Stags' Leap Winery - One Valuable Apostrophe

Stags' Leap Winery - One Valuable Apostrophe

…the vineyard is referred to as “Ne Cede Malis,” a Latin phrase found etched in one of the manor’s stained-glass tasting-room windows.

The full phrase, “ Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito,” originated from the Roman poet Virgil. The oft-quoted admonition is translated into English as “ Yield not to misfortunes (sometimes translated to ‘evil’), but advance all the more boldly against them.”

2019 Michelin Guide -- Napa Valley

2019 Michelin Guide -- Napa Valley

Within the Napa Valley there are now a total of 35 Michelin-rated restaurants, including 21 L’assiette (adding Charlie Palmer Steak Napa, Compline and Redd, which closed in October), eight Bib Gourmands (up from six in 2018 by moving Ciccio up from L’assiette and adding Gran Electrica to last year’s remaining six), four one star (same list as last year), zero two-stars and the two remaining top contenders kept their three stars (The French Laundry and The Restaurant at Meadowood, which has had three stars since 2011).

Napa Valley's staffing challenges

Napa Valley's staffing challenges

Napa Valley restaurants are finding it increasingly difficult to hire and retain qualified personnel. The causes are partly driven by the high cost of living but also appear linked to broader trends: lack of affordable housing, higher-paying alternative careers (e.g., construction) and slowing local population growth. These trends are exacerbated when coupled with the increasing number of Napa Valley tourists, resorts, restaurants and wineries.

The Prisoner winery opens

The Prisoner winery opens

There are many things to like about this new winery (high quality, decent pricing, support of small growers), but there are things that are also of concern (a blurring of the lines between restaurants and wineries, the use of imprisonment as a form of entertainment and the erasing of a prior iconic wine brand without any sense of gratitude or remembrance). However the bigger concern might be that the loss of a sense of place will harm other local businesses, especially if other wineries widely adopt such strategies.

Why Yountville’s Redd restaurant closed

Why Yountville’s Redd restaurant closed

The rash of restaurant closings in the Napa Valley continues. Last Wednesday, a Facebook post announced that Yountville’s Redd Restaurant would close five days later.

“We had been talking about it for about a week, but it became a reality pretty fast,” said Redd’s general manager, Guy Rebentisch, who has been with the establishment since its beginning.

Yountville’s Ciccio is better than ever

Yountville’s Ciccio is better than ever

Over the last year, the new chef at Yountville’s Ciccio, Peruvian-born Bryant Minuche, has quietly transformed the food from very good to outstanding with little or no fanfare. And although locals might lament how shining a spotlight on this already popular restaurant could result in even longer wait times for a table, it’s now just unfair to the dining public to keep the news under wraps.

Hudson Winery opens in Napa’s Carneros region

Hudson Winery opens in Napa’s Carneros region

On Sept. 1, Lee and Cristina Salas-Porras Hudson and their team opened the doors to Napa’s newest winery. Located on their 2,000-acre ranch just north of San Pablo Bay in Napa’s Carneros region, the winery, caves and tasting rooms form a village-like collection of structures where guests taste wines and learn about the history of both the property and the proprietors.

Napa's Gran Eléctrica is electric

Napa's Gran Eléctrica is electric

Napa’s newest restaurant, the hip and lively Gran Eléctrica, is grabbing well-deserved attention. New York owners Elise Rosenberg, Emelie Kihlstrom and Tamer Hamawi have joined forces with locals to craft modernized Mexican “street food” and super-creative cocktails served in a spacious indoor-outdoor dining room decorated with art inspired by Mexico’s Day of the Dead holiday and mural art.

The great wine challenge

The great wine challenge

Making wine is easy.

However, take that same wine and bottle it, and without a near Herculean effort that includes numerous layers of people, bureaucracy and cash you will not likely sell that wine. The fact is, making wine is easy, but selling it is not — and it’s getting harder all the time.

Napa’s Scale Wine Group finds a new balance for top sommeliers

Napa’s Scale Wine Group finds a new balance for top sommeliers

Working as a hired sales and marketing team, this group of wine experts provides a collection of selected, mostly local, wine brands the ability to obtain broader exposure throughout the United States. Other companies do this type of outsourced work, but what’s unique about Scale is that their team includes some of the world’s leading wine sommeliers.

St. Helena's The Charter Oak is Napa Valley’s best new restaurant

St. Helena's The Charter Oak is Napa Valley’s best new restaurant

The reviews, tentative at first, have begun to pour in: The San Francisco Chronicle placed The Charter Oak on its Top 100 Restaurants list of 2018, the Wine Enthusiast added them to its list of top 100 wine restaurants in America, and the prestigious James Beard Foundation nominated them as one of five of the Best New Restaurants in America. Beyond this impressive list, Food & Wine magazine recently included Hong as one of their Best New Chefs of 2018.


Lodi rising: The region's wines are taking off and the world is watching

Lodi rising: The region's wines are taking off and the world is watching

Lodi’s rapid rise is largely due to three factors: 1) the cost of land is relatively low; 2) Lodi is large (over 110,000 planted acres, compared to Napa’s 45,000), displaying a wide diversity of microclimates that can grow everything from heat-loving Zinfandel and Cabernet to cooler-climate varietals such as Kerner and Gewürztraminer; and, 3) the culture encourages wine experimentation.

St. Helena's Cindy Pawlcyn, Sean Knight sell building, liquor license to Joel Gott

St. Helena's Cindy Pawlcyn, Sean Knight sell building, liquor license to Joel Gott

Pawlcyn and her business partner, Sean Knight, had sold the restaurant and the liquor license for an undisclosed amount, and, at the time, the new owner was unnamed as well. The news of a second iconic St. Helena restaurant to close abruptly within a few weeks of one another (the building next door housed Terra restaurant, which closed June 2) sent a wave of concern throughout the Napa Valley’s culinary world, with many fearing some sort of domino theory of eatery Armageddon. However, the timing of the closure appears to be more of a coincidence than a harbinger of doom.

A busy year for the Napa Valley food scene

A busy year for the Napa Valley food scene

The world of food in the Napa Valley has never been more in flux than it is today. With major changes in demographics, technology and climate change all coupled with increased competition, limited labor and changing consumer preferences it often seems as though there are new revelations on a daily basis.

After 30 years, St. Helena restaurant Terra and Bar Terra are closing, citing staff shortages

After 30 years, St. Helena restaurant Terra and Bar Terra are closing, citing staff shortages

Owners Lissa Doumani and Hiro Sone had created the benchmark for a style of modern California cuisine, fusing European and Japanese influences. And they had also maintained a consistently exceptional Napa Valley dining experience that was rewarded for decades by reviewers such as Michael Bauer and Michelin.

Solage Calistoga searches for its new culinary soul

Solage Calistoga searches for its new culinary soul

Solbar used to offer a semi-hip, healthy, local-produce focused menu from which you could pick blind — anything you chose would have delighted you or at least been executed to perfection. Now, although there are hidden gems, most of which seem centered on the new chef’s Italian heritage, the menu often seems unfocused to the point of distraction.

Mad Fritz Taproom

Mad Fritz Taproom

The Mad Fritz husband-and-wife team is familiar with winemaking: Fisher is director of viticulture and winemaking at her family’s Fisher Vineyards and winemaker at Unity Wines, and Zacherle is director of viticulture and winemaking at David Arthur Vineyards on Pritchard Hill in the Napa Valley.

Napa's CP Steak

Napa's CP Steak

Charlie Palmer might be the hardest-working chef in America. And unlike many “celebrity chefs,” even with a dozen restaurants around the country that he visits on a rotating basis, he finds time to sit as a board member for the Citymeals-on-Wheels charity and the Culinary Institute of America. He often appears as a guest on NBC’s “Today” show, has authored six cookbooks, and is a husband for 25 years and father to four grown children.

Charlie Palmer Steak — Napa’s newest gathering hub

Charlie Palmer Steak — Napa’s newest gathering hub

“Many people now want freedom when they eat — not forced into a composed dish, but instead able to pick and choose from ingredients that are of the highest quality but minimally garnished,” Palmer said. “For dinner they might just want a protein (beef, chicken or fish) prepared simply, served with a side of vegetables with a great bottle of wine. It’s a way of dining that we feel is a perfect match for the Napa Valley.”