Expand Your Palate
This phrase may well evolve into a major Napa Valley theme for 2018 thanks to two popular wine bars with an international focus that opened last year. A gallery tasting room and two spanking new lodgings aim to broaden your visual palette as well.
Two sommeliers with impeccable cred cooked up Compline, a combo wine bar, shop and restaurant (gourmet comfort food) in downtown Napa. Master sommelier Matt Stamp’s globally oriented wine classes draw beginners, collectors and professionals.
BANK ON IT
Sommelier Toby DeVore and wife Lisa opened The Saint wine bar inside the stone-walled 1890 Bank of St. Helena building. Comparative tastings might include a Napa cab or dolcetto alongside its French or Italian equivalent.
Cabernet sauvignons poured at Acumen Wine Gallery in downtown Napa come from Atlas Peak appellation grapes. These beautifully crafted old-fashioned Napa Valley wines more than live up to the swank gallery/lounge setting.
FIT FOR THE KING
The Castellucci family strives to provide the ultimate luxury experience — at $1,000-plus per night — at the Ink House, a lavishly renovated 1885 Italianate in St. Helena. Elvis slept here in 1960, but Graceland this definitely isn’t.
The haute-boutique Archer Hotel Napa’s entryway mimics a grape arbor, one among many Napa-centric flourishes throughout the five-story structure. Views of the valley itself unfold from the rooftop restaurant and bar. Chef Charlie Palmer does the food.
From top: A deck at Archer Hotel; Ink House in St. Helena; Acumen Wine Gallery.
The recent Northern California wildfires affected all five of the Napa and Sonoma wineries profiled in our story “Little Pieces of Paradise” (October issue). Below are brief post-fire updates.
Tom Eddy Winery
“Huddling in a truck with 80-mile-an-hour winds and a firestorm around you, you get to know your neighbors really well,” says the Calistoga winery’s namesake owner, who lost a building, infrastructure and several wine lots in the Tubbs Fire.
Owner Julie Johnson says her St. Helena winery and home “would have been toast” if not for “incessant bombardments” of water and flame retardant to aid firefighters battling the Nuns Fire in wooded, precipitous Mayacamas Mountains terrain.
The Pocket Fire forced the Geyserville winery to close for a week, but owner Lisa Mazzoni feels confident the 2017 vintage suffered no smoke damage. “Business is definitely down,” she says, “but we’re optimistic that traffic will be back to normal soon.”
Lasseter Family Winery
On its swift and capricious path through Glen Ellen the Nuns Fire destroyed all the fences surrounding the property, but vintners Nancy and John Lasseter “feel blessed” their winery and vineyards were spared.
For more than a week winemaker Ben Cane had no idea whether Westwood’s Annadel Gap Vineyard in Santa Rosa had survived the Nuns Fire. It had. Cane theorizes that high winds preceding the fire coated the unharvested grenache and counoise with heavy dust that protected the grapes from smoke damage.
BY THE NUMBERS
“I’ll never take clean air for granted again,” posted Kellie Fuller on her Facebook page after a mid-October rainstorm ended a week and a half of fire-induced unhealthy-to-hazardous air-quality ratings. Well before the fires were contained, Fuller and other Napa residents volunteered at what evolved into the Community #NapaStrong pop-up store, which like the Healdsburg Free Store in Sonoma County and others elsewhere distributed free donated clothing, housewares and other items to people displaced by the fires. Two takeaways from the fires, says Stephani Stephenson, the Napa pop-up’s lead volunteer, are that “we need to be better prepared to evacuate quickly” in an emergency, but if tragedy strikes “your community has your back.” By itself the Tubbs Fire, which spanned from Calistoga to Santa Rosa, was the most destructive fire in California history in terms of structures lost (5,643); it was the third deadliest in terms of lives lost (22). Here are a few other fire-related numbers as of early November.
This article originally appeared in Marin Magazine’s print edition with the headline: “Open For Business”.