of each patty before they grill it. “The meat is so good, it’s ludicrous,” he said. The patties are square served on a house-made round, “not-soEnglish” muffin bun. Why? “What’s the best part of a piece of pizza?” he asked. “The first bite, right? It’s that triangle. Here, you get four triangles, hanging out of the bun. “One of our mottos is ‘It’s good to be square,’” he noted. And the muffin, he explained, is just the right thickness for a burger, “not like those big thick buns, where you have to squash

Sasha Paulsen, Register

Michael Chiarello and his daughter, Giana Chiarello, opened Platform 8 in Yountville. She is working on the restaurant project with him.

it down to get a bite — and then lose all the juice from the burger.” What’s more, the Classic Burger ($9) comes with something not to be found at any other burger joint: the Mixie-Doodle sauce, created by Chiarello when he was an aspiring, 4-year-old chef. “I’ve never been able to improve on it,” he said. Thought went into the cheese, as well, for those who want it topping the burger. It comes in three choices of smoked mozzarella, Point Reyes blue, cheddar “fundu” or a blend of all three. They’ve made a “liquefied cheese” so that “cheese isn’t the first thing you taste,” Chiarello said. “It’s the meat, and it doesn’t stick to the roof of your mouth.” Other embellishments are available, including zinfandel caramelized onions, billionaire’s bacon and a sunnyside up egg ($2.50 each). And if you really want more than the Mixie Doodle sauce, house-made mustard, Calabrian ketchup and Tuscan barbecue sauce are also available. The menu also offers an “Irresistible Crispy Chicken Burger” ($10.50) and an Impossible Burger ($13). The latter are the remarkable meatless burgers that are astonishing vegans and vegetarians because they have both the flavor and texture of a meat patty — but use 95 percent less land and 74 percent less water than beef and creates 87 percent less greenhouse gases. “And it tastes 500 percent better than any other veggie burger,” Chiarello added. And the fries: after their initial journey by cannon, they get

a special soak and are fried three times. Chiarello said, “This way, we can fry them at 40 degrees lower temperature and so we can use olive oil.” The result is “the healthiest french fry,” and also one that is crispy and extremely flavorful. “They taste good even when they are cold,” he said. Fries are $4, sprinkled with grey salt and $6 for cab-soaked fries. A hydro bloomed onion ring is $5. To drink, there’s a list of mostly local wines by the glass and bottle, as beer, cider and soda. “We’re starting to brew our own Italian beers,” he added. “Italian beer is epic.” Here, too, the offerings are surprisingly affordable, especially for Yountville: a glass of Antica pinot is $12, a bottle of Shafer merlot, $55. Beers are $4-$6 and cider $7. “I want a place for locals,” Chiarello said. Now to the ice cream, produced in what Chiarello describes as “an old-school soda shop meets modern nitro lab.” Using liquid nitrogen to create the ice cream in a cloud of smoke “is not a gimmick, it’s a technique,” Chiarello said as he and an assistant whipped up a serving of huckleberry ice cream on a Kitchen Aide mixer. “Liquid nitrogen, the fourth coldest element in the world — 320 degrees below zero,” he said, as the ice cream formed, invisibly, inside a cloud of smoke. “The recipe doesn’t require eggs, and the ice crystals are so small, they’re negligible,” he said. “Also, there isn’t a lot of air whipped

into the ice cream as with most commercial ice creams. The result is the smoothest ice cream you can imagine, and intense flavor.” Chiarello digressed to make an ice cream blending huckleberry with a dose of charcoal powder made from grapevines from his own vineyards. This powder, he explained, does everything from whiten teeth to help cure a hangover, and it impacts an intriguing smokey flavor to the now-black ice cream. Coming up, he said, they’ll be serving a lemonade made with it. “It’s delicious,” he said. The Lab is serving the ice cream in three flavors, vanilla, chocolate and huckleberry in scoops ($3.50 or $5 for a double), shakes ($6). Plans are in the works to serve it in meringue cups and also to offer egg creams, a soda fountain classic popular on the East Coast, hard to find in the West (it doesn’t contain eggs or cream, just milk, flavored syrup and seltzer). In creating Platform 8, Chiarello hasn’t overlooked a detail, from the trays — “I didn’t like the metal so I created a rubber coating that just feels better” — to the napkins. “Recognize them?” he asked. “They’re mechanics’ shop towels. They absorb grease. Not like the paper ones that just turn into a mess and you need a hundred of them.” And there’s one final element that Platform 8 has in abundance: fun. As a grand finale, Chirarello demonstrated the nitro carmel popcorn bites ($6.50). Pop one in your mouth and you can exude an impressive “dragon’s breath.” “If you can’t tell,” he said, “we’re having a hell of a good time here.” “I’m as excited about this as anything I’ve ever done,” Chiarello said. “This is as good as it gets.” Platform 8 is at 6525 Washington St., Yountville. For more information, visit For to-go orders call 707-244-4350. 81

Protea Restaurant owner and executive chef Anita Cartagena stands in the rooftop dining room of her Yountville restaurant.

Spicing up D Yountville

J.L. Sousa photos, Register

Global fare highlights Protea chef’s Puerto Rican heritage

Lamb shepherd’s pie and Chinese pork roll empanadas from executive chef and owner Anita Cartagena of Protea Restaurant in Yountville.



uring the October wildfires, chef Anita Cartagena, like chefs throughout the valley, pitched in to do what she could to provide food for first responders as well as those who’d become homeless overnight. But the owner of Protea restaurant in Yountville said her thoughts were also with friends and family in her native Puerto Rico, which had also suffered immense devastation when it was hit by Hurricane Maria in September. Cartagena was 10 when her family left Puerto Rico to move to Cleveland, Ohio; she retained both the joyful memories and traditions of her island. “I never felt poor until we moved to United States,” she said of her early impressions. A career as a model and then actress brought her to Chicago; but it was a trip to Yountville that set her

on her path to becoming a chef. “I always loved to cook,” she said. “I loved watching people cook. My grandmother and mother were wonderful cooks, and my father made the best fish soup ever.” She recreated their specialties in her own cooking until, on a date, a man took her to a Thai restaurant in Chicago. “It opened up the whole world,” she said. The same man, who went on to become her life and business partner, is also the one who brought her to Yountville and took her to The French Laundry in 2008. “Yountville changed my life,” she said. “Nine years later, I still cry when I think of that meal. I thought, this is what I want. I decided, I am going to come back and live here and open a restaurant.” Back in Chicago, she enrolled in culinary school, at the same time that she became the mother of a new daughter. Then she made the move to Yountville, where she began working at Ciccio restaurant, with chef Polly Lapettito. She opened Protea in April 2016. “But I wanted to do it my way — to bring a little spice to Yountville.” “My way” means Cartagena’s menu changes daily. “I come to work and think about what I’d like to cook,” she explained. “I’d get bored if I cooked the same thing every day.” She describes the Protea menu as “global with Latin influence.” She said cheerfully, “People say, ‘You’re not a Puerto Rican restaurant. No. I do cook dishes I learned from my mother and grandmother, but I like to add my own touches, even if I do turn everything on its head.” On a recent day, Protea’s menu included a chuletas bowl, a thincut, bone-in pork chop, marinated and seared and served over bomba rice and beans, topped with greens and sweet plantains; and it also had cheese-loaded waffle fries, tacos, leek soup and a ramen stirfry, made with sirloin, bok choy, mushrooms, broccoli and a Szechuan style spicy chili sauce. The two-story restaurant has seating downstairs as well

as upstairs on an outdoor deck. Cartagena and her staff cook in an open kitchen in the cozy restaurant that has racks of shining pans, and blue and white tiles. “I want people to feel like they are in my kitchen,” she added. “It is casual — but the standards are high. I love being able to make people happy. But I like to throw curve balls. I like to paint outside the lines, to step outside what you think is normal.” Asked for a recipe, Cartagena

is the base of many Puerto Rican dishes, sazon, a blend of herbs and spices, and adobo, a mix of salt, onion, garlic and cumin. “If you can’t find adobo, garlic and onion powder work fine,” Cartagena said. “Sazon comes in little packets, but if these aren’t available, try a smoked paprika.” Cartagena said she follows her mother’s lead and orders masa, the maize dough used for the empanadas, from Goya. “But I’ve changed mine around from my

was so proud.” For the holidays, she said her immediate family in Cleveland will be cooking Puerto Rican specialties that evoke her childhood. “What I remember is all the people around, the music and of course, the food.” A typical Christmas Eve menu, she said, would also be empanadas, red kidney beans and rice with pigeon peas, and green and sweet plantains. “The main protein is likely to be pork, roasted or chicharones, (a dish of

J.L. Sousa, Register

Chuletas bowl with seared marinated thin cut bone in pork chop served over steamed bomba rice, braised beans topped with mixed greens and sweet plantains from executive chef and owner Anita Cartagena of Protea Restaurant in Yountville.

laughs heartily and explains, “They change as I cook.” One dish that shows up frequently on the Protea menu is empanadas, stuffed bread or pastry that is fried or baked. “They are really universal,” Cartagena said, noting that they are popular in Spain, and throughout the Americas. In Puerto Rico, they are called pastelillos, and the traditional stuffing is picadillo, a spiced mixture of ground beef, tomato, onions and potatoes. The seasonings include sofrito, a mixture of garlic, onions and peppers that

mother,”she added. Her own creative touches show up in the fillings: she has made a mac ‘n’ cheese filling as well as a British-inspired shepherd’s pie filling, although on some days, she might even return to picadillo. So far, she said, she has not been bored. When her family moved to Ohio, she said, they brought their traditions with them, right down to the Puerto Rican version of posadas, in which Joseph and Mary search for shelter, leading up to Christmas Eve. “I played the Virgin Mary,” she recalled. “I

fried pork rind or belly). And desserts, of course, cakes and cookies. And there is always pineapple.” Will there be a Christmas feast for her relatives in Puerto Rico? “I don’t know,” she said. “I have talked to them; they don’t want to leave their country. So I hope so.” Protea, at 6488 Washington St., Yountville, is now serving breakfast on weekends, from 7-11 a.m. It is closed on Wednesdays, and open the rest of the week from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The daily menu is posted online at 83

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Artesa director of winemaking Ana Diogo-Draper. BELOW: The remodeled tasting room at Artesa draws on the tapas and pintxos bars of Barcelona.


writes next chapter Spanish roots shine at remodeled tasting room HENRY LUTZ


n a hill looking out on the Bay, a winery straddles two worlds. Grown from Spanish roots in the foothills between Mount Veeder and the Carneros, that winery, Artesa, hosts the meeting place between centuries of Old World familial winemaking and the future. In its latest chapter, Artesa today is in the throes of self-discovery, says President Susan Sueiro, and making a bid for relevance with the wine drinkers of tomorrow. During an unveiling of sorts late last year, intimacy and a head-long embrace of the winery’s Spanish-American id were the obvious overtones of a tasting room remodeled this past year. Taking a page from the tapas and pintxos bars of Barcelona, the space comes complete with a cadre of new guest experiences and food pairings offered by reservation.


A remodel of the winery’s front room is on deck for this winter. “Instead of that classic belly up to the bar, too many deep at the bar on Saturday afternoon,” Sueiro said, visitors are intended to “by appointment, come, sit, have a food-and-wine experience, really get to learn who we are.” In tandem with the renovations, a label re-launch has an updated logo sporting commissioned artwork based on street tiles of the Barcelona thoroughfare Passeig de Gràcia, while a redevelopment plan in the

vineyards sees roughly 10 acres being replanted each year. An ‘experimental block’ of mixed soils and new clones serves as a staging ground of sorts for redevelopments to come. The revolution all happens, of course, around Artesa’s center of gravity, the wines of Ana Diogo-Draper. A native of Portugal, Diogo-Draper took the reins of the estate’s winemaking in 2015 and now coaxes out its latest expressions, not the least of which is a wine meant to mark this, the next chapter in Artesa’s story.

Founded in the mid-1980s, with Napa Valley ascending the global wine stage, the winery is one of two New World satellites of Codorniu Raventos Group, Spain’s oldest family company and inventors of the sparkling wine cava. Dating to 1551, the company today is owned by the family’s 17th generation, the first to set roots in Napa and the New World. Planting the estate mainly to the Carneros’ two staple grapes, pinot noir and chardonnay, the winery began as Codorniu Napa, naturally with sparkling wine ambitions. While estate fruit still goes into a brut wine made under the Codorniu Napa name, the property’s potential for small, potent grape clusters ideal for still wines, eventually won out. In 1997, the name Artesa – Catalan for “hand-crafted” – was applied, and the winery is today “a pinot noir house, first and foremost.” The varietal makes up roughly 85 of the estate’s 150 acres of vineyard, and five bottlings of its wine, soon to be six, Sueiro said. Chardonnay plays a close second, complemented by small bottlings of Spanish varietals and vineyard designate cabernet sauvignon. The foothills of the estate offer a soil profile at odds with the rest of the Carneros, said vineyard manager Jesus Hernandez. While much of the region is composed of heavy clay, the estate’s influence from Mount Veeder comes in the form of rocky slopes of sandstone, limestone and gravelly loam. “It’s almost like an accordion,” Diogo-Draper said of the topography. Despite some vines being more than 25 years old, she said, the terrain makes finding water a struggle, which comes as a boon to the wine. “What we get are extremely small clusters with very little berries and by that, incredible concentration and wonderful flavors.” To say the estate had a close call with the area’s recent wildfires would be an understatement. Seen from cabernet sauvignon blocks at the highest point of the property, technically in the Mount Veeder

A tractor moves between rows of pinot noir grape vines in this block at the Artesa estate.

AVA at 420 feet above sea level, the Partrick Fire’s path down the surrounding mountains is particularly chilling. Blackened earth stops abruptly at the estate’s vineyards, which, as in other hillside areas throughout the county, acted as breaks for the fire and halted its spread. On a lower portion of the property, near the estate’s edge, sits the experimental block. In fact seven irrigation blocks carved from one previous 12-acre block, the site holds a variety of soils, Hernandez said. There’s an area of clay not far from a swath with “an extracurricular activity of rocks,” including sandstone with fossils. “Then you move to the third section over here,” he gestured, “and it has a completely different type of rock structure. There’s no rhyme or reason.” The mash-up of soils hosts new clones of pinot noir and chardonnay alongside varieties that had underperformed in other areas. Among the experiments growing near the unoccupied Brown family house, home of the site’s former tenants, are great-great-granddaughter tempranillo vines from Codorniu property in Spain. Sueiro traced the vines’ time in California from being sent as cuttings to UC Davis, then back to Spain, then back again to the

Artesa property where they were planted in the shadow of a mountain and failed to prosper. Transplanted to a Duckhorn property in Alexander Valley, the vines bore Artesa fruit for years before being returned to the site where they grow now in an amply lit gravel portion of the experimental block. Though yet to see its day in the winery, the tempranillo will one day lend itself to the new wine that perhaps most embodies Artesa’s sea change, the one Sueiro calls “our spirit animal”: Galatea. A blend split almost equally between Atlas Peak cabernet sauvignon and (for now) Alexander Valley tempranillo, the wine was born in a blending room session between Diogo-Draper and Sueiro. “It kind of started with the two of us sitting in the blending room and brains turning around it and deciding ‘Could we do this?’” Diogo-Draper recalled. “And this blend was done in an hour maybe.” Calling on Greek mythology, the name references the story of Pygmalion, the sculptor who fell in love with the lifeless statue of a woman. Pitying the sculptor, Aphrodite brought the statue to life, with the name Galatea. Another famed muse to share the name was the wife of none other than Spain’s own Salvador Dali.

J.L. SOUSA, Register

“This is a style of wine that no one but Artesa could really produce,” Sueiro leveled. “And no one but Ana would have the two sides of the brain to really do as well as she did.” Diogo-Draper insists on sharing the credit with Sueiro, dubbing the wine a “creative collaboration.” Yet the concept extends beyond a single wine, giving shape and articulation to the idea of the winery’s renewal, Sueiro said, “Giving it some soul, giving it some flesh and blood and bringing the Artesa story to life.” Through the winery renovations, a bit of rebranding, Diogo-Draper’s command of the winemaking and Hernandez’s charge in the vineyards, the team today drafts the new pages of that story, spurred by the Codorniu family. “Napa Valley is known for having some of the greatest estates in the world and 25, 26 years ago, this family invested in making one of them,” Sueiro said. “And what they’re now challenging Ana and Jesus and I and the rest of the team to do, is make that estate relevant for the next 25 years.” “It’s really been about the soul-searching experience of, ‘Who is Artesa, and who do we want to be when we grow up?’” she said. “This is just the beginning.” 89





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Tim Carl photo; Below: Submitted photo

Alex Ryan, CEO of Duckhorn Wine Co. BELOW: The company bought the historic Three Palms Vineyard in Calistoga in 2015.

The route to

No. 1 The story behind Duckhorn’s big win



n 1976, Margaret and Dan Duckhorn founded a small winery. Their goal was to make a merlot wine from Napa Valley grapes that might stand up to any wine in the world. Their first vintage was the 1978. Forty years later, their commitment to that original vision has been recognized as the Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Year for their 2014 Duckhorn Merlot from the Three Palms Vineyard in Napa Valley. “When you look at the list of the top wines from the Spectator over the last 30 years, we’re in pretty good company,” said Alex Ryan, president and CEO of Duckhorn Wine Co. “It’s a real testament to the vision and tenacity of Dan and Margaret.” MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN You have probably never heard Ryan’s name before. He has maintained a low profile since starting work for Dan Duckhorn in his early teens, back in the late 1970s when the company was formed. And since then, except for four years when he was away at school getting a viticulture degree from Fresno State, he has been there, working his way up the ranks, from vineyard to the cellar. He eventually earning the title of president in 2005 after being appointed general manager and chief operating officer in 2000. Ryan grew up in St. Helena and has shown an uncanny ability to make good decisions and then execute them almost flawlessly, growing the Duckhorn Co. from a few thousand cases of a single brand to a collection of brands — Goldeneye, Paraduxx, Migration, Decoy, Please see Duckhorn, Page 92



who found the choice void of any vineyards tended by vintners who acknowledgement of history or will not settle for less than worldlong-term commitment and a lack class quality. At 95 points, the From Page 91 of understanding from the Specta- Paloma received the highest score tor that giving the prize to a small a merlot has ever gotten from Wine Canvasback and Calera — that player who only made a few bottles Spectator, yet the price ($45) is collectively now produces nearly 1 wasn’t a good business decision. fair.” million cases per year. This Aug. 28, 2010 photo If you ask him, he’ll point to shows Dan Duckhorn, his team, the owners and a long list second from right, chairman of investors as having the greatest and founder of the Duckhorn influence. But I’ve known Ryan Wine Company and his wife since we went to school together Nancy Andrus Duckhorn, at the Robert Louis Stevenson right, board member of Junior High School in St. Helena, Napa Valley Grapegrowers, at the grapegrowers STOMP and I can assure you his force of harvest dinner at Hudson personality and his natural business Eric Risberg Vineyards in Napa. acumen are almost assuredly key factors in Duckhorn’s success. Granted, having a strong team, TASTING THE 2001 THREE PALMS MERLOT such as Renée Ary, who started PALOMA MERLOT The 2014 Three Palms is made working in the cellar in 2003 and I distinctly remember tasting up of 86 percent merlot, 8 percent became head winemaker in 2014, the 2001 Paloma. I’d learned cabernet Sauvignon, 4 percent malis also important, as is having what about the vineyard from my father bec and 2 percent petit verdot. All is the force-of-nature personalities a year earlier and had even visited the fruit for the wine comes from of the Duckhorns as wind in the Barbara at her home on Mount St. the 83-acre vineyard, 50 acres of company’s sails. It’s also important Helena. which are planted to merlot. The to note that a sequence of superTasting the Paloma 2001 was namesake vineyard, with its dissmart private equity firms from an earth-shattering kind of expe- tinctive towering three palm trees, the Bay Area have been majority rience. The unctuous, intensely is just south of Calistoga and was owners since 2007 — GI Partners concentrated and chocolatey wine first planted in 1968. The vineyard first and the most recently, TSG had a depth and complexity that was purchased by Duckhorn when Consumer Partners, who must look I remember to this day. Foley had GI Partners invested $70 million as pretty smart for purchasing Duck- told me that year that he never part of their effort to solidify grape horn from their rivals in 2016. removed stems or leaves from the sources and update operations. But make no mistake, that per- grapes after they’d been picked, I tasted one bottle of the 2014 son behind the curtain, the person believing they added something Three Palms Merlot that I’d purwho has been running the show “real” to the wine. chased through the tasting room. I almost from the beginning, is Ryan. As I tasted that wine over the paid $105, not the $98 listed on the course of a few days (as is my website and pricing sheet. When I THE OTHER MERLOT habit), each new sip provided tan- asked why the price changed, the The last time a Napa Valley gible evidence that wine can be a woman behind the counter smiled, merlot was chosen for wine of the living, breathing, ever-changing “We’ve had a lot of demand for this year was in 2003, when the 2001 entity, and it was a travesty when wine, as you might imagine.” vintage Paloma Merlot from the the bottle eventually stood empty Like I had with the Paloma Spring Mountain District garnered on my kitchen counter. I was years earlier, I tasted the wine over the coveted prize. That wine was changed by that wine, and it was a four-day period. made by a mom-and-pop team — one of the reasons that led me to The 2014 Duckhorn Three Jim and Barbara Richards — who leave my life in Boston and come Palms is a nearly perfectly crafted had planted their small mountain- back home to the Napa Valley to example of modern-day winemaktop vineyard in merlot because start a winery. ing. The flavors are distinct: plum, they’d tasted Dan Duckhorn’s In 2003, Marvin Shanken, pub- sweet oak, violet, Tootsie Roll merlot and found it to their liking. lisher of the Wine Spectator, had candy and earth. Over the course But the Richardses were not picked a wine that seemed to nail of four days, the wine changed very winemakers, so they consulted with the zeitgeist of the moment, as he little except for a sweet, leathery elewinemaker Robert Foley, arguably wrote in his introduction to the ment that grew over time. I came the Napa Valley’s guru on merlot, Dec. 31, 2003, issue of the mag- to understand that this wine would to help them craft a few hundred azine: embarrass no one who’d brought it cases of the 2001 vintage. “This wine testifies to a sig- to a party but that the award was When these “newcomers” won nificant trend underway in Napa really about something more. the prize there was grumbling in Valley: a proliferation of small-proWhereas the 2001 Paloma the ranks of other local vintners duction wines from exceptional award seemed wholly about the 92

wine (and perhaps value), the 2014 Three Palms choice this year seems mostly about giving a nod to the Napa Valley’s half-century of winemaking excellence by the Duckhorn cohort and an acknowledgment that the business model has changed over the years, or as Shanken wrote in his introduction to the Dec. 31, 2017, issue of Wine Spectator, “…most of all, we were impressed by the wine’s X-factor — the story behind the bottle.” This year’s Wine of the Year also seems to highlight the changing nature of Wine Spectator itself. With decades of experience and deep wine knowledge, the Spectator appears to be taking a more sentimental view of Napa Valley winemaking, looking to some of the stalwarts and maverick visionaries who with a strong team of smart and loyal employees and investors might be recognized for having built something good and solid with their decades of effort. FUTURE OF DUCKHORN The Duckhorns have had a wild ride, their wings lifted by many. The future remains unwritten, but the recent purchase of one of the most highly regarded pinot noir producers in California, Calera, signals that Duckhorn is likely to be making more external purchases in the future. I also imagine they are getting plenty of purchase inquires from some of their bigger competitors who see the Duckhorn brand as something akin to Gucci in the eyes of consumers. Given this award, expect the pressure from all sides on this company to increase. When I asked Ryan his biggest concern about the future, he chewed his lip and looked out the window, his expression serious. We sat in his small office on the second floor of the Duckhorn Winery in St. Helena, pictures of his wife and three children covering the walls. “My biggest fear is dust,” he said. “I know I am not a fix-it guy, so we need to keep things relevant and of the highest quality. I might push really hard, but at the end of the day I am working for Dan, Margaret, their family and for our employees and partners — and I take that very seriously.”

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Atlas Peak Mountain prospers despite terrible damage IGOR SILL


ost of us are familiar with Napa’s Valley floor wineries, Mondavi, Beringer, V.Sattui, Opus One, Inglenook – but, lesser known are the small vintners and wine creators high above on Napa’s Atlas Peak volcanic region. The curvy, windy road that leads up to Atlas Peak is now lined with burnt oak trees and blackened rocks given the recent Napa fires. In between the trees are modest looking estates and untouched vineyards saved from the fire’s devastation. Even though it’s just minutes from the hustle and bustle of tourist-rich Napa, it remains a completely different world. These mountain vineyards survived the fire and provide an incomparable surrounding natural beauty, remaining home to generations of winemakers whose passion to craft the world’s truly exquisite wines remains their sole pursuit. Only three percent of the wine grapes grown in California are grown at altitudes above 1,000 feet in elevation. The most costly and exceptional wines tend to come from these high-elevation mountain vineyards, where the terroir provides a mystical and divine setting. Terroir, the complex relationship between a wine’s flavor and climate, soil and natural environment where the grapes grow, is vital to vintners, winemakers and wine aficionados. When one brings up the concept of terroir—a French wine term used to describe a wine’s “sense of place”—you realize the importance that keeping soils natural along with their unique climate have on producing truly exceptional wines. Natural, organic farming is an ecological method that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on farming practices that restore, maintain


After the fires

Igor Sill

and enhance ecological harmony, naturally. Instead of feeding vines with synthetic chemical fertilizers, which contain ammonium nitrate and can explode violently when ignited by open flames, the majority of Atlas Peak’s vintners farm organically, which better supports the grape vine’s health, and may have saved much of Napa’s vineyards from the fires devastation. Dr. Miranda Hart, from the University of British Columbia, Okanagan, studies soil biodiversity to better understand soil microbial communities. “Soil biodiversity may be an important part of terroir, which is everything to a grape grower,” she said. “Vineyard soil microbes stimulate plant defense mechanisms,” Hart said, explaining that this is particularly important for wine grape vines because the “flavor elements that people are excited about — the flavonoids and antioxidants — are secondary metabolites,” produced when plants experience stress. “Plants have a very elaborate immune system, and they’re either deterring herbivores or creating antimicrobial agents, and the chemistry of that is very important to the grape’s sensory profile.” Mountain vineyards offer a different climatic rhythm and, thus, produce greater intensity of flavors and aromas. “Only with height do you get the combination of clean, thin,

cool mountain air, which steadies the day’s temperatures, creating warmer days with full sun and cool nights,” said ABC7 weather anchor Spencer Christian, whose love for fine wines has propelled him as a recognized wine connoisseur. “As elevation increases, sunlight becomes more concentrated, causing grapes to develop deeper pigments. They get more early sun because they are above the fog line, thus forcing grapes to ripen slowly.” In the afternoon, the heat from the valley floor begins to drift up the hillsides. The grapes absorb more sun, then, close down at night, halting photosynthesis, sugar formation and acidity, locking in their structure and backbone while allowing them to ripen perfectly. You get much more depth, notes, balance, structure and complexity from these climatic rhythms. The mountains are more exposed to prevailing winds, adding more stress to the vines. Essentially, higher- elevation mountain vineyards benefit in several ways over valley floor vines. They receive more concentrated sunlight, greater temperature changes and far better drainage, which creates a natural stress to the vines as they struggle to develop greater pigment concentration. As a result, they produce fewer, but more intense aromas, flavors, colors and tannins. The grape’s elements

evolve more slowly and age much more gracefully. This high elevation stress contributes to higher quality wine grapes. Atlas Peak provides shallow tufa topsoil that features depth of flavors that are different from other regions. Farming these soils is immensely challenging, but well worth the effort as Atlas Peak has been producing exceptionally fine wines since 1870. Over the years, despite its rugged remoteness, the appellation has produced an abundance of wines acclaimed worldwide for their intense flavors and delicate, balanced tannins that have become the signature of Atlas Peak Mountain wines. Mountain wines tend to be produced in small quantities, hence the reason that many of Napa’s expensive “cult” wines are from high elevations. This terroir offers a unique element ideal for farming cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and sangiovese: porous volcanic tufa. Tufa’s volcanic rock consistency allows it to absorb water and retain moisture for long periods of time, offering what exceptional grapes require: dry farming. These volcanic rocks contain high levels of macro-porosity, which allow them to store moisture up to 100 percent of their weight, releasing moisture to the vines’ roots as needed. Vines develop and produce best when stressed through dry farming. As the vine struggles to push roots

deeper into the soil to scavenge more resources, ideal conditions develop for producing ultra-highquality grapes. Making things difficult for the vine, by withholding fertilizers, making nutrients scarce, pruning it hard and crowding it with competing vine neighbors, excel it to another level. It senses that this is not the ideal place to be a grapevine; rather, it devotes itself to reproducing, which for a vine means making exceptional, ultra-premium grape berries. And, this is precisely what the finest vineyards do to produce phenomenal wines. The soils porous aspect also acts as an insulator, retaining its temperature consistent even if the air temperature fluctuates. Cabernet sauvignon grapes thrive here, and Atlas Peak’s relatively high slopes offer the ideal growing elevation for these vines. The soil acts like a solar panel, collecting and radiating solar heat throughout the day and into the night, well after the sun has set. The difference in tem-

Submitted photo

Igor Sill’s Atlas Peak winery was destroyed in the October wildfires.

location.” The fact is that clay and limestone exist all over the world, so concerning oneself about why wine grown in Bordeaux’s soil is different than the one in Napa’s can be complicated — not to mention boring. But, if any terroir is going to be interesting, it’s the volcanic soil these wines come from — particularly the cabernets, which are complex, complicated, balanced, elegant, and much less tannic.


The winery at Sill Family Vineyards was gutted by the Atlas Peak fire.

perature, known in the viticulture world as the diurnal temperature variation, is an important element for grapes as they develop both the right amount of acidity (from cool nights) and sweetness (from warm and sunny days). It is easy to see that there are certain places on our planet that are more perfect for growing cabernet sauvignon grapes. As they say, “great wine is made in the vineyard, not in the laboratory. Location, location,

Beyond structure Every year, there seems to be a flurry of headlines about the health benefits of high-elevation red wine as if ripe berry flavors along with perfect structure weren’t reasons enough to seek out mountain wines. There is growing evidence that red wines grown at higher elevations possess greater levels of healthy antioxidant properties, gaining a reputation as an elixir of life. Mounting evidence suggests

that drinking red wine in moderation can reduce the oxidative damage responsible in the aging process and for many degenerative diseases. A recent study by researchers at the Virginia Tech Carilion School discovered that resveratrol, a compound in the skin of red grapes and red wine have many of the neuroprotective benefits of a low-calorie diet and exercise, helping preserve muscle fibers and protecting connections between neurons from the negative effects of aging. The researchers found that resveratrol was able to shield neuromuscular junctions from damage as we age, essentially tapping into natural mechanisms to slow age-induced degeneration of neuronal circuits. The researchers plan to further study these neuroprotective effects by identifying the specific mechanism that enables resveratrol to protect synapses. “Red wine has been demonstrated to have a beneficial effect on preventing heart disease. The mechanism of this benefit isn’t known yet, but we have been drinking wine for many centuries and, in addition to the joy it provides, scientists are working with vintners to better understand its health effects,” said Dr. David Agus, professor of Medicine & Engineering at the University of Southern California. He is also an author of several books, including “The End of Illness,” “A Short Guide to a Long Life” and “The Lucky Years: How to thrive in the brave new world of health.” For decades, Dr. Chris Cates had been working as an interventional cardiologist, recommending to heart patients that they keep their heart healthy by enjoying a glass of red wine each day. “Since we learned that wine was beneficial in a group of studies called ‘The French Paradox’ where it really showed that French people live longer than Americans even though they smoke and arguably have worse diets than Americans,” Cates said. “The thing that really shook out from all of that is the importance related to red wine and the polyphenols and antioxidants in wine.” Basically, plants synthesize

the antioxidant resveratrol as a response to natural UV sunlight. Resveratrol is a naturally occurring polyphenol antioxidant that is found in some plants, like grapes. The phenolic content in wine can be separated into two groups, flavonoids and non-flavonoids. Flavonoids contain anthocyanins and tannins which give the color and mouth feel of the wine. The non-flavonoids include the resveratrol and phenolic acids. These phenolic acids provide some of the most important elements in assessing a wine’s quality and are, very possibly, responsible for the beneficial health properties of red wines. Renowned Bordeaux-based oenologist Michel Rolland said, “Growing these mountain grapes are far more difficult to farm, and the growing season tends to be considerably longer. It’s much more difficult to plant, more difficult to establish the vines and they produce far lower yields. However, the end result is a grape expressing intensity of stellar quality as difficult growing conditions often lead to extraordinary wines.” Rolland maintains hundreds of vineyard clients across 13 countries around the globe. So, I contend some of the finest wines produced are high- elevation mountain wines. Pour a quarter glass of red wine grown in volcanic tufa, swirl it and sniff it to fully absorb its aromas and flavors and you’ll immediately notice how much more you sense and appreciate those floral sensations. These wines are much more expressive, pure and aromatic as a result of the higher elevation, cleaner air, volcanic soil, natural nutrient content in the soil. These vines are healthier, fresher and despite their stress, happier. Igor Sill farms a mountain vineyard on Atlas Peak Mountain in Napa. He’s a wine lover, winemaker, writer and member of the Court of Master Sommeliers, and of the Napa Valley Wine Technical Group. He is a judge for the International Wine Challenge, London, and holds his master’s from Oxford University.



available. This is truly one of the great golfing values in the region.”

From Page 29

MEADOWOOD NAPA VALLEY 900 Meadowood Lane, St. Helena (707) 963-3646 This is a nine-hole, private club in a very, very beautiful setting. “We are excited to welcome golf enthusiasts of all levels to experience our closely manicured greens and fairways in a beautiful natural setting,” Meadowood said on its website. The golf course at Meadowood is open exclusively to hotel guests, Meadowood members and guests of members, according to its website. “The overall length of the course is short (par-28), but with narrow fairways and closely manicured greens, it poses a very legitimate challenge to even the best players,” according to the Meadowood website. “It really is the perfect golf course for players of all levels.”

part of our family,” said Boldt. “I love them – they’re great people. I appreciate having them around.” CHARDONNAY GOLF CLUB & VINEYARDS 2555 Jameson Canyon Rd., American Canyon. (707) 257-1900 Years ago, I spoke at length with Algie Pulley, the course designer, about his outstanding work at Chardonnay. He talked about how it all began – of one day stopping his car off of Highway 12, getting out and walking to the highest point on the property, which offers outstanding views. Chardonnay Golf Club & Vineyards is an 18-hole semi-private golf facility. “Unlike virtually all courses today, Chardonnay’s golfers are not asked to play amidst any private residences,” said Bob Becker, Chardonnay’s head golf professional. “Our 18-holes of semi-private championship golf offer a variety of challenges for players of all skill levels. The 18-hole layout features a unique blend of golf holes consisting of six par-5s, six par-4s and six par-3s that meander through over 150 acres of Chardonnay vineyards and feature numerous lakes and creek crossing.” There are five sets of tees (professional-black, tournament-burgundy, men’s-green, seniors-ivory, ladies-gold) to choose from. “Several areas of the property are designed as wildlife preserves and are dedicated to maintaining wildlife habitat among the vineyards and fairways,” said Becker. It’s been on the national map, hosting U.S. Open local qualifiers, PGA Tour qualifying events, and U.S. Amateur qualifying in past years. The Northern California Open, a pro tournament, and the Stocker Cup, a prestigious amateur event, have both been played at Chardonnay. 96

Submitted Photo

Napa Golf Course, a par-72, 6,704-yard layout that provides a major test with water on 16 of the 18 holes.

EAGLE VINES VINEYARDS AND GOLF CLUB 580 South Kelly Rd., American Canyon. (707)257-4470. Eagle Vines Vineyards and Golf Club is an 18-hole, par-72 championship golf course. “The beautiful clubhouse design coupled with manicured fairways, greens and vineyards provide a harmony of golf and nature at its finest,” said David Griffis, director of golf and tournament sales director. “Playing 5,500 yards from the forward tees and up to 7,300 all the way back at the championship tees, Eagle Vines Golf Club can accommodate golfers of all skill levels. Surrounded by breathtaking rolling hills and seemingly endless vineyards of the Napa Valley, Eagle Vines Golf Club is a must-play for Bay Area locals or when planning a trip to wine country.” Vineyards, lakes, creeks and 200-year-old oak trees add to the aesthetics of the course. Eagle Vines incorporates 10 original holes from the former Club Shakespeare Napa Valley Course to go along with eight holes, several of which are visible from Highway 12 in Jamieson Canyon. NAPA GOLF COURSE 2295 Streblow Dr., Napa. (707) 255-4333. Napa Golf Course, a par-72, 6,704-yard layout that provides a major test with water on 16 of the 18 holes, celebrated its 50th anniversary in May with a ceremonial tree planting and the installation of a memorial monument adjacent

to the first tee. A coastal live oak was planted near the monument. The course opened in May of 1967 as Napa Municipal Golf Course and was designed by Jack Fleming and Bob Baldock. CourseCo, Inc., a golf management company that operates Napa Golf Course through a lease agreement from the City of Napa, manages other golf properties in California, Oregon, Washington and Texas. Napa Golf Course was at one time a Monday qualifying site for the Kaiser International Open Invitational and Anheuser-Busch Golf Classic, PGA Tour events were played at Silverado Resort and Spa. NGC has also hosted U.S. Open local qualifiers over the years. The course is the host site for the annual Napa City Championship, a Northern California Golf Association points event. The course also hosts other NCGA events during the year. The Junior Golf Association of Northern California has its Napa Junior Championship at NGC. The course is strategic and beautiful, said Sean Silva, Napa Golf Course’s General Manager and Senior Operations Manager for CourseCo, Inc. “On rolling terrain ideal for golf, the early and finishing holes are shrouded with mature stands of pine and specimen Sequoia and oak, while the mid-round holes give onto the plain along the river,” said Silva. “With four sets of tees to accommodate any skill level of golfer, Napa Golf Course is also user friendly, fun, and provides affordable access to all. It is free of the crowding in more urban settings and tee times are readily

J.L. Sousa/Register

Mount St. Helena Golf Course in Calistoga.

MOUNT ST. HELENA GOLF COURSE 2025 Grant St., Calistoga (707) 942-9966 The nine-hole course “is attractive to golfers of all ages and skill levels,” according to the course’s website. “It’s ideal for the novice or younger player due to its length, flat layout, and open architecture, yet is challenging to the more advanced player because of its narrow tree-lined fairways and smaller greens that demand accuracy.” The Mount St. Helena Golf Course is temporarily closed due to damage from a wind storm last fall.

LATINO From Page 57

the Bear Flaggers had taken prisoner the most pro-American of the Californios. Salvador and Mariano were held prisoner for two months at Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento. The Bear Flag Revolt lasted just 26 days, at which time California was then annexed to the United States, and the Vallejos would later be released after two months in captivity. While he was in prison, Salvador’s wife and children were left on their own at Casa Las Trancas, falling victim to marauding rebels in his absence. After his release, Vallejo was quoted as saying, “In the course of two days, I reached Napa. There I found my desolate wife and four young children in a state bordering on distraction; my property scattered to the four winds, for whatever they could not carry away they had taken good care to destroy.” Once settled back home again, Vallejo and his family spent many years in relative peace but then came the Civil War. The Union army, knowing of Salvador’s expertise as a military man and horseman, believed he and his men could form an effective cavalry unit. In fact, the powers in the nation’s capital believed all Mexicans to be expert horsemen, which luckily for them, was actually true in this case. Thus, in 1863, Salvador Vallejo, believing himself a true patriot of his adopted country, accepted a commission as a major in the Union Army, and was ordered to take his cavalry regiment to the area of Arizona. But they saw little action, and after the war’s end, he resigned his commission, returning to his Napa ranch in 1865. Salvador reportedly had only wanted to live out his life raising his children and enjoying hunting and fishing. But it was not to be. He struggled with financial difficulties, selling off his vast Rancho piece by piece, and subsequently lost much of his fortune with the failure of three San Francisco

UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library

A 19th century postcard of Lachryma Montis, home of Gen., Mariano Vallejo, brother of Salvador Vallejo. Salvador lived out his final years in Sonoma but asked to be buried in his beloved library.

banks in short order. Physically, Vallejo was slowed by injuries suffered over the years while a soldier and a rancher. He had broken two ribs and fractured both thighs, one in two places, and the other in three, all of which had a crippling effect upon him in his later life. Considering the almost total lack of medical and surgical facilities at the time, it’s a miracle he survived at all. Due to failing health, he and wife, Maria, eventually moved back to Sonoma and granted his oldest son, Ignacio, the Casa de Trancas where the son became a prominent resident of Napa. Ignacio lived with his family in the old homestead until it was destroyed in 1919 by a fire caused by an exploding oil stove. It was not rebuilt, and no remnants of the home remain today. Vallejo lived out his last days in his brother’s new home, Lachryma Montis, which still stands today as a museum just off the square in Sonoma. He passed away on Feb. 18, 1878, and despite dying in Sonoma, preferred to be buried in his beloved Napa, where he lies today in the Vallejo plot at Tulocay Cemetery. Vallejo had seven children, including three sons: Ignacio Loyola, Platon G, and Manuel (also called Avril), and, four

daughters Maria Ynez Telecillia, who married William Edward Rose Frisby; Ana, who married Lemuel Kincaid; Zarela Margarita, the wife of John Harry Priestly Gedge; and Antonia, wife of Enrique Vallejo, the adopted son of General Vallejo. Many of Vallejo’s descendants are buried in the Vallejo plot at Napa’s Tulocay Cemetery. In my research, I was unable to find any Vallejo descendants still living in the Napa area today. That does not mean that aren’t any, just that this reporter could not track any of them down. Now knowing the glorious era of Salvador Vallejo and other Californios in the Napa area, I will never look at my hometown the same way again. I wonder why I never learned about this in schools, or even anecdotally growing up. We were all told about George Yount, Sam Brannan and others, whose activities were mostly upvalley, but virtually nothing about the glorious Mexican dons, Spanish descendants who ruled Napa and points north and south for decades in the 1800s and early 1900s. This largely untold history “rounds out the Napa story and provides a chance for all Napans to recover and celebrate parts of this rich and colorful heritage,”

said Dr. Nichols. Fandangos. Hispanic festivals “should be just as much a part of Napa festivities as the Wine Auction and Bottle Rock!” And there is much more to know. That’s why this story will continue with another installment in the future about prominent Californios in the Napa area, centering next time on Cayetano Juarez, don of Rancho Tulucay, an 8.800-acre land grant on the east side of the Napa River. Juarez sold some lands to the State of California where it built the institution now called the Napa State Hospital, but known as the Napa Insane Asylum in the beginning. He also donated the area where Tulocay Cemetery exists today. Appropriately, Juarez was buried there after his death in 1883. Viva Californios. And gracias for being such a colorful part of our local history, a history that regardless of their descent, all Napans should celebrate. Photos courtesy of the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley, the Sonoma County Library and Napa County Historical Society. Information drawn from articles on Salvador Vallejo by Nancy Brennan, M.M. McKittrick and other sources.




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Inside Napa Valley - Winter 2018  
Inside Napa Valley - Winter 2018