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.

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Delightful Del Dotto

Having been a life-long resident in Napa Valley, I have been spoiled by all my experiences in wine-country. There are countless wineries that have sprouted up and down the Silverado Trail and along Highway 29. I tend not to visit new wineries until they have been established several years, as I’ve learned that it takes them a while to “Get their groove on”.

Del Dotto Vineyards is no “new kid on the block”. They’ve been in Napa for almost 30 years, and now in 2 locations. Back in late November I got a special invitation to experience their new Wine Paired tasting at their oldest winery, inside the caves. They did not disappoint!

My hosts were so gracious. The food was prepared by Del Dotto Executive Chef Joshua Schwartz and every course was more stupendous than the last. This is a new tasting experience that isn’t offered daily, but by appointment only.

They started me off with their very own Brut Bubbles from Sonoma Coast paired with smoked sturgeon, Delicious!!! Next up was, a seafood favorite, Maine Lobster on a toasted brioche, was perfect with their Chardonnay. I was tentative on course number three as Foise Gras has always been hit or miss for me, but the black truffle jus and yams balanced everything, including the fabulous Pinot!! The final savory dish was out of this world, Wagyu beef slider pimped with some fine Cabernet from the Villa Del Lago vineyard.

Well no trip to Del Dotto Vineyards is complete without trying their Dolores Red dessert wine. Chef paired this with his bacon butternut chocolate pumpkin seed cake that was to die for. After this experience I needed a serious nap to recover from my food and wine comatose. Seriously, this is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, and I’ve taken in so many.

The cost was only $95 for this five-course wine paired experience.  If you are foodie, you need to book this next time you are in the valley. Be sure to call me and I will get you hooked up for transportation so you can relax and enjoy your whole day.

That’s all for now, Crystal Rose, Concierge of The Valley signing off.

 

Concierge of the Valley Receives 2014 Best Businesses of Napa Award

Concierge of the Valley Receives 2014 Best Businesses of Napa Award

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Napa Award Program Honors the Achievement

Napa, January 15, 2015 — Concierge of the Valley has been selected for the 2014 Best Businesses of Napa Award in the Personal Assistants category by the Best Businesses of Napa Award Program.

Each year, the Best Businesses of Napa Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Napa area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2014 Best Businesses of Napa Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Best Businesses of Napa Award Program and data provided by third parties.

About the Best Businesses of Napa Award Program

The Best Businesses of Napa Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Napa area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

The Best Businesses of Napa Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community’s contributions to the U.S. economy.

SOURCE: Best Businesses of Napa Award Program

 

 

Glen Ellen Getaway!

Glen Ellen has always been a mysterious area. Somewhere between Kenwood and Sonoma lies this treasure trove of vineyards and private estates.
I have the pleasure of managing an enchanted estate in this special place. Off the beaten path and unknown to visitors and locals alike, this is an escape. You won’t find this advertised on TripAdvisor or any other travel magazine. You have to be in the know.
This last weekend we had a couple celebrating their 40th birthday. Special friends and family got to take in the entire “Glen Ellen” Experience.

Here are some  highlights:

I’m sure you will love the Scenery… 

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So you you like food?

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Don’t forget the wine…

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Curious how you can enjoy this estate? Give me a call, I’d love to fill you in on all the details. You can reach me at:

707.738.5205

Do checkout my website for a full list of services I offer at Concierge of The Valley

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…

Mother’s Day Brunch in Napa

So many choices come to mind when I think of breakfast in the Napa Valley. Brunch on the other hand is a different animal.

Fume Bistro
Fumé is nestled in residencia

Fumé Bistro is unassuming, yet local favorite. Napa foodies are tuned in if you’re a regular for Monday Night Burger at the bar deal. $5.55 for half pounder burger and fries at the bar, only. If you like to sleep in on Sunday, Fume is the place for you. Offering such great favorites as Huevos Rancheros with their cocktail specialty, Bloody Mary. For mom and the family, it’s a perfect setting. I would reserve your spot now. I’ve seen groups as large as 20 Fumé Bistro

Grace's Table Brunch
Grace’s Table Brunch

Napa downtown has experienced a renaissance of late. One of my new favorites for breakfast is Grace’s Table.
Located on a 2nd street corner you have the option of sitting outside or enjoying open wall dining. Weather is starting to sizzle and the breeze is much appreciated. On the left you have Eggs Benedict, a brunch favorite. The right is Iron Skillet Cornbread with lavender honey butter and mâche lettuce. You can’t go to Grace’s without ordering this selection. Grace’s is modern in decor with a great wine list. Suitable for couples and groups of 6. Treat your mom this Mother’s Day.

ABC Bakery's French Toast with Pear
ABC Bakery’s French Toast with Pear

Alexis has been baking breads and cakes in Napa for over 25 years. Her dedication to quality and consistency shows in all her food. Be sure to arrive early as there is no reservations here. I highly recommend the spinach omelet with white cheddar and applewood bacon. Comes with country potatoes and  cinnamon toast! Fantabulous! The service and communal atmosphere will make you come back often. Couples  and groups of 4 are best. The communal table can handle 6-8. Treat your mom or the mother of your kids to this awesome treat! Menu available here:

Be sure and follow my blog and share all your experiences. Cheers!

Arts in April Napa Valley

Planning a Napa Valley getaway during the month of April will definitely not disappoint.  Arts in April is a celebration of the beautiful connection between wine and the arts , this program spans the entire month which will guarantee to satisfy any craving you might have for the various art exhibits and tastings planned that will allow you to experience a truly authentic dose of Napa Valley culture.

Now the diverse schedule of events is so wide ranging that you can’t possibly experience it all but I will share my top 5 with you.

bash_headlineApril 13, 2013

Taste a variety of wines from St. Helena Appellation wineries, sample food and wine pairings created by St. Helena restaurants, caterers and food purveyors as well as by student chef teams from the Culinary Institute of America, and vote on the best food and wine pairing.  Wineries and chefs collaborate to offer sips and savory bites from a variety of St. Helena restaurants, caterers as well as “rising star” students selected by the teaching staff of the Culinary Institute of America. Greystone Campus,   This will be a delightful treat for the palate and one where you will more than likely require a driver or taxi following the event and I can certainly help you there.

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Domaine Chandon featuring photographer Vi Bottaro
and partnering with Napa Valley Film Festival  ~ April 1-30

During the month of April, Domaine Chandon will host a variety of events including art receptions, art tours, specialty cocktail and artist lectures.  And for an extra special treat, from April 19-21, The Napa Valley Film Festival will provide visitors of Domaine Chandon the best of food, wine and films,  offering five favorite short film viewings including Table for One and Stakeout.  What better way to enjoy Napa at its best than to stop by one of the best places for bubbly and get a small glimpse into one of the newest events to Napa Valley that will be in November so feel free to plan to come back and enjoy the full film festival from Nov. 13-17, 2013.

Old vine from To Kalon vineyard
Old vine vineyard from To Kalon #2 by photographer Vi Bottaro

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Cornerstone Cellars in Yountville will be featuring Artist Janet Ekholm

One of my favorite places in Yountville has to be Cornerstone Cellars and I guarantee you will find at least one wine you love there, if not the entire lineup.  During the month of April, there will also be amazing pieces of Janet Ekholm’s on display.  However, if you are visiting between April 18th through the 20th, the artist will be on hand to personally provide tours of her onsite gallery while guests enjoy complimentary tastings and live music.  Janet’s focus is on the human figure, especially the female body and how special it is to find someone who purposely highlights the inner strength and grace of women.  You will enjoy the stunning wines Cornerstone produces  and take advantage of the sale prices offered on the wines that feature her art on the labels, perhaps even have the artist sign the bottle while you are there. I guarantee, you won’t be disappointed when stopping by Cornerstone Cellars.  Say hi to Jeff, Craig or Michael.  Cheers!

Inside Cornerstone Tasting Room
Inside Cornerstone Tasting Room

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Yountville Art, Sip & Savor April 20th

Now, while in Yountville to visit Cornerstone and Domaine Chandon, why not combine your visit with the Yountville Art Sip & Savor. This will feature an array of tasting stations adjacent to some of the most popular public art installations.  Each tasting station will feature a Yountville Appellation Winery paired with a sweet or savory treat from the local restaurants in town.  Now the route is very walk able while in town but there will be a trolley running from Domaine Chandon through town and to the Yountville Park.  The best part is this event is practically free, donations may be requested of merely $10.00. So what better opportunity to try out local food and wine while enjoying the quaint town of Yountville!  Hope you can visit soon!

Arts, Sip & Savor
Arts, Sip & Savor

Live Taping of “Wine Booty” with Judd and The Pirate
Judd’s Hill Winery ~ April 26

Judd's Hill Pirates

Judd’s Hill Winery founder Art Finkelstein isn’t just a talented winemaker, he is also a talented painter.  So on exhibit between April 22-28, a collection of his paintings will display and all purchases of Judd’s Hill Founder’s Art Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon will be sold at a 15% discount.  To add excitement to this month of artistic displays, the winery will present a live taping of the winery’s popular web based video series “Wine Booty” from 5:30-8 p.m. at the winery.  Show up in black tie or nautical attired and walk the red carpet, enjoying an evening as part of the live audience, meet the creative cast and spend time with the Napa Valleys finest winemakers and artists.  An interesting menu of Hollywood Legendary Pink’s hot dogs will be flown in for enjoyment paired with the lovely wines produced by Judd’s Hill.  The ticket price to attend is only $25/each and proceeds benefit the Arts Council Napa Valley non-profit.

No Taxi?! Try Napa Designated Drivers Service

Today, as posted on the front page of The Napa Valley Register, we are faced with one of Wine Country’s most frustrating growing pains. This time it’s the notable lack of on-call car services, and the sad state of customer service when it comes to cabs or taxis on-demand.

I was happy to take part in this article, and provide the feedback I’ve received from my clients here in Napa and Sonoma Valley.

Concierge of the Valley’s Designated Drivers program began in response to client needs. If you’re planning an outing, there’s no need to hire a limo, or depend on the whims of a grizzly cab driver and dispatcher. Call Concierge of the Valley.

Call Concierge of the Valley and we can arrange to get you where you need to go: wineries, tours, Girls’ Night Out (and home again), Date Nights, just dinners or call a few hours ahead to check availability for an on-demand pick-up. If you’re having a party — call and we’ll get your guests home safely and courteously.

You can count on Concierge of the Valley for first class, white glove service, with no hassle. Just convenience.

#BottleRock #PorchFest #GirlsNightOut #NapaCab #Napa #WineCountry #Chauffeur

Cause for the Paws

PAWSPORT ticket
PAWSPORT ticket

Was great to experience the second annual PAWSPORT 2013 this last weekend. I love how the Napa Valley steps up to support worthy cause. Surprised to find how many wineries are dog-friendly. Twenty were participating from Friday March 22- Monday March 25. I thought about bringing my dog, but she’s a puppy and not quite ready for adventure. Of course if you need someone to watch your do while you visit the valley I can certainly arrange that.

Many wineries had special Dog treats for PAWSPORT pass holders with the proceeds from tickets sales going to the Napa Humane Society.

Clos du Val Vineyards
Clos du Val Vineyards
Clos Du Val 2010 Ariadne Sem/SB blend
2010 Ariadne Sem/SB blend

Our first stop was at Clos Du Val Estate winery. I have driven by many times but never visited. Nestled in the Stags Leap District on Silverado Trail, they have deep valley roots. A beautiful property with outside picnic tables to take in vineyard views with friends and furry one’s. Started in 1972 they have deep heritage with vineyards in the Languedoc region of France. A sparkling winery in South East Australia.

My Favorite wine was the Ariadne 2010 Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc blend, graced by the 3 Graces (Mischievous daughters of Zeus). Highly recommend you pickup a bottle of this rare Napa Valley blend. They also had great reds including the 2010 Primitivo.

Bubbles & Menu

We needed to pace ourselves and we decided our next stop was going to be Mumm Napa.
Nothing like enjoying Bubbles on a sunny patio, pooch at your side, although our pubby was home.

Every visit to the valley should include a sparkling wine stop. Everyday here is a celebration and they pair with almost any food.

Mumm 2005 Devaux Ranch Sparkling
2005 Devaux Ranch Sparkling

We had so many great choices on their menu.  I was blown away by the 2005 Devaux Ranch. (a vintage rarity that isn’t available anywhere else) A blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Meunneir and Pinot Gris. You won’t find in stores so you have to visit. Highly recommend you invest in good Bubbles for your next event or party in Napa Valley.

I can help you plan that and take care of all the sparkling details.

We decided to head back to Yountville and not try and hit more up-valley wineries.

It doesn’t take much to go over your limit at 2 wineries. If you find yourself wanting to hit more than two  in a day I highly recommend you get a limo or driver service. I have some of the best drivers that will take good care of you and provide the best tours.

Cornerstone Cellars always provides first rate experience. Well educated staff and amazing cheese plates are a treat. Our favorite was the 2010 Sauvignon Blanc.

Hill Family Estate & Cornerstone Cellars
Hill Family Estate & Cornerstone Cellars in Yountville

Although across the street Hill Family Estate provides a very casual experience. We sat on a leather couch and enjoyed potato chips and wine. It used to be an antique store until a few years ago. A reverence for music with guitars and memorabilia were elegantly presented for guests to enjoy. I have always enjoyed their Merlot and the 2010 didn’t disappoint. The staff was gracious enough to give us a special doggy bag even though puppy was home. Awesome experience that rounded out a wonderful day, SuPAWorting a Furry Cause.