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Ricardo Herrera
August 25, 2016 | Ricardo Herrera

How to get around


There once was a time when vehicles did not exist. All they had were carts and horses to transport things around. When I was young we had these carts called “guillain”. This was the only form of transportation, just a horse, a wagon made of wood, one axle, the driver and any supplies he needed to carry on the back. These horses and wagons were responsible for transporting supplies, food and people. I have some wonderful memories riding around in the guillain, but it also makes me appreciate the advancement of technology. Working at a winery, it is much easier to get around from vineyard to vineyard with a car or truck as opposed to a horse and buggy. Those were some great memories, but I am happy to be back in Napa with my truck!



Time Posted: Aug 25, 2016 at 3:21 PM
Michael Baldacci
August 19, 2016 | Michael Baldacci

Vehicles and wine, oh the similarities

I am not a car person.


I had my moment when I turned 16, I wanted the cool car to bring to school everyday...then I got my license. And from that point forward I did not care what car I would be driving, I just wanted to DRIVE.  

I cannot get under the hood and tell you the difference of a gasket and a piston head, and up until last year I could not even change my own oil. But I will say that I have gotten great VALUE out of my car. As of this morning I had over 207,000 miles on my car. I received it with close to 80,000 but I still have put my miles on that beautiful car.  



I was trying to think about a relation between vehicles and wine, and I came up with this one. Like cars, wine is made to be used, or rather wine is made to be enjoyed. In my mind there is little point to a car that sits and collects dust, just like wine. Traditionally wine is ‘made to be aged’, I would argue with current winemaking styles and techniques the wines are just as great if not better when they are enjoyed at time of release. With proper decanting young wines are fabulous and full of life, aging adds a variability that not even the winemaker can dictate.

So in reality, the winemaker’s true interpretation of the wine is when it is released, it is their seal on the wine that it is ready for consumption.

This is not to say that I do not have bottles in my cellar that I am laying down and am intrigued about how they will age, but for the most part, like a good car, the value is in using the product.



My final words are this, there are wines that are fun to age, but NEVER be afraid to open a good bottle of wine… go to your cellar, find that bottle of wine you are ‘aging’ and open it up, I promise you will not regret it! 


Elizabeth Burchard
August 4, 2016 | Elizabeth Burchard

It's What You Know

Growing up in a household of girls there wasn’t much discussion about cars. My memories are of my mom driving a Volvo station wagon and then later a Suburban, since it was the only vehicle that seemed to hold us kids, our dog and all our stuff.  My father who loves cars had to be practical, waiting patiently until we are all out of the house and on our own before being able to splurge a bit.  While he has not yet gotten the car of his dreams, he continues his search and is hopeful that the day will come soon.

As I have gotten older I still don’t know much about cars.  However, I realized there are some correlations between cars to wine and I would like to share what I have learned with you to make your experience more enjoyable. Namely: 

1. Care about Appearance

The first thing people see is the exterior of the car, so keep it clean! My father always says, “Elizabeth, humor me and wash your car.” I do this because when the car looks good, I look good driving it.

When it comes to wine, appearance is just as important. Not only do you want the bottle and label to look good, but also the color itself is very important. We first experience wine though its color and appearance.  You can lean a lot about a wine just by looking at the glass. The color of wine comes from its contact with the skins after the grapes have been pressed.  The longer the juice sits with the skins the more texture, color and flavor the wine can extract from them. Along with color, the skin also gives the wine tannin, a characteristic that adds a deeper complexity to the wine.

My dad likes cars in dark colors because he thinks they have more personality.  The same can be said for wine.  The darker the shade, the more likely it is to have a richer, bolder, full-body mouth feel.  It can also mean the wine has been aged in oak longer which also conveys stronger flavors and textures within the wine.

When it comes to the age the white wines tend to go darker, while the reds tend to get lighter.  A wine’s age can also be seen in the rim variation.  In older wines you should notice the gradations of color in the glass.  The wine at the center of the glass is much deeper in color than the wine at the rim.  Just a small tip, older red wines display a greater variation in color. 

2. Maintain Your Balance

Nothing scares someone more than a car that shakes. Often times it can be because the tires aren’t maintained, low pressure, balding, or out of balance – issues when taken care of will ensure the car rides smoothly.

I also look for balance in wine. Balance in wine usually refers to the harmony between two or more of the wines elements.  The most popular are the balance between sugar and acidity. When the acid levels are higher the wine is sharp, harsh, and acidic. When the sugar levels are higher the wine becomes flabby, sugary, and flat on the palate. There is always the concern of balance between acid and tannins as well as overall balance of flavor and intensity.  When you are looking for a good bottle of wine you should always look for the perfect balance that works for your taste. You traditionally want a wine that has the right amount of weight, complexity, intensity, and flavor. So remember it is important to maintain your balance. 

3. The more you take care of it the longer it lasts

It is very important to get your car serviced regularly, and to change its oil. Again quoting my dad, “the better you take care of your car, the longer it will last”.

This holds true for wine, if you are planning to hold onto a bottle of wine for a while it is important to take care of it.  Heat is a silent killer of fine wine. Make sure to store your wine in a properly temperature-controlled space.  Also remember, especially during the summer, that wine and a “hot” car does not mix.  

4. Look for a Good Value

Everyone loves a good value, so do your research and look for something you know you’ll love.  However, realize that much like cars, there is a value difference in wine regarding luxury and quality. All wines are not created equal, same as cars. The quality of the raw ingredients and the personal attention that goes into developing a good wine can be compared to the quality, style and high performance of a luxury car.  Whether you’re shopping for cars, or wine, remember that if it’s value you seek, be sure to consider more than just price.  Also, look for other features such as appearance, balance, and the tender loving care that goes into making the product.   


Joaquin Herrera
July 28, 2016 | Joaquin Herrera

For the Love of BBQ

My love for Barbequing on the grill came to me as a young kid. My dad would come home from work on Friday afternoons, my mother would have all the meat prepped with seasoning ready to be placed on the grill. We always had other side dishes such as frijoiles fritos (Refried beans), arroz de jitomate (tomato flavored rice), and a nice mix of seasoned veggies.



The real love of barbeque came to me as I became older when we grilled steak, seasoned and marinated a couple hours with some Pinot Noir. Flavors and aromas of the wine, a tender fully flavored, medium grilled steak is unbeatable served with your favorite sides especially accompanied with a great glass of wine.

Time Posted: Jul 28, 2016 at 4:05 PM
Ricardo Herrera
July 21, 2016 | Ricardo Herrera

Mid-Week Specialty.. Flavors of Chef Ricardo Herrera

Para que toda reunión de día o de fin de semana si estoy teniendo un sándwich de pollo, una ensalada o una de mi auténtica comida casera yo diría que un plato principal sería una buena carne asada con sus cebollas a la parrilla y una gran salsa hecha. 


En un molcajete, es una roca sólida con un tamaño plato tazón tallada en el medio de la roca que permite moler todo el tomate, chile y otras cosas que lo hacen mejor y no hay que dejar de lado los granos frescos y el arroz.

El sabor único de la salsa molcajete es lo que hace la diferencia para esa comida que todos buscamos, y por favor, no dejemos un lado una buena copa de un vino tinto preferiblemente un Cabernet Sauvignon.

Michael Baldacci
July 13, 2016 | Michael Baldacci

They thought I would never grow up… Flavors of a Picky eater

Growing up I didn’t see anything wrong with my eating habits. Meat was a mainstay, plenty of garlic bread loaded with extra butter, and if I was feeling daring I qualified mashed potatoes as my veggie intake for the week. I was 13 and I found my love for simplicity to be normal, a burger had meat and cheese only, not to be watered down with any sort of lettuce or tomato, in my eyes that only took away from the greasy mess of a double double from In- N- Out burger. My dad jokingly said that we ate prison food… I didn’t find his jokes to be very funny.

As I prepared myself for my college days, my parents were certain that the pure humiliation of not eating salads, or any form of vegetables would get the best of me and I would have to convert in front of my peers. They were wrong. College brought on more of the same simple meals. I mastered the grilled cheese with a side of bacon, my taste buds were not shaping up the way my parents had hoped.

But finally, the day came! I am not sure if it was my taste buds that changed or just the willingness to try new things that changed, but finally I converted to the good side, the healthy side.

Living in the mecca of great food has been a catalyst to this sudden change of heart. I am fortunate enough to dine at some of the best restaurants in the world. The chefs are meticulous about the flavors that are going into each and every bite. A small turnip on top of your appetizer is not just for looks, but rather it is for a touch of bitterness to tone down the sweetness of a flavorful bite.

It has been an amazing transition for me, going from steak and potatoes every night to exploring menus across all foods and preparations. The flavors of the world truly intrigue me. As I mentioned, I am blessed to live in an area that allows such treats, but it has also transitioned over into the kitchen. My love for flavors has turned me into the best chef in the family. I love to explore different preparations and styles of food. I went from bread in every meal to a diet that tries to keep bread away as much as possible and make sure that there is at least one helping of veggies for every meal.

I have come along way, and at times I think my parents thought I was doomed for life, but at the age of 26 I can say that my dietary needs are no longer picky, and in fact they are quite the opposite. So to all the parents that are wondering if their 18-year-old son or daughter will ever shy away from mac and cheese and PB&J, the answer is no, but there is hope that there will be other parts of the food pyramid that are incorporated into the diet, as I am living proof. 

Time Posted: Jul 13, 2016 at 6:05 PM
Kellie Duckhorn
July 6, 2016 | Kellie Duckhorn

Taste This!


Have you ever wondered what your personal taste profile might be if you were raised in a different culture? I know my palate has been shaped by a lifetime of Northern California food choices. We have it all, in the Bay Area. But I also know that my palate was formed by simple ingredients. My family kept to the basics with plenty of fresh picked produce, fresh baked bread (yes, my mom fully embraced the country lifestyle), locally raised meat (Sonoma thrives with options), dairy and the American pantry staple: Lawry’s Seasoned Salt. My palate still cannot embrace hot, spicy peppers despite years of exposure while really pungent cheese is a struggle and odd animal parts don’t beckon!

I didn’t really think about how my upbringing and exposure to my personal ingredient list influenced my wine vocabulary, until I went to China. My primary task was hosting guests in our Shanghai Tasting Room or students at one of the local universities for wine education. I set up the tastings as one might expect: three wines, white, medium body red, heavy red. I had my back pocket list of adjectives, the ones that come naturally to me from time spent in vegetable gardens, farmers’ markets and years of outdoor adventure. So, to my surprise, when I encouraged the guests to find the aroma of grapefruit pith or the flavor of blackberries, I was met with some blank stares.

Jeannie Cho Lee is a Master of Wine, and she put together a great reference table. This quickly helped me better understand the natural starting point, for my guests. When I would think strawberries, I would say dried wolfberries. The barriers came down, quickly!

Jeannie Cho Lee's Language of Taste

Wine vocabulary is food vocabulary. If you are well traveled, and have eaten around the globe, you will have a much better chance of pinpointing that exact aroma or flavor. Maybe it was some exotic spice eaten on the streets of Bombay or a fragrant soufflé from a back alley in Paris. Or, maybe it is your grandfather’s smoky thick bbq sauce or mom’s summer apple pie. Whatever your food heritage, I guarantee it’s your wine vocabulary, too!

Kellie Duckhorn
May 23, 2016 | Kellie Duckhorn

Fall in love with Mother Earth

Today I am headed off to Yosemite National Park for a week of waterfalls and sunrises…normally, my husband and I choose to interact with nature in a more isolated way. We often backpack and enjoy the solitude and amazement of living in nature in some remote space.

Half Dome by Ansel Adams

This week, though, we decided to honor the 100 year anniversary of our National Parks. We’ve been watching the Ken Burns series, on PBS, and it has inspired us to revisit Yosemite after nearly 25 years. Our National Parks, and the vision behind their creation, is something that I try hard not to take for granted. It isn’t easy to act today for the benefit of a very distant future.

Locally, our Napa Valley’s agricultural heritage was set in motion by the actions of a group of legislators and vintners, in 1968. Beginning with then Napa County Assessor George Abate and County Administrator Albert Haberger, plans were drawn up to protect some 26,000 acres of farmland, mostly on the valley floor. Chaired by Felix Vanderschoot, of the Napa County Planning Commission hearings on the ordinance were started. Supporters of the proposed ag preserve included Louis M. Martini, Robert Mondavi, brother Peter Mondavi from Charles Krug, Roy Raymond from Beringer and Jack Davies from Schramsberg. After much heated debate, on April 9, 1968, the board of supervisors, on a 4-0 vote, approved the first agricultural preserve in the United States. Today, the Napa Valley Ag Preserve protects more than 38,000 acres of land.

Side by side comparison of Napa and Santa Clara Counties
Napa Valley, 2005 Santa Clara, 2005

Although the Ag Preserve is a powerful tool for land preservation, there are also other dedicated entities such as the Land Trust of Napa County and the JLD Ag Fund to help bridge the gap. The County also has a variety of state and local parks for connecting with nature. Our wine grape economy does not come without its challenges, but it has provided a base for both financial opportunity and land preservation. This is a unique combination, and not easily duplicated in other high public use areas of natural beauty (Lake Tahoe basin, for example).

Regardless of how you feel about wineries and vineyard land, there is no denying that the Napa Valley is beautiful.

Baldacci Honey B Vineyard, Carneros


Time Posted: May 23, 2016 at 11:33 AM
Michael Baldacci
May 18, 2016 | Michael Baldacci

“In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.”

This month Baldacci Family Vineyards celebrates Land Stewardship. How can we talk about land stewardship without speaking about John Muir, the original steward of the land. John Muir’s spirit lives through all of us in California, as he was a proponent for conserving California’s natural treasures, especially Yosemite



Personally I have heard about John Muir my whole life, starting in 4th grade when we learned about California history, to when my grandparents took us to Yosemite. I have heard the name and understood what he stood for since I can remember… but I have to admit, I wasn’t fully aware of the impact he has had on ALL National Forests until more recently. 


Yosemite National Park  Yellowstone National Park Muir Woods National Monument


Have you ever laid eyes on the beautiful Yosemite Valley, Yellowstone, Muir Woods, or any National Forest or Park? If the answer is yes, which I hope it is, then you can thank John Muir’s tireless efforts to make this possible. His passion for the land and preserving the land lead him to start the Sierra Club, which is still active today. The club made efforts to switch the ownership from state held land to a federally run and organized group that was tasked with maintaining and growing the beauty of our National ‘Natural’ Monuments



The United States is a beautiful piece of land with a lot to offer, from the amazing beaches stretching both coasts, to the mountain tops of the Sierra’s and a little place in the middle of California called Napa Valley. There is so much to be admired about this country. John Muir made great efforts and started something that had never been done in the world! He pushed for preservation of this land, and at the time it seemed far fetched that anyone would want to change the natural scape of our land, but as the country now continues to grow, we can thank John Muir and the Sierra Club for their efforts. Next time you are in a National Park, remember who started it, our good friend and Californian at heart…John Muir.



Kellie Duckhorn
April 22, 2016 | Kellie Duckhorn

Color Outside the Lines

First, I am not an artist! I’m not even really a connoisseur of art, but I do like to visit museums and depending on the exhibit, either stroll or run through! My most recent excursion was last December, to the Chihuly Garden & Glass exhibit, in Seattle. Wow! Color, imagination, a fantasy world of texture and light…astonishing. To see a local Chihuly piece, take a cave tour at Pine Ridge Vineyards.
Chihuly Museum, Seattle WA
Another local place to bring out your inner artist is Nimbus Arts. On your next visit to the Valley, see if you can plan a trip around their annual fundraiser, Nimbash. This is an event where you can meet and experience the artwork of some of Napa Valley’s finest. My short list of local artists includes Melissa Garden Streblow, Briana Clark-Forgie, and Alex Dunn.
Chalk drawing of Beau by Alex Dunn
All these inspiring artists brings me to an unexpected discovery into the world of adult coloring books! I was the winner of our family Easter quiz and the recipient of my first adult coloring book. The book sat on my desk, at home, for a few weeks, and then one mid-week evening I stole a glance at the cover and the bright pack of colored pencils. Why not, I thought!
Adult coloring is everything that the pundits claim it to be: relaxing, mesmerizing, engaging and most of all, amusing! I actually found myself thinking about color, patterns, repetition and perspective on what the final page would reveal. I would become fixed on a small section of the image and then realize that there was a bigger view…how did the small area fit into the final design?
Baldacci Wine & a coloring book...unwind!
I now color a few hours per week…often with my favorite Spotify play list and a glass of wine. It’s fun and the best part, at this age, it is totally permitted to color outside of the lines!
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