The Bedrock of Napa 21 Sep 2014, 7:51 am
The magnitude 6.0 earthquake that rocked the area early that morning left an indelible mark on the fabric of downtown in the form of crumbling brick facades, broken wine bottles and toppled stacks of barrels.
The blue-collar downtown area that’s home to the multitudes that work in customer service was one of the hardest hit. Wineries in the Oak Knoll area, close to town also reported serious damage, as did the emerging downtown nexus of high-caliber eateries. A state of emergency was declared. Several buildings downtown were red tagged as uninhabitable, forcing the businesses within to go on hiatus.
Napa historically is incredibly resilient, bouncing right back after a lengthy prohibition era, numerous fires, shrinking water levels, and an occasionally soft Napa Valley wine market. The resiliency of late comes in part from the community-centered growth around the farm to table movement and its affiliated surge in local production.
Vineyard land has increasingly been re-purposed for farming or cattle, its produce going directly to Napa’s restaurants and Farmer’s Markets, diversifying the areas offerings and spreading risk. Napa also seems keen to rekindle its deep agricultural roots, if only to meet the growing need for fresh farm to table fare.
The migrant work force that tends the thousands of vineyard
acres and mans numerous restaurant kitchens were undoubtedly hit
hardest economically by the earthquake. Their contribution and
significance are duly recognized in Napa, though; as the community
is aware they are vital to its success.
To that end, The Napa Valley Vintners, among others, created the Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund, with the Vintner’s generously donating $10 million to assist in the needs of the community and to ease the suffering of those hardest hit.
Napa’s bucolic charm is undeniable. It’s a part of the world whose natural beauty alone make it worthy of a visit, but it’s the twin industries of Wine and Food that have cemented Napa’s place as a world-class destination in the twenty-first century.
The people that comprise this work force are the heart and soul of Napa. The level of service in Napa has always set it apart from other destinations and it’s the sheer determination of this workforce which went into action immediately in the wake of the quake to right the ship.
As they do any other day, they quietly and efficiently got down
to the business of
cleaning-up the mess and reaching out to those fellow workers in need. While Napa may be one of the largest tourist draws in the world, at heart it’s just like any other small town that operates on trust, neighborliness, and community pride.
Still, the good intentions were only the beginning of the process. After the clean-up, there was the problem of assessing where to go from there. Silicon Valley Bank was recently commissioned by Napa County and the Napa Valley Vintner’s to assess the damage of the quake. Their conservative estimate was $80 million for the town of Napa, $400 million countywide.
Their assessment included damage to winery buildings and infrastructure such as waste water ponds and private bridges, wine making equipment, cleanup and removal costs, vineyard irrigation, bottled inventory in current release, bottling supplies, finished inventory ready for bottling, bulk wine, barrels, lost revenue from damaged tasting rooms, losses from business interruption, and loss of wine held in wine libraries.
The funds will help get Napa back on its feet and, indeed it already is business as usual in Napa. There may be a few cosmetic reminders, and of course the memories of those that lived through the quake will always be there, but for the most part Napa’s bedrock of community and partnership remains undeterred.
Every business and region goes through a periodic shakedown, or rough patch, it’s how they react to it that dictates what the place is made of and how they’ll come through it. In Napa, you’ll find the response to the challenge has been a reminder to the world that a first-class destination is built from the ground up, ready for any circumstance, and built to last. Come and see for yourself.
Mountain to River in Napa 18 Jun 2014, 12:36 pm
Summertime in Napa is all about keeping cool. After the morning fog burns off, the heat can oftentimes reach the 100’s, causing visitors and locals alike to scramble for shade and a cool beverage.
Generally, Napa’s got the ‘cool beverage’ part covered in spades and can offer a dizzying array of beer and white and sparkling wines to that end. The ‘keeping cool’ portion is a bit trickier and often means staying inside the dark, deep caves of a winery or the confines of a well air-conditioned tasting-room.
But what do you do when you want to be out in the stunning Napa landscape, enjoying its natural beauty and stunning vistas?
For one, get up early…. if you can make it to Ritual Coffee Roasters by 7:30 a.m., then great. Your effort will be well-rewarded by some of the best coffee in Northern California. Ritual started in San Francisco in 2005 and since then has cemented itself into Nor-Cal coffee lore. Their centralized location in the Oxbow district and Market along the Napa River make it the ideal spot to begin your journey.
Now that your caffeinated and ready to go, head out to Skyline Park and be one of the first to get in when they open (5$ per vehicle) at 8:00 a.m.
If you’re an avid hiker, there’s a collection of trails at your disposal to get a strenuous workout that can push ten miles and have elevation gains/losses in the thousand foot category. The reservoir at the top of the mountain provides shade and a cool breeze on a hot day and is a great spot to have a picnic.
If you’re just looking for a space to chill out, then Skyline’s got you covered as well. There’s no better spot in Napa to sit back and relax, or take a leisurely stroll than the Martha Walker Garden at the entrance to the park. The Garden is home to the Napa Valley Chapter of the California Native Plant Society and has several environments within its three acres, including Redwood Forest, Oak Woodlands and Chaparral.
Your ideal Napa Summer’s day begins in this case with the
aforementioned visit to Ritual, yet sticking around and enjoying
your coffee there until it’s time for the Fatted
Calf to open up just outside the Market proper ( Mon. –
Sat. 9am, Sun. 10am).
Within the confines of the tiny butcher’s-sized space of Fatted Calf, lie some of the best hand-made charcuterie, sausages, fresh meat, sandwiches and salads the Bay Area has to offer.
I first got turned on to them at the Berkeley Farmer’s Market in around 2007, and several years later when working at the Oxbow Market, was fortunate enough to have them open up right behind where I was at.
Co-owner Taylor Boetticher and his crew used to saddle up to my bar after a long day creating their magic and I got a first-hand sense of how hard they worked, and also how down-to earth the guy is.
His shop is stacked with all you’ll need for that long picnic later at the Martha Walker Garden, and later that day as you’re lying in the shade, stuffed, you’ll be content with being wise enough to follow this advice.
On the way back into town, stop into the Oxbow again and if happens to be a Tuesday, stick around for Local’s Night, it’ll give one a true sense of what life’s like in town.
If you’re an Oyster lover, you would want to stop at the Hog Island Oyster Company and partake. There’s an a rray of the best Oysters available in American waters, including Sand Isle Kumamoto, Hog Island Sweetwater and Salt Pond from Point Judith Pond, RI , as well as great beer and excellent white wines that pair perfectly available.
The bar is generally hopping and packed with interesting faces, or you can chill out on the back deck that overlooks the Napa River, which oftentimes casts a breeze around sunset that’ll help cool you.
If you happen to be lucky enough to be staying at the Candlelight and enjoyed the advice given herein, ask Scott or Sam for a similar day, and they’ll hook you up.
*** For the adventurous woman with a Culinary bent,
Fatted Calf is offering its Pig + Woman + Knife
course that has participants breaking down a whole hog into its
primary parts, prepare roasts and other porcine delights. The class
is taught by women for women and is being offered on July
1045 Easum Drive
Napa, California 94558
Reservations: (800) 624-0395
Local: (707) 257-3717
Visit the Napa Valley 29 Apr 2014, 8:38 am
April showers do bring May flowers! Because of above normal rain in April, Napa and the Wine Country are in full bloom – tulips, poppies, and wildflowers dot the landscape in the towns and countryside. The vibrant yellow of wild mustard – a bit late this year – flourishes between the lush green foliage of the grapes in the vineyards! It is an awesome sight across the rolling hills.
Now is a perfect time to visit this world famous center of wine production in the Nation! Winery tours are always very popular, and now, with new craft breweries popping up in Napa/Sonoma, your tasting opportunities are endless!
Just a sampling of what is in store for visitors this in May into Spring:
ARTS AND FLOWERS
Environmental Artist Ginger Harness has combined the two in a breathtaking way. Each Spring, hundreds of Calla Lilys come to life under the Olive trees on her property at 4024 Rohlffs Way in Napa. Harness and her volunteers paint the growing pristine white flowers, one Lily at a time, in stunningly vivid “Easter Egg” colors. This very exceptional “Living Art” exhibit began before Easter and runs through May 31. 4024 Rohllfs Way, Napa. firstname.lastname@example.org
MUSIC, WINE AND FOOD
Chill-out to Acoustic Jazz Guitar every Wednesday and Thursday – 5:00 to 9:00 p.m – at Fish Story Restaurant, on the Riverfront (Third and Main Streets), in downtown Napa. Solo guitarist and vocalist Jess Knubis performs original compositions, jazz standards, and memorable pop tunes with an engaging and masterful style. Happy Hour, with a full bar is 4:30 to 6:00. 707 251 5600.
Jamieson Ranch Vineyards in Napa hosts live music from some of the Bay Area’s top bands every Saturday from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Music is complementary for tasting room visitors, and the winery chef offers special wine and food pairings at each event. May 3 features Reggae with the Joseph Lion Band; May 10; R&B Motown with Caroompus Room; May 17 – Fire and Rain, James Taylor & Carole King Tribute; May 24, Country, Terry Sheets; and May 31; Rockin Blues with 5 Day Bender. 1 Kirkland Ranch Road, Napa. 707 254 8673 x119.
Last year’s enormously popular Bottle Rock will be back again under new management on the weekend of May 30, 31, and June 1. Headlining the three days will be The Cure, Friday; Outkast, Saturday; and Sunday, Eric Church. They will by more than 45 popular bands on 4 stages – too numerous to list here. The event benefits the Napa Valley Youth Symphony. For a full listing, information, and tickets now on sale go to: bottlerocknapa.com
Napa’s historic Opera House is now home to City Winery. The only other venues for this popular concept combining music, wine and food are in New York, Chicago and Nashville; so this really confirms our town’s growing importance in this genre. A sampling of performances: May 1, Mike Nesmith; May 7, Asleep at the Wheel; May 13, Jesse Cook; and May 30, Maria Muldaur. For tickets, a complete calendar of performers and dining options, go to citywinery.com/napa.
Symphonic Music returns to Napa Valley with spectacular music, exciting parties and awesome guest artists. Performances will be at the beautiful Lincoln Theater in Yountville. Coming up, on May 25 – will be Joel Fan on piano with the Russian Masters. Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2; and Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition. For tickets and information: 707 944 9900; symphonynapavalley.org
The beautifully restored historic Uptown Theatre, at 1350 Third Street in Napa has become a favorite of locals and visitors alike. It’s easy to see why, from its ongoing series of highly acclaimed and well known musicians! A sampling: May 3, Toad The Wet Sprocket; May 21, Gregg Allman; May 23; Pat Benatar and Neil Geraldo; May 24, The Fab Four – the ultimate Beatles tribute. Some performances for May have already sold out. For tickets and information: 707 259 0123; uptowntheatrenapa.com
By Lee Klein
1045 Easum Drive
Napa, California 94558
Reservations: (800) 624-0395
Local: (707) 257-3717
Springtime Brews Up New Vistas 22 Mar 2014, 8:21 am
In the Wine Country
Every weekday about a quarter past five throughout the Napa Valley local bars start to fill up with thirsty vineyard workers who order…beer.
While it may seem strange that beer be flowing freely in Napa, the truth is that beer has serious roots in the area, starting with San Francisco’s Anchor Steam in the 70’s, Sonoma’s New Albion in 1976, and the Sacramento delta region before that in the early 19th century.
Today, beer is all about choices. Microbreweries have embraced small-scale production of seasonally -themed products that reflect the local flavor of the area produced in, resulting in differing styles to please any palate.
For Wine Country brewers, the farm to table ethos that’s part of the local culture factors heavily into their approach, and indeed may be the reason for the region’s unparalleled success. This way of preferring quality over quantity has underscored the history of beer in the region since the outset, and indeed was the impetus for the movement, as it sought to create its own distinct way of micro-brewing.
Although Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing Company was born in the wine country of Temecula,Ca., he’s always had the beer bug, teaching himself to homebrew when he was 18 in the basement of his parents Cilurzo Family Vineyards.
A couple years after he began that first batch in the winery basement he met his future wife and business partner, Natalie and they’ve been together since. The success of the business relied on what the other brought to the table, and based on the numerous awards they consistently garner, they seemed to have found a perfect marriage in every sense of the word.
Although Vinnie’s known for his consistently impressive beers, it’s his homage to the first century, scholar, writer, naturalist and historian Pliny the Elder in the form of a double I.P.A. that’s put him and tiny Russian River Brewing Company at the forefront of America’s craft beer renaissance.
Upping the ante, Russian River released the now infamous Pliny the Younger, named after the aforementioned Pliny’s nephew and biographer of the same name.
A triple I.P.A., the Younger has nearly triple the amount of hops as regular I.P.A. and is rather difficult to make. It’s full bodied and complex, yet delicately smooth. Its limited-amount release each year creates a ruckus at the brewery, as a crowd has taken to gathering outside like waiting to get tickets to a sell-out concert.
This year 15,000 people were served the Younger in the one-week period it was offered at the Brewery, some waiting 12 hours in a rare storm to do so. The beer’s reputation grows yearly, and yet the Cilurzo’s and Russian River seem to take it in stride, keeping their noses to the grindstone and continuing to innovate in what’s become a uniquely Californian way.
One innovation that rapidly is becoming a trademark move for Cilurzo is his use of wine barrels for aging beer. It’s not a random process, but one that’s been fleshed out over the years, using specific used wine barrels with specific beers. In his Temptation, he uses Chardonnay, in the Supplication Pinot Noir, and in the Consecration, used Cabernet Sauvignon Barrels.
These beers can be chemically dynamic and unstable to work with, so they require a great deal of attention, yet the resulting product is incomparable. Like wine, they’re made for the cellar and Cilurzo believes they can easily age up to five years.
Meanwhile…back in the Valley…
Oftentimes, I find that at the end of a long day wine tasting, (p.s., to try and do more than three in-depth tastings a day is insanity), there’s nothing better than a cold beer.
The crispness and bubbles seem to reinvigorate my palate and are often the perfect beginning to a meal.
Downtown Napa has plenty of options, and Downtown Joe’s has stood the test of time, with the brewery being established in 1988 by Chuck Ankeny, great grandson to Adolph Hamms of Milwaukee. It was officially christened Downtown Joe’s in 1993. Ale is the name of the game here, with seasonal options constantly available. Ask your bartender what’s new. You won’t be disappointed.
Out and away from the hustle and bustle of downtown, at the gateway to Napa where infamous Hwy. 29 meets Hwy. 12 from the East, Napa Smith Brewery is producing award-winning beers from craft-brewing legend, Don Barkley.
Don began in 1978 at the hallowed New Albion Brewing Company as Master Brewer and his pedigree shows in these organically produced marvels. He manages to produce a variety of beers, and is at home creating a hoppy I.P.A., or Ginger Wheat that will make sushi a special treat, or add an exotic flair to fish tacos.
These are just a few of the options available on your visit to Napa. If you somehow manage to get through this list during your stay and want more suggestions, don’t hesitate to ask Scott or Sam at the Candlelight. They won’t steer you wrong.
1045 Easum Drive
Napa, California 94558
Reservations: (800) 624-0395
Local: (707) 257-3717
Saint Patrick’s Day 7 Mar 2014, 5:20 pm
The young man who would become St Patrick was born to wealthy parents who were not particularly religious, in Britain near the end of the 4th Century. He died March 17 about 460 AD.
Saint Patrick stained glass window from “Cathedral of Christ the
Light, Oakland, CA.
Photo by Sicarr
At the age of 16, he was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family’s estate. They took him to Ireland, where he spent 6 years in captivity, some say at Mount Slemish in county Antrim. But more likely, he became a shepherd in county Mayo near Killala.
As a shepherd, outdoors, lonely and afraid, he turned to religion, becoming a devout Christian and probably at this time first thought of converting the Irish to Christianity. It was at this time that he heard God’s voice telling him to return to Britain. He escaped after more than 6 years, and walked nearly 200 miles from County Mayo to the coast.
Back in Britain, he immersed himself in religious studies for about 15 years. During this time, he again heard God’s voice telling him to return to Ireland with a two-fold mission. To minister to the Christians already there and begin to convert the Irish who were celebrating with their own pagan rituals.
When he was ordained as a priest, he returned to Ireland to begin his work. Working with the non-Christians, he also let them continue some of their pagan celebrations such as worshiping the Sun.
It is also thought that he illustrated the Holy Trinity – The Father, the Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit – through the 3 leaves of the native Irish Clover, the Shamrock.
Surprisingly, the first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held not in Ireland, but in New York City. On March 17, 1762, Irish soldiers in the British Army marched through the City!
Now, each year on that date, nearly 1½ million people line the 1½-mile parade route that takes about 5 hours. Other cities, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Savanna, and San Francisco, among them, also hold parades.
Be sure to check Hurley’s Bar and Grill for a delightful
traditional meal this St. Patrick’s Day. Check out the
menu and the site
Monday, March 13th, 2013
Of course Chef Hurley is as Irish as it gets and he does his entire St. Patricks Day menu in Gaelic for the day. Bob also does some real classic Irish cuisine and the “in brine for 6 weeks melt in your mouth” corned beef & cabbage. Join us for a pint Guinness or throw back a little…
Napa Valley’s Other Refreshing Beverage 2 Jan 2014, 3:13 pm
A basic history of Chocolate
The Aztecs created a beverage called “chocolatl”, a
healing drink that was also used for special ceremonies. They would
ferment the cacao beans, dry and grind them, and sweeten them with
honey and native spices to make this refreshing
For additional history information about chocolate
The Making of Chocolate
All the chocolate made for consumption worldwide
starts with the cacao bean which comes from pods of the cacao tree
(Theobromo Cacao). The seeds are fermented, sun-dried, may be
treated with alkali ( called Dutching), packed and shipped to a
manufacturing plant or to consumers.
At the factory, the beans are sorted then roasted to bring out the color and enhance the flavors. Further reading about the making of chocolate can be found on the web at http://www.cacaoweb.net
Locations to buy artisan chocolates in Napa Valley:
Classic Home Desserts: A Treasury of Heirloom and Contemporary Recipes Hardcover
by Richard Sax
The Science of Good Cooking (Cook’s Illustrated Cookbooks) by The Editors of America’s Test Kitchen and Guy Crosby Ph.D (Oct 1, 2012)
In researching on the web I used www.bing.com
The Candlelight Inn — a luxurious Napa Valley bed and breakfast. Located near downtown Napa, this lovely 1929 English Tudor inn is centrally located to all the wonders of the valley.
Secluded beneath towering redwood trees along the banks of the Napa Creek, the candlelight rests on an acre of quiet, park-like grounds. A romantic and restful backyard delights sun seekers with manicured gardens and a gorgeous swimming pool.
The 12 Feasts of Christmas 19 Dec 2013, 6:16 pm
What do you get when you combine world famous chefs, The Restaurant at Meadowood, and Napa Valley’s top wine makers? Twelve chef-vintner combinations creating unique holiday meals that will sate the harshest of critic and raise money for charity.
Meadowood’s The 12 Days of Christmas 2013 is expanding its international influence from last year with a new set of chefs and vintners – proving that different can be equally amazing.
This year’s 12 Days begins on December 6th and extends to the 21st. Participating chefs include: Rodolfo Guzman of Boragó, Santiago, Chile; Chef Ashley Christensen from Poole’s Diner, Raleigh, NC; Rasmus Kofoed from Geranium, Copenhagen, Denmark; and David Kinch of Manresa, Los Gatos, CA. The 2013 wineries include: SCRIBE Winery, Checkerboard Vineyards, Antinori Family Estate, and Harlan Estate.
If you want to experience an expanded menu and the action of the kitchen, a limited number of Chef’s Counter tickets are available for each meal.
In the true spirit of the season, Meadowood is donating $2000 in honor of each chef as well as 20%of all dinner tickets sold. The Holly Cranston Memorial Fund and the Napa Emergency Women’s Services will share the donation evenly.
By providing both financial support and guidance, the Holly Cranston Memorial Fund (HCMF) focuses on helping local children with disabilities and their families. Primarily, HCMF targets families with needs not currently met by traditional sources of support.
The mission of Napa Emergency Women’s Services (NEWS) is to provide “a nurturing refuge for women and children suffering from domestic violence and/or sexual assault … [and act as] a catalyst for change through prevention, intervention and advocacy.”
For dates and a complete list of chefs and wineries participating in The 12 Days of Christmas 2013, go to Meadowood’s events page.
For either a weeknight or weekend dinner, let Candlelight Inn be your home away from home while you explore the Napa Valley.
Winter in Napa Valley with the Candlelight Inn 12 Dec 2013, 9:11 am
Your Passport to Some of Napa Valley’s Best Wineries
Winter 2013/2014 represents the fifth year Calistoga area wineries have offered a wine tasting package that could be the best deal ever.
Between December 6th and February 9th, passport holders can access each of the participating wineries’ unique tasting experience. Individually, the tasting fees for these wineries would be over $250. With additional discounts at Calistoga restaurants and shops, the $75 price tag offers a deal no one of legal drinking age should miss.
Just a few of the experiences passport holders will enjoy this year include:
- arriving at Sterling Vineyards by aerial tram;
- the limited production wines of the Palisades, Madrigal Family, and Lava Vine wineries;
- visiting Chateau Montelena, maker of the winning Chardonnay of the 1976 Paris Tasting featured in the movie “Bottle Shock”; and
- the castle tour of Castello di Amorosa – including great hall, dungeon, and torture chamber.
Given the time of year and nature of many of the wineries, passport tastings are generally by appointment; however, same day appointments are frequently available.
While many try, few can live on wine alone. Calistoga restaurants such as 1226 Washington, Brannan’s Grill, and JoLe Farm to Table are offering special discounts to Winter in the Wineries Passport holders.
While in town, why not spend some time shopping? Several merchants are offering 10% off the purchases of passport holders. Save on Elizabeth Carmel and Olof Carmel prints at the Carmel Gallery, enjoy hand-crafted jewelry from Studio Kokomo, or get a massage at the Lincoln Avenue Spa.
From August Briggs to W.H. Smith & Wine Sensory Experience, you have two months to enjoy all the pleasures of the Winter in the Wineries Passport. Take the time to experience all of Wine Country in the winter with the Candlelight Inn. With special packages and mid-week deals we offer our guests a Napa winter wonderland: all luxury and no snow.