Baccarat provides the light

The Secrets of the Red Room

When one of Burgundy’s most flamboyant, charismatic and charming vintners, Jean-Charles Boisset, purchased Raymond Vineyards, a storied Napa Valley estate, in 2009, there were bound to be changes. First, the most sustainably-minded playboy on the planet initiated a strict biodynamic farming regimen, starting the long, arduous process of restoring soil health and biodiversity to the [...]


When The Steak On Your Plate Is The Same Shape As The Region The Wine In Your Glass Came From

Oh, California. We seem to do all kinds of crazy things with our food out West. Like put avocados on hamburgers and cut a triangular chunk out of the bottom sirloin of a cattle and call it a tri-tip. For those of you on the East Coast, allow us to explain: It’s sort of like [...]

Breggo pinots

A Tale of Three Pinots

Let’s pretend for a moment that you are standing on the lawn of Breggo Cellars in the heart of Anderson Valley — an 18-mile-long American Viticultural Area that has managed to hold tourism at bay thanks to a dauntingly winding 46-mile drive from the wine country hub of Healdsburg. Take a second to look around. [...]

Felco shears

Zen and the Art of Pruning

It’s late morning in the last week of February. I can feel the morning sun just beginning to penetrate the fog — and my sweater. I’m standing in front of a grape vine in a small vineyard just east of the town of Napa. The vine is in what we like to call dormancy, even [...]

The tables are made from reclaimed redwood

Inside Goose & Gander: Now Open

Completely renovating a beloved local icon can be risky business. Judging from the reactions at a preview this weekend, Andy Florsheim and the team behind Goose & Gander can breath easy, though. The new crew has done right by the 90-year-old landmark. Let’s be honest: As great as The Martini House was under Todd Humphries and [...]


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 [...]


Inspired, Innovative Alternatives to Outdated Ice-and-Glass Service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 [...]


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 [...]


The Yelping Class: The Chronically Dissatisfied Modern Diner

As a wine and hospitality professional I study service obsessively. The ability to anticipate guests’ needs and to guide them through dining or drinking experiences that will leave them loving your establishment — and loving food and wine in general — more than they did before is the mission of nearly every person who works [...]

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 [...]

Alexandra and Truett

Sharp Shooter: Girls, Guns and the Semiotics of Gender

When I reached photographer Lindsay MCrum on the phone at her hotel room so we could have a conversation about her book Chicks With Guns she quipped, “I’m what you’d call a moving target these days.” Now, I don’t think she meant this as a specific self-referential gun metaphor necessarily, but it does speak to [...]

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, [...]

Artist Jeremy Mann

Through A City Darkly

Artist Jeremy Mann’s Urban Realism at The Christopher Hill Gallery Perched above St. Helena’s quaint Main Street, The Christopher Hill Gallery has, for ten years, served as an oasis. For urban expats craving contemporary, international art and intelligent conversation, Hill’s gallery on the second floor (above a shop that somewhat inexplicably sells exclusively Kokopelli jewelry) [...]


Farmers Market: Ciccio Bringing Fresh, Ingredient-Driven Italian To Yountville

Frank Altamura grew up frequenting the little Italian grocery in Yountville on Washington Street. Since those days, a lot has changed. All around the diminutive free-standing wooden building with the distinctive facade, the machinations of wine country boom and celebrity chef superstardom have proliferated, turning the sleepy town into something else. And though the building [...]


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, [...]


Shedding New Light: Chandelier Paintings Brighten Mondavi

Nancy Willis has spent a lot of time in the last few years looking up. As an artist who also works as a chef and teaches at The Culinary Institute of America, the dinner table has always played an important role in her work (she once had a video installation of a post-dinner-party-table — candles [...]


Dark Shadows: Uncovering Black IPA

You can’t always trust your eyes. Creative chefs and modernist mixologists know this. And now so too do brave brewmasters. When Bryan Hermannsson and Patrick Horn moved their home-brewing operation to a garage in an industrial area of San Francisco, they knew they would be experimenting, which is why they chose to call their company [...]


Somms in the City

San Francisco Sommeliers Settle the Score with Robert Parker

Lucy Table

Lucy’s Lift: Bardessono’s Restaurant Gets Much More Than a Nip-n-Tuck

Let’s face it. No one wants to eat in a hotel. Hotel restaurants far too often feel like an extension of the lobby — and anything that feels even remotely lobby-like is not exactly appetite inducing. The restaurant at Bardessono, a contemporary, well-designed hotel that opened in Yountville in 2009, had been cursed with the [...]

Chef Thomas Keller at the grand re-opening of Bouchon Bakery in Yountville by Table To Grave.

Breaking Bread: Bouchon Bakery Grand Reopens

They say man cannot live on bread alone. And that’s true even if the bread is from Bouchon and if by bread you also mean insanely rich pastries in addition to your baguettes and batards. Luckily Chef Thomas Keller’s bakery long ago added sandwiches and lunch snacks to its repertoire. Much of the Napa Valley [...]


Breakfast is Served: Gott’s Fills Napa Niche

Napa is a breakfast hinterland. You can easily find yourself crawling through the valley, literally tripping over tasting rooms serving wine at 10 a.m., but if you want a decent egg sandwich, you are out of luck (and we stress decent — sorry Model Bakery). But Gott’s Roadside has come to the rescue. Centrally located [...]


Drinking: An Absurd Solution to the Absurdity of Life

“This is an absurdly complicated world,” writes Daniel Handler in the introduction to “The Hour,” Bernard DeVoto’s essential 1948 book on cocktails. “Drinking, like existence, is an endless muddle, one of the slipperiest boulders in life’s daunting stream — we cling to it for support but end up even wetter than when we started.” DeVoto [...]

The Difference Between ‘Lifestyle’ And Living

For anyone who ever wondered, ‘What kind of dining set defines me as a person?’