What’s all the Brewhaha about Mad Fritz?

Mad Fritz Eagle's Nest Double IPAWhat was he thinking? With a name like that it takes me back to episodes of “Hogan’s Hero’s,” but Beer Mad Scientist? Fast forward to early January of 2016, I happen to catch an online story featured in the Napa Register “Farm to Foam: ‘Real beer’ on the rise” profiling one Nile Zacherly. I would have ignored it, except  one of my event captains (Mark Buckley) told me bout this amazing winemaker he worked with in 2009 (during Crush) in Calistoga, Nile Zacherly who makes David Arther wines.

Such a character he was, and thats what I hoped to find in his new brewery. So off I went nonchalant one  late afternoon excursion to a non-descript industrial area of St. Helena. Upon first step inside the brewery, it looked like a small winery operation. Tanks, barrels and the “all important” glasses. I got the enhanced tour of pressurized beer barrels (formerly wine barrels). The methodology steps Nile takes making this beer is very similar to his approach to wine. After getting the overview of the process I sat down for a one-on-one interview.

Question 1.  So why “Mad Fritz”, you must be the character in this beer story… right?
Nile:  Actually, Mad is Madeleine (Maddie) my daughter, and Frederick (Fritz), is my son.
Comment: Awwe, that’s cute!

Question 2:  So what gave you the idea to start making beer? I see you are so passionate for the process?
Nile:  I like beer, but everything I tasted out there was very sanitized and just cranked out to make money. I wanted to make something focused on the quality, no compromise.

mad_fritz_secret_sauce_2016-01-13 18.53.54Question 3: So what makes Mad Fritz different from other craft beers?
Nile: I select the finest single variety barleys that are craft-malted suited to a particular style of beer, add quality locally sourced hops that are farmed organically and Napa Valley sourced water from artesian springs and aquifers. I ferment real slow and cold, sometimes taking six weeks just to complete primary fermentation. Most beer brewers only take 2-3 days and bottle in a few weeks. Then I do all secondary fermentation in bottle, which creates natural CO2 (carbonation).

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Question 4: Wow, that’s intense! That explains your beer being more expensive ($25 a bottle, right)?
Nile: That’s right, we are making very small batches of beer and time and materials are essential. This is age-able beer, barrel aged. Some of our beers are known as barley wines (over 8% alcohol) and take more time and attention to detail to craft. My passion for making wine gets translated in to the process I go through in making the beer. I think you can taste the difference right away.

mad_fritz_beer_lineup_2016-01-13 16.04.55Question 5:  So whats your goal/motivation?
Nile:  I want to produce the best beer I can and to those who appreciate the attention to detail and not to the masses that just care about getting buzzed or drunk off craft beer. I’m about having a cult/hard to get beer and not selling out to scale for distribution.

mad_fritz_beer_tap_2016-01-13 16.04.14

Question 6:  Where can I but this beer and is it in restaurants?
Nile:  Our beer is extremely allocated, so you can buy it here at the brewery, or if you join our limited Beer Club, but we are on hold for taking any new members at this time. As far as restaurants, we are only in a few. One that I’m very proud of is The French Laundry in Yountville. Mad Fritz is very food-friendly and we have so many styles that you can probably pair the beer with anything.


Question 7:  How many beers are you currently producing?
Nile:  Currently about 20 different styles ranging from Belgian to Double IPA and Barley wines. They are all very unique and made at different times of the year.  You can only get some beers in certain months. Best way to get your hands on them is to join our Beer Club.
Comments: I’m sold! Where do I signup?

Nile: You can fill out our wine club application online at http://www.madfritz.com  and if you want to do a private tasting, email us and we will try and schedule an appointment via email.
Comments: Nile, this was such an amazing experience learning about your process and trying these amazing beer gems. Truly, I’m blown away and excited to try your next batch of beer! Thanks again for giving us a hands-on tour and tasting. I will be sure and recommend your beer to my guests that visit the valley.

Well, there you have it. A unique experience in Napa Valley wine country. If you are a craft beer lover, you are going to be blown away by this stuff. The beers come in unique packaging with a Grolsch style stopper and the beer names and labels are taken from Aesop’s Fables. You will also notice how detailed they are with the ingredients all there on the back of the label. I was super-impressed with every facet of my experience here and I know you will be too.

I’m Crystal-Rose signing off from Concierge of the Valley.

52 Ways to use a Concierge

52 Ways to use a Concierge

By Katharine C. Giovanni, CCS


One of the questions I get asked by the media is what does a concierge do?  The quick answer is that a concierge will do anything as long as it’s legal, moral and ethical.

Everyone single one of us tries to squeeze 36 hours into a 24 hour day, and when you do that you inevitably don’t do it very well. You get stressed …

Which leads to tired …

Which leads to not eating healthy because you’re craving “comfort” food …

Which leads to sickness.

Not good!

A concierge is here to do the things that you have to, leaving you the time to do the things that you want to like spending more time with family and friends, putting more time in at the office, or relaxing with a good book!

That being said, below is a list of 52 ways you can use a concierge. Since the real list of what a concierge can do for you is endless, the list below is merely here to get you started.

  1. Obtaining tickets to concerts, special events and sporting events
  2. Transportation Services – train, plane or automobiles … concierge can get it!
  3. Travel and Vacation Planning
  4. Business Referral Service – need a landscaper or a plumber?
  5. Restaurant Recommendations and/or Reservations
  6. Pet services
  7. Internet Research – need research done and you don’t have the time to do it?
  8. Personalized shopping and delivery
  9. Running to the post office
  10. Dry cleaning pick-up and/or delivery
  11. Grocery shopping
  12. Running to the hardware store
  13. Senior care
  14. Modified house sitting – need someone to wait for the service technician while you’re at work?
  15. Picking up or returning a gift
  16. Meal Delivery
  17. Home Inventory – video the contents of your home and keep it in your safe deposit box
  18. Bill paying
  19. Auto Maintenance
  20. Home Organization
  21. Notary Services – many concierge area a traveling notary and can actually come to you.
  22. House Cleaning Services
  23. Courier/Delivery Services
  24. Delivering lunch to nurses and doctors at the hospital
  25. Delivering a Meal – breakfast, lunch or dinner
  26. Prescription Pick-up and delivery
  27. Repair and Service Calls
  28. Returning a library book or a video
  29. Sick Care – sick in bed? Call a concierge and they’ll do your errands, arrange for dinner to be delivered and can be on hand to help your family out
  30. New Mommy Services
  31. Meeting and Event Planning; private parties
  32. Personal Chef Services
  33. Single Parent Helper
  34. Employee Relocation Services
  35. Gift baskets and Flower Delivery
  36. Landscaping Services
  37. Special Day Reminder Service
  38. Charter a Private Jet, Yachts or Helicopter
  39. Hire a concierge to assist you at your event, wedding or conference – also called “event concierge” and “wedding concierge”
  40. Need Security?  They’ll hire a security company to assist you.
  41. Day Spa Services
  42. Fashion and/or Stylist Consultant
  43. Nanny Services
  44. Estate Planning
  45. Arrange for your Tee Time at the golf club
  46. Book your appointments for you
  47. Hire a Butler
  48. New to the area?  A concierge will give you a tour of the town
  49. Catering Services
  50. Get Away Weekends
  51. Office help
  52. Moving assistance – let your concierge unpack those boxes and put it all away!!  All you’ll need to unpack is your toothbrush.







Hit me with your BottleRock!

Unless you have been asleep in a cave you have heard of the impending music festival coming to Napa next week. As many as 50,000 youthful fans will descend on the valley with abandon. Many wineries have embraced and even sponsored the coming throngs. 60 bands, 42 wineries and 36 restaurants will be serving it up. A-List comedians and other entertainers will also be in attendance. I’m wondering what all the Mother’s Day visitors will think? Cindy Pawlcyn will have food at the Napa Valley Fairgrounds where the bulk of the action will be held. I would love to see Jim Gaffigan, currently my favorite comic.

The Black Keys headline BottleRock
The Black Keys headline BottleRock, Napa

If you are a music lover you can get your fill for $329, a 3-day pass to heaven. Too rich for your Napa Style, try the 1-day pass for only $139. The festival starts on Wednesday, May 8th and goes till Sunday. Downtown Napa should be bustling with extra tourists in town. It might be the perfect time to get up valley and do some wine tasting for locals. I’m curious what the locals near the fairgrounds think? I’ve heard that most of Alta Heights got free tickets to compensate for traffic and noise. Napa hotels are booked solid and many homes are being rented via Air BnB. If you want to get out of town, you might think about renting your place out for the weekend. I can certainly help facilitate those needs.

The event is destined to be epic and bring a more youthful element to the Napa Valley. It has the makings of an annual event like Outside Lands in San Francisco. I’m really looking forward to it!

What are your thoughts? Love to hear your comments.

Checkout the BottleRock website for all the details…

Cricketer’s of the Valley

Napa Valley Cricket Club victory in 2012 by the smallest of margins, 2 runs
Napa Valley Cricket Club victory in 2012

You don’t think of Napa Valley as a very sporting place. Except if you include the Raiders annual preseason visit to Redwood Middle School. Lately I’ve heard funny accents around the valley talking about this new sport of Cricket. I decided to investigate. Turns out this sport was one of the precursors to baseball. Developed in the 16th century and played in most of the British colonies.

Now it’s finally arrived in Napa Valley. So who plays this game and why? Being the hub of wine in California, Napa has a wide diversity of winemakers. Many travel from as far off as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Wine is perfectly matched to the game of Cricket. Steeped in tradition that enjoys a break for afternoon tea at 3 o’clock, Napa will change it up with wine. About 2 years ago a group of ex-pats as they go by, decided there was enough interested parties in the valley to put together a team. Marin has had a long tradition of cricket going back thirty years. San Jose has a large influx of East Indian engineers who also enjoy the game of cricket  and are highly competitive. Napa Valley is home to Treasury Wine Estates with many Australians working at various wineries all over Napa.

How is this game played I hear you say? That is a very complex answer. Consisting of eleven players per side, a wicket keeper,  bowler, batsmen, Stumps and outfielders it sounds comparable to baseball. I assure you, there is a lot of strategy and rules. For a good overview look at this Cricket Rules site. I suggest coming to watch their opening match this Sunday the 28th of Apri. The Aussies defend their title against the ROW (Rest of the World). See a preview in this Calistogan article here.

The game starts at 10:30 and there will be a BBQ with wine and refreshments open to the public. The whole family will enjoy it with activities for the kids. Join the club on Facebook for this event and be sure and share with your friends.

The Flavor of bASH

Favorite Foods from 2012 bASH
Favorite Foods from 2012 bASH

This Saturday at The CIA in Appellation St. Helena celebrates food and wine Awesomeness.  Rockstars in St. Helena’s kitchen served up their finest. Extraordinary local vino complements this rich event. My favorites were David Fulton, Corley, Crocker & Starr and Revana. I attended last year’s soiree and was impressed. Napa Valley came out in droves. Dressed up and taking in the wondrous bounty. I won’t even tell you all the ingredients above. You have to be there to experience it. Tickets are almost sold out so I suggest you get yours now! Don’t let the kids keep you from this “Must Attend” event. Email me and I can arrange childcare – Cheers COTV – Email Me

bASH Bottles of 2012
bASH Bottles of 2012

Easy Ideas for Your Football Party (GO NINERS!)

Neighbors will come over. Friends will call you out. You’ve got the best pad for it… why not just have them all over for the 49ers game tomorrow?? (BTW, it’s at Noon PST on Sunday.) As your go-to party planner, I’ve got some ideas for you.

First: talking points. How about a few stats on Kaep? Or the Harbaughs? No need to be a genius, just get in a good note about changing quarterbacks late in the season… that poor other quarterback (what was his name again?).


Beyond that, hmm, is noon on Sunday too early for a quick-and-dirty tequila set-up? Well, maybe start with serving a handcrafted beer (Boont Amber Ale, or of course SF’s own Anchor Steam Beer recommended), and wait to set out the tequila until after guests have feasted… and yes, a lunchtime party calls for lunch! Throw out the cheese and sausage plate, but to spruce it up, ideas include:

Gourmet magazine’s Chunky Guacamole. This recipe was published in 1998 and it’s been a go-to every playoff season since. Fresh and easy and a crowd pleaser.


This recipe for Aussie Meat Pies has been tried and true in puff pastry and in pie crust.
This recipe for Aussie Meat Pies has been tried and true in puff pastry and in pie crust.

Aussie Meat Pies. These are like maki-sloppy joes. This version is delicious and nice and small for bites — but double or even triple the recipe, use preformed refrigerated pie crusts and mini pie tins, and each one is a small meal, perfect for a footie lunch.

And while most of the guys at your place will balk at any variety of serving vegetables, you could easily steam

a few artichokes (see a guide on prep if you need to), throw lemon, Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning and fresh flat-leaf parsley into the pot, and serve them up as a finger food (provide tons of napkins).

That should do it — hopefully the big game is a good one. Remember to call, text or email if you need The Concierge to do any part of the prep for the big game: from grocery shopping, to pet sitting to a designated driver to get your guests home.



Black Swan Lake Wedding

Wine Country Weddings: Location Ideas

Black Swan Lake Wedding
Black Swan Lake in Calistoga is an exclusive, gorgeous private venue.

Destination weddings planned in Napa and Sonoma offer guests a dynamic mini-break from the ordinary.

Wedding location options vary from spruced up barns and shabby chic country houses to luxurious estate manors with hillside vineyard views to warm and inviting lush gardens. Some of the most modern architecture graces the Napa and Sonoma valleys and is accessible for weddings, as in the case of the Summerhill home, in Sonoma and the Gordon Huether gallery in Napa.

And don’t forget the four-star, full-service hotels. Auberge du Soleil, Meadowood and Silverado resorts all have extensive experience in pulling off fantastic, memorable wedding celebrations, not to mention a first-class stay for your guests. Beaulieu Gardens in Rutherford is also one of Napa Valley’s primiere wedding venues. These tried-and-true wedding venues almost seem old school; today, many brides are taking the time to creatively approach one of the more unique locations, putting their wedding signature or theme in the forefront.

Black Swan Lake is a private wedding location with elaborate grounds and a fully-equipped venue. Weddings I have assisted with here are stunning; but don’t take my word for it. Take a look at the accolades from the many blog posts and photos of the Black Swan Lake venue posted all over the Internet.

As well, Calistoga Ranch in northern Napa Valley is set apart, and perfect for catering to creative tastes and smaller weddings.

Wedding Celebration Table
Dream it up for your Wedding and the Concierge will be your personal assistant in Napa or Sonoma.

Whatever your wedding needs: assistance with finding a locale, a photographer, local vendors of any kind, help for the wedding party on the Big Day, let the Concierge be your go-to phone call or text!

Entertaining and Wine Pairings

Choosing Wine for Holiday Events

Entertaining and Wine Pairings

Holiday Entertaining Is Easy with
the Right Inspiration

People often ask me how I find the right wine to order or serve for the various celebrations I arrange for clients all over Wine Country. Well… that’s what being a concierge is all about. I’m savvy to the latest popular flavor profiles, and I’m knowledgeable about vintages and terroirs thanks to my endless (and hardly grueling) research around Napa and Sonoma. And for wine recommendations and pairings, I rely on my expert Sommelier friends and insider wine media buzz (see links below, although some of this buzz is overheard at my favorite dining and drinking establishments). Then clients and I taste together, and matches are made, and cases of wine are purchased and delivered.

For Wine Country’s locals and vacationers, one of my favorite tasks is setting up a private wine tasting. We do this frequently for party hosts, guests staying at vacation homes and for corporate retreats. As the sommelier sets up, I make my mental notes, and after the event, I get the best feedback from my sommelier. It’s constant research!

I also stay on top of vintages, labels, favorites and pairings by surfing the blogs. There are some that tweet on Twitter, but they almost always link back to their wine blogs, so I just have my favorites bookmarked and check seasonally for updates. Plus, dining and entertaining articles provide me with a compass for setting up a client’s event or dinner party: I go back to some of these wine and food lists again and again, maybe updating the menu with a few recipes or wines I’ve found to enhance the experience.

I’ll let you in on my favorites:

  • For inspiring home decorating and party ideas: Elle Décor
  • For wine lists and lists and lists: K&L Wines Blog (see the SEARCH function — so great!)
  • More wine, The Terroirist: The Daily Wine Blog is also searchable, and getting tweets from the Terriorist also light me on to other wine enthusiasts’ commentary on what’s hot now.
  • For Event Shopping, Wine Accessories and Shipping Wine: Wine Enthusiast
  • For more ad hoc West (LEFT) Coast wine and travel advice: Off the Vine

    Holiday Table
    Inspiration for Holiday Entertaining can come from anywhere. This is a celebration table for a Diwali festival event.

Do share your favorite inspirational places, websites, people, bloggers… One can NEVER get enough wine advice. Happy Holidays, and Happy Entertaining!

Cheers from The Concierge

This Fantastic Crowd Pleaser Is Simple to Make

Pumpkins and Squash for Your Holiday Table

This Fantastic Crowd Pleaser Is Simple to Make
Try using a hollowed-out squash as a serving bowl to add a rustic touch to your table.

So many squash, so little time!

Our weather here in Napa and Sonoma has finally turned to a fall chill, and cravings for the nutty roasted squash soups and fixings that grace our tables this holiday season.

One thing I tell my clients is that it is always impressive to guests when seasonal, natural ingredients grace your table. We are so lucky here in Wine Country to have such a wide variety of organic, local farms to choose from when planning a meal or a party — it amounts to visiting our backyard, or a short drive around the corner for most of us!

To utilize the incredible variety of squash available here in Wine Country, I’d like to suggest a risotto — though the recipe below calls for sugar pumpkin, you could easily substitute butternut squash, or a sweatmeat or an acorn squash.

And for all of you Napa and Sonoma locals with a green thumb, you should know that planting the squash — summer, fall or winter squash — is an easy and simple endeavor. Check out the squash varieties and recommendations for our Wine Country region published by the UC Master Gardeners of Napa County. If you’re never going to get around to planting yourself, you can always have the Concierge arrange to plant and maintain your garden with a phone call. Imagine having fresh produce year-round from your own garden, either on your property or a community plot.

Welcome to the Wine Country holidays, everyone!

Cut Sugar Pumpkin
Cut the pumpkin, discard the innards and toast the seeds (sea salt, olive oil, at 350 for 20 minutes), skin the pumpkin and roast.

Roast Pumpkin Risotto

Yields: 8 cups

Total Time: 1 hr 35 min

Oven Temp: 400


U.S. Conversion chart
  • ·         1 small (3-pound) Sugar Pumpkin
  • ·         6 tablespoon(s) Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • ·         1 tablespoon(s) Finely Chopped Rosemary
  • ·         1 teaspoon(s) Finely Chopped Rosemary
  • ·         3 teaspoon(s) Sea Salt
  • ·         1/4 teaspoon(s) Ground Black Pepper
  • ·         7 cup(s) Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
  • ·         1 cup(s) Finely Chopped Yellow Onion
  • ·         1 tablespoon(s) Finely Chopped Garlic
  • ·         3 cup(s) Arborio Rice
  • ·         1 cup(s) Dry White Wine
  • ·         2 tablespoon(s) Butter
  • ·         2 tablespoon(s) Pumpkin Butter
  • ·         cup(s) Finely Shredded Fontina Cheese
  • ·         cup(s) Freshly Grated Parmesan


1.    Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut pumpkin in half lengthwise. Trim 1/2 inch off the rounded end of each half to stand upright on cutting board. Peel the sides, cutting downward, using a sharp knife. Remove the seeds and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Toss the pumpkin together with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon rosemary, 1 teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Spread pumpkin on baking sheet. Roast, stirring twice, until very soft, 40 to 50 minutes. Let cool slightly, then transfer to a food processor and process until smooth.

2.    Bring the chicken broth to a bare simmer in a saucepan over medium-low heat to keep hot but not reduce. Heat remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt, onion, and garlic in a wide, deep saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook while stirring constantly, until the rice is hot — about 3 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a simmer, stirring often until almost all the wine is absorbed. Add the hot chicken broth one cup at a time, and adding more broth only when the previous addition has been absorbed. Check and adjust the heat as needed to maintain a steady simmer.

3.    Add the roasted pumpkin and continue to cook until the rice is creamy and al dente, about 10 more minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in butter, pumpkin butter, cheeses, and remaining 1 teaspoon rosemary. Pumpkin Risotto is best when served immediately.

Holiday Entertaining and Event Planning: Ask the Concierge

Wine Pairings Make for a Fun Holiday Party Conversation Starter
Concierge of the Valley can arrange any style of catering service to keep you mingling rather than serving.

We find that Holiday Entertaining is at first daunting to some new clients, who contact us for help with a specific task, be it catering, or chauffeur or valet services, or decorating. Yet when you call the Concierge of the Valley, you’ll hear the open invitation — Are you sure I can’t cover more for you? Really, we’re here to free you up to enjoy your own party.

Shopping. Gifts for family, co-workers, friends, relatives or house guests. Groceries for the party, or just the family, to take the pressure off.

Party Decorating. With a classic hand, we are capable of preparing your vineyard, home or venue for guests from 5 to 1200 or more. Flowers, serviceware, decorations, uniforms — it’s all coordinated for you, in your style, within your budget. We find that corporate clients especially appreciate our capabilities for customizing the “look and feel” of their celebrations.

Wine Selection, Delivery and Service. If you’re in Napa or Sonoma, there’s a measure of sophistication that’s expected with the choice of wine served at parties, events and celebrations. We’ve got your palate covered: we can make suggestions, arrange a consultation with a sommelier, and conduct follow-through to get the order to you on-time and at the right temperature. You’re ready to go!

Catering. From cocktail hour, to hors d’oeuvres, to wine pairings, to five-course buffets or served plates, the Concierge of the Valley is ready with all manner of suggestions, or just happy to help coordinate all the pieces you’ve so carefully selected. We can also arrange for the perfect personal chef to come by once a week to prepare the weeks’ meals — to keep your diet on track, or to make sure you’re not living on paté, Cambozola and water crackers.

Clean-Up. Cheers it up until 4 a.m. with your best family and friends, because we’ll be by the next day at your convenience to put your place back into pre-party form. Perhaps one of our most popular holiday entertaining services!

Car and Valet Services. No need to arrange a limo to get you and your friends around. Our designated driver services can be on-call for an evening or a weekend. This is especially useful for those visiting vacation homes, and may not be familiar with all the roads and byways around Napa and Sonoma. One tip: CALL AHEAD!! Booking will be tight around Thanksgiving and the month of December.

Pet Sitting. Don’t jam the cat into the coat bedroom! We’re happy to arrange a pet sitter for a few hours, a hotel stay, or an overnighter durning the busy holiday season. Many book us to take care of their pets while allergy-prone relatives come to stay, alleviating any discomfort having the pet around might cause.

Happy planning! We can’t wait to hear from you.