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Stony Hill

Last week, I made my first trip to Stony Hill, a winery in St. Helena that I've admired for a long time.



I got to meet Peter McRea, the owner, who has continued making excellent Chardonnay from the Napa Valley in the exact same style his parents did--which is to say, balanced, completely devoid of new oak and extremely age-worthy.


Napa in Autumn

One of the few disappointing things about living in the Bay Area is the absence of clear-cut and dramatic seasons. Autumn has always been my favorite time of year (favorite month = October), but to get a feeling for it, you have to go up to Napa or some other place where more of the trees and plants actually drop their color-changing leaves. It's the end of the season up there, but there's still some nice action, as these amateurish pics from a recent trip display.



Adieu, Boris



Boris Champy (left) is leaving Napa’s Dominus Estate in December and being replaced by Tod Mostero (right).


Another Winery, Another Party



We made another quick jaunt up to Sonoma last weekend for the grand opening of the Patz & Hall winery in Sonoma. Justifiably famous for their Pinots and Chardonnays, P&H worked steadily to become one of the premier brands for those varieties in California. There is excellence in the bottle, of course, but part of the charm, no doubt, is the traces of the personalities of owners Donald Patz, James Hall, Anne Moses and Heather Patz.


Sommelier Love Fest



Last week was the annual Peay Vineyards Sommelier Love Fest, an event in which the good family Peay—Andy and Ami, Vanessa and Nick—host sommeliers from all over for a relaxed tasting, tour, dinner and all-night wine fest.

 

Breaking Ground

Read this press release Frank Gehry-Designed Hall Winery Officially Breaks Ground in Napa Valley to find out more about Napa’s latest planned architectural wonder of a winery. The new Hall winery will find itself in the stylized company of Opus One’s ziggurat and V. Satui’s Castello di Amorosa.

Truth in Wine



Recently I had the privilege of interviewing Paul Draper, winemaker for Ridge Vineyards since 1969, over lunch. Without a doubt he is my favorite winemaker in America—not just for the wines he produces, but also for his views, his techniques, his beliefs and his inexhaustible curiosity and interest in wine. At age 71, he is as spry of mind and youthful of spirit as I could ever imagine anyone being.


Gary Farrell Sighting

I went up to Healdsburg for the 25th anniversary dinner for Gary Farrell winery. Gary Farrell, the winery, if you don't know, is one of the top, top producers of Russian River Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It's one of my faves. But Gary Farrell, the man, is also famously reclusive and shy. He never leads tours of the winery, never shows up to tastings and, generally, makes no appearances.

Though there are pictures of him here and there, I've always questioned whether or not the image in the photos was really Mr. Farrell or just some actor that they got to pose as him. I even began to question whether he even existed or if the idea of this reclusive winemaking genius was just a clever marketing ploy.

Mojitos at Farm

The Carneros Inn, with all of its understated luxury, is certainly one of the premiere places to stay in Napa. Not being a connoisseur of such things, however, I can more confidently attest to the cocktails served at its restaurant, Farm. Pictured here is their modification of Cuba's famous drink. It's called a cucumber mojito.


The cucumber mojito at Farm.

The key to it is not only the cucumber, but the fact that the mixologists dialed back on simple syrup, this reduction of sweetness clarifies the flavors and makes it all the more refreshing.
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