Arts in April Napa Valley

Arts in April Napa Valley.

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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.

Valentine Wine: Boutique Wineries Add Charm

A romantic trip to Napa Valley for wine tasting on the agenda? Let me guide you away from the crowds and into the smaller boutique wineries that make a Wine Country weekend special. Here are three Concierge of the Valley boutique winery recommendations for you to try this weekend, next weekend, and then of course, give me a call when you’re ready to come back again.

Elyse Winery – This year, 2012, is Elyse Winery’s 25th harvest. In addition to a lovely hospitality experience, you’ll get to try delicious and full flavored red wines: Cabernets, Zinfandels and Pinots. Located off Highway 29 near Yountville, Elyse will schedule a tasting by appointment only.

Napa Valley Boutique Winery Somerston Winery
Napa Valley Boutique Winery Somerston Winery

Chappellet Winery – This winery’s hillside setting provides the views that make a trip to Napa so memorable. In addition, their exquisite wines provide benchmark highlights for any wine tour. Chappellet is located in St. Helena (say “Hell-ee-nah”), and again, reservations are required here.

Somerston Winery — A visit to Somerston, also in St. Helena, will provide an all-terrain vineyard tour that will keep you holding hands. Again, fantastic wines provide plenty of conversation and excitement for visitors, whether the first time or the 12th. Reservations are required.

Remember to call me to arrange a tour over one day or a long weekend. We’ll book dining, events, recommend tasting rooms, drivers, even pet sitting so Buddy doesn’t have to miss out on the love. Happy Valentine’s Day!!

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?).

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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.

GO NINERS!!

 

SFJAZZ Center

 

Interior of the SFJAZZ Center in Hayes Valley
Interior of the SFJAZZ Center in Hayes Valley

SFJAZZ Center

SFJAZZ Center: Let’s Book It!

Opening soon is the SFJAZZ Center — and though its address is on Franklin Street in San Francisco, it touts itself as part of the trendy Hayes Valley neighborhood. What most visitors don’t know is that this area is part and parcel of San Fran’s Civic Center, with the Opera House and Bill Graham Civic Auditorium  (on Grove St) and the illustrious (and delicious) #Jardiniere around the corner. I’ve got lots of ideas for drinking and dining before or after performances, which might include any kind of jazz, rock or classical concert, or even the San Francisco Ballet (at the Opera House) and a night in a very reasonable but lovely boutique hotel just off Union Square.

Pair that with a Saturday of some of the best luxe shopping around at Neiman Marcus, Tiffany, Hermes (and you name it!), and my friends, you have a classic San Francisco Getaway!

Hiring a Wedding Concierge

ImageNeed a little extra help for the big weekend? Prefer to save budget on a wedding planner? Planning a destination wedding? Using a Wedding Concierge will be your best bet.

Imagine the following real weddings:

A) Kelly and Frank were excited about bringing their Los Angeles and New York friends to their Napa Valley wedding, collecting a diverse group of people together. However, planning to entertain and serve the needs of all involved might present a challenge to even the most organized couple. Bring on the Wedding Concierge to plan local events in Napa, assist in finding photographer, cake and catering vendors, and on the weekend, field guests’ questions, requests and run errands.

B) Jess’s family is based in Minneapolis, but family members are now scattered all across the country. In bringing everyone back, rather than relying on a gossipy family member or a hotel concierge who might not know the wedding agenda, the Wedding Concierge is the go-to contact for information and assistance for the big weekend, allowing the bridal party to enjoy their guests.

C) A wedding day is filled with little things gone wrong: the groomsman has a hangover and is in need of a fast-food meal; the bouquet is too big and needs to be run back to the florists’ for adjustment; there was no money in the budget to hire a bus to take guests home after the reception, but the concierge organizes designated drivers; the Bride and Groom forgot to order Champagne for their getaway ride. The Bridal Concierge is on-call to keep the event and party rolling.

A Wedding Concierge sweeps up the loose ends of a wedding that a planner might not. The concierge might be dedicated for the entire weekend at a destination wedding to the wedding party, acting as a hotel concierge might, responding to requests for products, services and dining and entertainment. On the day of, the Wedding Concierge is the errand runner, keeping the members of the party from running off so that all involved can relax and enjoy their time together.

Tips for Hiring a Wedding Concierge

First, outline your needs and budget before you call a Wedding Concierge. In many cases, the concierge will be flexible with fees when booked for an entire weekend. For an entire wedding, you might count on a fee-per-booking basis. Each concierge will know what makes sense for their business.

Count on meeting your concierge in person before starting booking. If you and your concierge don’t see eye-to-eye on budget or service level, you will need to know ASAP.

Concierges want you to call, email or text; the more the better! That is what makes a concierge so useful: they are on staff to meet your and your bridal party’s needs! I know for me, there is nothing more satisfying than providing top-notch, responsive service.

Good luck with wedding planning and the big day! When in Wine Country, remember to call Concierge of the Valley first!