The Gastro-Goth Lounge Napa Never Knew It Needed

lounge

Empire, a new lounge and restaurant in Downtown Napa next to Andaz Hotel (formerly Avia), ushered in its arrival with not one, not two, but three nights of grand opening festivities. Small plate bites were passed offering a peek at the small but eclectic menu (mashed potatoes, meatballs and mac and cheese on the “nostalgia” [...]

The Good, The Bad Religion and the BottleRock

Perry Farrell

This weekend — and this may be difficult for the Napa Vintners to reconcile — more people descended on Napa Valley than ever before. And — this may be harder still for the Auction’s organizers to reconcile — they likely spent more than any other group that ever came before them. And they spent it [...]

Is this BottleRock Napa billboard pointing the wrong way?

BottleRock Napa billboard

Driving on Highway 12 southeast toward Napa from Sonoma we happened to pass a crew pasting up this sign. By all outward appearances another of the billboards directing people toward the big BottleRock Napa music, food and wine festival scheduled for May 9 to 12 in Napa. We asked BottleRock if this was theirs and [...]

All Things Being Equinox

bud break 2013 at Benziger in Sonoma

Bud break came early this year. Real early for some. Reports began coming in from some of the warmer parts of Napa Valley and Carneros as early as mid-February — as early as some some remember. Phil Coturri, who farms vineyards up and down Sonoma Valley, remembers his mentor Joe Miami telling him tall tales [...]

Old World or New? A Chardonnay Showdown

Chardonnay, it is said, is the Queen of the grapes. But she is also, arguably moreso than any other variety, a voice of the vineyard and a blank canvas for winemaking, meaning that she is often misinterpreted and unfairly maligned. Table To Grave recently invited a panel of sommeliers, writers and one winemaker to discuss [...]

How Did Cab Come To Rule Napa Valley?

Napa Valley cab is king

“Carneros in 1957 was full of sheep,” observes Karen MacNeil as we prepare to taste the first commercial pinot noir ever made from the region that is now synonymous with that grape variety. It’s not the most obvious way to begin a two-day retrospective of Napa Valley wine, but what it did do is remind [...]

To See the Universe in a Pile of a Shit

cowhorns stuffed with manure

It’s late fall; the air is cool but the sun is warm and the vines, having been relieved of the burden of bearing fruit are just beginning to shrug their leaves. Each vine, like most trees and plants across the northern hemisphere is pulling its energy downwards, back into its roots. After months of drawing [...]

What Does ‘Keeping St. Helena St. Helena’ Mean?

There is an unfortunate tone to Mayor Del Britton’s campaign which makes it seem that keeping St. Helena St. Helena, means keeping some people “IN” and a lot of people “OUT” and that change is a bad thing. The picture of Mr. Galbraith that the Britton ads paint would be funny if it were not [...]

Will clusters rot or dry out? On Friday, the clock begins ticking

wet grapes

On Sunday night, October 21, 2012, it rained. It rained and rained and rained. Mushroom foragers are happy. Gardens are happy. Gardeners are happy. Even the vines, as they sigh away their leaves and settle into dormancy, are happy. As Chuck Mansfield, the winemaker for Hop Kiln Winery in Healdsburg, tells it, “This moderate rain [...]

Classic Gin & Tonic from Fagiani’s

There is a classic style of gin known as “London Dry,” which is best categorized by famous household names such as Tanqueray, Gordon’s and Beefeater. The name, however, refers to the style of gin, since a London dry gin doesn’t actually have to be produced in London (ironically enough). In fact Beefeater is the last [...]

To Pick or Not to To Pick? That is the Question

picked

For all of September, harvest was happily humming along in most of Wine Country with truckloads of grapes arriving in the early morning hours at crush pads almost daily — chardonnay, gewürztraminer, pinot noir — and the smell of fermentation hung sweetly in the air. But in Napa Valley, there was one thing that wasn’t [...]

This Is Why People Hate Napa Valley

The Napa Valley Wine Wave has been months in the making. And each month that has gone into the planning of this pointless exercise in hollow vanity is that much more infuriating to those of us left utterly confused by the entire endeavor. Not much is clear except what will happen at Krug Winery on [...]

Are You Ready For Some BBQ?

pulled pork

Serious Texas style BBQ has come to St. Helena. Every Monday at least. Starting today and every week thereafter, smokey goodness will spill from the back of Ana’s Cantina from 11:30 a.m. until, according to the bar, “the meat runs out.” In theory this includes plenty of chow to see hungry football fans through to [...]

Sauvignon Blanc Hits Crush Pads

Sauvignon blanc grape pick

What does sauvignon blanc mean to you? Is it grassy and herby and does it smell slightly of cat piss? Is it rich and tropical, even creamy, with hints of oak? Minerally like a river bed with mouth-watering acidity that screams out for seafood? Or is it sweet, lush and honeyed, served in a delicate [...]

The Blue Marie, a Bloody Mary with a French Accent

French Blue patio

Three sweet little words: Now serving brunch. Few phrases bring more joy to our hearts here at TTG HQ in the brunch hinterlands of Napa. What was once a desert, devoid of benedicts and bloodies, has been shaping up of late. French Blue in St. Helena is the latest restaurant to begin full-on brunch service [...]

What We Talk About When We Talk About Napa

The view from Mt. St. Helena

Napa Valley is a place. A stretch of land. Napa is a city. Napa is a state of mind. It’s a state of wine. What’s the first thing you think of when you think of “Napa?” The answer probably has more to do with you than it does with the place, the people who live [...]

Harvest 2012 Begins With a Bang

Mumm staffers celebrating the first grape harvest or 2012

On Friday, Aug 10 at 11 a.m., a rubber-boot-clad army of eager employees gathered on the crush pad of Mumm in Napa Valley to welcome the arrival of the first grapes of 2012: pinot noir from the Gamefarm Vineyard in Yountville. Winemaker Ludovic Dervin celebrated the beginning of harvest by sabering a bottle of 2003 [...]

A Brief and Miraculous Moment

A Beach in Indonesia. Photo by Spencer Humiston

On the Indonesian island of Bali in SouthEast Asia, there is a brief but miraculous moment that occurs at the end of each day. Just as the sun begins to set below the horizon but before it gets dark, the tide recedes and miles of sand between the sea and the land, wet and perfectly [...]

The Napa Tasting Room Survival Guide

napavalley

Oh, the tasting room. Since the mid-1970s when California was famously “put on the map” of fine wine at the Paris Tasting, Napa Valley and its surrounding winegrowing regions have become burgeoning tourist destinations. To capitalize on the millions of tourists that visit the region each year — a region that is  essentially a farming [...]

How To Make Pizza From Scratch (Yes, Even The Dough)

Ca'Momi pizza dough

“Set in a warm place to rise for 6-8 hours” is not a phrase from my new book “50 Shades of Yeast.” No, it is the most potentially derailing detail in the process of making dough at home for a delicious no-one-else’s-mouth-noises-must-be-heard pizza dinner in your own sanctuary. True, waiting 6-8 hours to even begin [...]

It’s Not You, It’s ‘Meh’: How Many Tastings Are Too Many?

gotwine?

Two of the seemingly most popular wine descriptors used by visitors of wine country on Yelp are “just okay” and “meh” (or sometimes just “eh”). A couple of other phrases that pop up again and again are: “I wasn’t blown away” and the wines were “not memorable.” Are there a lot of mediocre wines in the [...]

The Art of Fruit Thinning and the Quest for Balance

dried grapes

This week, many grape berries throughout our little corner of the world reached a very important milestone in their steady march towards becoming wine. Veraison (French for ripening), when grapes begin accumulating sugar, color and phenolics is a welcome sight for growers. For starters, powdery mildew is no longer a threat and  grapes start to taste like [...]

Fresh Lavender-Infused No. 209 Gin Cocktail

The Honey Bee's Knees

This week we are celebrating our good friend and devoted pollinator, the honey bee. If it weren’t for her hard work and dedication, this cocktail, made with fresh lavender, wouldn’t be possible. Vincent Lee, the equally dedicated barman at Lucy Restaurant and Bar at Bardessono, also played a hand. We are taking the liberty of [...]

Waiting to Exhale

bwgrapes

Take a deep breath. Now, hold it. Now keep holding it. Seriously, don’t exhale! Keep holding your breathe. This is what the second week of July, 2012 feels like in Wine Country. And no, it isn’t because we’re driving through a tunnel, free-diving for abalones or watching the heroine in a horror film fumble with [...]

Make Gott’s Gazpacho

tomatoes

Around these parts (and by these parts we mean Rancho TTG) we get nearly as enthusiastic about the arrival of tomato season as we do Beaujolais day. Except shouting “The tomatoes are here! The tomatoes are here,” isn’t nearly as satisfying as yelling “est arrivé!” even when we try to be all like “Ze tomatoés [...]