What to Do in Wine Country this November


Exciting new openings in Napa and Sonoma that are modern in look but steeped in history.

Davis Estates Opens its (Barn) Doors in Calistoga

Photo A. Hanami

The latest addition to Calistoga fine wine destinations, Davis Estates offers tastings in a restored 1922 barn designed by Howard Backen. The Barn is the historic anchor and first phase of the 155-acre estate project envisioned by owners Mike and Sandy Davis. The adjacent winery and formal hospitality center is scheduled for completion in early 2016.

Most of the original redwood and red cedar planks were saved and repurposed, the natural gaps in the boards preserving the rustic look. Large barn doors add light to the interiors as well as stunning views of the eastern Calistoga vineyards that spread below in the alluvial fan of Dutch Henry Canyon.

Photo A. Hanami

Inside, cozy seating surrounds a rugged fireplace shaped like an old boiler, while the hayloft above provides intimate lounging.

Davis Estate’s signature wine is the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and winemaker Cary Gott does a fine job with the cool 2011 vintage. Explore their other single-varietal wines too such as the Cabernet Franc and the Hungry Blond label white Viognier. Visits are by appointment only, Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 4060 Silverado Trail, Calistoga

OSO Good in Sonoma Square

Photo by Jesse Bernal

I love the look and feel of this new eaterie right on the Square. As a testament to the name OSO – the bear that symbolizes the town – Chef-owner David Bush transformed this former real estate office into an edgy version of Old Sonoma. The bones of the building date back to the 1800s.

Photo A. Hanami

Weathered wood lines the walls while recycled tin shadowboxes create subdued lighting. The eye-catching bar was crafted by Tortoise Industries with acid-washed sheet metal to give the counter a warm copper patina. Also behind the long bar is Chefs “kitchen”, its minimal space leading to fresh, creative flavors that emphasize the local ingredients.

Front of house is walk-in dining and lounge while in the back, Chef offers a 5-course menu. Last Tuesday, it featured Fluke Crudo, Pickled Shrimp, Asian-inspired Steamed Bass, Syrah braised Short Ribs and Peanut Butter Mousse. OSO features four cocktails a night and local wines. OSO Sonoma hours Sunday-Thursday from 4 p.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. 9 East Napa Street, Sonoma


A Loving Restoration of Brannan Cottage Inn Redefines Calistoga

The cottage retains its original gabled scrollwork. Photo A. Hanami

In the 19th century, city founder Samuel Brannan envisioned Calistoga as the “Saratoga of California” for its mineral hot springs and immediately set out developing it as a resort town. The only surviving resort cottage of 14 built in 1860, Brannan Cottage Inn recently underwent a dramatic, 8-month renovation that brings this National Landmark back to its roots as a resort hideaway. When the Patel family acquired the faded beauty in 2013, the first call that GM Amar Patel made was to Napa County Landmarks to make sure the restoration preserved its historic character.

Photo courtesy Brannan Cottage Inn

Each of the six charming rooms, designed by Staci Giovino, has a contemporary look with the four historic rooms furnished with period antiques and fixtures. Standard amenities include in-room illy espresso machines, bedside charging stations and Frette Linens. 109 Wappo Avenue, Calistoga

A Film Festival Like No Other

City Winery Napa. Photo by Gustavo Fernandez

The Napa Valley Film Festival running November 12 – 16 showcases 125 new independent films and sneak previews in all four towns and 12 classic venues. During the fest, film buffs can attend a multitude of parties, winemaker dinners, industry panels as well as the opening gala and awards ceremony. For foodies, check out “Finding Gaston” which follows SF chef Gaston Acurio on his mission to elevate Peruvian cuisine, or “East Side Sushi” depicting the challenges of one aspiring chef Juana as she pursues a career dominated by Japanese men. For design lovers, consider “Beyond Form” a documentary about architect Paolo Soleri, creator of the ever-growing futuristic city of Arcosanti near Phoenix, AZ. Details for festival passes and tickets are on the nvff.org website. Various locations, Napa Valley

More news: