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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!

Flavors...

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!
Michael Baldacci
 
April 1, 2016 | Michael Baldacci

Music to My Ears

 

Art. What is it? Is it a beautiful picture painted by a wonderful artist? Or the more modern form which oddly enough involves chairs more often than not… 

 

 

Art takes many forms, the one that I enjoy the most is music. I think that musicians and bands in particular are the ultimate artists. Creating sound and playing together involves not only the talent to perform, but timing and precision over and over and over again to keep the sound consistent.  

 

 

Wine has brought many opportunities to my life most include traveling to places I had never seen before. But one of the coolest and most unique experiences I had through working in the wine industry, was seeing John Legend perform live. My brother and I attended Auction Napa Valley last year and while there were rumors, we did not want to get our hopes up. After a bit of Instagram stalking of his wife Chrissy Teigen, we were confident that John Legend was in the Napa area… As the auction rolled on, I was getting antsy, I almost got up and left but then the lights dimmed and the crowd hushed. Out of nowhere a piano came on stage and John Legend followed. The venue was tiny, less than 500 people, not a bad seat in the house. I could not believe it, we were going to see John Legend perform live, just him and the piano. His most famous song was “All of Me” and sure enough that was exactly what he played. Perfect tune of the piano paired beautifully with the pitch in his voice, no one could take their eyes off this amazingly unique experience. John Legend, a beautiful white piano and a room full of people awe struck at the talent on stage.

 

 

Performing live and opening a bottle of a wine you have worked on I think would bring similar emotions. Performing live you have the rush of the crowd, but also a bit of nerves, you have practiced over and over and now it is time for everyone else to be the judge of your song. When you open a bottle of wine that you have watched grow from grape to barrel aging now to bottle, it can give you an amazing rush, but also bring out some butterflies… I think the wine is great, I sure hope everyone else thinks the same way about it. I will never know the feeling of performing live, but I would like to think that performers and I have something in common.

 

Art takes on many forms, none better or more significant than the other. Art in the form of music is my personal favorite, and it NEVER hurts to have a good bottle of wine with you to maybe help you appreciate it even more. 

 

Elizabeth Burchard
 
March 25, 2016 | Elizabeth Burchard

It’s Dog Friendly

 

We all know that it can be very difficult to leave our furry four-legged friend at home. Well if you are coming to Napa Valley, there is no reason to leave them behind. There are many restaurants, hotels and wineries in the area that are dog friendly. The Napa Valley is really the “paw-fect” place to visit. 

 

 

My copilot is Olive! She is the definition of a lap dog and a spoiled brat, but I love her. She does not like being left behind and I love having her with me. So together we have mapped out some great places that you can bring your pal. Even though I work at Baldacci Family Vineyards, Olive loves to stop by and say “hi” to her friend Beau, the Cab Lab.  After Olive and Beau have had their fun running around the vineyard or playing fetch, I sit back and enjoy some wonderful Baldacci wine. Olive and I also like to visit some of the neighbor wineries like Chimney Rock, B Cellars and Frogs Leap, which are also pup friendly.

 

 

When it comes to eating out there are many wonderful places in Napa to take your pet. In the mornings Olive and I usually walk to Bouchon Bakery or the Coffee Caboose where not only do I get my coffee, but the people at the bakery and the Caboose always have little dog treats for all the furry friends that stop by. Farmstead is the place to be when it comes to Happy Hour. You can sit outside in the bar area to enjoy a cocktail with a few appetizers while you hang with your dog. Many restaurants in the area have “pet-friendly” patios, making them the perfect place to enjoy your pups company and a local glass wine. With the warming weather, outdoor seating with your pup is a treat. 

 

 

If you want to extend your stay there are a number of Hotels that love pets.  The Westin Verasa and the Bardessono are just a few suggestions.  You can find more hotels and places that are pet friendly by checking out the website bringfido.com.  Under “Dog friendly attraction in Napa CA” you will notice my favorite place, as noted earlier, Baldacci Family Vineyards.

Next time you are planning on visiting Napa Valley don’t worry about leaving your four legged friend behind, let them enjoy this beautiful valley with you!

 

 

Kellie Duckhorn
 
March 17, 2016 | Kellie Duckhorn

Sixteen Guinea Pigs and Twenty Nine Hamsters

To understand the title of my blog, I first have to share a bit of my childhood...

A few of my friends had horses or ponies, when I was in grade school. A typical adventure included riding Midnight (black pony) from Bale Lane up to Larkmead Lane to visit Suzie (brown & white pony)...or, taking the train to Reno to watch another friend compete with her Quarter Horse and win beautiful, shiny silver belt buckles! Before I had a chance to even consider what large animal I might like to own, my father pre-empted any discussion with the following edict:

  • No animals that required a pasture

  • No animals that can't survive a couple of days on their own with a bowl of food and water

  • No animals that can't live outside

Simple enough...and naturally, my brothers and I created our own counter attack. We had rabbits and guinea pigs, fish and turtles and of course a beloved black lab and a cat that looked like a skunk. Despite my father's strict rules, he was the one that brought home all variety of wild life that had experienced some adversity: there was a crow named Ajax, a Great Horned Owl that was quickly sent to the Lindsay Wildlife Hospital, and three baby chipmunks that had fallen out of their nest. The final contradiction was my father's total passion for duck hunting and fly fishing, which meant we ate a lot of his passion!

Childhood pets

 

Forward my life, twenty years, and suddenly I was a parent with two sons who wanted to experience the wild kingdom. We had the requisite and adorable Golden Retriever, a bit of a rotation of cats, and then the menagerie which titles my blog. It started out with that classic line from the Kindergarten teacher: "Who can keep the hamster for the summer?" One small Habitrail and cute hamster on Friday afternoon became 10 baby hamsters and an aggressive mother, two weeks later. The quick trip to PetCo to expand the Habitrail distracted me from reading up on the average gestation cycle (21 days) and within another three weeks, we were at twenty-nine! The next trip to PetCo was not to buy more Habitrail...

The Guinea Pig experience was more nuanced...same baited question from the second grade teacher, but this time, the pigs came as a pair and were quickly lodged outdoors, in an awesome pen built by me and the boys. Fortunately, the litter size (2) and the gestation cycle (approx 65 days) were much more reasonable and we settled in to a nice rhythm of breeding guinea pigs for PetCo. They told us that since they were raised outside, they were stronger and less susceptible to disease. The project lasted about a year and then baseball and swim team, soccer and camping took over. The dog travelled with us, the cats met my dad's rule of self-feeding and the rodents all found other homes!

Napa Valley Wildlife

 

Today, my boys are grown and out of the house. I have a dog and two cats, but my real interest is in the wildlife in the Napa Valley. If you are into birds, grab a pair of binoculars and head out to Lake Hennessey or Bothe-Napa Valley State Park. Another local resource is the Napa-Solano Audubon Society

The Napa Valley has an amazing diversity of wildlife...wake up early and drive your car down to the Napa-Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Area. You won't regret it!

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707-944-9261
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