A Winemaker’s Inquiry Into ‘Winemaker Dinners’

I must be candid: I hate “winemaker dinners.” Most such events are marketing dinosaurs, lumbering arthritically across a sad and faded landscape. I have been pressed to do them for years, and I have rarely enjoyed them. And when I have, it was never because of some alleged “synergy” between the wine and the food, [...]


Make Gott’s Gazpacho

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 [...]


It’s a Jungle Out There

“The foremost important decisions about winemaking happen before a single berry even makes it into the winery,” says Greg La Follette of La Follette Wines. Right now, during the time of “berry cell division and berry cell expansion,” (or the first phase of berry development, which immediately follows bloom and lasts for about 4 weeks), decisions [...]

Fresh Burrata from Carpe Diem

Making Fresh Burrata

Fresh creamy, burrata — something like cheese-wrapped cheese oozing cheese —  is an indulgence usually reserved for dining out. But the preparation is not as difficult as you may think, though the dish does rely on the use of high quality ingredients. Scott Kendall, chef/owner of Carpe Diem Wine Bar will be at the Chef’s Market [...]


What’s in a Petiole?

Petioles, or the stems of leaves, can tell you a lot about the health of a vine. During flowering, vineyard managers collect petioles from throughout the vineyard and submit the tissue to lab for analysis. “Year after year these results influence our vineyard management decisions and give insight to vine status in terms of nutrient [...]

Laura Chenel's Chévre goat cheese

Grilled and Marinated Goat Cheese Wrapped in Grape Leaves

We might as well call this recipe, by Chef Mauro Pando of Grace’s Table in Napa, “a few of our favorite things.” It features goat cheese, grape leaves, a baguette, and, to top it off, cherries. If you’ve ever looked at all the fresh, young grape leaves while driving around the valley and thought to [...]

speckling and fruit set

Managing the Canopies of Happy, Vigorous (And Sometimes Smiling) Vines

From Amador to Oak Knoll, we are reporting “happy vines” this week. And as they say, happy vines make for happy farmers. And happy farmers with happy vines make for happy grapes. (For one grower “long happy tendrils” makes him think the vines are smiling. Isn’t that adorable?) And happy, smiling grapes make for happy, [...]

Heitz Grignolino

Grignolino: One Grape Oddity’s Journey From Piedmont to Napa

There is a little grape called grignolino that almost no one knows what to do with. Hailing from the northern Piedmont, where it is mostly consumed locally (and, even there production is declining) the grape is not widely known. I have heard it referred to as “the little strawberry,” a name it aquired not because [...]


Auction Napa Valley: The Best Circus in Town

Thomas Keller is happy. Chugging from a large cup of Bouchon coffee, he seems almost jovial on this Friday morning the first day of June. Even his neatly pressed, blue-apron-clad staff is smiling — heads down of course — as they prepare tiny cones of things that will be served to 2,000 people — professionals, [...]

Reaching For The Wire

Reaching for the Top (Wire That Is)

Wow, there is a lot happening in the vineyards this week. In fact, “this is the busiest time of the year,” (next to harvest, of course) says Matt Hardin, of the famously fastidious management company Barbour Vineyards. Shoot thinning, spraying, disking (turning cover crop into the soil), mowing, replanting, tucking shoots and taking petiole (leaf [...]

Oakville Grocery Reopened

Tanned, Rested and Restored: Oakville Grocery Reopens

Oakville Grocery has had a long sojourn. The old girl had extensive reconstructive surgery, but like an aging silent-film-era starlet (the building was built before Tullulah Bankhead was even born, after all) who spends the off-season in Palm Springs with huge sunglasses on, waiting for her raccoon eyes to heal, she’s making her triumphant return [...]

French Wineries Catching Up To U.S. Vintners (In Social Media)

The wine industry in the United States was quick to embrace social media. But, much as wine styles in the New World are beginning to ape those of the Old and some of the Old-World styles blending into the New, France is working to close the social media gap between U.S. and French wineries. So [...]


The Wines of Kenzo Estate

When Kenzo Tsujimoto, the CEO of Capcom, one of the largest gaming companies in the world, came to Napa from Japan he had something bigger in mind than simply planting a few rows of vine and making a vanity wine. Street Fighter, you might say, has been very, very good to Mr. Tsujimoto. He purchased [...]

Anther fully extended

The Sex Life of Grapes

Flowers are everywhere in the spring in Northern California. On the sides of roads, in the cracks of sidewalks, between the rows of vines, clutched between your teeth. Roses are in full blush, patches of wild poppies dutifully perform their open-close routines with the rising and setting of the sun and the slutty manzanita bushes [...]

Guide to the Bathrooms of Yountville

If there is one thing that Yountville has more of than Michelin stars, Thomas Keller restaurants, and faux-Tuscan architecture — it is public restrooms. In fact, Yountville leads the world in public restrooms per capita. Once safely ensconced in downtown Yountville, the town’s target demo may throw their Depends undergarments to the wind and meander [...]


Anderson Valley Special: Suckering and Sunflowers

It’s difficult to make generalizations about the Anderson Valley. Even though it is only 18 miles long and less than two miles wide, the climate is vastly different from one end to the other. Temperatures tend to drop dramatically as you head north on 128 (and towards the coast) to what is called the “deep [...]

Fagiani's Rising

Fagiani’s Rising

Fagiani’s, the historic bar at 831 Main Street in Napa, is literally rising again. The figurative rising began in 2008, when the building’s new owner Steve Hasty cleared decades of dust from the old bar and opened the doors to a small group. The building had been sealed and its contents — cocktail glasses, cases [...]

MCA’s Recipe for Pasta with Pesto

“I’ll be in the paper/ The news with Ernie Anastos/ They’ll even print my recipe for pasta with pesto.” Here is, in accordance with what we think his dying wishes might well have been, MCA’s recipe for pasta with pesto (as printed in Grand Royal magazine and via Food in My Beard). Our guest chef [...]


The Heirloom Seeds of Dissent

The bureaucratic bullshit can pile up so high that you need a shovel just to figure out what’s going on. So, it’s fitting then that it takes a bunch of farmers to cut through the crap of the GMO mess. The above seed packets-cum-activist literature were produced, donated and packed by the good people at Baker [...]


Does Piaci Make the North Coast’s Best Pizza?

Among the long line of P-words in which one can indulge while on the North Coast, “pizza” might not be the first to pop up. Sure there are fields of pennyroyal surrounding rows of pinot and pockets of pot plants. In Fort Bragg you’ll also find pilsner-a-plenty at the North Coast Brewing Co., (whose Scrimshaw [...]

JV Wine & Spirits

Last Call For JV Wine & Spirits

You’ve probably heard by now that JV Wine & Spirits, something of a Napa institution, is closing after 30 years of business. As of Friday the closeout sale went to 40 percent off, with all the furnishings — wine racks, shelving and even signs — priced to move. None of the shoppers have the giddy [...]


Primordial Clusters and the Fractal Geometry of Nature

Thanks to temperatures that were pushing 90 degrees last weekend, vines in Napa Valley experienced a whopping four inches of growth according to the Napa Valley Grapegrowers, whose members gathered at Round Pound Estate on Wednesday to discuss the 2012 vintage. Yield, as usual, was a hot topic. Jon Ruel, Director of Viticulture & Winemaking [...]

The Thomas Keller Hagiography

If the Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival is the culinary equivalent of Coachella, then Thomas Keller is its Radiohead. And this year the chef served as something of a headliner, complete with a gauzy tribute video that played at the festival, and, at nearly 17 minutes long, serves as something of a fawning mini-biopic. [...]

Nick’s Cove Featured in Ad for Strange Little Motorcylcle

A new commercial for a the Can-Am Spyder Roadster, an odd little three-wheel motorcycle (perfect for the balance impaired), caught our attention. We were laughing so hard at the motor scooter (a dead ringer for a souped-up Little Rascal) and the riders in matching outfits zooming down Highway 1 along the California coast, that we [...]


Toasting Mother Earth With Infused Organic Vodka

Solage Calistoga really knows how to celebrate Earth Day, in addition to a fat donation to the Napa Valley Vine Trail and planting a tree for every Facebook fan, the resort’s SolBar has dedicated a special cocktail featuring all organic ingredients, called Toast to Gaia and created by somm Bradley Wasserman, which will be served [...]