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Michael Baldacci
October 31, 2016 | Michael Baldacci

Eat Like A Local

Napa is considered by many to be the mecca for foodies, and I would tend to agree with them. To live like a local though, you need to know which are which, and so I decided that with the start of the basketball season, I would give out some of my own awards to some of my favorite restaurants.


Rookie of the Year goes to a restaurant that is new on the block and has taken the town by storm. Located on the corner of first and Main street, Basalt has attracted many high regards for their wonderful food, fun cocktails and great atmosphere, after eating there a couple of times I think that it deserves all of that praise.  

6th man of the Year goes to the restaurant Farmstead, like any good 6th man this restaurant does not get all of the big hype from the press, but works hard behind the scenes and is an integral part to the foodie scene in Napa with less fanfare then some of the main attractions. I have eaten everything off this menu and have always had a great meal! Chef Stephen Barber is a wizard with any sort of game or fish dish, with big hearty portions and tons of flavor in every single bite. Located in St. Helena, it is worth the drive even from Napa.

Comeback Player of the Year goes to Lucy’s, despite a change in ownership and chef they have not lost a step. Located in the Bardessono hotel this restaurant can fly under the radar but the fresh food and amazing ambiance makes this restaurant a homerun. Look out next year this restaurant is a potential to win the MVP award.

Defensive Player of the Year goes to Grace’s Table not on the main road and maybe not the first restaurant that comes to mind for most people, but it is a big part of what makes the Napa food scene so amazing. Michelin rated, this little restaurant on the corner brings down the house with amazing food at a great price with a warm and comfortable setting.


Coach of the Year is for Redd/ ReddWood, and really for chef Richard Reddington, who is the mastermind behind these two amazing restaurants, both located in the town of Yountville. Different styles and cuisine, but same great service, wonderful atmosphere, and food I promise you will always remember.

MVP- Ad Hoc. I think that there is a lot of great food throughout the valley, but dollar for dollar Ad Hoc is by far the best. I am not sure if it is the pre fixed menu, that everything is served family style, or because the portions never leave you hungry, either way, there are too many great things to choose from when it comes to why I think Ad Hoc is the real MVP of the food scene in Napa.



Local food awards from a local himself. 

Time Posted: Oct 31, 2016 at 4:46 PM
Michael Baldacci
September 26, 2016 | Michael Baldacci

The Story of Garry the Grape


Garry the Grape is the tale of Garry, and his adventure through the 2016 growing season to fulfill his dream of becoming a Baldacci Family Vineyard wine, the best wine in ALL of the world.


Garry’s story begins in March. It was a cold night, the land was bleak, and the air was ripe with death. One cold spell or a lazy frost supervisor meant it was over before it began for our hero Garry.


“There were times when I thought I wasn’t going to make it. It got really cold out there, but I knew if I could stay above 32 degrees I would be a great candidate for BFV wine, and that is what kept me going.”


Winter was long, spring was longer and the potential of frost was ever present each passing day.


“My parents and grandparents never told me about a cold spring, all they could talk about were the heats in September and to conserve as much water as possible…”  


Garry the grape made it through the Spring, and once again experienced a first.


“Rain? We had to go back to our great-great-great-great grandparents to figure out the translation, it was the drip from the sky… wow I like rain.”


Garry’s adventures through the spring into the summer were ALL focused on leaves and haircuts.


“I heard on the vine that two haircuts are another good sign that I had the potential to be a BFV wine. I worked hard to push as many leaves as possible and I tell you, it was worth it. That first haircut was amazing, tons of newfound energy, and after the second, I kicked it into another gear and started changing colors!”



Harvest was fast approaching, our Hero Garry had survived many trials and tribulations, but he was not safe yet.


“Some grapes get lazy at this time, they start to change color and they think that they are home free and destined for the picking bin. I knew better; ripen too fast and I would be a raisin, not up to BFV standards.  Too slow and I would be cut on the ground before harvest began! I had worked all year, the 2016 growing season was awesome for me, I felt like I was in the perfect place to ripen, mentally and physically.”


The growing season was perfect in 2016, warm days in the beginning followed by a two-week spell of nice, mild temperatures. Garry timed his ripening perfectly, and harvest was only a matter of time.


“I saw my boys Michael, Ricardo and Rolando out there more and more and I had heard those were the guys that make the final call. They kept trying all the grapes around me and talking about ‘…sweetness, chalky tannins, berry development and brix…’ I really wasn’t too sure what they were talking about, all I know is the other day I was sleeping when I was awakened by big lights and someone tugging at me with scissors, and I thought, this is the day!”


Garry’s dream had become a reality. On the night of September 20, 2016 Baldacci Family Vineyards picked their first set of grapes, and our hero Garry made the cut. He had worked hard and the team at Baldacci appreciated his effort throughout the year.


“I knew I could do it the whole time! My parents and grandparents gave me some great advice before the season. I think that I stayed patient, didn’t get ahead of myself and just took it one growing degree a day at a time. Baldacci saw my hard work and brought me into the winery for some fermentation and extraction and I know they will not regret it.”


Stay tuned as our hero Garry travels from picking bin, through de-stemmer crusher and into the fermentation vat to make the full transition into wine!  



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! 


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
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.



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. 


Michael Baldacci
February 26, 2016 | Michael Baldacci

Berserk for Gewurz


Premiere Napa Valley celebrates 20 years, and Baldacci Family Vineyards decides to show the world their Gewurztraminer.

Premiere Napa Valley is an annual auction put on by the Napa Valley Vintners to raise money for the association that helps to build and protect the Napa Valley. It is an auction that we look forward to participating in every year. The auction is only open to the trade; anyone with a license to re-sell our wines can purchase a ticket… no consumers allowed!!

It is a week full of activities and tastings, it’s a great way to see old friends in the industry as well as meet new ones. Cabernet is the focus of the week, most wineries show off new releases, or bring out older vintages to show how well the wines can age, but the common thread is Cabernet Sauvignon.



This year Baldacci Family Vineyards decided to be a little different. We wanted to grab the attention in another way, by pouring something typically not found at the auction, Gewurztraminer.  A dry white wine to cut through the Cab that everyone has been drinking all week will definitely grab their attention and raise eyebrows… it worked! We have always known that our Gewurztraminer was a unique and well liked wine, but on such a small scale. A wine that was not well known, but after this weekend, this wine is known!

Premiere Week is always a blast, but this year we had a bit more fun with our lot than normal. Check out the video to see the Napa Valley’s best attempt at pronouncing Gewurztraminer… oh yeah and me in a magnificent pair of Lederhosen. 



Michael Baldacci
January 21, 2016 | Michael Baldacci

Going Green, Napa Green!


The great part about growing grapes, or any fruit for that matter, is that next year you have a clean slate. The grapes are picked, the vine goes dormant, and the vineyard team now strategizes on how to make improvements in the vineyard. What things went right? What things went wrong? What practices do we want to change next year? Sometimes the vineyard improvements come from tasting the wines, and making changes to things such as canopy management or timing of harvest. Other times it comes from our continued dedication to be stewards of the land, to give back what we take, and 2016 is one of those years. 



We have made a commitment as a team that we are going to continue our sustainable practices, but also begin the process of becoming a Napa Green certified vineyard. It is a voluntary environmental certification program for Napa County vineyards and wineries tailored to the Napa River watershed, and to winery specific practices that when implemented will have a positive affect for the local environment and community. We are excited that a lot of the practices are already things that we do, but our certification will bring the NVV (Napa Valley Vintners) one winery closer to their 2020 Initiative of having all of their participating wineries and vineyards be Napa Green Certified.

Stay tuned for updates! Happy New Year!!  



Michael Baldacci
October 9, 2015 | Michael Baldacci

That's A Wrap!


The 2015 harvest was unlike any other harvest, this blog gives me a chance to reflect on what was, and what will become of the 2015 harvest.



This year was my 4th harvest at my family’s winery, and I have to say that it was quite memorable.  The unusual weather through the growing season pushed everything up a month. With the unique weather during harvest everything was condensed to about a 1-month practice, when a typical harvest lasts from 6-8 weeks. We had a heat spike right in the middle of September that gave us the hottest days of the year during a period of grape maturation that essentially microwaved the grapes and ripened them 4 weeks ahead of schedule. I will argue that the heat spike will define the 2015 vintage in a GREAT way. 



Every year has its own characteristics, and I have learned that this is what makes wine so much fun. You can never anticipate 100-degree weather right in the middle of harvest followed by rain. However, if every year were the same, all the wines would be the same and that is boring. I am here to tell you that the 2015 vintage may have been a struggle during harvest and was easily one of the quickest harvests, but I believe it will go down in history as one of the best tasting vintages for MANY years to come. The quick heat spike gave the wines some amazing tannins, and the acidity is already mouthwatering. You can never run from the amazing lush fruit that the weather in Napa provides, but this year unlike any other year will AGE and AGE and AGE. I am confident that if you have the patience to save some 2015 wines for 20-30 years, you will be happy that you did!




Now that everything is in the tanks…it’s time for a beer, because we all know the saying “it takes a lot of good beer to make GREAT wine.”


Michael Baldacci
July 23, 2015 | Michael Baldacci

Less is More


“The sun is out, the grill is hot, and the pool is luke…” a great line from one of my favorite actors Owen Wilson, in one of my favorite movies Meet the Parents. He is describing the day as he is about to entertain his guests, but to me it perfectly describes the summer days here in California. It always seems like the sun is out, the pool is luke, and the grill is ALWAYS hot. 



A lot of people pride themselves in their skills on the grills, while I do not want to sell myself short, I have mastered the art of direct and indirect heat, but in the end less is more. Nothing says summer like burgers, hot dogs and a baseball game. The key to all is fresh ingredients, patience on the grill and a good team like the Oakland Athletics to watch.



Sunday afternoon is a great time for my family to gather in the backyard, enjoy a 1:00 first pitch and begin a late lunch, early dinner type of meal. As I said less is more, this meal calls for limited prep time, and a cook time of about an inning and a half depending on how the A’s are swinging the bats. I like to get the grill going before any of the prep work has begun, consistent temperature is vital to a solid tasting burger or dog. It is important to have plenty of time to dial in the perfect temperature of 375 degrees, hot enough to get a good char, but also allows for a consistent cook all the way through without burning the outside.


Now comes the fun part, grilling, the patties should be set, the dogs are ready to cook, and now it is time to throw them on the grill. At the right temperature the burgers and dogs should be fairly straightforward and easy. Once the burger starts to curl up off the grill and show some browning underneath, it is time to flip, generally after about 6 minutes. At the same time you flip the burger, it is time to roll the hot dog on the other side. Two even cooking times will give you the perfectly balanced burger and dog. I usually like to throw the buns on with a couple of minutes left to warm up before serving, at the same time is it a good idea to ask around for the people who are looking to make it a cheese burger.

As the grill begins to heat up, that is the perfect time to get all of the ingredients prepared. Lettuce, tomatoes, onions, ketchup, mustard and relish are necessary for both hot dogs and burgers. With the core ingredients covered, I like to switch things up to give my guests some unforeseen and rarely used options when it comes to their hot dog and burger building. I love to throw in a couple of different mustards, including hot and sweet, Dijon and spicy mustard, in case the guest wants to spice it up. I have recently found that jalapenos on the hot dog are key for a nice kick of spice with a hint on sweetness. And while it is frowned upon by some burger enthusiasts, a good ole fashioned “Rodeo Burger”, which consists of a ridiculous amount of BBQ sauce and extra cheese, is usually enjoyed by at least one carnivore in the group!


Now comes the best part, cracking open a nice bottle of Elizabeth Pinot Noir, pouring enough for everyone to enjoy, allowing them to build their burger or dog and sit down just in time for a big A’s Rally!!



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