napa valley Fall/Winter 2020
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The Napa Valley perseveres D AV I S TAY LO R President and Di re ctor of L ocal Ad ve r ti s i ng Life in the midst of the pandemic was tough enough, but then the fires hit—two major blazes in Napa County and weeks of smoke from all over northern California. So just when DAVIS we thought we TAYLOR were getting Inside Napa Valley back on track after missing the May edition, we faced a new challenge in the midst of producing this November issue. But guess what? Napa Valley is resilient and life really does go on. Although some of our writers and sources were affected by the fires—from being evacuated all Fall/Winter 2020
the way to losing homes—they came through with interesting stories that tell us something about the special place where we live. So this issue, we’ll have a look at how people are staying fit during the pandemic—including buying bikes in huge numbers and taking to the golf courses in droves. We’ll visit some Napa Valley restaurant favorites that are adjusting to the new business environment, inviting back locals and learning how to make takeout work. We’ll learn about a family matriarch who is turning her passion for baking into a hit new cake business. We’ll find peace and joy in watching Napa County’s many
bird species and we’ll learn more about the treasures that may be found under our feet in area parks and fields. We’ll meet a pastry chef who fell hard for pizza and an entrepreneur using technology to solve complex problems in the wine business. We’ll continue our look at “The Peaks Around Us,” with a visit to Spring Mountain, a world-famous wine district that took a tough hit from this year’s fires, but faces a bright future nonetheless. And we’ll welcome back our Food Trucks of Napa Valley feature with a visit to an Upvalley favorite. All that and plenty of our best recent work from the Napa Valley
Publishing family of publications. So join us in rounding out this strangest of years—and looking forward to some good times in 2021. On the Cover: Fall comes to the tree-lined driveway of Far Niente winery, courtesy of Bob McClenahan, bobmcclenahan.com. Editor’s note: Many of you will be receiving this edition by mail, the third time we have distributed our free quarterly magazine to postal customers in and around Napa. If you like what you see and want to be part of supporting local journalism, please consider becoming a member at napavalleyregister. com/members. INSIDE NAPA VALLEY | 3
Pandemic fuels explosive growth of bike sales I S A B E L L E S C H M A LT Z Searching for the silver lining among the COVID-19 chaos? Then, look to the bike trails of Napa Valley. People young and old — entire families — have discovered a love of cycling. Bikes provide a simple way to get out of the house and stay fit. The hard part, however, is actually finding a bike. Bicycles sales have boomed since the early weeks of the pandemic, as gyms, schools, and offices closed and people searched for new ways to exercise and keep restless kids entertained. Most bikes are sold before they even
enter the stores, and bicycle manufacturers are not providing clear timelines for future shipments. At the Napa Valley Bike Shop on Pearl Street, the customers began pouring in by early April. “Two words: Absolute insanity,” store manager Noah Myers said. “I’ve never seen the bike industry so busy … it just exploded.” The Hub on Jefferson Street began placing backorders in the spring, owner Keith Kimbrough said. But the shop continued to be flooded with hopeful
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customers, who were starting to contact every bicycle shop they could find. “We saw a lot more new faces than normal, and we got a lot of phone calls,” Kimbrough said. “And not just from Napa, but the whole Bay Area.” Myers said that fielding phone calls became a full-time job. The Napa Valley Bike Shop hired extra staff to help handle all the sales, which tripled or quadrupled from last year, he said. Duke Tuchman, owner of Napa River Velo, said most shops began running out of bikes by late spring, and new shipments didn’t come in till late summer and early fall. During all of the peak summer months, Tuchman explained, most shops had little to no inventory. “The demand hit at the worst time possible for the bike industry,” Tuchman said. In the beginning, bicycle shops took pre-orders to help customers secure bikes. But as manufacturers struggled to keep pace and wait times became more questionable, many shops abandoned the pre-order system. Customers would call asking where their bikes are, and most shops couldn’t provide a clear answer. Manufacturers “stopped giving ETAs,” Myers said. Production problems in Asia have been blamed for the lack of inventory, but Kimbrough pointed out that demand is also up nearly ten-fold. Every stop along the supply chain is facing issues and is working to catch up, he said. “The inventory challenges are very real,” Kimbrough said. Bike manufacturers are also in a tricky position. They’re wary of ramping up production too much, because they don’t know how long the demand will continue, Tuchman said. Manufacturers don’t want to end up with a ton of unsold bikes, he said. “You can’t triple production just because you want to,” Tuchman said. Myers said that a big mountain bike brand announced the release of their new model in early 6 | INSIDE NAPA VALLEY
The Hub owner Keith Kimbrough
Jennifer Huffman, Register
Noah Myers, Napa Valley Bike Shop store manager and Stan Elder, mobile mechanic, move the shop’s mobile service bike in 2019.
October, but every one of those new bikes were already sold— before they hit the stores. At The Hub, recreational/ beginner bikes or sport-level bikes have been the most popular. The price range for these entry-level bikes is typically $450-$700. “We just got 20 of those models a week ago, and they lasted about five days,” Kimbrough said. Pre-ordered bicycles, including popular brands like Santa Cruz and Kona, still have months-long wait times, Kimbrough said. Santa Cruz bikes have been ordered through the next model year.
Not being able to help every customer is something each shop has struggled with. “In 2020, we’ve definitely seen the most amount of bike sales than ever before,” Myers said. “But we’ve also turned down more sales than ever.” A particular type of bike that’s gained traction this year are electric bikes. “I’ve sold an e-bike every day for the last 10 days,” Tuchman, of Napa River Velo, said. At the Napa Valley Bike Shop, Myers said they were able to put hundreds of people on e-bikes
this year. The shop was fortunate to stock an entire warehouse with e-bikes. “I wish we had done the same with standard pedal bikes,” Myers said. All bicycle shop owners agreed that it’s been great to see so many new customers fall in love with bicycling. “Everybody’s figuring out what we already knew: bikes are awesome,” Kimbrough said. The uptick in ridership is immediately noticeable on local trails, he said, such as the Vine Trail and Skyline Park. “Most of us here (at The Hub) ride bikes as our primary transportation,” Kimbrough said. “We’ve seen usership go way, way, way up.” Shop owners believe that gym closures were one of the driving forces for increased bicycle sales. “People need to get that exercise in for their health and sanity,” Kimbrough said. Bicycling is a great way to unwind, Myers said. Riders can let go of their worries and just focus on the road in front of them, he said. “Cycling is a really simple pleasure,” Kimbrough said. Now that word’s spread that bikes are hard to come by, shop owners say the calls have started to slow down. For those still looking or waiting for their pre-ordered bikes to arrive, Kimbrough said he hopes customers will be patient with their local bicycle shops. “Everyone in the bike industry is working as hard as we can,” Kimbrough said. “We’re working hard to get that bike for you.” Kimbrough also hopes that infrastructure and policies related to cycling catch up to meet the demand. He asks that all cyclists support local organizations like the Skyline Cycling Association to help maintain trails and keep cyclists safe. “Our hope is that it’s an actual lifestyle change for people—that they take up cycling and stick with it,” Kimbrough said. “It’s one of the only positive outcomes for all of this.” Fall/Winter 2020
course Golf offers fun and family togetherness in a time of pandemic
M A RT Y J A M E S n ap as por email@example.com om As a consultant in the private aviation industry, Sheri Barden is very accustomed to having a travel schedule where she is on the road for two to three weeks a month, with trips to all parts of the country for her job. During that time, golf, a game that she loves so very much and wants to know a lot more about, is on hold. But it’s definitely on her mind, with Barden frequently reminding herself with these thoughts: “I have got to get back to golf. I’ve got to really bear down on golf and learn to play.” The COVID-19 pandemic has changed Barden’s life. She works from home and hasn’t been on a plane since March. As a member at Napa’s Silverado Resort and Spa, she is also getting out to play golf more regularly, joining the club’s “Striking Ladies,” a nine-hole group, and taking lessons from Tom Sims, the club’s PGA head golf professional. “I never had the time to do any consistent practice or take lessons, just because I travel so much. I’m a ‘Million Miler’ on United (Airlines),” said Barden, whose condo is on the North Course at Silverado, the home of the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open for the last five years and before that the host of the Frys.com Open for two years. “So when the pandemic started, I said, ‘OK, if I’m not traveling, this is what I want to do.’ I started playing and it gave me the time to really focus. “I’m certainly not good and I don’t have the greatest swing in the world. But I’ve really enjoyed it.” Barden, the president and CEO of Aviation Personnel International, a company that she owns, has been able to adjust her work Fall/Winter 2020
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schedule. She flew about 120,000 miles last year. She and her team have changed the day of their staff meeting, to Wednesdays, allowing Barden to play with the “Striking Ladies.” Getting out and playing up to nine holes, three times a week, as well as a few holes before dinner, helps to also taken Barden’s mind off the news of the Coronavirus pandemic. She is not having to make travel arrangements for flights to places like Chicago, New York and Washington D.C., for her company, which is a business aviation recruiting and consulting firm, according to its website, www.apiaviation.com. “Anytime you’re doing something, you’re not just focusing on the constant barrage of news, so it gives you something different and it certainly gives you more of a sense of normality of life,” said Barden. Barden and her partner, Duane Perry, play golf together and traveled to Oregon on a driving trip this past summer, staying at three resorts and getting in five rounds. “Neither of us are great golfers, but we’re working at it and we’re trying to get better,” said Barden. “What I also love about it is that I get to play with my wonderful partner. I think it’s a wonderful time to spend with people you care about.” Ron McDill of Napa is also getting out
Bruno Freschi, 16, is shown during an Operation 36 program at Napa Golf Course at Kennedy Park. Marty James photo
to play, generally twice a week and usually at Eagle Vines Vineyards & Golf Club in American Canyon and Napa Golf Course at Kennedy Park. He is thankful that golf courses are open. “You want to get back to some kind of normalcy,” said McDill. “With golf, people are able to get outside and take that mask off for a couple hours, have a beer, have a good time and just relax a little bit and then clear their head. “Golf already creates its own social distance. It’s something you can do to get out of the house, have an activity and do something with family or friends or something. It’s trying to get back to a little bit of normalcy by getting out of the house.” Carol Barge also gets out to play twice a week at Napa Golf Course and is a participant in Operation 36, a national developmental program that is offered year-round by the course and led by David Knox, NGC’s INSIDE NAPA VALLEY | 7
Director of Instruction. “I thought that was a fabulous way to really get jump-started back into the game,” said Barge. “I’ve really enjoyed that, because it really gets you focused on certain aspects of your game, and you work up. “I hadn’t played for quite a long time, and so I decided to get new clubs. If I’m going to get back in the game, I want to have really good equipment and that I would make a commitment and an investment into it.” Barge is also thankful that she has the opportunity to play golf, during a time when so many sports have stopped due to the pandemic. “I really love the protocols in place – when you play with your foursome, you are separated by distance, which is easy to do when you play golf. You don’t take the flag in and out. They have a nice device to do that, to get your ball out. I feel very safe playing and I enjoy a good walk.” Surge in the number of rounds played There has been a big surge in the number of rounds played across the country, as reported by the National Golf Foundation. “The August rounds played report shows that rounds were up 20.6% year-over-year,” the NGF reported on its website, www. thengfq.com, in its Oct. 8 update. “That sets another record for the biggest increase in a peak season month since Golf Datatech began tracking rounds two decades ago. We’re talking about a lift of roughly 10 million rounds in August alone, which comes on top of a burst of 17 million added rounds in June and July compared to a year ago. “It’s been quite a summer for golf.” Fall/Winter 2020
Marty James photo
Jane Monticelli is shown during an Operation 36 program at Napa Golf Course at Kennedy Park.
There has also been a dramatic increase in the number of juniors – those ages 6 to 17 – playing golf, the NGF reported. “Based on NGF research at the midway point of the year, there’s evidence the number of junior golfers could swell by as much as 20% this year,” the NGF reported. “With approximately 2.5 million kids having teed it up on a golf course last year, that’s a potential COVID-related bump of half a million junior golfers by year’s end.” The game lends itself to being a great outlet for physical activity, and doing so in a socially distant manner, while also serving as a “mental health day” for those needing an escape from being at home, said David Knox, the Director of Instruction at Napa
Golf Course at Kennedy Park and the assistant coach for men’s and women’s golf teams at Napa Valley College. “With the pandemic, golf is a great fit,” said Knox. “From the municipal golf course level, like Napa Golf Course, all the way up to the (PGA Tour) players, I think golf has proven that it is delivering those really great mental health days coupled with some great physical activity. “Right now is the perfect time to seek out your local golf course or find a PGA professional who can help you get into the game and find a program like Operation 36 or some other learning programs that can share with you those healthy fundamentals to get into it, enjoying the game and having some immediate successes and having fun being outside. “It does not surprise me that golf is up throughout the country right now and throughout the globe.” Locally, there are nine golf courses in Napa County, with Silverado (North and South courses), Napa Valley Country Club, Napa Golf Course, Eagle Vines Vineyards & Golf Club and Chardonnay Golf Club & Vineyards in American Canyon, Vintner’s Golf Club in Yountville, Meadowood Napa Valley in St. Helena, and Mount St. Helena Golf Course at the Napa County Fairgrounds in Calistoga. At one time, there were 12 courses in the county. Chimney Rock Golf Course of Napa, Vineyard Knolls Golf Club of Napa, and Aetna Springs Golf Course of Pope Valley have all closed over the years. “2020 has been an off year for a lot of people, so their outlet is to go outdoors and do something, instead of being confined inside. Either go play tennis, go hiking, ride a bike, or play golf,” said Matt Munoz, Eagle Vines’ PGA head golf professional. “The surge has become tremendous in all of the golf courses around the area, with a big increase. It’s amazing to see that – which is wonderful. “If you look at the bright spot, in this COVID crisis, it’s that golf has been tremendous. Golf has increased a lot over the last 3 to 6 months. At least golf is an outdoor activity they can enjoy and stay apart, away from people, but still socialize.” David Griffis, the general manager at Eagle Vines, said: “There’s very limited things that people can get out and do so we’re definitely seeing a little bit of spike in play. We just hope that the people that are getting back out and hopefully falling in love with golf, stay in love with golf.” Participation in the game is on the rise, INSIDE NAPA VALLEY | 9
said Cody Sherrill, the Director of Golf Operations at Silverado. Troon, a golf management company, manages the Silverado golf department. Membership rounds at Silverado went up 30 percent in September, compared to a year ago. “It’s juniors. It’s spouses that maybe never were into it. Now here is an activity that you can do during a pandemic, so then they want to do something outdoors and be active,” said Schiller. “I know that Tom (Sims) and our other instructors have been busier than ever before. And so that speaks to kind of the growth in the game. “I think part of that, too, is that people have
more flexibility in their schedule. If they have the means to be here in Napa, and they’re working from home at the moment, they might make some flexibility in their schedule to go play golf during the day and get more work done into the evening or something like that.” Silverado has also added over 40 new members so far this year, through September. Sims said the number of lessons he is giving has increased by about 30 percent. “We’re seeing a lot of action,” said Sims. “We have a lot of members that are starting to play a lot more. The ‘Striking Ladies,’ which is a nine-hole group, has almost doubled in size, as they are getting 48 players every Thursday. It’s been a group that is really growing right now with mostly newer players or players that had stopped playing and are coming back to it.” Club events for the
membership are almost doubling in size from previous years, said Sims. Operation 36 offered at Napa Golf Course Operation’s 36 mission is “to design the world’s most effective long-term programs and technology to introduce and progress a beginner in playing the game of golf,” according to operation36.golf. The player development program has 10 divisions, with golfers playing a hole from varying distances, with the goal of shooting even-par 36 for nine holes. Programs are set up for juniors and adults. In Division 1, golfers play each of the nine holes starting at a distance of 25 yards from each green. In Division 2, golfers start out at 50 yards from each green. Locally, Operation 36 meets Sunday afternoons at Napa Golf Course, with over 30 people playing. “This challenge continues until the golfer
Mike Malicki is shown with his family during an Operation 36 program at Napa Golf Course at Kennedy Park. Malicki is joined in the program by his wife, Cavita, their daughter, Alyssa, 12, and son, Matthew, 10. Submitted photos
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Marty James photo
Bruno Freschi, 16, Dario Freschi, 14, and Lucia Freschi, 10, taking part in Operation 36 on a recent Sunday at Napa Golf Course.
can shoot par (36) from all 10 divisions,” operation36.golf said. “Operation 36 is a learning program, where, regardless of age, you can come out and learn the sport of golf, both on the golf course with a playing component, which involves playing nine holes and trying to shoot 36 or less, as well as coupled with a learning curriculum of understanding the healthy fundamentals of how to get into the game,” said Knox. Locally, Operation 36 has the support of the Johnny Miller “Champ” Foundation, which honors Miller’s father, Larry Otto Miller. “We have over 100 people enjoying the program, not just junior golfers, but entire family units,” said Knox. “It’s a neat way to come out, spend some family time together outdoors on the golf course, kind of get unplugged a little bit for a couple hours and go play some golf together. “It truly is a great program where you learn the sport of golf from the green and outwards and slowly get into longer and longer starting yardage divisions.” Youth on Course, a nonprofit organization, is partnering with Operation 36 “to provide a youth-led initiative instilling 12 | INSIDE NAPA VALLEY
confidence and gradual growth on the golf course,” according to youthoncourse.org. “This partnership with Youth on Course will continue introducing the sport to more and more junior golfers, which is awesome,” said Knox. It was a family affair on a recent Sunday at Napa Golf Course, with Bob Freschi’s three children – Bruno, 16, Dario, 14, and Lucia, 10 – taking part in Operation 36. “We’re real fortunate that we have this opportunity, that golf courses are open, and to get on the golf course,” said Bob Freschi, the head coach for Napa Valley College’s men’s and women’s golf teams. “This is one of the few sports that we’re able to partake in. We feel fortunate and blessed to be able to do it in the Napa Valley. You have good family time. “You learn a lot about golf and then what a challenge it is.” The Freschi family has been involved in Operation 36 for the last few years. It’s become part of their weekly schedule. “It’s given us a bit of normalcy during the pandemic. It’s allowed us to get outside, have some exercise, and do something together,” said Bob Freschi, NVC’s former head baseball coach.
Kaya Prosser, 11, who is in the sixth grade, plays with her parents, David Prosser and Erin Prosser, in Operation 36. Kaya’s golf coach is Knox. She shot a 3-under-par 33 during a recent round. “We’ve seen Kaya grow exponentially, as she gets better,” said Erin Prosser. Kaya started playing golf when she was 5. She is now on her third set of clubs. “Her game has advanced tremendously and she’s really come into it,” said David Prosser. “In the last two years she has really developed her swing. Her short game has really gotten very good. “Operation 36 really helps. It’s good for us to come out and to return to some normalcy.” Kaya looks forward to playing golf at least twice a week and working on her game with Knox. “I think getting out here helps me because I get to see Coach David and all my other friends that I have with the program,” said Kaya. “It’s just something that you can keep progressing in.” Ed Beaver and his sons, Cole, 10, and Ryan, 8, are all active in Operation 36, and the other day went out for a late afternoon round at Napa Golf Course. With Napa Little League canceling its 2020 season in early spring, Cole and Ryan took to golf. “It’s been a sport that they have always watched me go out and play and that they haven’t been involved with,” Ed Beaver said. “As soon as baseball kind of went away, and we were finding out that there wasn’t any light at the end of the tunnel, I started calling around to see what they had for kids. I found out about Operation 36. It’s a great start to get them learning the game starting from their short game. They thoroughly enjoy it and then love getting out and doing it.” The Beaver family plays golf at least three times a week. It’s giving Cole and Ryan the opportunity to learn about the game. “They love being outside and they love playing sports. This is a great fit for them and I think they’re learning a lot,” said Ed Beaver. Barge said she is happy to see families and juniors participating in Operation 36. Playing golf also takes your mind off the news of the day and the seriousness of so many things. “There’s a lot of pain out there right now, with all different kinds of issues people are dealing with,” said Barge. “I really encourage anyone that has been thinking about getting into the game of golf to pick it up. They have all these protocols in place. You’ll meet Fall/Winter 2020
new friends, you get a good walk in and get some good exercise and see a lot of wildlife.” Mike Malicki not only joins his family in the Operation 36 program, but also plays in Northern California Golf Association Weekend Net Tour events. “It was good that we made the investment the last couple of years, to get my wife and kids interested in playing,” said Malicki. “Operation 36 has been a great way to get them into it, to get them interested and get them to learn the game. We have something where we can all go out, get outdoors and get some exercise. Golf is pretty good exercise, if you walk.” Malicki is joined in the program by his wife, Cavita, their daughter, Alyssa, 12, and son, Matthew, 10. “What’s nice is that the kids and beginners can play nine holes and they’re playing from an appropriate distance. And they can do it in 2 hours, 15 minutes,” said Mike Malicki. “It moves along just fine. They’re not frustrated by it. They’re not hitting balls into the woods. They’re just trying to get it on the green, make the putts and chips. “They’re learning about chipping and putting and the short game, which is great.”
ABOVE: Kaya Prosser, 11, is shown with her parents, David Prosser and Erin Prosser, at Operation 36 at Napa Golf Course at Kennedy Park. Marty James photo LEFT: Submitted photo
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Marty Orgel photo illustration
Baby Pterodactyl, Not. A photographic rendering of what was thought to be the fossilized remains of a baby pterodactyl – with a broken wing – crystalized and sparkling inside dinosaur poop. Turns out not to be.
IN NAPA, PART 2 Finding fossils, Indian artifacts and a petrified snake’s head M A RT Y O RG E L Editor’s Note: In Part One of our Inside Napa Valley story, Underfoot in Napa, our hunt for fossils in Wine Country began. Reporter Marty Orgel spoke with people who had found Indian artifacts; from scrapers and arrow heads to Native American bowls. And possible fossils he found on his own. But no one knew for sure. Until now. In Part Two of Underfoot in Napa, Marty found answers. The results of asking “is this a fossil?” started coming in quickly. A petrified snake’s head? No. Snake bones? No. A Saber-toothed tiger molar? No. Now, it is important to point out fossils can be found in Napa. Just not these items. The easiest way to see fossils in their natural habitat is to visit the Petrified Forest on the appropriately named Petrified Forest Road in Calistoga. It’s a California historical landmark – Number 915. Workers offer socially distanced walking tours or you can ramble around on your own. “We don’t identify petrified remains. We just keep them on display” ~ Janet Angell Barbara Angell, Petrified Forest co-manager, said the past years have been challenging. “We had to close, reopen, close again, and reopen at least seven times since 2017.” 14 | INSIDE NAPA VALLEY
Fires, toxic ash, COVID-19 and heatwaves have all taken a toll. Petrified Forest is once again open to visitors. With social distancing, face masks, and hand lotion disinfectant. “We love seeing our visitors come back,” said Angell. When asked if a petrified snake head was real, Barbara’s sister and the other co-manager, Janet said, “We don’t identify petrified remains. We just keep them on display.” This is when Bay Area paleontologist and geologist James Allen entered the story. Allen is based in Dublin and is called onsite for important fossil finds. Allen’s last Wine Country paleontological work was just over one year ago in Tomales Bay on the Sonoma County coast. He was asked to identify what turned out to be fossilized pieces of a mammoth tooth. Mammoths lived more than 2.6 million years ago and died out during the Ice Age. We met up for a socially distanced interview behind Sonoma Library. Where he took out the loop hanging around his neck and started looking at specimens. A petrified snake head? Fossils of snake bones? Fossilized fauna? No, no, no. Not fossils. This left only two unidentified items. A
Marty Orgel photo
Black, mysterious, rock-like object thought to be a fossil found in Alston Park.
mysterious, black, rock-like specimen thought to be the fossilized remains of fauna or an animal backbone, and a softball sized rock split in half thought to be the fossilized remains of a baby pterodactyl – with a broken wing – crystalized and lodged inside dinosaur poop. But no, the rock was not dino poop, and there were no crystalized remains of a baby pterodactyl inside. What looked like a pterodactyl’s head and eyes and a beak were calcium deposits. Breathtakingly beautiful wings and a tailbone. Sparkling and iridescent under the right light. Not a pterodactyl. But it did turn out to be a thunder egg. This is worth repeating. This was a thunder egg. An honest to goodness, real geological find. Thunder eggs were formed millions of years ago in volcanic ash. Thunder eggs look somewhat smooth on the outside yet when sliced in half and polished they reveal intricate, crystalized shapes and colors. But they don’t originate in Wine Country. They are mostly found in parts of Texas and Oregon and brought here by humans. They are so plentiful in the Beaver state that thunder eggs are Oregon’s official state rock. Our thunder egg, Allen surmised, “was probably ‘borrowed’ from a school class display and then accidentally dropped along the road by the person who pilfered it.” “Bio? That’s crap” ~ James Allen The only remaining possible fossil now was the mysterious, black, opaque, rock-like item with the fossilized impression of fauna or a backbone. In Part One of this saga St. Helena retired geologist John Livingston said this specimen was likely to be something organic or biological. “Fossils in rocks aren’t bendable,” he said, “like this one seems to be.” He repeated, “It appears to be bio.” “Bio?” questioned James Allen. “That’s crap. This is an enigma.” James continued, “I think what you found is a rock, maybe plastic.” He said this specimen is probably Fall/Winter 2020
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“Mesozoic, Jurassic Cretaceous.” In what could best be described as a geeked-out paleontological conversation, he added, “judging by its cementation, I’d have to say on the Franciscan Complex side of the fence.” Allen said there are fossils to be found in Napa and across Wine Country. “There is Domengine sandstone along Highway 29 where it almost intersects with Highway 12 that has late Miocene and older marine fossils. Extinct species of whales and seashell fossils.” Plastic or rock? The options had been narrowed down, but not definitively. Still searching for an answer about the mystery object, the specimen was mailed east to Ann Arbor, Michigan and the home of Avomeen Laboratories. Avomeen is a material and chemical testing lab which agreed to analyze our mystery piece for this article. “We took it and cooked it” ~ Kamil Toga Avo m e e n L a b o r a t o r i e s extracted a tiny sliver of the item and found it to be two-point-five percent ash. And it contained silicon, phosphorus, and calcium. Plastic. Kamil Toga, Project Leader, Innovation, conducted the study. He and Avomeen CEO Mark Harvill discussed the results. “We have state-of-the-art calibrated equipment. We took it and cooked it,” Toga said. Engineered plastic. “Compounded,” Toga said, “with some kind of hardness enhancer. It probably started off as a white or clear plastic and changed color over the years or decades and turned into an opaque black
object. It was a toy or a plastic object like a bottle.” Eureka. Case closed! But not so fast. Its origins sparked another controversy. “Could remain there forever” ~ Mark Harvill Toga said these types of compounds don’t just easily go away. They persist in nature. “This piece of plastic is not too different from plastics found ingested by marine animals, like turtles.” CEO Harvill said, “It is of interest to us to always be on the same side of environmentalism and always do the right thing.” Harvill said it sounded like a simple thing for Avomeen to do and help in a cause. “It could remain there forever. That’s a fundamental problem,” he said. The “fundamental” problem is pollution. Said Toga, “It’s a critical part of this story. We are all living right now under a pile of plastic. It ends up being something ordinary and it’s everywhere.” The largest source of pollution in San Francisco Bay comes from storm water run-off. When it rains, rubber worn off of tires is washed into the Bay. So are trash, oil, pesticides, and household chemicals. All drain into the Bay without being treated or filtered. “The whole surface of the planet is being covered in this,” said Harvill. “Even if this type of plastic is recycled there will still be a ton of this material across the planet. We need to manage this in a sustainable manner.” The final takeaway? Enjoy the nature in Wine Country. Look for fossils. You might find one. But then again, remember, it might just be a piece of discarded plastic. Fall/Winter 2020
GETTING TO KNOW YOU
Calistoga Mayor Chris Canning Comfort food? Chicken parm in any form (dinner, sandwich, bites, etc..) First thing you want to do when the pandemic is over? Go to a baseball game and have a beer and hot dog Best thing about small town life? Knowing almost everyone in town Biggest challenge of small town life? Knowing almost everyone in town (that’s not a typo- LOL) What did you want to be when you grew up? An FBI agent Dream job? Being mayor of Calistoga Nightmare job? Being mayor of Calistoga (that also is not a typo) Favorite pet? Labrador Retriever (I had two: Maddy and Otto) Who changed your life? My first boss, Tommy Morgatto (restaurant owner and “life educator”) Night person or morning person? Night owl Why Calistoga? I was moved here for a three-year work assignment almost 15 years ago and never left! I am very fortunate to be here. The people, the charm, the location, the climate, the lifestyle are all amazing! Favorite tourist destination (other than Calistoga)? Domestically: Key West, Fla. Internationally: Paris, France
INSIDE NAPA VALLEY | 17
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Birding in the Napa Valley takes flight
Murray Berner raised his hand for silence. The sun was just rising and glinted off the pungent saltwater marshes of southern Napa County as a cacophony of different bird calls erupted in the sky overhead. “Those are Greater Yellowlegs shorebirds flying by,” he said as he gazed through his binoculars at a flock swooping above us. “You can tell them by the kee-leewee sound they make,” he said, imitating the bird’s call almost under his breath. “Probably scared by a hawk or maybe even a coyote walking by.” For weeks I’d tried to meet up
with Berner to learn why he’d dedicated his life to watching and writing about birds, mostly in his native Napa County. The previous few weekends I’d awakened at 3:30 a.m. and traveled 40 miles in the hope of catching him in action, but until that morning the conditions were not to his liking and I’d end up walking around the sites alone, enjoying peaceful sunriseses on my own. Eventually my persistence paid off. The morning we were finally able to meet was glorious indeed. The tide was high and had driven hundreds — maybe thousands — of migratory shorebirds from their roosts on the nearby San Pablo Bay to the salt marshes of the Napa-Sonoma Marshes
Wildlife Area. In the early morning light, the birds’ dark silhouettes stood out against the burnt-orange sunrise sky and reflected off the mirrorlike surface of the brackish water. We’d met at the area known to local birders as Huichica Creek to try and spot the numerous shorebirds, flocks of American White Pelican, gulls, terns, raptors or possibly even a bald eagle, which frequent the area in late summer. “Napa County and the surrounding areas are unique for birding because there are a range of different habitats,” he said. “Given the right time of year and a little luck, this whole area can be some of the best birding spots in California.” Berner should know. He wrote the “Solano County
Tim Carl LLC photos
20 | INSIDE NAPA VALLEY
Breeding Bird Atlas,” co-authored “Breeding Birds of Napa County” and helped edit the local birder bible, the late Hermann Heinzel’s “Birds of Napa County,” which was first published in 2006 with support from local farmer and philanthropist George Gamble. Writing the forward for that edition, Gamble, a life-long birder himself, highlighted the specialness of Napa County for bird-lovers. “The pine forests, oak woodlands, savannah, chaparral, lakes, salt marshes and riparian ecosystems in Napa County provide a welcome home to over 310 species of resident migratory and accidental birds,” he wrote. Gamble went on to discuss how one of the earliest records of birds in Napa County came from an ecological survey that included a California Condor egg that was collected in the area in 1845 — during the time when George Yount, the namesake of Yountville, was clearing the area of grizzly bears and there still existed two thriving local Native American communities. At that time, and for thousands of years prior, the peoples of the Native American Wappo had lived from roughly Trancas Avenue at the edge of today’s city of Napa to Mount St. Helena in the north, while the Patwins had lived from roughly Trancas Avenue to the Carquinez Straights in the south, according to local historian Richard Dillon’s book, “Napa Valley Natives.” Both cultures included birds as both food and adornment, using nets, snares and traps to capture the many California Quail that still roam the area today. Napa County remains a prime spot for migratory birds Although one of California’s smaller counties, Napa County’s approximately 780 square miles of land include a stunning array of habitats for wildlife, including hundreds of bird species. They are located at the margin of three biological regions — mudflats, fresh- and saltwater marshes in the south, dry, rocky forested hills and grasslands to the east and the west-to-north areas that include everything from sea-level valleys to the higher-elevation rocky crags of Mount St. Helena’s 4,343-foot peak. These diverse environments mean that birds have either found a year-round home or use the area as a stopping-off place to rest and recover during their yearly migrations. The region has become somewhat of a destination for those smitten with a desire to observe and study birds. “In general terms, habitat diversity Fall/Winter 2020
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dictates species richness,” Berner wrote in his “Solano County Breeding Bird Atlas.” During our time together he emphasized this idea. “Many people don’t realize just how special and important Napa County and the surrounding areas are for migratory birds,” he said. “Nearly all species of birds are declining, and nearly all the decline is due to habitat loss.” According to Berner, the Loggerhead Shrike — a gray-, white- and black-striped songbird that dives down from its high perches to hunt large insects, a small bird
or a rodent — is making its last stand in the county within a narrow safe haven between the marshes and the railroad tracks that border Huichica Creek. Berner says late summer is best for observing migratory shorebirds. By winter they will be joined by more than 15 species of ducks that have migrated from the prairies of Alaska and Canada as they make their way even farther south. Although the area has lost species — the California Condor and the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, for example — a few species are abundant, including the California Quail, INSIDE NAPA VALLEY | 21
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Blackbirds, the House Finch and the Lesser Goldfinch. With the introduction of exotic flowering shrubs and trees, hummingbirds are now common to the area, as are turkey and the Brown-head Cowbirds, both of which are likely non-native species. The Cowbirds are particularly adept at adaption. The males of these species have a green-to-light-blue iridescent coat with a brown head, while the females are tan-brown. Historically this species followed large bison herds in the Midwestern plains where they developed a nomadic, highly prolific reproductive strategy. A female Cowbird can produce 40 or more eggs a year. Because of her transient lifestyle she deposits them in the nests of other bird species. Many of these eggs are rejected by their hosts, but many are not, and because the Cowbirds incubate in only 10 days (many days earlier than their hosts’), they have an advantage — receiving resources otherwise intended for the unhatched eggs. When the host chicks do hatch they are often forced out of the nest to their demise by the stronger Cowbird fledglings. Like many bird-focused publications, Murray’s books on local birding have been underwritten by local Audubon Society chapters, whose mission is “to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity.” In order to preserve ecosystems, one must understand the ecosystem that there is to begin with, and that is the primary role of many of these “atlas” books. “The purpose…is to monitor these populations, looking for trends and therefore using the birds as a barometer to determine the health of the ecosystem,” Gamble wrote in 2006. “Napa County has a conscientious group of ornithologists who annually perform this duty.” Since 2006 there have been many changes to Napa County, with added pressures to bird populations and the health of the ecosystems. Increased pressure from expanded development, continued loss of habitat from fires and evermore visitors to the area will continue to place pressure on bird populations, making sanctuaries such as the Napa-Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Area even more precious in the coming years. “Not a lot of people even know about this place, and that’s both a good and bad thing,” Berner said, referring to the expansive mudflats and salt marshes surrounding the Huichica Creek area. “Animals and birds like to be left alone; however, having people know how important this place is as a bellwether for the health of the region is probably a good thing, too.”
24 | INSIDE NAPA VALLEY
Tim Carl LLC
Murray Berner, local bird specialist and author, talks about the importance of Napa County wildlands to migratory bird populations at the Napa-Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Area called Huichica Creek.
Tim Carl LLC
INSIDE NAPA VALLEY | 25
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A SPECIAL PLACE Local-favorite Hop Creek adjusts to life in the pandemic I S A B E L L E S C H M A LT Z Hop Creek is a special place. Tucked away in a shopping center off Browns Valley Road, this restaurant and brewery won the hearts (and stomachs) of Napa locals soon after it opened in December 2015. Its diverse menu offers everything from calamari and fish and chips, to burgers, salads, wings, and sandwiches. For regular customers, walking into Hop Creek is a VIP-like experience. Everyone knows you. The staff always offers a big, warm welcome, and the dining room is filled with the familiar faces of friends and neighbors. Walking from the waiting area to a table can sometimes take 10 minutes, said co-owner Mike Gatto, because people stop and talk to every table along the way. Hop Creek brings people together, and this is part of what Gatto and co-owner Stacy Wagner, said they enjoy most about 28 | INSIDE NAPA VALLEY
Hop Creek Pub in Browns Valley.
their restaurant. “I love that we have so many regulars that we can call by name,” Gatto said. Now approaching its fiveyear anniversary, Hop Creek, like so many other beloved restaurants, is facing an uncertain future.
J.L. Sousa, Register
Gatto and Wagner say they are “cautiously optimistic” about the months ahead, but a cold and wet winter poses a significant risk to restaurants that have been relying on outdoor dining. Safety restrictions put in place to protect the public from COVID-19 have had the
unfortunate consequence of crippling the restaurant industry nationwide. In California, the first set of business restrictions took effect at midnight, March 20. Indoor operations were shut down and restaurants were limited to takeout only. “It shocked and stunned us,” Wagner recalled. “We didn’t see it coming.” Throughout the summer, restrictions were eased and then reinforced with little to no warning. “It’s been a rollercoaster...or more like a bumper car ride,” Wagner said. By the end of August, the state announced a new color-coded tiered system (the Blueprint for a Safer Economy) to help guide California counties in reopening local businesses. Napa fell into the Red Tier, which allows restaurants to open indoor dining at 25 percent capacity. For Hop Creek, that Fall/Winter 2020
equals 22 guests. “It was a game-changer for us,” Wagner said. By mid-September, Wagner said Hop Creek was beginning to feel “normal” again, almost like it did before the pandemic. “We still see a lot of regular faces,” Wagner said. “Others don’t feel comfortable going out, and we understand.” A particular group of customers Wagner misses are the children. Since the start of the pandemic, she has not had to fill her inventory with as many crayons or apple juice. Hop Creek’s kids’ menu, printed on a coloring page, is always accompanied with a brand new pack of four crayons. “One of the things I miss the most is the little kids,” Wagner said. “The amount of kids we got in there was amazing. I had dozens of pseudo-grandkids. We sure miss those little nuggets.” To keep guests and employees safe, the entire Hop Creek team wears masks. Tables, both indoors and out, are spaced far apart. The booklets and pens that are used for customer checks and receipts are cleaned after each use, as are the tables, bar area, hosting station, door knobs, and other frequently touched surfaces. Automatic dispensers of hand sanitizer are placed throughout the restaurant and each table is given a bottle of hand sanitizer, which is cleaned between guests. Temperature checks are given to staff upon starting their shifts, and guests’ temperatures are checked before they are seated. “You can never be too safe,” bartender Lacie Johst said. Johst has worked for Hop Creek since it first opened. She said she feels “very safe” coming into work with the precautions the restaurant is taking. Johst has two daughters who are type 1 diabetic, making her more “structured and strict” about safety measures. While things may look different, Wagner said everyone at the restaurant is grateful to be Fall/Winter 2020
Hop Creek owners Mike Gatto and Stacy Wagner
serving customers. “Even though they can’t see the smiles under our masks, they can see our smiley eyes,” Wagner said. The majority of Hop Creek’s customers have been understanding of the restrictions and guidelines set by the state. Mostly, they’re just happy Hop Creek is open, and they’ll do what they need to make it work. “Gosh darn, we are grateful for the support we get from our neighborhood and our community,” Wagner said. “Not a day goes by where somebody doesn’t stop me and thanks us for working through it.” Hop Creek provides a “little sense of normal for people,” she said. For regulars, Hop Creek is known as the Napa Valley “Cheers.” Just like the fictional Boston pub, people go to Hop Creek to take a break from their worries, catch up with friends and neighbors, share some laughs, and enjoy great food. “People need it. They rely on it,” Wagner said. Bartender Bevin O’Brien said she knows about 70 percent of her customers on a given night. And most of those customers know each other, too. “It’s definitely a locals spot,” O’Brien said. Both Wagner and Gatto are Napa residents and longtime
restaurateurs. Joining forces to create Hop Creek, they knew they wanted to offer the type of restaurant locals would want to go to on their time off—a place that offers quality food at affordable prices with friendly service. Hop Creek debuted with a soft opening on Dec. 22, 2015. Expecting about 50 to 100 curious diners that day, Gatto said they prepared a selection of small bites for sampling. But the kitchen ended up churning out more food than anticipated when about 350 people showed up. More hungry diners continue to discover Hop Creek every year. The restaurant’s numbers have increased annually since its debut. This year would have likely been no different. January 2020 was a “good month,” Wagner said. And, thanks to unseasonably warm weather, February was “huge”— more like April in terms of customers, Wagner said. “And then March came...and poof!” she said. “It just fell off.” While Hop Creek’s loyal customers called in their takeout orders, it was a far cry from the restaurant’s normal mode of operations, and “the transition was rough,” Wagner said. Hop Creek temporarily closed a couple times this past summer to readjust their business model to the changing restrictions.
Wagner said they’ve been fortunate to be given a few lifelines to help stay afloat. The City of Napa’s “Al Fresco” program helps businesses expand outdoors in response to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines. This free program includes expedited citywide permits allowing businesses to quickly apply for dining on public and private property. Through this program, Hop Creek was able to expand outdoor seating with additional tables in the walkways at the front of the restaurant (near the hair salon). The expansion was small but meaningful: it produced more shifts for employees. “That was a good thing,” Wagner said. “Keeping our team employed is of the utmost importance to us.” Hop Creek was also able to secure a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program, created as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES). The program provides forgivable loans to small businesses left financially distressed by the pandemic and can help cover expenses such as payroll and day-to-day operations. “The PPP loan was a big help,” Wagner said. “It carried us through that transition of takeout-only.” But heading into the winter months, Hop Creek and nearly every other restaurant in the nation is hoping for some additional help. The initial PPP funding ran out months ago for most restaurants. “The industry is hurting,” Wagner said. In October, the county moved from the Red Tier to the Orange Tier, meaning restaurants could expand to 50 percent capacity. “The outlook is uncertain, but we have a mindset that we’re going to keep moving on,” Wagner said. “We appreciate everyone’s support. I anticipate winter is going to be a tough road, but we plan on making it through.” INSIDE NAPA VALLEY | 29
FOOD TRUCKS OF NAPA VALLEY
La Gitana Calistoga’s go-to taco food truck
CYNTHIA SWEENEY e d it o r@we e kl yc al istogan.c om What you’re eating: Authentic, Mexican tacos, burritos, and tortas simply prepared with fresh ingredients at reasonable prices. Choose beef, barbeque or roast pork, chicken, chorizo, beef tongue tripe, fish, or veggie options. The fish for the tacos is grilled and breaded, or not, served simply with a choice of salsa and fresh lettuce to bring out the flavor. For a healthy appetite try the tacos or tortas (sandwich) De Alambre with green peppers, onion, chorizo, carne asada, bacon, cheese and topped with salsa. The Tortas Cubana is filled with beef and cheese, and the Torta Chorizo con huevos also comes with cheese. Don’t expect any potato in the traditional breakfast burritos, which instead are loaded with rice and beans, eggs, optional chorizo, guacamole, cheese, and salsa. Who’s making your food: La Gitana (The Gypsy) is a family run business with Jose Gonzales at the helm along with his wife, Elizabeth, and daughter, Marleni doing the cooking. Jose is originally from Mexico City and comes from a family of hard working food vendors, he said. La Gitana shares those recipes, with input from Jose’s mother, Teresa. Just one of her specialties, and the success behind the business, Jose says, is the beans. “All the good flavor comes from her. We make it simple but tasty.” This is the second food truck for Jose and Elizabeth, who pawned their jewelry for a down payment on their first truck. They’ve now been in the same location in Calistoga for nine years. The favorite: The meat lovers Tacos De Alambre which is traditional Mexican fare. Gonzales added it to the menu after a suggestion from a couple of field workers from Modesto who heard about La Gitana and made the trip for the food. And believe it or not the tongue and the tripe tacos are also popular. “There are two guys who work for 30 | INSIDE NAPA VALLEY
Cynthia Sweeney photos, The Weekly Calistogan
La Gitana food truck offers authentic Mexican tacos and burritos Monday through Saturday at the corner of Tubbs Land and Foothill Boulevard in Calistoga.
La Gitana food truck in Calistoga is a family run business with Jose Gonzales, his wife Elizabeth, and daughter, Marleni.
the City of Calistoga, they don’t eat anything else,” Gonzales said. Pro tip: If you’re not sure about the tongue or tripe, ask for a sample. The Gonzalezs’ are more than happy to offer you a taste. Weekday lunchtimes are busy and the wait can be up to 20 minutes. If you’re in a hurry, call or text your order in ahead of time. Word to the wise: If you’re making a special trip, check Facebook or twitter to make sure they will be there. On the rare occasion the truck has had a mechanical issue Jose
posts his apologies. Price range: Tacos start at $2, but you’ll want more than one, and $8 will get you a very large burrito. Sides of sour cream, guacamole and extra salsa are also available. La Gitana is located at the busy corner of Tubbs Lane and Foothill Boulevard in Calistoga, in the parking lot of Bill’s Liquor. Open Monday – Saturday (707) 541-8246. You can reach Cynthia Sweeney at 9424035 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Fall/Winter 2020
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CAKES La Cheve matriarch bakes up fantastic creations JESS LANDER
Mamma Jauna’s pastries — especially the seashell-shaped concha — have become an immediate hit at the newly-opened Mexican bakery, restaurant, and brewery La Cheve, located in Napa’s Old Adobe. Owner Cinthya Cisneros was partially inspired to start the business as a way to give her mother, Juana Cisneros (fondly known as Mamma Juana), a spot to bake, just as she’s done for 25 years. Word of Mamma Juana’s talents has gotten around town and the requests for custom cakes have been rolling in. From Pacifico beer to Flaming Hot Cheetos-themed cakes, there are seemingly no limits to her ingenuity. “Growing up, I started noticing she had a big, big talent for them and became more inclined to open up a spot for her,” said Cisneros, reminiscing about one special cake in particular that her mother made for her. “Remember when it was really hip and cool to have your face on your cake? I still remember a cake she made for me when I was nine. It was my soccer picture; a big enormous cake of my face.” For years, Mamma Juana has made specialty cakes for family and friends by request, but with the opening of La Cheve, she’s obtaining a whole new, and more official, client base. “For her, it’s an extra layer of excitement and nervousness of people being able to see and taste your work,” said Cisneros. During the Pandemic, she’s been getting a lot of orders for smaller cakes, which liven up intimate celebrations, from birthdays to weddings, at home. A few cakes have been pandemic-themed; one bride and groom cut a tasty roll of toilet paper. “People are trying to still put light in the dark times and have 32 | INSIDE NAPA VALLEY
La Cheve photod
fun with it,” said Cisneros. The directive for the Flaming Hot Cheetos cake was simple. “My girlfriend loves Cheetos and I trust your creativity,” said Cisneros. “She loves when people give her their trust and let her creativity go wild. It has been really fun for her.” For a Disney-loving couple, Mamma Jauna created a “two-faced” wedding cake. From the front, it looked like an elegant, traditional wedding cake, but on the back, a curtain revealed Disney themes and characters. As for flavors, “Whatever people ask me, I make it,” said Mamma Jauna, listing mocha tres leches and coffee as some common requests. Just like her boozy pastries at La Cheve, she’s more than happy to incorporate alcohol, from wine to tequila, into cake orders as well. Ironically, the Pacifico cake was Champagne flavored. Those who want to place a cake order with Mamma Juana should contact La Cheve, ideally two weeks in advance.
INSIDE NAPA VALLEY | 33
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A passion for
Chef John Difilippo pours his heart into making the perfect pie
o r l o c a l c h e f Jo h n Difilippo, it’s all about the dough. As the owner and chef behind Difilippo Wood Fired Pizza, he has mastered the art of making a delectable, mouthwatering pie. And he does it all using a mobile wood-fired pizza oven. Difilippo’s dough is naturally fermented and mixed by hand. Like any bread, developing a good pizza dough is
36 | INSIDE NAPA VALLEY
I S A B E L L E S C H M A LT Z about trying different formulas, hydration, and proofing times, he said. “The dough is the star of the show for pizza—the texture, flavor, baked in a hot oven with the correct amount of char,” Difilippo said. “The toppings need to be high-end and seasonal and not too heavy.” In addition to pizza, Difilippo offers artisan sandwiches on house-made bread, and salads made with local, organic produce.
Before becoming a pizza fanatic, Difilippo worked as a pastry chef. Originally from Fullerton in Southern California, Diflippo came to Napa after landing a job at Auberge du Soleil. At Auberge, he learned directly from Chef Richard Reddington. “Chef Reddington inspired me to expand my knowledge and improve on techniques. We would go to eat desserts and analyze them,” Difilippo said. “He was a hard working chef and using
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the best and freshest was the utmost important to him.” So why switch from pastry to pizza? Turns out, Difilippo likes a challenge. “The more I made pizza, I realized it was harder and harder to perfect,” he said. Diflippo kept pushing himself to create what he considered “the best pizza.” “Pizza is very simple to make,” he said. “Really good pizza takes time to develop.” Creating a “good dough formula” is the most time-consuming process of making pizza, he said. Baking pizzas in a wood-fired oven is an additional challenge because of the time it takes to get the temperature right for a particular dough. “My dough formula, with the help of Chef Aaron Brown, took about five years to get it to where it is today,” Difilippo said. It took about two years, he said, to get the timing down perfectly in the 800-degree wood-fired oven. “It is really a time-honored craft that has inspired me,” Difilippo said. His personal favorite pizza is Calabrian sausage with rapini (also known
38 | INSIDE NAPA VALLEY
as broccoli rabe)—a classic combination in Italian cuisine. One of his favorite pizzerias is Del Popolo in San Francisco, which he discovered with his colleague, Aaron Brown. Together, the two chef friends are always on the lookout for great pizzas. “The Del Popolo dough is light, with a great flavor of slightly sour and great chew,” Difilippo said. “Plus, I always sit at the counter to watch the pizzaiolo work.” Difilippo is one of 10 children. His father, who worked as a baker in the Navy, always cooked Sunday dinners for the family. Pasta dishes were his specialty, and his spaghetti and meatballs were Difilippo’s favorite. “Sunday dinners were crazy at the time, memorable now that we look back. Everyone helped,” he said. The tradition created a strong bond between Difilippo and his siblings, and all of them have tried to continue Sunday dinners for their own families. Difilippo began his mobile pizza business in June 2019. Normally, he receives a steady stream of business by having his pizza
truck booked for special events. Due to the pandemic, almost all of his bookings were canceled. Difilippo hopes to have his pizza truck at numerous events in 2021, including BottleRock, Porchfest, and other music and film festivals throughout Napa and Sonoma counties. He also plans to be at a three-day rock music festival called AfterShock in Sacramento, planned for next October. To help keep the business going during the pandemic, Difilippo began selling “pizza kits” for families to purchase as a fun activity while sheltering at home. Difilippo still offers the family pizza kits, but requests three day’s notice to get everything assembled. Since restrictions started to ease, Difilippo has been doing a pop-up, where guests can pick up a fresh-baked pizza to take home. The pop-up occurs most every other Friday in the River Terrace Inn parking lot. “We are slowly building a following through Facebook and Instagram,” Difilippo said. “Guests can pre-order on the social media site or just walk up. All pre-orders are baked as soon as the guest shows up.”
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Ad Hoc & Addendum Submitted photo
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The humble fried chicken shines bright in the Napa Valley
hances are you have at least a few memories of sharing a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken with your family. These days, you can wax nostalgia—with a gourmet twist. Several Napa Valley restaurants now offer take-home fried chicken meals. Brined and fried to perfection, even the Colonel can’t knock it. “I think the Colonel was a part of everybody’s lives. It made it more of an American, nationwide tradition. I do think it’s iconic,” said Gene Tartaglia, owner of The Q Restaurant & Bar in Napa’s Bel Aire Plaza. “It’s affordable, it’s comforting, it becomes a real treat, and it’s a good alternative to pizza.” Get your fill of this crispy comfort food classic all winter long at these eight Napa eateries. AD HOC & ADDENDUM Want to know a secret? Thomas Keller’s 40 | INSIDE NAPA VALLEY
famous buttermilk Ad Hoc fried chicken — which is only available on select nights in the restaurant — can now be ordered Friday through Monday for takeout in a small (6-8 pieces) or large (12-15 pieces) bucket, priced at $30 and $50 respectively. While Ad Hoc is definitely one of the pricer options on this list and doesn’t include sides, it’s also easily the most famous beyond the local level and is rumored to even taste better the next day. Chef Keller soaks his chicken for 12 hours in a unique brine of lemons, honey, garlic, thyme, parsley, and bay leaves.
SOUTHSIDE CAFE Southside started Fried Chicken Fridays back in 2016 and recently switched it from a monthly special to weekly during the pandemic. True to Southside’s style, Southside chef and co-owner Morgan Robinson incorporates fresh ingredients into the decadent dish. “We do it right,” said co-owner Irma Robinson. “It’s a three-day process. We source quality chicken from our purveyor in Sonoma County. We butcher the chicken in house and brine it with fresh lemon and thyme for 48 hours. After the brine, we soak it in a buttermilk mix before coating it in our organic fry flour. We fry the chicken, thyme, and lemon slices in rice bran oil for a crisp, delicious herbaceous crust.” Southside’s Fried Chicken Fridays consist of a 10-piece bucket of Fulton Valley buttermilk chicken ($29) with the option to add traditional sides, biscuits, and wine. Online ordering opens up the Saturday before and they typically sell out on Thursdays. It’s currently takeout only at the Carneros location, but that may change. Check their website and social media for updates. southsidenapa.com. (707) 492-3733.</span>
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THE Q RESTAURANT & BAR A Napa Valley fried chicken OG, The Q has been serving up crunchy drumsticks, breasts, and wings for 14 years. Owner Gene Tartaglia actually took a trip to Kansas to get inspiration for his recipe, which he says is very southern and traditional, and unlike most, he doesn’t use buttermilk or brine his chicken. “The places we respected the most in the Midwest had no interest in brining at all,” he said, adding that the brine can result in chicken that’s overly salty. “They didn’t feel it gave any advantage and frankly we feel the same.” The Q offers its fried chicken dinner seven nights a week for takeout or dine-in. For $19.50, diners get four pieces of fried chicken with collard greens and mashed potatoes and gravy as sides, or for $29, they can get a 10-piece box with their choice of coleslaw. The chicken is also served with salt and pepper vinegar on the side. “It adds nice acidity and a little bit of heat,” he said. theqrandb.com. (707) 224-6600.
OENOTRI An unexpected entrant to Napa Valley’s fried chicken game is Italian staple Oenotri, which recently began offering fried chicken on the last Sunday of every month as part of their Sunday Supper promotion. “Our Sunday Supper offerings started as a takeout option and a way to re-open for business and bring our team back to work after closing due to the pandemic,” said chef/owner Tyler Rodde. “We had offered fried chicken in the restaurant a handful of times in the past 10 years and it was always a success. There’s a lot of really great fried chicken in this valley, but this recipe is special to me because it was my mother’s: brined in buttermilk, breaded in flour mixed with Italian seasoning, and fried in grapeseed oil.” Each Fried Chicken Sunday Supper features a whole fried chicken with two seasonal sides (like mashed potatoes and biscuits with country gravy) and dessert for $70. Sunday Supper is available at the restaurant by reservation, but online orders open up the Wednesday leading up and they do sell out each week. oenotri.com. (707) 252-1022.
BRIX Wednesday is fried chicken night at Brix, but locals can now get the special for takeout five nights a week, Wednesday through Sunday. “The popularity has increased tremendously, especially during COVID-19 when so many of us are craving comfort food,” said Chef Cary Delbridge. For $40, Brix offers a box of eight pieces of fried chicken (one whole Mary’s chicken) with potatoes and gravy, seasonal vegetables, and four cheddar biscuits. Brix takes a traditional approach: the chicken is brined overnight and soaked in a seasoned buttermilk before being dipped into a seasoned and spiced flour mixture. brix.com. (707) 944-2749.
42 | INSIDE NAPA VALLEY
side of smashed Yukon gold potatoes and braised garden greens. Executive chef Aaron Meneghelli marinates the chicken for a minimum of 24 hours in a mix of buttermilk, highly-acidic hot sauces, and dried spices. It’s then heavily floured with seasoned flour and fried at 325 degrees. boonflycafe.com. (707) 299-4870.
EVANGELINE This charming Calistoga eatery, which specializes in French and Creole-inspired fare, has been making waves with its locally-famous fried chicken for five years. For $40, get a bucket (10 pieces) of their crispy buttermilk fried chicken with mac and cheese, little gem salad, and creamy potato salad (feeds three or four people) for sides. Order for takeout, or for an extra fee, Evangeline will deliver to St. Helena and Calistoga. evangelinenapa.com. (707) 341-3131.
Boon Fly Cafe
BOON FLY CAFE Boon Fly’s fried chicken and waffle dish is a Napa brunch staple, but you’ll find the same fried chicken flying solo on the dinner menu (for dine-in and takeout). For $28, you’ll get five pieces of chicken with a
BLANCHARD’S We can’t create a fried chicken list without mentioning Blanchard’s, even though the cult-like pop-up from Master Sommelier Chris Blanchard has been put on hold during the pandemic. Hopefully, his soulful buttermilk fried chicken recipe — which is a careful recreation of his Grandmother’s fried chicken from South Carolina — will be able to grace our tables again soon. In the meantime, Blanchard says he’s working with some other local fried chicken hot spots to create a tasting event in the near future. blanchardsfriedchicken.com. (707) 738-6320.
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LIVING THE LIFE
PLEASE, NO PICTURES C O L I N M AC P H A I L
â€ŒThe age of pictures is upon us. We have traveled through the Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age to reach the Digital Age. The new technology of each age affected our societies in different ways. In the digital age, we are drowning in imagery. People call it the information age, but it is quite clear at least half of our population is not absorbing much data. We deny reality while posting happy pictures of our birthday parties and those delightful shots of pets lying in contorted positions around the house. We are in a mad rush to share our banal lives at every opportunity. We hope that a new hat, a severed finger, or trophy moment, will validate that we are indeed living a life. My mother was a professional photographer. She spent the greater part of her life looking at the world through a camera lens. We would sit in the dark with her from an early age as she went through culling her images. She spent a lot of time walking and observing her surroundings before deciding to lift the camera to her eye. I take pictures now and again and try to spend a lot of time choosing, cropping, and especially, culling. We are all photographers now, or perhaps not. We are all recorders. Meals we eat, wines we drink, views from our hotel balconies, the smiling kids, those impressive vegetables in our gardens. We take the shots, but then we must quickly make room for more by disposing of them on Instagram, 44 | INSIDE NAPA VALLEY
Flickr, Facebook, or other media streams. They are not for keeping or savoring. We cast them into the raging torrent of images cascading through our lives. We are rocks in a digital river as the never-ending flow of pictures splashes around and over us. It wasnâ€™t that long ago that people might only own a wedding photograph of themselves or a couple of hard staring family portraits, and that was it. The recent Napa Valley fires brought these thoughts to the forefront of my mind. So many images appeared of things around us burning. My Facebook feed was fiery Hades in hourly increments. Buildings ablaze, homes lost, and dreams incinerated. But looking is not reality. Pictures are not a thousand words. They are our eye candy in a digital age of instant imagery, capturing everything and nothing in a gasp of titillation. I got through the evacuation lines with a dubious slip of paper. I stood utterly alone in the center of a burnt-out Napa Valley winery. Blood red coagulated wine dripped slowly from a matt charcoal glazed stainless steel tank. It made a good picture. At that moment, however, I thought about how muffled my footsteps were in the heavy ash of the floor. It felt like moving through warm dirty white snow. I heard the sad, soft crunch of glass underfoot and the grating sound of metal being pushed against metal as I moved around. The harsh, acrid smoke
hung in the air, mixed with the sweet vinegary smell of a dumpster nearby filled with pomace. The heat of the fire still emanated from the stone walls. I plunged my hand into the ash burial mounds to pull out some corkscrew inventory that had burnt. Underneath the surface, it was like a warm billowing pillow. The skeletal corkscrews were hot steel in my hands. I threw them in a pile like dead soldiers in a trench. Cut down before their time, olive wood cremated and gone; they would never see the cork of a bottle. Yes, I took pictures, but no image I chose to put my butterfly pin through could ever begin to hint at the unique loneliness of that moment. The layering of senses and emotions of how all things come to an end. The majesty and terror of the cycle of life. I could have been the only person in the world in that quiet morgue. All these pictures we take can memorialize, record, amuse, shock, and prod us in various ways. A rare few can become emblems of an event, or time, our Iwo Jima moments. But they are wholly inadequate communicators of life. We should take and post fewer pictures and videos of our lives. They interrupt and erode our capacity to be fully present in times that require our full attention if we are to live a full life. Colin MacPhail is a wine consultant and writer who lives in Calistoga. Fall/Winter 2020
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THE PEAKS AROUND US
Spring Mountain District Tim Carl Photography
A 2019 aerial view of Pride Mountain Vineyards, which straddles the Napa/Sonoma county line just northwest of St. Helena in the Spring Mountain district.
L AY N E R A N D O L P H
A tribute to its history and a promise to its future
he Spring Mountain District appellation lies above the city of Saint Helena along the Mayacamas Mountains ridgeline that separates Sonoma County and Napa County. Bordered by Sulphur Creek to the south and Ritchie Creek to the north, the area came to be known as Spring Mountain by virtue of the number of springs found within it Curiously, the appellation known as Spring Mountain AVA doesn’t officially contain a peak named “Spring Mountain.” The U.S. Board on Geographic Names has never recognized the name, unlike other area peaks such as Mt. Veeder, Atlas Peak and Howell Mountain. The wildfires over the past few years have wrought havoc throughout California wine country. Still, until this year, Spring Mountain had been lucky, relatively unharmed by the succession of wildfires tearing through the valley since the 2017 Tubbs Fire. That changed in October when it was hit hard by one of the most destructive fires in Napa Valley history – the Glass Fire. Roughly 30 wineries in the Napa Valley were damaged or destroyed in the span of a week, along with over 300 residential buildings, despite the valiant efforts of firefighters and first
46 | INSIDE NAPA VALLEY
Sarah Klearman, Register
A vineyard amid burned landscape on Spring Mountain Road. Vineyards have long been known to act as fire breaks, though many of the region’s vines did sustain substantial damage from smoke.
responders. Spring Mountain District was officially established as an American Viticulture Area in 1993. However, of the approximately 8,600 acres that make up the district, only about 1,000 are planted to vineyards, and the region’s 30 winegrowers produce less than 2% of Napa Valley wine. As it is in most of the Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon reigns supreme here, followed by Merlot. Other varieties are grown: Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Sirah, and even a small amount of Pinot Noir in the coolest locations. The little, dark berries at high-elevation sing with
concentrated forest flavors and intense minerality, and when placed in the right hands, show a harmonious complexity. Spring Mountain fruit’s unique characteristics arise from its altitude, unique temperate climate of moderate days and warm nights, and that the area is blessed with more rainfall than in other parts of the valley. The area’s eastern exposure protects many vineyards from intense afternoon sunshine. From 1878 to the 1920s, the springs of Spring Mountain were St. Helena’s principal source of water. Beyond its unique climate and coveted fruit, what makes Spring Mountain impressive is its inclusion in the tapestry of Napa Valley history. In 1888, the Annual Report of the Board of State Viticultural Commissioners of California noted 355 acres of vines on Spring Mountain and the production of 21,000 gallons of wine. These pieces of history are treasured in a “New World” AVA like Napa Valley. When tragedy occurs, there is a sense that we have lost something that we can never replace. But Spring Mountain continues; wineries will rebuild and keep producing some of the Napa Valley’s best wine. As the community mourns the losses suffered by so many, it also prepares to move forward, knowing that this will eventually be another layer of storied history in a valley founded by pioneers whose tenacious spirits serve as an enduring inspiration today. Fall/Winter 2020
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â€™ve likely driven by the Victorian house on a hill, just past Beringer as you head North on Highway 29, hundreds of times. I always wondered what it was, assuming it was a private estate, probably operating as a vacation home for a San Francisco of Silicon Valley family. But then suddenly, I was invited to tour this very house, which quietly opened this month as the new home to longtime Coombsville wine brand Faust Wines.
tasting in light and dark
Faust Haus opens in St. Helena
Sure, it does seem a little odd that Faust, which released its first vintage back in 2002, chose to set up shop in St. Helena, far from the much-cooler Coombsville AVA that sits roughly 20 minutes south. But it also presents an opportunity to educate Napa Valley
Adrian Gaut photo
Located in St. Helena, this former farmhouse and Prohibition Era cellar is now the tasting room for Faust wines. INSET: A Faust Haus tasting area. 48 | INSIDE NAPA VALLEY
An outdoor deck offers views east across the valley. Adrian Gaut photo
visitors about the lesser-known, less-visited, yet up-and-coming sub-region that’s making waves with a different style of Cabernet that’s elegant and intense with a unique minerality. “It was just the perfect place. We’ve never had a home for Faust which is why this is so exciting,” said Jen Beloz, Faust Estate director. “It’s one of the best-selling Napa brands, but to be able to have a home where we can actually tell our story, tell the story of these small estate wines and really showcase Coombsville is something I’ve been looking forward to for years.” After climbing the stairs to the house, which run past the 1800s stone terraces that were built by hand for the original plantings, it was immediately apparent that this wasn’t just another wine tasting room. For starters, the viewpoint is different from the countless others I’ve enjoyed in Napa Valley, overlooking Highway 29 and across the valley to Howell Mountain, where I could almost make out my house, perched above the hospital. “The thing we found so enchanting about this property when we walked into it was the ability to sit outside,” Beloz said, leading me to a private seating area consisting of modish, green furniture that blended in with the surrounding gardens. We were high enough up that I couldn’t hear the traffic and while this is the kind of spot where I could imagine myself losing track of a sunny afternoon, it’s the interior of the Faust Haus that makes it worthy of a feature in Architectural Digest. The centerpiece of the front porch is an electric blue swing that pops against the dark exterior. It’s the first sign of a departure from tradition at this historic building, built in 1878. (In case you’re wondering, yes, there is evidence that it’s haunted by “friendly” ghosts). Purchased by Faust in 2016, the team spent the past four years restoring and transforming it, in partnership with architect Aidlin Darling, the same creative mind behind the Scribe Winery Hacienda. “We wanted to honor the bones,” said Beloz, explaining that the vision was to merge the past with the present. “I like the juxtaposition of very historical tradition with modern because I think it’s what we do a little bit with Coombsville cabernet. Faust is a modern classic, a modern take on Cabernet Sauvignon, and I believe someday Coombsville will be known as one of the best AVAs in Napa Valley.” There are three rooms inside for private tastings, each featuring a completely different design and theme. As you enter on the right, there’s The Study, a small, red-walled Fall/Winter 2020
Adrian Gaut photo
The staircase inside the Faust tasting room.
enclave featuring leather furnishings and a 1960s Jean Lurcat tapestry of a goat. To the left is, my personal favorite, The Library. Down the center is a long and narrow table — just like one you might find at the country’s most historic libraries — with more of the electric blue accents in the chairs and table lamps. Hanging on the walls of the library are what look like old-fashioned photographs, but they’re actually modern images of the Coombsville Estate and portraits of the vineyard team, created by fine art photographer Lindsay Ross, using collodion photography, the art of capturing images directly onto large glass plates. Against another wall is a display case with more photos and a collection of rocks, flora and fauna from the vineyard. “One of the things that make the wines that come through the Coombsville AVA so distinct is the minerality of the volcanic soils,” said Conner Burns, Faust director of Guest
Services. Yet the most unexpected and show-stopping detail of the house is the first thing you see upon walking through the door: a hand-drawn black and white mural painted behind the staircase. The bottom half is black; the top half white. Paris-based artist Roberto Ruspoli drew a dramatic entanglement of Romanesque figures throughout it, putting a modern spin on ancient fresco techniques. “It’s depicting some backstory of the opera that is Faust,” said Burns. “It’s an interplay between light and dark. The pursuit of passion. An obsession for craftsmanship.” “There’s a play of light and dark throughout the property,” Beloz points out. “It’s dark downstairs and transcends up to light upstairs.” Soon enough, I found this to be true. As I ascended the staircase to the second floor, there was an abrupt shift, as if I was rising up into the heavens. The top floor is stark white, minimalist and sun-filled with high ceilings. It traded out rich, dark tones and color downstairs for just a few light, neutral brown furnishings. Once back outside, I discovered a peaceful courtyard and more outdoor seating among 100-year-old olive trees on my way to “a surprise” Beloz had for me. Once down a few more steps, I found myself inside a stone pre-Prohibition wine cellar, rumored to have once been a brothel. Today, it takes the form of a chill wine lounge with a record player, a place I wouldn’t mind riding out the 2020 apocalypse in. “We wanted to remove the pretense,” said Beloz, concluding our tour. “People can make their own experience here. There’s a spirit of exploration and discovery and you can have a new experience each time you come.” To book a tasting at the Faust Haus, visit the website, faustwines.com. INSIDE NAPA VALLEY | 49
End of an era CYNTHIA SWEENEY e d itor@weekl yc a l istoga n.c om
Calistoga’s Silverado Ace Hardware to change hands Mark and Tim Petersen are hanging up their tool belts. The brothers, along with Tim’s wife, MaryAnn, who have been running Silverado Ace Hardware on Lincoln Avenue in Calistoga since the 1970s, have sold the business to another California Ace Hardware dealer, Mark Schulein. “I talked to a lot of other dealers, but I wanted to find someone who would keep it the same, but make some improvements,” Tim Petersen said. “His values align with ours.” Keeping the same team of employees was another important factor. Some employees have been there as long as 30 years.
“He’s community oriented, and I think this will be a very positive thing for the town,” Petersen said. The store’s roots go back to the 1860s. The store has been known as Franklin & Hauge, C.M. Hoover Company, Alm & Ames, Cropp Hardware & Plumbing and finally Silverado Ace Hardware. Mark and Tim’s mother and father, Elaine and Howard, moved the family from Chicago to Calistoga in 1963 and purchased the store, which was then located across the street, where Hydro Grill is now. It was moved to the current location in 1977. Mark and Tim started working in the store when they were 10 and 5 years old, respectively, sweeping the floor, crushing boxes, and cutting keys. Tim recalls a momentous occasion in 1984 when the store got
Cynthia Sweeney, The Weekly Calistogan
Calistoga’s Silverado Ace Hardware dealer Tim Petersen, along with his brother, Mark, retired in October. They have sold the business to another Ace Hardware dealer who will carry on with the store’s community spirit.
computers. “It helped get a better handle on inventory,” he said. But the most “exciting and challenging” and also rewarding part of the business is helping people with their projects, “getting them up and running, and completing projects,” Tim said. “I take pleasure in helping people out of a jam.” To that end, Tim recalled a memorable time the owner of a million-dollar house called the store on a weekend, with a water leak. Tim came to the rescue, stopped the leak, and likely saved the house from extensive damage, he said.
The store has been a big part of the community over the years. The Petersens have belonged to local organizations like the Lions Club, and also make donations to local causes. That part will continue, Tim said. The brothers retired the first week of October. Mark will do more fishing and hunting, and Tim is looking forward to making more trips to Seattle to see his granddaughter. “More leisurely trips,” he emphasized. You can reach Cynthia Sweeney at 942-4035 or email@example.com.
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A touch of tech Bringing the wine business into the 21st century VA L E R I E OW E N S An industry that ebbs and flows by the grace of Mother Nature, the wine business leans on the tenacity of winemakers, production crews and viticulturists to produce world class wines. Wines driven by hours of dedication, calling for a systematic approach to business operations. Though sophisticated and unparalleled in many ways, the wine industry has traditionally used spreadsheets and primitive planning tools to organize their daily operations. Shawn Zizzo, president of VinoEz, wanted to change that. He created a platform that brings the old-fashioned business into the modern era. Solving business problems with technology, Zizzo created a planning and scheduling web application providing clients with a central hub for tracking, scheduling and planning harvest, blending, barrel work, 52 | INSIDE NAPA VALLEY
bulk wine distribution and cellar operations. “In 2004, I came into the valley consulting for Beringer. I had been in supply chain planning most of my career and was new to wine,” he said. “Once I learned more about the industry and understood the process, I was hooked.” “Compared to other consumer projects,” he said, “I found the technology and planning tools were far behind. 16 years later, the industry is still not moving as fast as it should. Everything ties back to harvest, which drives all business decisions. There is so much administrative work businesses have to account for. Things become complex quickly. If we can provide tools to rise above the paperwork, I take pride in that.” A code enthusiast, Shawn developed VinoEZ in 2013, shifting from a consultant to a software provider overnight. Offering
functionality, VinoEZ provides tools, solving problems one client at a time “The code is the magic,” Zizzo said. “Developing code is an artform. I believe that. I look at it as I do music, something that I am equally passionate about. I can get lost in it. I’m driven by problem solving. There are so many ways to do it. I love the creative process.” Today, VinoEZ spans the globe. Growing from one employee to 10, Shawn has created a niche within the wine industry. With the support of his wife, Andrea, and son, Enzo, Shawn’s dedication to his family and to the wine industry is an inspirational tale of passion, ingenuity, and love. “VinoEZ has been an amazing opportunity. I enjoy helping people and providing a solution. I love the ability to spend time with my family and being the Dad and husband I want to be,” Zizzo said. Fall/Winter 2020
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43 Protrude 44 Unoccupied
sions in Africa
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Stretch Your Mind by Layla Beckhardt and Matthew Stock
ACROSS 1 Swindles 5 Civil rights org. 9 Did laps, say 13 Zero-shaped 14 Jessica of “The Sinner” 15 “Jojo Rabbit” director Waititi 16 Group of quail 17 *“Healthy” breakfast pastry 19 *She scored the winning goal in the 1999 Women’s World Cup 21 The Hope Diamond, e.g. 22 Neither’s partner 23 Flower that symbolizes love 24 Upper-left PC key
27 Rolling in it 30 Wealthy group of flyers 32 Chief export of 37-Across 34 “Get out of here!” 36 Cry of understanding 37 *Arab country whose name translates to “two seas” 40 Period of note 41 Fun run, for one 43 Protrude 44 Unoccupied 46 ___ Joon-ho (“Parasite” Oscar winner) 48 Steamed Chinese bun 50 “My bad!”
54 | INSIDE NAPA VALLEY
51 Greek T 53 Spanish for “Enough!” 55 *Poultry dish cooked in a covered pan 61 Respite during studying, or a hint to the word split across each starred answer 62 Possess 63 Upbraids, with “at” 64 Fundraising party 65 Pilots’ announcements, in brief 66 ___ and ends 67 Nothing but 68 Emailed DOWN 1 Salad with hard-boiled eggs 2 Greater than
3 Native American fare with a frybread “shell” 4 Fox’s asset 5 ’60s icon Hoffman 6 Common skirt shape 7 “The King of Queens” actress Remini 8 Forearm bone 9 Some excursions in Africa 10 Connection at an airport terminal? 11 Similar (to) 12 “No ___ is an island” 15 Homework helper 18 AOL alternative
20 Nerd 23 Recovery program, briefly 25 “... ish” 26 Shadowy org. 28 Pennypincher 29 Brass instruments 30 Pickle holder 31 ___ Mahal 33 Actress Tyler 35 Nondairy milk variety 38 Center of activity 39 Tennis champ Osaka 42 Involves 45 Some Little League parents 47 Puts on, as muscle mass
49 At the ready 52 Kind of port for a thumb drive 54 ___ Owingeh (pueblo whose name’s first word sounds like an approval) 55 Thin fastener 56 Roach control brand 57 “And so ...” 58 College figure with a list 59 “Dear ___ Hansen” 60 Stack like matryoshka dolls 61 “Cool story, ___”
Answers Page 58 Fall/Winter 2020
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56 | INSIDE NAPA VALLEY
COMPLINE CELEBRATES THREE YEARS S A S H A PAU L S E N s p auls e n@nap ane w s . com
And dynamic new chef creates a party menu
hen the layoffs because of COVID-19 began, Jammir Gray decided this was the time to look for her dream job. She found it as executive chef at Compline, one of Napa’s trendiest spots, which combines a restaurant, wine bar and wine merchant. “Napa was always my end game,” said Gray, who grew up in Vallejo and decided to become a chef in fifth grade after reading an article in The Smithsonian Magazine about French pastry chef and culinary artist Jacques Torres. Vallejo is about 15 miles down the road from Napa but Gray made it a slightly longer journey. First, she earned an undergraduate degree at UC Davis, before heading off to the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park in New York. Her externship brought her back to the Bay Area to work at One Market, Mark Dommen’s Michelin-star rated restaurant in San Francisco. After this, Gray signed on with the Kimpton Boutique Hotels and Restaurants and for the next six years, she moved from Chicago to Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., as she climbed the ladder from line cook to sous chef to executive chef. The lure of the Bay Area, however, began to tug on her to bring her home. “There is nothing fresh in D.C.,” she said. In 2017, she returned to the Bay Area as executive chef of British Bankers Club in Menlo Park, and two years later, she joined Michael Mina and Ayesha Curry’s International Smoke as chef de cuisine. Then came the coronavirus pandemic, closing restaurants and laying off chefs and their staff all over the country. “Everyone was like, ‘I’m staying on unemployment,’” Gray said, “but I thought I’m going to go for the
Emma K Morris photo
Chef Jammir Gray’s new fall menu at Compline includes, clockwise from top left, Ricotta Cappelletti with kale, smoked tomato water, basil and fennel pollen; Artichoke Dip with Paulie’s Hawaiian Bread; Greens Salad with Miso Parmesan dressing and seasonal vegetables; Socca,summer vegetables with arrabiatta and Pecorino Romano; Hummus with seasonal crudités; and chilled corn soup with shiso oil, pickled onions and curry kettle corn.
job I want.” When this turned up in the form of an offer to be executive chef at Compline, she said, “I thought it was too good to be true.” Gray joined the Compline team three months ago, as Napa County restaurants were just beginning to emerge from the first round of shut-downs, only to be hit by rising COVID-19 numbers again. Public safety measures again shut down indoor dining and taxed the creativity of chefs and restaurateurs to find ways to keep serving guests. During the early days of the pandemic closures, Compline’s owners Matt Stamp and Ryan Stetins began delivering free meals to front-line medical workers and first responders. According to Register columnist Craig Smith, in the first two months they delivered more than 5,000 meals. They also began a take-out service that
included the Compline burger, which some, including this writer, believe is the best in the valley. Stamp, a Master Sommelier, also began hosting weekly virtual tours of global wine regions for which participants could purchase a kit that included vials of wines and appetizers to try during the online session. As they worked on expanding seating for outdoor dining, as this option returned, Gray was inside working on menus. “I love the chalkboard menu,” she said for flexibility that comes with chalk and an eraser when “something fresh and wonderful is available.” Her goal is a super-flavorful, highly seasonal menu of artful dishes designed with wine-friendly Mediterranean flavors in mind. She is introducing a pasta program, more vegetarian dishes, a childhood favorite Filipino dish and new desserts.
AT LEFT: From left, Matt Stamp, Jammir Gray and Ryan Stetins are preparing to celebrate the third anniversary of Compline restaurant, wine bar and wine merchant, in Napa. Emma K Morris photo
INSIDE NAPA VALLEY | 57
ACROSS 51 “... ___ he 1 Worn-down drove out crayons of sight” 5 Catches 52 Canine cry on to 54 Molecule She also undertook a burger waves sparking massive wildfires 9 ___, hope part makeover. What? What was wrong that fill the sky with toxic smoke. and love 56 “___ with that sublime creation? Could “I think the quotealive!” is, ‘We made there be a better that it with it,’” Ryan said, asked to 14 meal Boutique 59 Stetins 3,600 the duck-fat fries and a glass of describe his feelings on reaching seconds Champagne?15 Not-so-jolly their third anniversary. green giant, 61 “Way to go!” “Oh, the meat was perfect, The question is how to celecouldn’t be better,” Gray said. “I brate this year when everything is perhaps 65 Positive just changed the cheese — from different. “We decided to shift our Houston to do a mild to sharp16 cheddar — and the focus,” 68 Stamp“Going said. “We can’t grilled onions to balsamic grilled big party butthe we can remind peobaseball dogs,” onions.” ple what we do best: great food and player for example She is not touching the duck-fat interesting wines.” 17 Positive 69 Eyes, fries, she added. They decided to mark the occaShe works20 withExistential wine compat- sion on Sept.poetically 23 by hosting a dinibility in mind. “I love this wine ner that features a “five-course tour” question 70 Tech news list,” she said. But other than being of Gray’s new fall menu with wine 21 Tent that site told not to make anything too pairings. spicy, which can wreak havocbe witha On 71 the Chutzpah menu: Lobster and might wines, she is free to give reign to Shrimp Lumpia, Chestnut Soup, permanent House-made 72 Not her ideas. Cavatelli with Liberty home “After living all over the country, Duck Confit,messy New York Strip with this is what I22 cameNo back students for,” Grey Root Vegetable Tian and Chocolate 73 “SOS!” said. “Tres Leches” with Polvorón with at Wellesleyvegetarian DOWN and pescatarian options COMPLINE23 TURNS 3 placesavailable 1 for each course. Price Office-inapFor a restaurant to make to its Although they have added new 25 Circular propriate, first-year anniversary is a cause outdoor seating (with heaters and aerial for celebration under any circum- wind control,briefly because who knows stances; according to FSR (Full Ser- what the2 weather will bring next?) maneuver “Don’t vice Restaurant) Magazine, 60% of seating is limited forso” the dinner, 27 Astronaut and tickets arethink new restaurants don’t. necessary. Tickets are Jemison 3 Skinny Stetins and Stamp opened Com- $185, including tax and tie tip, availpline in September of 2017litter just able at www.opentable.com. 30 Small 4 Sound of weeks before terrifying wildfires “About every nine months, member a tomato erupted. When they hit their one- we’ve had a catastrophe that has 32 they Government hittingStetins a wall year anniversary, celebrated shut down tourism,” said, with an enthusiastic community “What has is the local investiga5 sustained “Howusabout party — Champagne and dancing community. They support us, we tions that?!” into the night. They repeated the support them. The feeling of com36 “___ 6 Napa Quiche feat and celebrated their Lang second munity in is stronger than anniversary in 2019. ever.” Syne” ingredient Then came 2020. “It has been Also coming up: Compline is 38 Cheer (for) 7 “Iliad” an interesting three years to oper- launching a local wine delivery day ate a business,” but every Friday, starting 40 Stamp Likesaid, neon city Sept. 25. They he pointed out that the restaurant delivery for advance and argon will do home 8 Korean trade “is not for the faint of heart” wine orders to Napa and Sonoma 41 Positive under any circumstances. counties everyhost Friday.of “There’s a44 lot toCraze love,” he said. They willthe also 1988 be preparing a “And there are a lot of hurdles, from wine and travel 6-bottle box so 45 Abound Olympics small things like taking care of one customers can experience what it 46 Knowing, Account for a guest to something that is huge.” aswould be9like to drink through That is one way of describing country or wine region. a secret 10 Shade 2020, which for a restaurateur must Compline is at 1300 First Street 47 U.S. state resemble a never-ending ride on a #312, Napa,ofis blond open six days a closest to week (closed 11 Bullet on Takeroller coaster through a chamber Tuesdays). of horrors: a pandemic shutdown, out and delivery is 11:30 a.m. to Russia a list reopening with extensive health pre- 8:30 p.m.; patio dining and the Acronym 12 areCertain cautions, then49 reclosing, and whenforretail shop open 11:30 a.m. to such 8 p.m. Call (707) surgeon’s outdoor seating is fields finally possible, 492-8150 or visit here comes a record-breaking heat complinewine.com. as physics “patient”
13 Beep 48 Former source Giants 18 Poet and manager astronomer Felipe Khayyam 50 Atmosphere THE CHEF 19FROM Discontinue 53 (“jar-din-air-ah”), Don which Gray shared a favorite recipe for Giardiniera by theboar’s Chicago Tribune as “the quintessential Chicago 24is described Angry 55 Human condiment, one that’s as brazen and boisterous as the city itself. This sponge fierysound mix contains some combination of pickled chiles, celery, cauliflower, carrots and olives submerged in oil. ” 26 ___ scheme 56 Cry after Giardiniera, which means “mixed pickles,” originated in Italy as a way 27of preserving Molten rock checkmating vegetables from the garden. 28 Acoustic your GIARDINIERA 29 Justice opponent Chef Jammir Gray, Kagan 57 Laundry Compline 31Pickling Carries detergent • - 3 Bay leaves Liquid • - 1 Tablespoon black peppercorns cups Champagne vinegar 33• 2 Designer brand • - 1/2 Tablespoon coriander seeds • 2 cups water Geoffrey 58 Move a • 1 quart of any combination of • 1/4 cup granulated sugar 34• 1/4Blunder muscle small cut vegetables (Chef’s note: cup Kosher salt “Think seasonally! Or go with the 1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard 35•seeds Sharon of 60 Steak traditional giardiniera combination “Casino” specification of celery, bell peppers, cauliflower, • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili onions, carrots and sweet or spicy flake 37• 1/4Part of 62 Ancient peppers.”) teaspoon dried oregano ancontaining easily character • Extra-virgin olive oil or grapeseed Sachet the following: oil • -1/4 cup Crushed Garlic broken 63 Cain’s Combine all ingredients, except the vegetables, in a large pot and cook on chain victim high until it boils. 39BoilAngle Start for at least five minutes and remove64 from heat. Let liquidof sit for at leastsymbol an hour to let flavors steep into the liquid. in Zillow’s Pourgeometry the liquid over the vegetables making sure they are completely address submerged. 42 After 66 ___ lane Drizzle a layer of olive oil or grapeseed oil on top of your giardiniera to deductions 67LeaveDraft completely cover the vegetables and liquid. to pickle fororg.? at least 2 in the vessel of your choice. Perfect for canning. 43weeksFebruary birthstone CROSSWORD ANSWER PREVIOUSPUZZLE PUZZLE ANSWER
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10 QUESTIONS | JOSEPH AHEARNE, EL PORTEÑO EMPANADAS
FOOD” is in his DNA Ahearne brings empanadas to the Oxbow Public Market
Joseph Ahearne, El Porteño Empanadas
6. What is the biggest challenge your business and industry has faced? Not quite sure, but either elite Yelpers or COVID-19. But seriously, losing 80% of revenue overnight while we were ramping up for summer growth has been crippling, but given the our amazing staff and customers we have a lifeline.
or El Porteño Empanadas owner Joseph Ahearne, feeding folks “good food” is in his DNA. Well before the farm-totable boom, his mother raised cattle and hogs with the help of Joseph and his siblings for Maria’s, the family’s St. Helena restaurant. Growing up, Joseph’s days were mostly spent in the restaurant’s kitchen reviving old family recipes like the empanadas he is now known for. Today, El Porteño uses ingredients including local, organic and seasonal produce and sustainable meats. “But the piece de resistance is a fluffy, flaky, baked-to-perfection crust even your mother would love,” said the company website. On Oct. 2, El Porteño opened a new location inside Oxbow’s Public Market. 1. What was your first job? I worked at my mom’s restaurant in St Helena when I was a kid, but I wasn’t paid so it probably doesn’t count. My first “real” job was washing dishes for the “Falcon Crest” cast and crew at the old Holiday Inn (now Marriott hotel) on Solano Avenue. 2. What job would you like to try/not try? Try: Herpetology. The idea of working alone in a forest and studying reptiles and 60 | INSIDE NAPA VALLEY
Jennifer Huffman, Register
Jennifer Huffman, Register
Inside a display case at El Porteño Empanadas at the Oxbow Public Market.
amphibians sounds like a great way to me to spend a work day. Not try: Any government clerk position. 3. What’s the worst job you ever had? When I was 19 I worked graveyard at Raychem Chemical company in East Palo Alto. I would weigh out powders and pellets for plastics, basically 500+ lb. recipes for tubing. I would do it in the dead of summer in a full hazmat suit. I’ve never complained about heat in a kitchen since. 4. How did you get into this business? Growing up, we had our farm in Carneros and Maria’s restaurant in St. Helena. It was just always there, it was never really a conscious decision. 5. For someone who’s never had one before, what is an empanada and why are they so good? It’s a savory pie. What makes it good is you can put anything inside of it.
7. Who do you most admire in the business world? My mom. She moved here without speaking English. After my father passed away when I was 3, she operated a farm, opened two restaurants and raised five (unruly) kids, all before I turned 14. She taught me confidence and to never let adversity get in the way. Don’t be a victim. 8. If you could change one thing about your business or industry, what would it be? The online review culture. Reviews are often more about the writer then what’s being reviewed. When you add the anonymity of the internet somebody can do real damage by disparaging a business to exact revenge for some silly mistake or just to feel superior. 9. What is one thing you hope to accomplish in your lifetime that you haven’t yet? Spend summers in Ireland with my children and wife in her hometown of Tralee. 10. What’s something people might be surprised to know about you? My mom was Ms. Argentina. El Porteno Empanadas is located at the Oxbow Public Market at 610 1st St. in Napa, firstname.lastname@example.org. Fall/Winter 2020
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DOWNTOWN Copperfield’s relocates from Bel Aire Plaza into a familiar spot JENNIFER HUFFMAN j huf f man@nap ane w s . com Downtown Napa is now home to two bookstores: Copperfield’s Books relocated from Bel Aire Plaza to the First Street Napa complex in September. Copperfield’s joined Bookmine on Pearl Street (and inside the Oxbow Public Market). The downtown location isn’t new to Coppefield’s. Back in the 1980s, it had a home directly across the street from where it is now. “We’re happy to be here,” and back downtown, said Mikayla Norwick, manager of the downtown Copperfield’s, last Thursday. She said she was encouraged by steady number of shoppers on that first day on First Street. “A lot of our regular customers made the move with us, which is really nice to see,” she said. “Everything is new,” at the First Street store, said Paul Jaffe, president of Copperfield’s Books. “New lights, new fixtures, new flooring.” The old fixtures were looking dated, he said. At the new store, “We wanted to put our best face forward and that meant upgrading our look, which we did.” “The entire look of the store is a much cleaner look.” “It is a lot brighter,” said Norwick. With bigger and more windows, “It’s easy to see in and see what we’ve got ongoing on. With the white walls – the books pop. It’s been fun planning where everything’s going to go.” Jaffe said the new store also allows for a little bit more room for non-book items. 62 | INSIDE NAPA VALLEY
Jennifer Huffman, Register
Copperfield’s Books has relocated from Bel Aire Plaza to First Street Napa or 1300 First St. The new store features more room for “gift” items, all new shelves and better lighting, said President Paul Jaffe.
“Our stores are known for having a very curated mix of books and gifts and stationery,” he said. At the former Bel Aire Plaza store, “we just didn’t have the right kind of displays for that. We’ve been able to remerchandise as well as carry some items we’d like to in Napa.” “Tourists like to bring home something that shows where they came from,” said Norwick. Other items include games and puzzles. “We did have some of those things (at Bel Aire Plaza) but we didn’t do a very good job of merchandising them,” said Jaffe. And since the COVID-19 pandemic, “We’re selling way more puzzles and games because people are at home. We’ve noticed a lot more interest. We’ve really expanded our selection.” Norwick said the store has “something for everybody” but
some sections are particularly popular. “Our kids section is huge as well as cooking. We have a lot of great children’s titles, toys, stuffed animals and educational things,” she said. A new back-to-school display features workbooks and items like flashcards. Middle and high school have already identified books that they’ve assigned students such as: “The House of the Scorpion” by Nancy Farmer and “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien. “Then we always have the classics like ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’ We do our best to keep those in stock always.” Jaffe said that orders for the upcoming holidays are pretty much complete. “This being an election year there’s a lot of very topical books dealing with politics and current
affairs that are going to be coming out that we feel are really going to bring people into the store,” he said. Gift books are always popular, but the pandemic has already impacted such orders, said Jaffe. “We’re tending to be a little more conservative about how many we buy,” he said. “We’ll still buy our usual selection,” of gift books, but instead of 20 copies, maybe 15 or 10.” “Everything’s in flux,” he said. “We don’t know whether there will be another surge and we’ll have to go back to curbside delivery. There are so many variables going on. That why a lot of retailers are having a hard time trying to assess what to do. And we’re trying to assess that in a new location, which is also challenging for us.” Unknowns aside, “We always loved downtown Napa,” he noted. “When we left downtown (in the ‘80s), it was completely different.” Today, “Things have changed so dramatically for the better,” said Jaffe. “It feels great. It feels like a great opportunity to come back to downtown.” “We feel like we’re coming home,” said Jaffe. Copperfield’s new address is 1300 First St., Suite 398 (next to Eiko’s restaurant) in Napa. Phone: 707-252-8002. Open daily. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can reach reporter Jennifer Huffman at 256-2218 or email@example.com Fall/Winter 2020
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Food shares the spotlight with beer at Napa Palisades Saloon and the First and Franklin deli, which began as Napa Brewing Company. Jacob Schmidt photo
The Palisades Saloon Lamb Burger lamb burger is topped with feta cheese, roasted red peppers, wild arugula and Sambal mayonnaise. Napa Palisades Saloon
Beer Guys A beer garden, a deli in downtown Napa, new ideas keep the dining scene lively 66 | INSIDE NAPA VALLEY
huck Meyer began his culinary and beverage career washing dishes at the Chart House in Westwood in Southern California. Fast-forward to today. Meyer, the co-owner of Napa Palisades Beer Company and Saloon, is an entrepreneur, restauranteur, and self-proclaimed “beer guy in wine country.” Add risk-taker to the list when Meyer decided to open First and Franklin Marketplace, in the middle of a pandemic, with his wife, Carly Meyer, and Michael and Claire Holcomb. First and Franklin Marketplace at 1331 First St. was originally scheduled to open March 16, during the week that Napa County and the state of California closed due to COVID-19. Now, finally open, the marketplace is similar in concept to area predecessors like Soda Canyon Store and Oakville Grocery, but its downtown location is especially appealing to locals and tourists alike. “We thought downtown needed more simple and quick food options for workers and locals, as well as guests staying in nearby hotels. The same care goes into the food, but it is a faster in and out experience by design,” Meyer said. “Also, we all LOVE deli sandwiches.” Chef Tim Brown, partner and executive chef at Napa Palisades Saloon, owned a deli in San Francisco for a decade. He combines this with his New York deli experience to create authentic deli sandwiches and salads for the Marketplace that customers may purchase at the window order for pickup, delivery using the marketplace’s online ordering system. Two customer favorite sandwiches are Big Mike! ($13.95) – with prosciutto, mortadella, genoa salami, fresh mozzarella, lettuce, muffuletta spread, oil, and vinegar – and The Rattler ($13.95), a spicy combination of roast beef, prosciutto, Havarti, pico de gallo, lettuce, pickled jalapeños, crispy onions, and smoked chili mayonnaise. First and Franklin also offers a Build Your Own sandwich (starting at $10.95), salads like the Cobb ($14.95) and the Tuna Bowl ($13.95), and sides such as macaroni and potato salad, street corn salad, and cherry pepper poppers ($3.95 small, $7.95 large). Vegan and gluten-free items and other dietary accommodations are also available. A BEER GARDEN IN NAPA Meanwhile, Meyer has also pivoted Napa Palisades Saloon to offer online ordering, pickup, delivery, and an outdoor beer garden for table service in a nicely shaded space behind the Napa Valley Opera House. Fall/Winter 2020
Beginning in 2014 as Napa Palisades Beer Company is co-owned by his wife Carly and partners, chef Tim Brown, manager Michael Olson, and manager Charlie Crebs. Meyer recalled how the saloon came to fruition. “There was a feeling that breweries were popping up all over the U.S. and that Napa was a little behind the curve. So, we started there.” Once the space at 1000 Main Street in downtown Napa became available, the company seized it. “Napa Palisades Saloon was born of a desire to sell some beer and make a local spot that felt like your favorite pub. We decided that we needed a place that we could grab a cool pint and watch a game while eating some great food that stands up to the best the Valley has to offer,” he said. The gastropub offers beer, cocktails, wine (all in sealed cans and bottles for off-premise consumption), appetizers, snacks, sides, sandwiches, salads, and desserts. It is the beer – plus the culinary team’s commitment to serving fresh, pub-style food in an unpretentious, yet delicious way – that sets Napa Palisades Saloon apart from other restaurants. “I have always been an advocate of fresh food and no processed ingredients, so we actually use a lot of the same purveyors as many of the more refined restaurants in town.” said Meyer. Under the helm of Brown, and new chef de cuisine, J.C. Luna-Morales, Napa Palisades offers a doozy of a menu described as “farm-to-face food, Napa pub grub style.” Brown, a classically trained chef originally from New York, has created innovative twists on comfort and pub food, which he describes as “West Coast style with an East Coast soul.” Luna-Morales, a Napa native, has been with Napa Palisades since its inception. “He was just out of high school and told me he wanted to be a chef. I promised his parents that I would try to talk him out of it, but here we are six years later. He has been with us since Day 1. In fact, he painted the Saloon when we were building it,” Meyer said. While Napa Palisades has a casual vibe and is a lively part of the Napa Valley’s beer culture, Meyer reiterated the food is equally important. “I think the big surprise to many who come to our place is how good the food Fall/Winter 2020
is. They think we are a beer joint that has food. Granted, the atmosphere is casual to say the least, but we do take the food seriously. It is not an afterthought.” A few of the specialties are Brown’s New York-inspired Buffalo wings ($11.95), chorizo fries ($11.95), and the Reuben Croquettes ($11.95), which Meyer described as “a Rueben sandwich with corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Thousand Island dressing smashed into a ball and fried.” Other popular menu items include two burgers – the Saloon Burger ($13.95) with white cheddar, stout-braised onions, house made Grandma Brown’s pickles, and “The Sauce” – and a lamb burger ($16.95), topped with feta cheese, roasted red peppers, wild arugula, and Sambal mayonnaise. For dessert, look no further than Brown’s take on Tiramisu called Beer-AMisu ($10.95) – a melt-in-your mouth creation of Campfire Stout-soaked lady fingers, mascarpone, whipped cream, and cocoa. Or try the Peach Cobbler Cookie ($11.95), an oatmeal cookie with spiced peach jam, honey-vanilla ice cream (also made in house), and bourbon caramel. Napa Palisades also offers alternative diet options such as gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan choices, and will make accommodations and substitutions for food allergies and sensitivities. The Napa Palisades beers are also top notch, and include customer favorites like the citrusy, yet not too hoppy Loco IPA and the Pacific Pilsner (both $7), which Meyer describes as having “a pleasant honeysuckle finish.” Regarding Napa Palisades beer program and future expansion, Meyer said, “We make our own beer and we are working with Tannery Bend on a collaborative effort to build a local, downtown adjacent brewery that suppor ts both
projects. These are trying times. Friends need to come together and help each other for the betterment of the community. That is one thing that has always been really cool about the beer industry. We have always been more prone to working together than many industries.” Of paramount importance at both First and Franklin Marketplace and Napa Palisades Saloon is that everyone enjoys a comfortable dining experience, which is why both offer such comprehensive pickup and delivery options in addition to outdoor dining. “We are focused upon safety and quality, every step of the way, to ensure that both customers and employees are kept safe,” Meyer said.
FLAT-IRON STEAK WITH SPICY SMOKED BUTTER Napa Palisades Saloon • 4 6-ounce flat iron steaks • 4 cubes of butter • 1/4 cup of chopped garlic • 1 chipotle pepper • 1/8 cup lemon juice • 1/8 cup smoked paprika • 1/2 tablespoon salt • 5 green onions Place butter, garlic, chipotle, lemon juice, paprika, salt, and onion in the food processor. Blend until fully processed and the butter turns red. Grill steak(s) to your liking. Rest for 5 minutes. As steak rests, generously scoop spicy butter on top and let it melt overthe hot steak. When butter has melted, thinly slice steak, and serve.
First and Franklin Marketplace is open Monday through Saturday at 1331 First Street in Napa. Orders can be placed online at FirstandFranklin.com, by calling (707) 252-1000, or on site. Napa Palisades Saloon is open Wednesday through Sunday at 1000 Main Street. Orders can be placed online at NapaPalisades.com, by calling 707-492 3399, or on site. Elizabeth Smith is a freelance contributing writer for the Napa Valley Register and Napa Valley Life Magazine as well as a communications and social media specialist. Reach her at elizabeth@elizabethsmithconsulting. com or visit her website at elizabethsmithconsulting.com
BeerAMisu at Napa Palisades Saloon Napa Palisades Saloon
INSIDE NAPA VALLEY | 67
‘The only way to go is
FORWARD’ Contimo Provisions plans for a future in Napa S A S H A PAU L S E N s p auls e n@nap ane w s . com
first talked to Ryan Harris in 2019 when he and his business partner, Kevin Folan, were operating a breakfast and lunch and provisions service out of the pocket-sized box office at the Culinary Institute of America at Copia in Napa. Equipped with a toaster oven, a sandwich press, and a motto, “Eat well, be well,” they were garnering fans for their home-style cooking, much of which they’d prepared in a commercial kitchen and ferried to their 300-square foot space. The box office was a temporary solution to a problem plaguing up-and-coming chefs who wanted to open a restaurant in Napa — the prohibitive cost of real estate. They had been looking for a site; they described one where, in order to pay the rent, they’d have to charge $64 for a chicken sandwich. After looking at 32 potential sites, they finally found one in downtown Napa in November 2019. An ideal location on Randolph Street in the heart of
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Napa, it was accessible to both visitors and downtown workers looking for lunch. The generous space would allow them to build out a kitchen — no more running back and forth to a commercial kitchen. What sweetened the deal, Harris said, was the landlord, Darin Cravea, who had owned his own shop at the site. “He’s a human being, and he owns the place; he’s not a representative of some corporation. We sat down and talked to him. He supports what we want to do.” Harris, a chef who had come to Napa from Tennessee after reading Thomas Keller’s “The French Laundry” cookbook. He found a job at The Restaurant at Meadowood, but in time he became frustrated, he said, preparing sublime food that no one who worked in the kitchens of the three Michelin starred restaurant could ever afford to eat. He moved to the Fatted Calf charcuterie in Napa, where he met Kevin Folan, a butcher from Santa Barbara, who had worked in Boston. Folan had
moved to Napa to work at the Fatted Calf, which he described as “unparalleled training.” They realized they shared a common goal, to open their own place, serving their version of high-quality, home-cooking making “everything from mortadella to Meyer lemon marmalade.” A highlight of the menu was Folan’s cured meats, bacon and sausages served on Harris’ home-made biscuits, which he had learned to make from his grandmother. Harris said if they didn’t make the product they served, it was only because “we’ve found a local that does it better than we can.” They continued to work out of their CIA box office while they made plans for their new space, gathering permits and assembling investors; to build the kitchen alone would cost $500, 000. They planned to move in on June 1. Then came March 2020. Restaurants across the U.S. became one of the hardest-hit industries as Covid-19 shut them down. Early panicky estimates predicted Fall/Winter 2020
that as many as 75% of the U.S. restaurants would close by the end of 2020, although these numbers have since been revised. In July, Morgan Stanley, in a report titled “Covid-19 serves up big changes for U.S. restaurants,” estimated that the pandemic would permanently close from 5% to 30% U.S. restaurants — 20,000 to 110,000 venues. Possibly, the first figures had overlooked a critical attribute chefs and restaurateurs share: creativity. In Napa, some restaurants closed temporarily, while others pivoted to offer take-out menus and delivery service to housebound residents. When the shut-down loosened to allow outdoor dining, they built “parklets” for outdoor dining. When heat waves and smoke from wildfires put a damper on outside dining, they emphasized their safety precautions as they welcomed cautious diners back inside. “We didn’t miss a day’s work,” Harris said. “When the CIA shut down, we couldn’t do our food so we switched to delivering our products and grocery items that we could get.” Their products included ingredients for preparing meals at home. “One of our markers had always been ‘cook at home,’ Harris said. “We had to put our money where our mouth was.” On June 1, they moved into their new space on Randolph — quietly, Harris said; like everyone right now, no one knows what tomorrow will bring. In the new space, they have built a counter where they are now serving their menu of take-out items as well as their house-made provisions. Possibly the star is the biscuits, which they serve with house-made, heritage sausage ($8); bacon and molasses ($8.50); jam and ham ($8.50); pimento cheese ($6.5) or “just jam” ($5). A non-biscuit breakfast item is yogurt with their granola and seasonal fruit compote ($8). Lunch-time sandwiches include a poached, pasture-raised chicken with Meyer Lemon marmalade ($13); classic roast beef ($14); fall ham and cheese (smoked molasses-brined ham with Swiss cheese, Dijon, apple butter and apples, served hot) ($14); grilled cheese ($13); and mortadella, made with Contimo mortadella, provolone, pickles and Dijonnaise ($14). Seasonal salads and sides, coffee, tea and Fentiman’s sodas are also available, along with cookies ($5 for three), which they continue to bake at their commercial kitchen. The Contimo provisions include their sausages and meats, pâté, proscuitto, salami, bacon, seasonal soups, kale hummus, pickled onions, pickles, honey, eggs, milk, butter, Fall/Winter 2020
cheeses (including goat and Parmesan) and and other staples, either made in house or obtained from purveyors, like Rancho Gordo beans. They also sell a kit to bake their biscuits at home, but Harris confided that just following the recipe might not yield the same results. He tweaks the recipe every time he bakes them, he said, depending on weather. “My mother finally said to me, ‘OK, you are a better cook than I am,’” he said, with a satisfied grin. HUMP DAYS AND LOOKING AHEAD At right angle to the counter, four panels with letters that spell “VOTE” block off the rest of their new space, which remains empty except for a desk, chair and computer where Harris and Folon continue to finesse their plans. “It’s a work in progress,” Harris said. “We lost 75% of our investors (after the shutdown). We went through 30 banks. No one wants to finance a restaurant. But our landlord has been great. He is working with us.” Looking ahead, the entrepreneurial chefs are envisioning food service for a new style of customer — one who, perhaps, has learned to cook and eat at home again, for whom dining out with be a special, rather than a regular occurrence. “A lot of our friends have children now,” he said. “They have to get home, have to fix dinner.” Once they get a license to serve beer and wine, Harris said he envisions having tables and chairs in the space where people can drop by and have a glass of wine and order dinner to take home for a night off from cooking with a good home-cooked meal.
“It would be a time to recharge, to still see your friends, but then take home dinner for your family.” As they develop this idea, the Contimo team is offering Hump Day dinners, a once-aweek dinner to go on Wednesdays. The menu changes weekly. So far, Harris said, they’ve done a variety of themes from Moroccan to Octoberfest. “It’s a way to travel,” he added, “when we can’t go anywhere.” They announce the menu each week on their website and accept orders until Tuesday. “We’re moving ahead,” Harris said. “It sounds like a cliché, but the only way to go is forward.” Contimo Provisions is open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday through Saturday, at 950 Randolph St., Napa, (707) 782-6424. For more information or to place orders visit contimonapa.com.
J.L. Sousa, Register
A grilled cheese sandwich from Contimo Provisions, featuring Tillamook cheddar, goat cheese and chili-roasted broccoli.
J.L. Sousa, Register
The mortadella sandwich with provolone cheese, pickles, Dijonaisse and lettuces on a seeded bun from Contimo Provisions, at 750 Randolph St., Napa.
INSIDE NAPA VALLEY | 69
LEFT: Heritage Eats crew: Charles Whittaker, Ben Koenig, Maria Diaz and Isbal Guerrero. BELOW: Heritage Eats has launched two new mobile ventures: the Best Food Truck Ever by Heritage Eats and Haven Napa. The food truck can be found at the Food City center on Old Sonoma Road. Darren Brazil photos
forward Heritage Eats debuts two new mobile restaurants: Best Food Truck Ever and Haven Napa
FOR THE REGISTER
fter experiencing “overwhelming” community support when ramping up home deliveries due to shelter-inplace, family-owned Heritage Eats, the Napa County Small Business of the Year, is finding new ways to bring their craveable style of food closer to home than ever before with their two new mobile ventures–the Best Food Truck Ever by Heritage Eats and Haven Napa. Now open, the Best Food Truck Ever by Heritage Eats (@bestfoodtruckever on Instagram) is currently parked every Thursday through Saturday evening at the historic Food City building on Old Sonoma Road, said a news release. Traditionally, a variety of cuisines are usually available amongst clusters of food trucks at festivals and business parks, but Heritage Eats is putting all of that variety
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into one truck and planting their flag in the South Napa suburbs–making the Best Food Truck Ever a single, easy destination for an array of Heritage Eats’ greatest hits and savory truck-style menu items like the Papa K Burger, “Dirty” Fries, or the truck-exclusive Al’s Fried Chicken Sando, said the release. “We love that families can be out for evening walks, enjoying the gorgeous Napa sunset, and have a delicious meal within minutes of their home,” said co-founder Ben Koenig IV. “After five years in Napa, this community is our family. We’d pull our truck up to each house one by one if we could! With this being an unfortunate impossibility, we felt like partnering with Mike Holcomb, a ‘local for local’s’ developer was the next best thing.” Continuing that effort to do the next best thing, the Best Food Truck Ever offers online ordering–something few, if any, food trucks provide. Patrons can place orders online at bestfoodtruckever.co for pick up or delivery, or even get it on DoorDash. “At a time when people are home more often, it’s just another way to be more accessible to the community and make their day a little easier in our own small
way,” added co-founder Ali Koenig. The second restaurant, Haven Napa (@ havennapa on Instagram), launches October 14 and is a ‘better chicken wings’ joint where the ‘joint’ is your own home. As a delivery-only service, Haven Napa is focused on bringing the ‘better wings brand’ to Napa from the first bite to the last finger lick, and doing it in the place we all feel most comfortable getting a bit messy: home. “By being delivery-only from day one, we can focus entirely on the wings,” said Ali. “We’ve perfected original flavors and paired them with one-of-a-kind creations you won’t find on any other wings menu to create unforgettable comfort food that’s enjoyed in the best place possible–the comfort of your own home.” Some of those unique wing flavors include Spicy Orange, Caribbean Jerk, and the Carolina-inspired cherry-flavored Cheerwine BBQ. Starting October 14th, all delivery orders can be made online at havennapa.com or by using DoorDash or UberEats. When customers hear about the two new ventures opening back-to-back, the response is often a mix of excitement and shock, as they can’t fathom how the Koenig’s–a husband and wife who recently welcomed their first baby daughter into the world–have the time and energy to do it. “It’s not about growing necessarily–it’s about recognizing we have a responsibility to do more,” remarked Ben. “The community support we received from Napa when COVID-19 first hit was off the charts, and it enabled us to maintain employees and keep serving our neighborhood. Now we’re multiplying that love by opening two more ‘locations,’ hiring more local staff, and reinvesting in our Napa family. We’ve got to keep paying it forward.” You can reach business editor Jennifer Huffman at 256-2218 or jhuffman@ napanews.com
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Jennifer Huffman, Register
Johnny Apodaca started Serenity Homes 25 years ago. Today, he’s preparing to step down from his leadership role with the nonprofit. Serenity Homes runs supportive living houses for people in recovery. His wall is covered with photos from current and past residents.
‘Johnny A’ passing the
TORCH Founder of Serenity Homes helped 4,000 people with addictions
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JENNIFER HUFFMAN j huf f man@nap ane w s . c o m From the outside, the three houses on Lernhart Street in south Napa look pretty much like any other suburban tract homes. It’s what’s happening inside that’s quite different. Each one is part of a collection of supportive living homes started by Napa’s Johnny Apodaca. In 1995, Johnny A., as he’s known, opened the doors to his own home to take in people recovering from addiction. “Back then there wasn’t any supportive housing for people in recovery,” said Apodaca. “They had no place to live.” A former addict himself, Apodaca knew all too well the challenges they were facing. “I could relate,” he said. And, “I just love helping people.” Apodaca not only provided residents a safe place to call home, over the past 25 years he’s helped more than 4,000 people turn their lives around through the nonprofit he founded, Serenity Homes of Napa Valley.
Today, Johnny A. is getting ready to leave the organization as its executive director. “I’m going to be 64 in March,” said Apodaca. “It’s time for me to get out of the trenches,” he said. “It’s time for a younger man to step in and I can watch it from a distance.” He plans to officially retire in 2021. THE BEGINNING Apodaca said that after he began renting out rooms in his house, he noticed that residents benefited the most from a program that included specific support and structure, such as curfew, chores, testing, counseling, treatment. “That’s where the concept of Serenity Homes was born. And here we are 4,000 people later.” Of course, it hasn’t all been easy. “There were a lot of learning curves,” said Apodaca, from learning the ins and outs of running clean and sober housing to writing business and strategic plans, adhering to nonprofit regulations and other accountability requirements. In the early years, Apodaca had bought additional houses for Serenity Homes with his own money. Then he got caught up in the mortgage meltdown of the Great Recession. Three of his homes went into foreclosure. “That’s when the tides turned on me,” he said. “I thought that my world was going to fall down” and his residents would be forced out onto the streets. At one point to draw attention to the situation, Apodaca staged a hunger strike near a Serenity Homes property on Evans Avenue. “That’s when Harry Price got involved,” said Apodaca. Price, a developer and civic booster, as well as the Gasser Foundation and others stepped in. The houses in foreclosure were bought by supporters and leased back to Serenity Homes. Price, who died in 2019, then made one key recommendation to Apodaca. “In order to create sustainability, we needed to create jobs for these people,” he said. That’s when Serenity Builders was born. The company works on new construction, room additions and expansions, bath and kitchen remodels, and other repairs/remodels/restorations. Serenity Homes residents are given work assignments with the company and earn a paycheck to help pay for their monthly rent in the houses, which helps the nonprofit remain sustainable. More importantly, residents learn to become productive members of society again, Apodaca said. “Jobs are the key,” he said. Fall/Winter 2020
Jennifer Huffman, Register
Johnny Apodaca keeps track of the residents at Serenity Homes using this whiteboard. The nonprofit is currently providing housing for 52 men and seven women in recovery, but Apodaca would like to house many more.
Over the past 25 years, Apodaca’s work became well known in both Napa and outside the community. He’s been recognized by many community groups for his efforts. In 2010, Oprah Winfrey honored Apodaca and 300 others on her television show for making a difference in their communities. Since then Serenity Homes has grown to include seven homes, including one for women only. Three homes are located on Lernhart Street, two in Browns Valley, one near Salvador Avenue, and one on Evans Street. Today, there are 52 male and seven female residents. RESIDENTS SPEAK OUT Anthony S. had been a resident at Serenity Homes for about seven months when he left the community. “I thought I could do it on my own but I ended up backsliding,” he said. Today, Anthony is back at Serenity Homes. As of Wednesday, he was 23 days sober. Being a part of Serenity Homes has meant “my life,” said the young man. “Johnny has helped me get back on my feet. He gave me a job (and) self-confidence.” Today, “I’m feeling excellent,” said Anthony. “I take it day by day and go by faith, not by fear.” Looking at what Apodaca has built over the past 25 years is inspirational, said Anthony. “I know that if he can do it, I can do it,” he said. Butch T., another Serenity Homes resident, said that from living in the Napa community his whole life, he knew of Apodaca and the program. So when Butch admitted his own drinking had become a problem, Johnny “graciously provided a safe place for me to be.” He’s been at Serenity Homes since May
14, said Butch. “Life has definitely taken a turn for the better,” he said. He’s employed and is also now a Serenity Homes house manager. “It’s given me the opportunity to help other people,” said Butch. “I feel completely blessed.” If not for Serenity Homes “I would have drank myself to death,” said Butch. “I was well on my way,” he said. “I would drink myself to sleep every night and I’m so grateful I don’t have to do that anymore.” Apodaca said he likes to see most residents stay at least one year. “Of course we lose some along the way,” he said. “They’re not all successes,” but he estimates about 65% of Serenity Homes residents are able to maintain their sobriety, “which is a huge number.” What keeps Apodaca motivated? He paused for a moment. “I’m going to tell you the truth,” he said. “When I hit my pillow at night I ask for God’s help,” he said. “He’s carried me through difficult and great times. Every day I pray to do his work.” BUILDING ON SERENITY Apodaca is hoping to spread the word about the need for more supportive and recovery housing for chemically dependent adults. He’d like to open three more homes in the future. He’s especially looking for landlords willing to lease homes for less than market rate or sell properties to the nonprofit. He’s proud of his legacy. “After 25 years, we’re not going anywhere,” said Apodaca. “It’s awesome to think that what you’ve created is going to be of service to this community for years to come.” You can reach reporter Jennifer Huffman at 256-2218 or firstname.lastname@example.org INSIDE NAPA VALLEY | 73
KC-style BBQ is coming to St. Helena J E S S E D UA RT E j d uar te @s the le nas tar. com
Jesse Duarte, Star
Legit Provisions, offering Kansas Citystyle barbecue, is scheduled to open the first week of November in the former Cook Tavern space.
Legit Provisions is bringing a taste of Kansas City to downtown St. Helena. Scheduled to open the first week of November, Legit Provisions will offer Kansas City-style barbecue, with a self-serve beer and wine station, in the former Cook Tavern space at 1304 Main St. It will function as a grab-and-go market with carry-out beer and wine and prepared meal kits. Customers may also order for pickup via an online kiosk. “We want it to be a place for locals to hang out, eat some barbecue and have a drink,” said owner/operator Kiersten Firquain. “And if you want something to take home and prepare at home, that option’s available as well.” Legit Provisions is also teaming up with wineries to offer charcuterie and snack kits for wine tastings. Firquain drew on a similar concept for her Happy Food Co. in Kansas City, which primarily offered meal kits. It closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, Firquain visited St. Helena in January looking for a place to launch her next venture. She saw the Cook Tavern space had been vacant since October 2019, and she thought St. Helena could use some good barbecue. Opening a restaurant during a pandemic presents obvious challenges, but Firquain is optimistic. “Coming from the Midwest to California, the positives are that I’m getting lower entry rates and lower liquor licensing fees,” she said. “A lot of things that probably would have priced me out of the market before are now available to me. Plus this concept isn’t anywhere in the valley, so I feel like it’s needed. “All the locals that walk by have been really receptive to the concept,” she said. “There’s no easy time to open a small business these days, but we’ll try to capitalize on what we can.” You can reach Jesse Duarte at 967-6803 or email@example.com.
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Courtesy Napa County Historical Society
The Music Hall or Sunnyside at White Sulphur Springs, circa 1875.
LOST TREASURE California’s first resort decimated by Glass Fire MARIAM HANSEN ST. HE L E NA H I S TO RI C A L S O C I E T Y White Sulphur Springs was the oldest resort in California. It had been operating on and off for 168 years — until the Glass Fire in October. The resort was almost destroyed by fire on several occasions and making it a financial success was always difficult. Recently we hadn’t paid much attention to the resort as it was closed to the public, but we might have seen it on a placid walk through the Sulphur Creek Canyon. It is owned by the Hoffman Institute, headquartered in San Rafael, which offers self-help seminars. We’re not sure if it was 1845 or 1848 that the Sulphur Springs were first seen by white men John York and David Hudson. They built the first bath house. This was before California was admitted to the union in 1850 and the town of St. Helena was 76 | INSIDE NAPA VALLEY
founded in 1854. In 1852 Leonard Lillie and Edward Evey opened the springs as a grand resort with two hotels, several multi-room cottages, dining room, lounges and a bowling alley. They named it White Sulphur Springs after the famous spa town in West Virginia. In 1855 Lillie and Evey sold to Dexter Taft & Rolla Brewster. They obtained the first legal title to over 700 acres from Maria Soberanes de Bale. The property started at the first bend in the road after the cemetery. They opened on June 15, 1855 with a grand ball and 40 more rooms were completed. The Sacramento Daily Union exclaimed on July 2, 1856 “WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — The new addition to this popular place of resort is now complete, and the proprietors feel confident of being
able hereafter to accommodate all who visit the Springs. There is now a full Band of Music in constant attendance. The coming Fourth of July week will be one of great gaiety, and offers unsurpassed inducements to persons seeking health, recreation and pleasure. Signed: DEXTER TAFT & R. E. BREWSTER.” The Daily Alta California, April 1, 1857 “The celebrated White Sulphur Springs, in Napa Valley, will be re-opened on April 15th. These springs have a wide reputation for the beneficial effects of the waters and the most excellent accommodations and comforts of the splendid hotel. Messrs. Brewster and Taft have spared neither expense nor work, in getting up a watering establishment in this State equal to the most celebrated in the Atlantic borders.” Fall/Winter 2020
To get to the resort from Sacramento the stagecoach left at 6 a.m. It arrived in the city of Napa in time to catch the stage for the Sulphur Springs. From San Francisco the boat to Napa left at 2 p.m., connecting with the stage for Sulphur Springs. The stages turned left onto Sulphur Springs Avenue and crossed the creek to the hotel. In August 1860, an ad proclaimed, “The buildings at this favorite watering place are now ready for the reception of visitors and have been entirely renovated. In addition to the bowling alley, one of Phelan’s best billiard tables was installed for men.” Taft & Brewster sold out to Sven Alstrom in 1861. Because of fires, he found the resort with only the building known as “The Hermitage” containing 15 sleeping apartments, a dozen rooms and the manager’s house. He moved his family to the springs, but commuted to his other hotel in San Francisco until coming here full time in 1868. Alstrom built the large Oriental Hotel of two stories. It was where the present Inn is located. George Schonewald came to the springs in 1869 and learned to be a baker. Alstrom took him as a partner, which lasted only two years. The Napa Valley Railroad reached St. Helena in 1868. After that you could get there on the “Valley Railroad” and be met by the stage at St. Helena station. A description from 1873 reads: “The roads leading from the Springs, and about St. Helena are kept hard and smooth, affording fine drives. During the traveling season the hotel and cottages are most always crowded. Many visitors board with private families, while others board at the hotels in the village. One among the many attractions to St. Helena is the celebrated watering place, the White Sulphur Springs. These springs are situated in a deep but romantic canyon, nearly two miles west of St. Helena. The numerous cottages are cozy and pleasant. There has been a fine road constructed from St. Helena to these springs and a telegraph line erected to the San Francisco Stock Exchange. A flat on the north side of the mountain has been cleared and planted in vines and trees, but few other attempts have been made to change the natural beauties of the place.” There were nine different sulphur springs on the property ranging in temperature from 64 to 97 degrees. The warm springs fed the baths. The cooler water was drunk for health reasons. From the start WSS was a success, but it did not immediately attract San Francisco’s high society. Later it attracted the likes of business barons such as Fall/Winter 2020
William Ralston, William Sharon, William Bourn and others such as Lillie Hitchcock Coit, Alfred Tubbs, Hubert Bancroft and Peter Donohue. The presence of White Sulphur Springs changed the upper valley forever. It became the destination for scores of upper crust San Franciscans. Among the guests were Ambrose Bierce, Joaquin Miller and Leland Stanford. On July 4, 1875 a drunk employee came home late. As a prank he threw a lit firecracker on the roof of the staff dormitory. The flames spread to the roof of the kitchen, destroying it and the dining room. Alstrom had no insurance. The loss was about $10,000. All the guests fled. Alstrom tried to sell, but couldn’t find a buyer, so he borrowed the money and rebuilt. In 1880 Security Savings Bank foreclosed on their mortgage and the Alstroms moved out of the resort. The bank leased the resort to Theodore Van Tassell. On June 19, 1880 was the Winegrowers Picnic. Dancing on the grounds during the afternoon and a ball in evening. First class music to be had. The winegrowers knew how to throw a party! In May 15, 1881 it was the St. Helena Turnverein, a German social club. The Turners were known to stage great singing concerts with German performers coming from San Francisco on the train. Security Savings Bank sold to Sanford
Johnson and his partners in May 1888. They added another hotel for 300 guests. The resort went bankrupt again in 1890. Johnson operated the resort until 1891, when he leased it to someone. The lessee
Jim Lyle photo
The owners of the White Sulphur Springs retreat site, which was almost completely destroyed by the Glass Fire, are pleading for the return of this bell that was stolen from the property after the fire.
The cottages at White Sulphur Springs resort, circa 1872.
Courtesy Napa County Historical Society
INSIDE NAPA VALLEY | 77
The hotel at White Sulphur Springs, circa 1872.
failed to run it properly and gave it back to Johnson in 1892. He operated the resort until 1894, when he died. The property reverted to the Security Savings Bank. All of the resort contents were sold at auction on October 24, 1895. Between 1898 and 1904 the resort was leased to Mollie and William McCormick. John Sandford and his wife Louise bought the resort in 1904 from Security Savings Bank. The couple bought all new furnishings and made many improvements. Sandford promised to convert the long neglected property into a homelike resort. However a fire started at 2 a.m. in the Oriental Hotel on August 5 1905. The flames were discovered by a Japanese staff member near the men’s dining room. There was barely time for guests to escape the burning hotel building before it collapsed. All of Sandford’s new furnishings and all the guest’s possessions were lost. The firemen kept the fire from spreading to other buildings and the forest. The building was covered by insurance and the Sandfords vowed to rebuild. In November 1905 it was announced that Mr. Buletti was the new lessee, who vowed to extend the resort season year round. He had the hotel and cottages repainted and renovated, the baths newly fitted up, and other improvements made. “It is a most pleasant place for city people who seek relief 78 | INSIDE NAPA VALLEY
Courtesy St. Helena Historical Society
from the noise of the metropolis, and is withal valuable on account of the medicinal qualities of its water. This carries sulphur, calcium, magnesia and lithia, all potent remedies in many disorders. The water is, moreover highly palatable, in which respect it differs from many medicinal springs.” The hotel was rebuilt on the same site by 1906. Then on April 18, 1906 everything changed when the great San Francisco earthquake shook the Bay Area. Guests stopped coming to the Springs. William Mercier, a St. Helena merchant, bought the property in 1916. He installed the first formal swimming pool in Napa Valley. Local groups used it most, such as Red Cross swimming lessons, American Legion annual meetings, Redwood Grove church picnics. Things were going well — though World War 1 began in 1917, followed by Prohibition 1920-1933. However Mercier built a new bath house, dining hall, and 12 new cottages in 1921. Then in 1926 Mercier died. An interested buyer wanted to subdivide the property for residences but dropped out, then in 1933 William Davis, a wealthy industrialist, bought the property. He incorporated as White Sulphur Springs of California, Inc. Leon Markel became the manager. A string of owners followed: Frank Lucas, who discreetly featured “one arm bandits” (1941); Charles Mowers, a San
Francisco night club owner (1944); Phillip Rude, a San Francisco lithographer (1946); John Gordon, a Laguna Beach businessman (1947); Bob Campbell of Sausalito, who opened Bob’s Steakhouse (1948); William Nickerson, a telephone company executive who renamed it “Sunvalley” (1951); and Max Friedman for an exclusive boys camp (1955). The next owner in 1957 lasted longer: the Methodist Church of California-Nevada. The property became a church camp. It was managed as a year-round youth and adult camp by Chuck McGrath. The largest group hosted was 400. Other groups could also use the property. The Haddassah Northern California Zionist Youth Commission bought it in 1974 for an educational training center, camp and year round retreat led by Yogeswar Muni. In 1980 they sold to the Sanatana Dharma Foundation. Betty and Seward “Buzz” Foote bought it from Sanatana in 1983 as a family home, to create affordable housing and to preserve the historic hot springs. They reverted to the historic name and continued to offer massage, sulphur baths and other spa services. They hosted many groups and weddings as well as individual travelers. Things were going well until 1988 when Napa County required White Sulphur Springs to obtain a use permit, something it had never needed. Then came the news that because the property was in the Ag Watershed, no use permit could be granted. In 2000 the Footes gave up and sold to the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation. According to Wikipedia, “Ms. Rowland is an American educator, reporter, writer, entrepreneur and philanthropist. Rowland is best known for creating the American Girl brand. She is also notable for her efforts to redevelop historic properties.” The property transferred to the Hoffman Institute Supporting Foundation in 2019. The Hoffman Institute released a statement on its website which reads, “The Glass Fire, which started ravaging through both Napa and Sonoma Counties in California over the weekend of September 27th, has burned thousands of acres and our beloved retreat site, White Sulphur Springs, has sustained tremendous damage.” Fire once again changed the history of this beautiful haven near St. Helena. Mariam Hansen is research director at St. Helena Historical Society. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Trying the Truffle Shuffle JESS LANDER
ike many people, I’ve taken this time at home to experiment with new recipes and sharpen my cooking skills, though I’ve somehow only made a single loaf of banana bread since April. For months, however, I’ve been following a Bay Area company called Truffle Shuffle, which pivoted its business when restaurants closed to host cooking classes utilizing their high-end truffle products. After drooling over photos of truffled grilled cheese, truffled Eggs Benedict and gnocchi with truffle brown butter, I finally decided to give Truffle Shuffle a try when I saw they were doing a truffled Maine lobster roll. This former New Englander simply couldn’t resist. Each week, Truffle Shuffle hosts classes for a particular recipe and ships out recipe kits, including all ingredients, to participants a few days before. The company has sold out every week since launch and donates one meal for every one purchased, so more than 15,000 meals have been given to healthcare workers and those in need thus far. They’ve also hired 20 hospitality workers that were laid off.
We chose the 4 p.m. Sunday time slot and when we logged into the class, we were greeted by dance music and Scuba Steve, their in-house DJ. The chefs and many of the participants were dancing along and some even donned silly outfits, like Hawaiian shirts and crab hats. It was immediately obvious Truffle Shuffle wasn’t taking themselves too seriously. While the crowd was mostly Bay Area, there were people from Orlando, Idaho, and even Ibiza tuning in. Included in the kit was ingredients for a cocktail, meant to be sipped as you cook. Fittingly, this week’s was the Cape Codder, which is essentially cranberry juice and vodka. I added local Hanson’s vodka and a splash of G’s Ginger Beer (also a Napa Valley hometown brand). The box came with a bag of highly-addictive truffle popcorn for snacking, too. Once everyone had their beverage made, chefs Jason McKinney and Tyler Vorce walked the class through each step in the recipe process, engaging with participants along the way, which really gave it more of an in-person feel. One of the most useful takeaways for me
Shuffle prowas vides kits for make learntruffle-inspired dishes ing how to at home, including this make the truffle truffled lobster roll. aioli from scratch. Jess Lander Though simple in photo ingredients, it actually requires a very delicate process of emulsifying that can quickly go awry. Once the brioche buns were uber buttery and toasted with the lobster stuffed in, we topped the rolls with truffle carpaccio. Those who chose to upgrade their kit added caviar. Wine pairings were discussed—we chose a rosé of Carignan from Minus Tide—and before sitting down to enjoy, the class concluded with a little group participation in the form of a major throwback: the Macarena. Not only was the lobster roll insanely delicious, transporting me right to a seaside shack in Maine, but it was a fun way to jazz up yet another Sunday afternoon at home.
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Al Di Paolo photo
Central Pacific Coach 12, home to Wine Stop in the Calistoga Depot for 34 years, will now be on display at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento.
departs Calistoga CYNTHIA SWEENEY editor@weekl yc a l isto g an. com
Car traveled across the U.S. in 1869 on transcontinental railroad After sitting idle for decades, Central Pacific Coach No. 12 was on the road again this summer. The rare and historic railcar was carefully maneuvered out of the Calistoga Depot, its home for the past 42 years, by a crew of train preservationists, and taken to Sacramento for rehabilitation and display. Locals and visitors will remember the car as being home of Wine Stop for more than three decades. The coach was actually built in 1869 by the Wason Manufacturing Company in Springfield, Massachusetts, and had been sitting inside the Depot since 1978. According to Scott Inman, president of Southern Pacific Historical & Technical Society, the car is one of only two left in existence. “It is perhaps the most culturally significant passenger car that survives in the U.S.,” he said. “Central Pacific Coach No. 12 was only one of two passenger cars which 82 | INSIDE NAPA VALLEY
traveled in the very first transcontinental train trip across North America.” The car was donated by the Merchant Family to the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. The Merchants purchased the Depot in 2017 and are renovating it to include a restaurant. To get the car out of the Depot, modifications had to be made to the back wall of the building. The museum hired house movers, Inman said, who carefully lifted the car a few inches and eased it out onto I beams, then onto a large, extendable trailer, “and off they went. It was an incredible experience.” HISTORY AND PRESERVATION The Calistoga Depot itself was built in 1868 by Sam Brannan. In October of that year, he brought the first visitors to his fancy new Calistoga resort via rail. Central Pacific Coach No. 12 was part of the first group of Wason cars shipped for delivery to Central Pacific across the country by rail. More specifically, coaches 12 and 16 were made available by Union Pacific to the officers of the U.S. Army that attended
Al Di Paolo photo
On Aug. 26, the historic rail car Central Pacific Coach 12 was moved out of the Calistoga Depot and transferred to the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento.
the ceremonies at Promontory, Utah on May 10, 1869, making the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. After the ceremonies these two cars were attached to Gov. Stanford’s special train for the return to Sacramento, Inman said. After being retired from service, No. 12 was placed on the ground by Southern Pacific as a shed in Manteca. It was salvaged from there and brought to Calistoga. A platform had been installed around the car so you could walk in at ground level. For 34 years, Central Pacific Coach No. 12 was occupied by Wine Stop, run by owner Tom Pelter. In January, the shop moved across the street and is now run by Pelter’s daughter, Tara. Inman said the rail car is in “very presentable shape. The roof and the body are in remarkable condition, and it even has its original interior paneling.” You can reach Cynthia Sweeney at 9424035 or email@example.com. Fall/Winter 2020
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Flowers delight that
and surprise all
JESSICA ZIMMER b us i ne s s @nap ane w s . com
Bellevue Floral Co. offers “bespoke floral artistry” Romantic, eclectic arrangements for couples, businesses and events in Napa Valley are now available from Bellevue Floral Co., a Napa and Daly City-based floral design and event studio. From wedding bouquets featuring pink garden roses to colorful centerpieces dotted with yellow zinnias, owner Christina Yan is finding a way
to showcase Sonoma and Napa County fruits, flowers and greenery. “I love creating installations, decorating homes and spaces for weddings, and arranging bouquets,” said Yan. She moved to the Browns Valley neighborhood in Napa in January. Yan said she looks forward to designing all kinds of arrangements for individuals and businesses this fall, especially for the winter holidays. Her specialties include “bespoke
floral artistry” such as hanging garlands of small roses and wall art that incorporates dried flowers. “I am ecstatic about the warmth and welcome I have received in Napa. One thing I plan to do going forward is introduce more California-grown flowers and native grasses into my arrangements,” said Yan. Shauna
TOP CIRCLE: Christina Yan, owner of Bellevue Floral Co. and Camino Goods, at home in Napa with a coconut cup available from her business Camino Road. Anna Elizabeth Photography
Christina Yan, owner of Bellevue Floral Co. and Camino Goods, holds one of her floral bouquets while standing in a Napa Valley vineyard.
BOTTOM CIRCLE: A floral arrangement that Christina Yan created in her Napa home.
Jennifer Rogozyan photo
Christina Yan photo
84 | INSIDE NAPA VALLEY
VanderKlugt, a Napa resident who hired Yan for her December 2020 wedding, said the “results were incredible, like a winter wonderland.” VanderKlugt added Yan was easygoing, professional and helpful. “On my wedding day, Christina went from dropping off the bouquets to the girls, the boutonnieres to the groom’s house and then straight to decorating the reception venue. The locations were a bit far from one another, but she was always on time. Not only was she nice, but there was not one minute where I worried anything was going to go wrong,” said VanderKlugt. DESIGNING FOR SMALLER, MORE INTIMATE CELEBRATIONS Yan is currently making floral arrangements for family gatherings, special moments, and “micro weddings” for couples holding scaled-back events. In addition, she is designing floral displays for businesses welcoming back customers and employees. Daniel Singer, a neighbor and friend of Yan, said his girlfriend loved the bouquets “with cool color schemes that Christina created.” “Christina works with nontraditional colors like maroon and light orange. She can put together amazing designs quite quickly. My girlfriend also enjoyed the dried floral arrangement she made. It’s been on her desk for the past few months,” said Singer. Yan said her pandemic-related changes include contactless drop-off delivery for almost all arrangements. She also limits how much contact she makes with flowers and greenery at flower marts. Yan has always sourced from the San Francisco Flower Mart, buying from family-owned businesses such as Torchio Nursery and Neve Farms. She now also works with a number of North Bay businesses, including Tomgirl Farms in Coombsville. Tomgirl Farms grows over 100 different kinds of flowers including heirloom roses, dahlias, California natives, and unusual shrubs native to South Africa and Australia. Point West Flower Mart in Rohnert Park, which offers garden roses, phlox, celosia, and hydrangeas, delivers flowers to Yan regularly. “She’s down to earth, humble, and born with an innate talent for combining color with texture. Her work is living art,” said Christina Zegrean, a partner at Point West Flower Mart. Mary T Beller, the owner of Tomgirl Farms, said Yan’s style is whimsical and playful. “I enjoy working with Christina because Fall/Winter 2020
Jennifer Rogozyan photo
Christina Yan, owner of Bellevue Floral Co. and Camino Goods, holding a bouquet in a Napa Valley vineyard.
she shares our vision of promoting locally grown flowers, fruits, and vegetables. I’ve seen her experiment a lot, adding in texture with asparagus foliage and berries, or including ninebark, a California native shrub whose foliage turns a stunning ruby color in the fall,” said Beller. A PARTNER IN MOM Yan’s business partner is one of her biggest supporters, her mother, Mei Yan. Christina Yan’s second base for the business is a home design studio in her mother and father’s Daly City garage. Bellevue Floral Co. is named for the street on which Christina Yan grew up. “In 2016, I left my position as a catering and brand director at Chartwells in Berkeley. Before that, I had created floral arrangements for a few weddings from my 400-square foot apartment in Burlingame. When I founded the business, my mom and dad were both so excited to support my journey. My parents offered their garage space so I could scale my business. My mom, who is a natural creative, quickly became my production assistant for events,” said Christina Yan. Mei Yan said Christina was good at art at a young age. “When she was younger, she was always taking photographs and drawing flowers outside. She is self-taught (when it comes to flower arrangement),” said Mei Yan. Yan completed her formal education by double majoring in art and communications at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She also completed an entrepreneurship program in technology management. This prepared her to establish a business. “Now Christina has really taken her skills to a different level. Her style is very free and nature-oriented. She’s also become more skilled at dealing with difficult situations, like tightly securing centerpieces when it’s windy
outside,” said Mei Yan. Christina Yan has formed solid partnerships with wedding photographers willing to travel to Napa, such as Shannon Yen and Radostina Boseva. Each has their own studio in San Francisco. “Christina is talented and passionate and prefers to use organic and sustainable materials. She has respect and appreciation for both the flowers and people she works with,” said Boseva. Yen said she has worked with Christina Yan for two years, collaborating on weddings, sales shoots, and fun creative shoots. “Her work is innovative and fresh, without feeling overwhelming. The arrangements and installations are captivating and dreamy,” said Yen. A SISTER BUSINESS: CAMINO GOODS In fall 2019, Yan started Camino Goods, a home decor business. Camino Goods is based out of her Napa home. The name comes from El Camino Real, the Burlingame street on which Yan lived before coming to Napa. Camino Goods is an online retail store offering products Yan has selected. The categories of items include kitchen, botanical, home decor, bath, accessories, vintage, and jewelry. Camino Goods offers everything from ceramic vases to coconut shell candles. Yan uses Instagram to showcase both her stores’ offerings. “A lot of people find me through social media and are drawn to my floral design and snippets of home life. I’m very open about my creative projects outside of floristry. I’ve also met a lot of people in the community while walking my dog Tuli. That’s short for Tulip. She’s a husky mix,” said Yan. Yan said in the coming months, she is thinking of buying a small school bus to hold mobile flower pop-up events. “I’m eager to learn more about the history of Napa Valley and vintner culture. I would like to partner with local wineries when that might be appropriate. I understand knowing Napa Valley’s roots is important to growing my business,” said Yan. Yan said her advice for entrepreneurs starting a new business is to be flexible with new circumstances as they come. “In addition, set aside time to design for yourself, if you are a florist. Identifying your unique aesthetic is so important to being an artist. It also lets you take a step back and reflect on why you enjoy the process,” said Yan. Learn more about Bellevue Floral Co. at bellevuefloralco.com. Learn more about Camino Goods at caminogoods.com. INSIDE NAPA VALLEY | 85
Riza to open at First Street Napa Shop billed as “botanical boutique” FOR THE REGISTER
apa’s first botanical boutique, Riza, opened in October in the First Street Napa complex. Riza, which translates to “roots” in Greek, “handpicks only the highest quality plants, locally sourced ceramics, and indoor garden supplies,” said the release. The business is owned by Alyssa Parras Piombo of Napa. Riza’s mission is to connect people through plants, said Piombo. “Indoor plants don’t just look good, they make us feel good mentally and physically too,” said Piombo. “Studies have shown that plants boost your mood, creativity, concentration, reduce stress, clean indoor air by absorbing toxins, and are therapeutic and cheaper than a therapist.” Riza is mean to be “a hub for the indoor plant enthusiasts, those who want to connect more to nature and brighten up their living space, or those wanting to learn more about caring for an indoor plant.” “I have always loved plants, but my journey truly began when I went to college on Oahu, Hawaii,” wrote Piombo on her website. Honolulu is known for being the “concrete jungle” because even though it now is a large city filled with skyscrapers and buildings, it is covered with lush tropical plants in between, she said. “I became obsessed with learning about plants, and every free second I had between school and work I would be researching about the care of a new 86 | INSIDE NAPA VALLEY
Alyssa Piombo poses with the keys to her new store, Riza. The botanical boutique opened in the First Street Napa complex (in the former LUSH space) in mid-October. Apeture Media photo
Christina Litle, C.M. Elle Studios
Alyssa Piombo opened a botanical boutique called Riza in the First Street Napa complex in mid-October.
A selection of plants from Riza.
houseplant I purchased,” she wrote. “I applied all of my plant knowledge to my business major end-of-the-year project ‘How to start a plant shop.’ Since moving back from Oahu I have gained more education by receiving my Napa County master gardener certification and working at a plant nursery selling plants and doing landscape design.” “My goal is to inform the general public of how rewarding and easy owning a plant can be,” she said. “So many people have tried caring for plants, but have given up and categorized themselves as “plant killers” or having a “black thumb.” Well, I believe there are no such things as black or green thumbs,” she wrote. “Plants can be complex, but with
proper care they can easily flourish and become the highlight of your day. It takes experience and knowledge to find what plant works best for you, and that’s where I come in! Once you find that, there is no better feeling than watching something grow and enjoying that bloom or new leaf that YOU helped that plant produce.” The botanical boutique is located at 1300 1st St, Napa, Suite #355, (formerly home to LUSH). Other new tenants at First Street Napa include Copperfield’s Books, C’est La Paire, Cupcake, Honey Whiskey, I-Elle, Milo & Friends, Tay & Grace and The Bennington Napa Valley. Info: Instagram @rizaplants, facebook. com/rizaplants, rizaplants.com. Fall/Winter 2020
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