Tell Your Boss: I’m Not ‘Drunk,’ I’m ‘Productive’

It’s come to our attention that there are still people in the world who have not heard about Jonah Lehrer’s great new book on the origins of creativity, Imagine (and in true genius steals mode, he, of course, stole that title from John Lennon). Lehrer has been all over NPR and TV talk shows like [...]

frozen grapes in sauv blanc at 90°

Wine Tip: Frozen Grapes to Chill Your White

Sure you could put ice cubes in your sauv blanc, but why not just toss it down the drain while you’re at it?  Still, what are you supposed to do when you don’t have any chilled? And on a day like today (with temps across Napa Valley hitting the 90s) the wine tends to get [...]

Super Friends 1973

Bar Stars Beattie and Pazdon Bringing Classics, Hand-Cut Ice to Goose & Gander

The old Martini House, empty more than a year now, will roar back to life next week as Andy Florsheim’s Goose & Gander. Florsheim has assembled a bar team supergroup of sorts (we are thinking more Super Friends or maybe the powers of Voltron uniting than Velvet Revolver, but you be the judge). Today, 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 [...]

Buds Broke

Let the Countdown Begin

According to winemaker Aaron Pott, who has worked in Bordeaux, Burgundy and Napa, the growing season, almost invariably, is 220 days from bud break to harvest. That means the clock has started ticking and it’s time for some good old-fashioned heat and sunshine. Pott, who has noticed a climatic pattern toward later bud break over [...]

Drambuie Nail or Fail Bartender Showdown in San Francisco, photo by Gwen Rogers

Bartenders: 10 Tips For Winning a Cocktail Competition

We recently had the opportunity to serve on a panel of judges for a cocktail competition in the city of San Francisco. Now, having participated in such competitions in the past ourselves, we were fully aware of the time and energy bartenders spend preparing for these. And for what? In some cases, little more than [...]


Can California Make ‘Champagne?’

It’s a warm, sun-drenched late-summer afternoon in Sonoma and from the open-aired veranda that serves as the tasting room for Iron Horse Vineyards, one of California’s best sparkling wine houses, vines heavy with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes sprawl across hillsides in every direction. Joy Sterling, the founder of Iron Horse, is smiling as she [...]

SakéOne's The Grove

Saké Joins Mixology Madness

When we received an unsolicited case of saké at HQ this week, we were thrilled! Who wouldn’t be? Saké is so often overlooked, even though it so often just exactly the right thing. With sushi, obviously, but we also enjoy it with Chinese takeout, any kind of noodley soup, Vietmanese or otherwise, and for breakfast. [...]

Smudge Pots

Water, Wind and Fire Fight Off Frost

After three weeks of nearly non-stop rainfall, it might seem strange to wake up and see sprinklers going off all over the Valley. Counterintuitively, those sprinklers are protecting the just-bursting buds from early-spring frost invasion. According to Tom Hsieh (pronounced shay) of Hanson-Hsieh vineyard in Oak Knoll, the water creates a layer around the bud [...]


Inspired, Innovative Alternatives to Outdated Ice-and-Glass Service

When a guy walked into a bar which we were tending not that long ago and asked us if we would consider serving white wine with a chilled plastic insert known as the Corkcicle, we laughed at him. (No, we really did. It was kind of mean, actually.) But now, the Corkcicle is everywhere, so [...]

Riding Out Gosling’s Dark n’ Stormy in a Can

I have a deep-seated connection with both Gosling’s Black Seal Rum and, of course, the legendary cocktail made with the same, but I also have an inherent mistrust of things I love that suddenly decide to come premixed… in a can… When the press release for the soon-to-the U.S.-market Gosling’s Dark n’ Stormy cocktail in [...]


When Life Gives you Grape Juice, Make Gin

Husband and wife winemakers Alex and Monica Villicana of Villicana Winery in Paso Robles had been throwing away a lot of grape juice. Like many red-wine producers, they cold-soak their Rhone varietal grapes for a few days before allowing fermentation to begin. During this time, some of the juice is allowed to run off, increasing [...]


Cline Cellars’ Burnt-Honey Ricotta Gnocchi

Cline Cellars, a Sonoma producer most known for its zinfandel and its Rhone blends has quietly produced small quantities of a very food-friendly Sonoma Coast pinot noir since 2007, though up until very recently in amounts so small that they didn’t make it far from the tasting room. To celebrate the release of its Cool [...]


Will Sonoma Showers Bring May Shatters?

“The pressure is on,” said Thomas DeBiase of Debiase Wines early this week. Pressure, that is, to get as much last-minute precipitation as possible before flowering. ”Every year is, of course, unique but starting this growing season off as the third driest growing season since 1850 has its own set of challenges.” Going into the week, DeBiase, [...]

Chasing Sheep At a Biodynamic Vineyard in Napa Valley

It’s probably true what they say: Chasing sheep is indeed best left to shepherds. You can see from the above that we had some trouble chasing the sheep at Joseph Phelps Vineyards — those fur balls can haul ass over the rows when they want, eh? — but Philippe Pessereau, director of vineyard operations at Joseph [...]

Sheep at Joseph Phelps by Terence Ford

Wool Blend: What Sheep Have to Do With Napa Winemaking

No, this isn’t a Thomas Hardy novel or a nursery rhyme. There are no crooks or bags of wool, comfy sweaters or socks or tiny barbecued shanks. But this is a story about sheep — some of them black — and just what these sheep have to do with making wine. Biodynamic farming, admittedly, is a complex [...]


Mad Men Viewing Party Cocktail List

At least as enjoyable as the more soap operatic aspects of Mad Men is just the pure simple joy of the cocktail culture as depicted in the world of the show. Count us in on any vision that includes cans of beer and bottles of bourbon as office supplies. To help you usher in the new [...]



When it rains, as they say, it pours. And it couldn’t be more true for Napa Valley this week. According to Accuweather, St. Helena got over five inches of rain between March 14 and March 21st. Well, be careful what you ask for, because while some rain was sorely needed, we have seen some flooding [...]

Straight Outta Cabot: Brassica Dining Room

Brassica’s Wine Program Actually Interesting (But, Oh That Gingham)

Cindy Pawlcyn’s recent attempt to reinvigorate the former Go Fish space by replacing light fixtures, ditching the table cloths and exchanging the epic seafood-centric menu for a more manageable variety of Mediterranean small plates is largely a failure. Renamed Brassica, the restaurant still feels awkwardly large and like a dated take on farmhouse chic. And [...]

Spakling Wines in California

Who Was First: The Champenoise’s Race for California Sun

In the 1970s, wanting a piece of the attention being showered upon the new kid in the wine world, some of the largest producers in Champagne came to California and began making copious amounts of sparkling wine. It seemed ridiculously easy, considering how warm it was here compared to the cold environs of Northern France, [...]

Vineyard Report: Fast-Breaking News Flash Edition

We take you now to Courtney Humiston with another fast-breaking news flash. Courtney is in a vineyard in Napa Valley in the rain — wet, cold and miserable — covering the quickly developing story of buds growing on vines (with all apologies to our favorite little green muppet reporter).

Glenfiddich 125th Charity Gala On Liberty Island

A Wee Bit O’ Scratch: Glenfiddich 55-Year Fetches Princely Sum at Auction

Just how much money is it possible to drop on a wee bit of dram? Mix up the perfect blend of ego, rare aged Scotch whisky, an anniversary party, toss in a celebrity charity, add a dash of hubris and the answer is quite a lot. On Thursday night Mahesh Patel — who has alternately been [...]


Reasons To Reconsider: Barrel-Aged Cocktails at Presidio Social Club

It seemed like another ridiculous cocktail fad. Oh, now we’re aging cocktails. In wine barrels. Great. Aging something that has already been aged. You could hear the eyes rolling. What ever will these “mixologists” think of next? The particular mixologist credited with starting this fad is from Portland, Oregon (of course, he is). Jeffrey Morgenthaler, [...]


Vineyard Report: Eraser Tips and Early Bud Breaks

The vines are waking and early budding vines are beginning to show themselves across the region.

The More Harvests Change

Poor harvests and lower yields have limited the supply of grapes in many regions of Northern California, leading some to fret over pricing and others to get excited about new possibilities. It led us (as things often do) to the words of the charismatic founder of The Wine & Food Society. Commerce is a public service and [...]