Tag Archives: Napa Valley

A memorable pairing with 2012 Kenzo Murasaki #winePW

Kenzo Murasaki

As part of this year’s “Open That Bottle Night 2017” event, we decided to open a bottle of 2012 Kenzo Murasaki and pair it with bacon wrapped Filet Mignon. We imagined it was going to be a good pairing, but it was one of the most memorable pairings we have done, one for the books!

Open That Bottle Night is an annual national event every last Saturday of February, dedicated to making sure that those bottles of fine wine put away for a special occasion, are used and enjoyed. The event was organized in 2000 by “Tastings” columnists Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher. In a way, it is a day declared to make sure that you indeed find that “special occasion.” This year we looked at our cellar and decided that we were going to venture in opening one of our most prized bottles.

 About Kenzo Murasaki


2012 Kenzo Murasaki is a proprietary red blend made by famous Napa Valley winemaker Heidi Barrett. The 2012 vintage of Murasaki is a Merlot prominent Bordeaux blend. This blend has Merlot (75.6%), Cabernet Sauvignon (18.9%), Cabernet Franc (2.4%) and Petit Verdot (3.1%). Murasaki represents nobility and elegance. This wine offers intense well-integrated oak aromas, blackberries, currants, violets, rose petals, leather, tobacco, coffee bean, cinnamon, and dark chocolate with lingering notes of black pepper, tart cranberry and medium tannins on the palate. This is an outstanding wine with great ageability at a suggested retail price of $250.

About the pairing



We paired Murasaki with Filet Mignon wrapped in bacon and topped with caramelized onions. Following a recipe from Ina Garten, we cooked the onions in a bit of brandy. To add insult to the injury, we had it with truffle fries. Magnifique! A meal like this you don’t pair with any wine. Then again, Murasaki deserves no less. The marriage of flavors is a play in your palette. The pleasant tannins from the wine were a perfect compliment to the richness and tenderness of the Filet Mignon, and both food and wine enhanced each other.


About Kenzo Estate Winery


Edgar Solís Photo

Kenzo Estate Winery is located on the slopes of Mt. George, in the southeastern part of Napa Valley. The Estate lies hidden in the upper meandering ways of Highway 121. A scenic pathway through unspoiled preserved areas and Leoma Lake leads the way to breathtaking rolling hills planted with perfectly manicured vines. This beautiful Estate it is worthy of a visit by every wine lover.

Kenzo Estate exquisite wines are the result of the convergence of three major influences: fruit expression, careful vineyard management, and masterful winemaking. In the winery is nestled in a valley at 1,550 feet, the Estate encompasses 3,800 acres, of which only four percent is dedicated to the growing of Bordeaux varietal wine grapes.

Napa Valley wines distinguish themselves from many others around the world. Unique terroir gives this American Viticultural Area the advantage among many others. It is refreshing to see Estate Wineries taking a different approach to grape growing. Wine connoisseurs know that mountain and valley fruit provide different characteristics and nuances to wines; derived from differences in altitude, sun exposure, and geologic soil content. Not only the location of this Estate distinguish the wines, but cultural influences in the approach of treating the grapes, its surroundings and winemaking makes Kenzo Estate Winery unique in beauty and quality.

Estate Experience


The Estate fruit expression is the result of the estate’s elevation, cool climate, and extended growing season. Harvest at Kenzo Estate occurs later than Valley vineyards, where temperatures are often warmer. Mountain vineyards also benefit from a wider diurnal temperature difference. Longer growing period allows evenly ripening while higher diurnal temperatures help with acid preservation.

Carrying the fruit for a few extra weeks allows the Kenzo Estate vines time to complete the complex process toward ideal maturity. Each block is planted to maximize the vine’s varietal characteristics with ideal soil and individual care that reflects the high quality of the wines offered by the Estate.

A visit to Kenzo Estate starts with a warm greeting and a glass of Asatsuyu, a crisp and delicate Sauvignon Blanc. The visit includes a ninety minutes wine tasting and tour of the grounds and wine cave. The beautiful and elegant Tasting Room embraces its surroundings in a balance between nature and architecture, filling you with awe and anticipation. While you taste a glass of Asatsuyu, you get to enjoy a walk among the Estate vines and a visit to state-of-the-art white and red wine production facilities, constructed in the style of traditional California barn.

Your visit continues at the wine cave, where the wine aging magic happens. The cave entrance sits directly behind the winery structures, in balance with the surrounding landscape. Inside, French oak barrels are lined up with precision, lent to a detailed method of inspecting wines during aging. Sitting in peace the Estate wines get to rest and age undisturbed for up to twenty months in new and used French oak barrels.

Back in the Tasting Room, you get to sip through more Estate wines while enjoying you’re the view of the vineyards.

About Kenzo’s Winemaker


Winemaker Heidi Barrett (Edgar Solís Photo)

Kenzo Estate celebrated Winemaker Heidi Barrett, brings her signature wine style honoring the sense of place and respecting vineyard heritage and vintage personality, she draws on her intuitive connection with Kenzo Estate, which began as a youth when honing her equestrian skills on the mountain trails.

Heidi Barrett grew up in the Napa Valley, and is the daughter of California winemaking pioneer Richard Grant Peterson. Heidi even spent much of her childhood riding horses in Wild Horse Valley, today’s Kenzo Estate. After graduating from U.C. Davis in 1980 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fermentation Science, she went to work for Justin Meyer at Franciscan Vineyards and Silver Oak Cellars.

In 1988, Heidi took her talents to the next level as Winemaker for Dalla Valle, by creating wines that achieved “cult” status. Her powerful, yet elegant, Cabernets from Dalla Valle Vineyards, including “Maya”, a proprietary blend, received perfect 100 point scores in two consecutive vintages (’92 and ’93) from Robert Parker. In 1992, she began making wine for Screaming Eagle. The 1992 and 1997 vintages garnered perfect 100 point scores from Parker as well, which, when added to the two perfect scores at Dalla Valle, established her on a level that few winemakers ever achieve.

In 2000, a 6-liter bottle of the 1992 Screaming Eagle set a world record for the highest price ever paid for a single bottle of wine at the Napa Valley Wine Auction, selling for $500,000. Robert Parker proclaimed her the “The First Lady of Wine”, and TIME magazine dubbed her “The Wine Diva of Napa Valley”.

Check out what other special bottles of wines our fellow #WinePW bloggers opened during Open That Bottle Night 2017:

Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm  will post “How #OTBN happens while on vacation in Dominica

Jen from Vino Travels will share “Baked sausage rigatoni with Vignavecchia Chianti Classico Riserva

Sue from A Palatable Pastime is pairing “Pork Carnitas with Saint Cosme Cotes-Du-Rhone

Michelle from Rockin Red Blog is writing about “South of the Border for Open That Bottle Night

Cindy from Grape Experiences is posting “Wine and Dine: Two New Zealand Pinot Noirs and One-Pan Chicken

Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla is pairing “Red Wine Chorizo + 1994 Argyle Reserve Oregon Pinot Noir

Nancy from Pull That Cork will post “Our OTBN Celebration: The Château Léoville-Las Cases Stole the Show

Lori from Dracaena Wines is sharing”Wine is in Boxes. It’s OTBN. Still turned out to be a night not to miss”

Martin from ENOFYLZ Wine Blog will post “Batting A Thousand for OTBN Vol 8- A Celebration With Friends

Jill from L’occasion is opening “A Gigondas from the Cellar

Gwendolyn from Wine Predator is posting “Cheers to Open That Bottle Night 2017 with Champagne from Bollinger

David from Cooking Chat is posting “Shiitake Beef Stew with a Special Wine

Stags Leap District extraordinary Cabernet

House of Cab Stag's Leap District

Stags Leap District winemaking history goes back to mid-1880’s with the establishment of Occidental Winery off Silverado Trail. Today is home to Regusci Winery. The Phylloxera outbreak and Prohibition killed the booming wine industry in the region. By 1961 pioneer Nathan Fey planted the first Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards in the in Stags Leap District. From 70 acres jumped to over 34,000 acres planted to Cabernet Sauvignon in California today. In 1973 the Judgment of Paris exposed Stags Leap wines to stardom. In a blind tasting, nine renown French wine judges choose the 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon over well known French producers as Mouton-Rothschild and Haut Brion.

Vertical Blind Tasting
Stags Leap District Winegrowers  celebrated House of Cab Library Blind Tasting event at Jardinière Restaurant in San Francisco. What a treat to try Cabernet Sauvignon (1991 to 2010) in a blind side by side tasting, from this unique winemaking region. The tasting experience demonstrated the longevity and the sense of place of these exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon. These wines revealed a great balanced between acid, fruit, and tannins. Great fruit character, pleasant spiciness, wood nuances, velvety texture and a long finish.

From the blind library tasting some of my favorites are, 1992 Clos Du Val, 2007 Terlato Family Vineyards, 1995 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, 2005 Isley Vineyards, 2008 Baldacci Black Label and 2008 Quijote SLD.

Pictures by Edgar Solis Photo

Walk Around Tasting
At the walk around tasting, the participating wineries shared a variety of wines including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Petit Syrah.

A unique chance to talk to vintners and winemakers about how they grow and craft their wines. From Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Director of Vineyards Operations, Kirk Grace shared how they achieved green certification on their 142 acres of Estate vineyards by adhering to sustainable practices. “At Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars we put quality vs. quantity. Numbers are significant, but growing quality grapes and making exceptional wines is all about being in tune with the vines and down on the dirt”.

Kirk Grace, Director of Vineyards Operations For Stag's Leap Wine Cellars
Kirk Grace, Director of Vineyards Operations For Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars

Marcus Notaro, Winemaker for Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, shared his thoughts about the 2016 harvest. “Bud break was early in Napa Valley this year and a cold season. We didn’t achieve the normal high temperature in July and August, which allowed for a prolonged hang time of the fruit. Overall, high-quality grapes in our vineyards. The grapes ripened evenly with lower than normal yield, but tasty berries. An interesting fact for this harvest is that the grapes from the cooler areas like Coombsville ripened at the same rate than the warmer areas like St. Helena.”

Marcus Notaro, Winemaker for Stag's Leap Wine Cellars
Marcus Notaro, Winemaker for Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars

Michael Beaulac, Winemaker for Pine Ridge, shared the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon from Stags Leap District, the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, and 2014 Carneros, Napa Chardonnay. All well balanced outstanding wines. Michael has 25 harvests under his belt, he joined Pine Ridge back in 2009, he came aboard with hi expectations of showcasing the 200 acres estate vineyards, 12 properties within five Napa Valley appellations. He enjoys creating wines that are unique to their terroir, as well as combining the various qualities of several vineyards into a harmonious blend.

Michael Beaulac, Winemaker for Pine Ridge Vineyards
Michael Beaulac, Winemaker for Pine Ridge Vineyards

Pictures By Edgar Solis Photo

Overall, The House of Cab Stags Leap District tasting event showed that top quality grapes treated with respect produced formidable wines for every taste. I share my experience with some favorite wines bellow.

  • 1992 Clos Du Val Stag’s Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon: Still going strong, with aromas of ripe red fruit, vanilla, allspice, leather and hints of rose petals. On the palate, feels luscious with an elegant texture and flavors or ripe dark berries, dark cherries, brown spices and touch of sweetness and green tea. Suggested retail price $70.

  • 2015 Stag’s Leap Winery Viognier: Bright acidity with ripe stone fruit, honeysuckle and kiwi. This Viognier finished clean with hints of passion fruit and guava. Suggested retail price $32.

  • 2011 Quixote Petite Syrah: This wine shows Star Anise, ripe plum, dark berries and coffee bean aromas. On the palate, this Petite Syrah feels full body with substantial but smooth tannins. Suggested retail price $80.

Grgich Hills Estate Winery Story

Impressive wines at Stony Hill Vineyard

Delightful wine tasting experience at Stony Hill Vineyard. Turning at the road that takes you to the Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park, located in Napa Valley between St. Helena and Calistoga you can tell is going to be a unique wine tasting experience. There is room just for one vehicle at a time as you drive up the road to Spring Mountain. As you get to the beautiful mid-century modern home, you think you are visiting a friend. Mrs. Willinda McCrea greeted us at the front door with a great smile and friendly demeanor. As she walked us trough the beautiful open spaced home to the backyard, she made us feel that like having a great time with our favorite aunt.

What an amazing Napa Valley view of the Vaca Mountains Range! Willinda walked us from the backyard trough their vineyards and into their historic production facility, old but full of character building. The small wood building housed a couple of stainless steel fermenters and many neutral oak barrels, great smell. Mrs. McCrea shared some of the history on the property. “In 1943, my in-laws, San Francisco advertising executive Fred McCrea and his wife Eleanor bought 160 acres of homestead land on the west slope of the Napa Valley north of St. Helena. They began planting Chardonnay grapes in 1947 followed shortly by plantings of Pinot Blanc, White Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Semillon. Their first harvest was in 1952, and they sold their first Chardonnay in 1954. We inherited Stony Hill in 1991 when Eleanor died and continued to run the business today.” The property has 40 acres under vine. Stony Hill has an average production of 3,100 cases of wine a year.

As Mrs. McCrea said, “Winemaking today at Stony Hill continues the philosophy that Fred and Eleanor McCrea established when they crushed their first grapes in 1952. We believe, as they did that the character of the wine is determined primarily by the unique qualities of our hillside grown grapes. Our goal is to translate the grapes’ intense fruitiness into elegant and age-worthy wines.” Mike Chelini is the Winemaker at Stony Hill. He arrived as vineyard foreman in 1972, later on became the assistant winemaker, assuming full winemaking responsibilities when Fred McCrea died in 1977. Since then Mike has been in charge of both, vineyard and winery operations. With the help of six full-time employees, Mike put emphasis on taking great care of the vines.

Back at their backyard, Willinda shared with us their current Estate wines.

  • 2012 Stony Hill Chardonnay: Aromas of green apple, ripe pears, honeysuckle and hints of apple pie. On the palate plenty of yellow fruit, hints of citric and mineral notes. This Chardonnay has expressive fruit, gentle acidity and a slight hint of oak. A wonderful wine to have with many food preparations, including white fish, shellfish, chicken over pasta with a white sauce, pork loin with a mushroom sauce and grilled lobster. Suggested retail price $45.
  • 2013 Stony Hill Gewürztraminer: Subtle white floral aromas upfront, followed by ripe peach, pears, Granny apple and herbal notes. On the palate, fresh squeezed citrus, quince and hints of mineral and pineapple. Pleasant acidity plus low alcohol (12%) and sharp dry finish. Great with fish, salads, poultry and your holiday fixings. Suggested retail price $27.
  • 2013 Stony Hill White Riesling: Jasmine, tangerine and white peach aromas. On the palate, this crisp white wine shows key lime pie, tangerine and stone fruit with hints of mineral and sage. Great wine to have with your favorite salad, butternut squash soup or spicy Asian food. Suggested retail price $30.
  • 2014 Rosenda de la Sombra: Rosé from Cabernet Sauvignon: Light raspberry perfume with hints of pomegranate and rose petal. Flavors of cranberry, underripe peach and mineral notes. Crisp acidity and silky and dry finish. Suggested retail price $25.
  • 2011 Stony Hill Cabernet Sauvignon: A very gentle 100% Napa Valley Cabernet with elegant aromas of ripe cherry, plums, fresh figs and sweet vanilla. On the palate, gentle tannins and pleasant acidity with flavors of ripe dark berries, plum and hints of earth and oak. Great Cabernet Sauvignon to sip with friends or enjoy with raw beef preparations, bison prime rib or a medley of roasted vegetables. Suggested retail price $60.

Wine tasting at Stony Hill Vineyards is conducted by appointment only. Make an appointment at Stony Hill, a great experience that you will always remember.


Silver Trident Winery innovative wine tasting

Silver Trident Winery innovative wine tasting just opened in Napa Valley. The Silver Trident Winery opened its new residential-style Tasting Home, nestled in the town of Yountville. The town is the culinary mecca of Napa Valley, a great place to shop, and it is host to a variety of exciting events throughout the year and backdrop for Silver Trident’s tasting concept.

The Mediterranean-style Tasting Home is tastefully furnished and curated with Ralph Lauren Home products. Guests will be able to enjoy Silver Trident wines as they browse through the Home. The Tasting Home consists of a living room, dining room and a library showcasing the furniture, floor coverings, lighting and tabletop accents from the Ralph Lauren Home collection. Everything is available for purchase, from the chandeliers overhead to the carpets underfoot, from teak, silver and leather serving trays to crystal wine goblets, as well as the wines.

Silver Trident is a Napa Valley boutique winery producing only 1,800 cases per year. The Winery is the conception of Bob Binder and Walter Jost. Bob Binder is the co-founder of Oceania Cruises, a luxury cruise line that has partnered on projects with The Wine Spectator, Lalique, Bon Appétit Magazine and Ralph Lauren Home. The Culinary Director for Oceania Cruises is Jacques Pépin; as such, the line is regarded as serving the finest cuisine at sea. Walter Jost, the winery’s co-founder is Swiss-born an accomplished advertising and media executive. Bob and Walter ambitioned creating a small winery, hand-picked grapes and people with a passion for every step of the process, from the vine to the glass. The winery’s name is a nod to Neptune, who his three-pronged spears to create earthquakes, tidal waves, and oceans.

Alongside the wide range of Ralph Lauren Home products is a thoughtfully curated collection of antiques, books and artwork sourced from around the world. The artwork will rotate, and next art exhibition will be paintings from renowned French Chef Jacques Pepin. The new exhibit of his paintings will open in June and will run through October 2015.

There is also an intimate and inviting upstairs loft room available for private events by appointment, with capacity for 20 guests.

“We are offering the wine country visitor something that’s truly never been done before,” explains founder Bob Binder. “By combining the allure of Ralph Lauren Home and our line of hand-crafted small production wines, we feel we have created an unprecedented new experience,” he adds. “We have curated a remarkable residential setting where our guests can enjoy our wines while enjoying the magic of a Ralph Lauren Home setting and everything is available to take home,” he adds.

Winemaker Kari Auringer hands-on approach, from vineyard sourcing to a myriad winemaking details, results in the production of elegant long lasting wines where the fruit is the star. She spent the last decade, creating ultra-premium wines from some of the best vineyards in Napa Valley and Sonoma County and brings that expertise to Silver Trident to create one-of-a-kind small production wines.

Current Winery releases include:

  • 2014 Apollo’s Folly – A Rosé of Pinot Noir with delicate floral notes followed by an explosion of juicy ripe strawberry, apricot, and raspberry aromas burst out of the glass. In the palette, it has great acidity with a touch of minerality. (Sonoma Coast, $28)
  •  2014 Symphony No. 9 – A Sauvignon Blanc with crisp citrus and tropical fruit aromas. In the palette, it is refreshing with a citrus burst and a hint of minerality. (Napa Valley, $28)
  • 2012 Playing With Fire – A deep garnet blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Syrah with black fruit, licorice and earthiness aromas. In the palette, you will find black fruit and plums with a round velvety finish. (Napa Valley Red, $45)
  • 2013 Benevolent Dictator – An elegant Pinot Noir with aromas of cherries, baking spices, and slight notes of oak and vanilla. In the palette, it is vibrant with dark fruit, licorice and lasting finish. (Sonoma Coast, $55)
  • 2010 Twenty Seven Fathoms – A well craftedt Cabernet Sauvignon with alluring aromas of black currant, cranberry, red plum and earthiness. In the palette, there is an abundance of black fruit, elegant oak and well-integrated tannins. (Napa Valley, $90)

Photos by Edgar Solis

Napa Valley Harvest 2015 early start

Photo by Edgar Solis

Napa Valley Harvest 2015 started early July 22, eight days early than the 2014 harvest.  Mumm Napa won this year’s race by picking four acres of Pinot Noir from the Game Farm Vineyard in Silverado Trail.“Game Farm Vineyard serves as the litmus test for the Napa harvest” related Vineyard Manager Doug Springer.

The vineyard usually delivers the first crops of the Valley. The 36 acres Vineyard is located west of Silverado Trail below the Rector Creek’s Dam. Topsoil from the vineyard area was used to create the dam, stripping off the Valley floor and leaving behind rocky soils and cobblestones. The 20-year old vineyard creates a struggling environment that forces the vines to direct its energy to the fruit. Heat and light reflected by the white stones on the ground increase the grape ripening speed, helping the crops to develop early every year. Traditionally Sparkling houses pick early seeking lower sugar levels and higher acidity. There is no surprise why this vineyard delivers the perfect grapes Mum Napa seeks for the premium quality Sparkling wines at an earlier time.

To celebrate the beginning of the 2015 harvest Mumm Napa Winemaker, Ludovic Dervin, and employees with the sabering of Sparkling, toasting to the grapes and a large group, pops corks of well-shaken bubbly.

Talking to the crowd, he explained, that, in general, this growing season has been different from 2011, 2013 and 2014 seasons. This season had unusual canopy growth, smaller berries, variability in the crop and unevenness on the crop ripeness. He calls it a diamond in the rough, “We had to do a lot of carving and polishing this year to extract the beautiful quality from the 2015 harvest”.

He indicated that Pinot Noir’s crop from Game Farm Vineyard this year yielded 12.1 tons, while the same Vineyard yielded 16 tons of grapes in 2014. He added, “Prediction is coming to fruition; we are having a lighter Pinot Noir crop, but what we are not getting in quantity, we are getting on quality.”


Barrel Auction Napa Valley 2015


Great wine tasting experience at Barrel Auction Napa Valley 2015. Hall Wines Winery in St. Helena was the backdrop for an amazing wine and food tasting event this year. Great meet and greet with media around 10:00 a.m. at the historic Bergfeld winery building. Delicious breakfast paired with Robert Mondavi Rosé and bubbly from Domaine Chandon. Owners of Hall Winery Craig and Kathryn Hall welcomed press members along with Honorary chairs from the Opus One Winery, lead by Vintner David Pearson and Winemaker Michael Silacci.

Hall Wines offered a great experienced at their amazing property in St. Helena. A mix of historic winery architecture (Bergfeld Winery Building) and their modern state of the art Gold LEED Certified production facility. Visitors have the opportunity to stroll around buildings and huge tents full of quality Napa Valley wines and the best expression of local cuisine. The Napa Valley Vintners members offered a great selection of local wines to taste including the exclusive selections just produced for The Napa Valley Vintners wine auction.

Among the great wine selections to taste: Schramsberg classic California sparkling wine and J. Davis beautiful Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. At the barrel auction tasting, stellar Cabernet Sauvignon selections from Chateau Boswell, Cliff Lede, Ehlers Estate, Baldacci, Frank Family, Trinitas, Melka Wines, Shafer, Beaulieu Vineyard, Paradox, Pine Ridge, Truchard Vineyard, Robert Mondavi, Amici Cellars, Round Pond, Alpha Omega, Amizetta Winery, Darioush and Far Niente. A beautiful 100% Merlot from Coho and great 100% Pinot Noirs from Acacia, Artesa and Saintsbury, beautiful Carneros fruit. Trinchero offered an outstanding Malbec and William Hill an unfiltered well crafted Chardonnay. This year we missed the noise from the manual barrel auction bids, they gave away to digital big screens. All for technology these days, that is the way of the future.

Along with the great wine selections, local restaurants displayed and amazing collection of flavors. Mustards Grill pork ribs, Bouchon duck delight. Among many of the local restaurants great food creations from Torc, Tre Vigne Restaurant, Auberge du Soleil, Rutherford Grill and Brix. Also Morimoto, Angele, Eiko’s, Goose & Gander, Cordeiro’s Bar & Grill among others.

The Opus One team was the Honorary Chair this year. Unfortunately there was no Opus One wine to try at The Barrel Auction tasting event. We did not find any barrel auction lot to taste from Opus One either. Opus did contribute with several lots for Auction Napa Valley. But no worries, Napa Valley Vintners offered well crafted delicious wines from many family owned and ran wineries. We did try many outstanding selections of Napa Valley wines, SALUD!


Mount Veeder Appellation wine tasting


The spring tasting for the Mount Veeder Appellation will take place next April 16, 2015 at the Presidio Golden Gate Club. Mount Veeder is a one-of-a-kind appellation with wine production severely limited by nature. The appellation is located north of Carneros and west of Napa and Yountville. Known as the “Mountain by the Bay,” the area has been producing richly intense, age-worthy wines since 1860’s. The wines from Mount Veeder reflect the independent spirit of its mountain growers and vintners, grown in rugged conditions that demand handcraftsmanship at the highest level.

Why Mount Veeder produces one-of-a-kind wines?

  • It has the longest growing season and the lowest yields in Napa Valley.
  • Virtually all vineyard work is done by hand, due to the rugged conditions and steep slopes.
  • Rugged mountain terrain. Extremely steep slopes, above the fog, render shallow topsoil and minimal water retention, resulting in tiny berries, with intense flavor concentration yet soft tannins.
  • It is the only hillside appellation in Napa Valley that adjoins the cool, bayside Carneros, benefiting from the cooling influence of San Pablo Bay.
  • Mount Veeder is an island of ancient seabed pushed up into a mountain, surrounded by volcanic soils that typify the rest of the Napa Valley.

Mount Veeder wine grapes benefit from different sun exposures, types of soils, and elevations and the cooling influences of the San Pablo Bay. It comes to no surprise then that we can enjoy an array of wine grape varietals from this appellation. Like the rest of the Napa Valley appellations, Mount Veeder is known for Cabernet Sauvignon. However, other wine grape varietals like Albariño, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Malbec, Merlot, Mondeuse, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Zinfandel are also grown.

Do not miss out on tasting all Mt. Veeder wines in one place. The Mount Veeder Spring Wine Tasting will be April 16, 2015 at the Presidio Golden Gate Club, located 135 Fisher Loop in San Francisco. Wines will be available for tasting and purchase. The event will open with a Working Media Lunch at 12:30 p.m. and for the Consumer Tasting at 5:00 p.m. For tickets visit the Mount Veeder Appellation website.

Napa Valley Film Festival 2014

Photo by Edgar Solís

For the fourth year in a row, the Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF) returns to the Valley to delight all with great entertaining. From November 12 to November 16, 2014, the Valley will host filmmakers, winemakers, and food and wine enthusiasts alike. The festival, now a household name, it is considered the ultimate celebration of film, food and wine; highlighting the picturesque towns of Napa, Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga at the most colorful time of year.

This year the NVFF organizers have an outstanding lineup with twelve screening venues, 125 films, 300 filmmakers, fifty chefs and 150 wineries.

It is no coincidence that the NVFF takes place during this time of the year, just after harvest. Marc Lhormer (festival Co-founder) explains, “The film festival calendar is very crowded during the year. There is a natural flow to what happens each calendar with the film industry, in particular with independent films. Every year there is a new batch of independent films that get tried in at the Sundance Festival in January. There are other festivals during the first half of the year that serve different specific purposes of introducing new independent films. Then, in the fall, starting around Labor Day, there are very prestigious film festivals that are considered a warm up to the awards season with movies positioning for Oscar potential.” When looking for the right time to hold the festival they saw a window, he added: “We identified an opportunity for an early or mid November festival that would a round up of all new independent films that may come out in January, not in the theaters yet, and that would give us the opportunity to curate the best of the best for our NVFF.” Since the NVFF is in November, they can show sneak previous from films that studios are holding on to release to theaters between Thanksgiving and Christmas. “So, then we become an indelible valued cost addition for the film industry,” Marc concludes.

Last year audiences got to preview many of the major films that opened shortly thereafter. This year promises to be as spectacular. To see the full festival’s lineup, schedule, venues and ticket purchases, visit the festival’s website.

The most anticipated event of the NVFF is the Thursday night extravagant Red Carpet Festival Gala following the screening of Director Mike Binder’s new film Black and White, starring Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer. NVFF Patron Circle Members and Pass Plus and Gala ticket holders will mingle with filmmakers and celebrities at the “not-to-be-missed” party of the year. Guests will enjoy cuisine from more than thirty of the Valley’s top chefs including Ken Frank (La Toque), Bob Hurley (Hurley’s), Joseph Humphries (The Fox and the Farmer), and Victor Scargle (Lucy at Bardessono). Guests will also enjoy wines from more than fifty of Napa Valley’s boutique wineries.


Festival del Sole returns to Napa Valley to celebrate its ninth season


The Napa Valley Festival del Sole returns for its ninth season, and opens this coming Friday, and runs through July 20, 2014. Napa Valley will serve, once more, as the perfect backdrop for one of the country’s most compelling summer celebrations.

For nine years now, the Valley transforms to receive nearly 10,000 audience members and visitors every July. Wineries like Alpha Omega, Beaulieu Vineyard, Boisset Family Estates, Bouchaine Vineyards, Castello di Amorosa, Chimney Rock, Far Niente, Gallo Signature Series, Gargiulo Vineyards, Grgich Hills Estate, HALL St. Helena, Jaffe Estate, Keller Estate, Martin Estate, Robert Mondavi Winery, The Hess Collection, and Vineyard 29 will host and sponsor over forty events featuring world-class classical music, jazz, opera and ballet along with curated culinary, wine and wellness adventures that celebrate the art of life.

Since 2006, Festival del Sole has presented more than 300 artists and ensembles in venues throughout Napa Valley and partnered with more than 200 wineries, hotels and local businesses.

One of the festival’s missions is to enrich Napa Valley’s cultural and economic vitality by presenting performances of the highest international quality, and innovative programs that celebrate the art of life. The festival also nurtures young artistic talent and supports art education.

A not to be missed event will be the “A Taste of Napa.” The event will showcase over seventy Napa Valley renowned wineries, food artisans and chefs. New for this year are live cooking demonstrations, BBQ artisans and Napa craft breweries including Carneros Brewing Company and Napa Point Brewing, plus a wellness conversation by Dr. Melina Jampolis called “Spice and Supernutrients” where she will discuss how to incorporate the power of food as medicine into delicious and healthy meals. Chef Tiffany Derry, a Top Chef alum who currently stars in the new Spike TV series Hungry Investors, will lead an engaging and informative cooking demonstration where she will whip up a few delectable recipes.

Attendees can eat, drink, socialize and participate in wellness conversations aimed at enriching our health and happiness. New this year, guests will also be invited to enjoy cooking demonstrations designed to enhance our experience and understanding of food. And once again Dining Around, NewsTalk910’s popular Bay Area food program, will host a live broadcast.

The event will be held on July 12, 2014 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the former COPIA building, 500 First Street, next to the Oxbow Public Market. Tickets for this event can be purchased for $45.00 per person at the Festivals’ website.

For 2014 season schedule, fabulous auction items, and details on the event program visit the Napa Valley Festival del Sole.  Visit the website also to acquire individual tickets, Allegro Passes, VIP Passes and free performance tickets.