Thursday, July 30, 2009

To taste is to believe! A unique land for food, wine & friendship

On a recent business trip, I had the pleasure of experiencing all the great things Napa has to offer- breathtaking scenery, exquisite cuisine, historical wineries, stunning buildings, and most importantly, local people’s strong sense of community involvement & contribution.

To start with, I was amazed at how great food tastes here. The secret: Fresh ingredient. Executive Chef Anne Gingrass of Brix ( used herbs grown in the on site garden to season the chicken I ate, which was full of flavor.

Christopher Kostow, the Michelin 2-star young chef, also said that being able to use local veggies from the farm helps enhance his magic cooking. He changes the menus seasonally based on what is available and in season. No wonder The Restaurant at Meadowood ( is always fully booked.

Another great place to eat is on the Napa Valley Wine Train ( ), but the experience is so much more than great food. In an old fashion train car, I traveled from Napa to St. Helena, and back, seeing all the beautiful Napa vineyards and the mountains in the background. It was such a relaxing way to see the Valley, but that does not mean there wasn’t excellent food. Chef Kelly Macdonald and his staff prepare gourmet meals while the train is moving, in an extremely small kitchen. It amazed me that such tasty food could be prepared in such an unusual environment.

In addition to food, what amazed me the most is the architecture of the wineries and estates whether historical or modern ones.

The Rhine house at Beringer ( was built in 1884 as first owner Fredrick Beringer’s home. Residing on the oldest continuous operating winery in America, the house embodies the old days of America’s wine culture. The 17 room house still has the original floor, dining room, and remarkably still has the original stain glass windows. Walking through the house, with many original features and other restored elements, I felt like I could sense Fredrick’s original thoughts concerning creating the ageless mansion.

After seeing a house with such strong history, it’s hard to believe that the Castello Di Amorossa ( does not have the same rich past and only opened two years ago. The building truly looks like an authentic medieval castle complete with a draw bridge, look out tower, and black gates for doors. As I walked down to the underground barrel room, I felt as If I was walking into the dungeon of an old European castle. It looks and feels so real that I almost persuaded myself a royal family once lived here for hundreds of years.

The Persian palace at Darioush ( is another modern location that seems like it has a lot of history behind it. Opened in 2004, this palace is designed to look like something from the ancient Persian Empire’s capital city. With tall columns, tan stone, clean lines, and soft earth tones, it did make me feel as if I had traveled back in time to the ancient city. The gorgeous building will continue to attract people and make them feel as if they are in ancient Persia for many years to come.

For many, the obvious reason to visit Napa Valley is the fine wine, but it is so much more. There is history, beauty, gourmet food, and lovely architecture. On top of all this, it is a friendly place where people support each other with full passion to their home and the land. One of the best examples is Festival Del Sole (, where celebrities like Robert Redford, Renee Fleming; local vintners and wine makers get together with local residents to raise fund for charities.

Since Napa is a place based on friendship instead of competition, it is a very nice change from the way the rest of America conducts itself.

Written by: Melissa Howard, PR Assistant

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