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It’s Got Legs: Beringer’s Rhine House

As more once-great institutions appear to teeter on the brink of oblivion, a Wine Country landmark is back in vogue. And thriving.

On a recent rainy night, card-carrying members of the SF and Napa Valley Swell set convened to celebrate the return of Beringer Winery’s historic Rhine House in St. Helena with a glamorous black-tie dinner.

Beringer was founded in 1897 and, though recently purchased by the Australian Foster’s Beer empire, it reigns as the oldest continuous winemaking facility in the Napa Valley.

The now-revamped 124-year-old Rhine House, which serves as the winery’s tasting room and event space, was originally built for co-founder Frederick Beringer and is listed on the National Register of Historic Districts.

“It was sort of like a Debutante Ball,” said guest Craig Cardon. “There were no speeches. It was an evening of fun and all about the guest experience.”

But just in case, a good cause was lauded, too: the event benefitted the architectural preservation programs of the non-profit Napa County Landmarks organization.

Sharing co-host duties: Cathy and Fred Beringer (a grandson of winery co-founder Jacob Beringer) as well as Heidi and Caley Castelein, Gardner and Kendall Wilkinson Robinson and Shirley and Tom Von Karl.

Co-hosts and vintners Cathy and Fred Beringer

The dinner featured Dungeness crab & thai coconut soup, prime rib of Colorado lamb and a warm Valrhona chocolate cake all served up on Marc Blackwell-designed dinnerware sporting gold filigree stencil patterns which were inspired by architectural details within the mansion.

And as it just wouldn’t be dinner without wine, dishes were matched with primo Beringer vino pairings created by Winemaster emeritus Ed Sbragia and Chief Winemaker Laurie Hook.

Topping off all this good taste? A jazz music performance starring songbird Alexandra Edenborough (who recently wed actor Gary Oldman).

All the guests were wowed by the nuts to bolts up-do of the grand 17-room Victorian -- everything from a seismic retrofit to conservation of all 40 of its original 19th-century stained glass windows, whose $6K cost at the time of completion in 1884 accounted for more than a quarter of the home’s entire construction costs.

“You know,” quipped John Traina, the dapper vintner who knows from exquisite details, “The last time I was here was back in the ‘70s for the house’s previous restoration!”

Check out photos below.

Alexandra Edenborough

Tabletop designer Marc Blackwell (left) with Nicole Carter and Eric Reinitz

Kathryn Lasater

Katie Schwab and Matt Paige

Vintners Michael and Sande Marston

Co-host Kendall Wilkinson Robinson and Paul Holm

Kimberly Bakker and Tatiana Sorokko


Brandt Hooker and Regina Callan

Co-hosts Shirley Robinson Von Karl (left) and Heidi Castelein

Erez and Meredith Levy


Shannon Bavaro (left) with Michael Downing, his fiancee Lex Tyndall and Dorka Keehn

Helene de Baubigny and her husband, John Golob

Katrina Barilov and Frederic Dijols