Three Reasons to Visit Napa Valley NowAuthor:Annette Hanami
Two revered Napa Valley growers renowned for their single vineyards open new wineries and the Napa Valley Film Festival forges on donating 10% of proceeds from new pass sales to Wildfire Relief
A New Chapter for the Araujo Family at Wheeler Farms in Saint Helena
All Wheeler Farms photography by Emma K. Morris
There are only a handful of Napa Valley vineyards that are world renowned and Eisele Vineyards is one of them. Daphne and Bart Araujo didn’t know at the time they would be creating an exclusive brand, they just wanted to honor the growers, the Eiseles, who proceeded them. Having sold Araujo Estate in 2013, they now shepherd in a fresh new concept in the same natural, organic way as before, honoring those who first farmed their Saint Helena estate Wheeler Farms.
First planted to diverse crops in 1865 by the Wheeler family, the Araujos continue the whole-farm agricultural approach today with 12 acres of organic and biodynamically farmed vines, heritage fruit trees, and abundant vegetable and herb gardens set against a classic barn-style winery and tasting room designed by SF architects Taylor Lombardo.
In the spirit of a farming community, the Araujos have established Wheeler Farms as a cooperative winery of sorts for a handful of small, family owned brands like theirs, or as Bart described it “custom crush with hospitality” but in an elegant Wine Country setting. Indoors in the open living room and kitchen design, in a private room or out on a patio, guests can choose to taste Araujo family wines like Accendo and Wheeler Farms, or a portfolio of brands including TOR or Arrow & Branch. Harkening back to their former property, the Araujos also wanted the hospitality program at Wheeler Farms to be an agricultural experience, not just a wine experience, so private tastings might include a tour of the property and garden-fresh nibbles by Chef Elisabeth Russell.
Wheeler Farms is open for private tastings daily by prior appointment. 588 Zinfandel Lane, St. Helena
Hyde Estate Winery, a California Grand Cru, Opens Its Doors to the Public
After decades of supplying fruit to some of Napa and Sonoma’s most famous producers for Hyde Vineyard designated bottlings, Larry and Christopher Hyde have opened a tasting room in Carneros featuring their own estate wines. The estate, established in 2009, is the culmination of over 200 years of California farming and nearly 40 years cultivating the Carneros region as Napa Valley’s premier region for cooler climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines. Styled as an old European Manor, the hospitality center also includes a private room and patio areas for guests to taste their terroir-driven wines.
Hyde Estate Winery is open for tastings by appointment Thursday through Monday. A typical flight ($40 pp) lasts about 50 minutes and includes a tasting of three estate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines. The 2014 Hyde Vineyards Chardonnay ($55) is a classic, from a coveted, older part of their vineyards, and the 2014 Hyde Vineyards Pinot Noir ($65) is pure and full of finesse. The tasting room is located in the heart of Carneros, convenient to both Sonoma Square and Downtown Napa. 1044 Los Carneros Avenue, Napa
Celebrate the Arts and Community at the 7th Annual Napa Valley Film Festival
The only film festival in the world that combines exciting independent film screenings and studio sneak previews and Awards-Season contenders with world-class food and wine launches next week in Napa Valley. Festivities surrounding the screenings include celebrity tributes including Will Ferrell, gala parties, wine tasting, vintner dinners and culinary demos featuring mash-ups between celebrities and chefs. The festival begins on Thursday Nov. 8 with a studio sneak preview of Guillermo del Toro’s suspense thriller The Shape of Water, including actors Michael Shannon and Michael Stuhlbarg who will also be honored with celebrity tributes at the festival.
The screenings will take place in several venues throughout Napa Valley, including The CIA at Copia which will also host several culinary demos that pair celebrities and chefs. Many of the demos are themed around festival films providing a complete experience for food and film buffs. Fermented star, chef Ed Lee leads “Finding the Beauty in the Rot”, followed by Melissa King who uses fermented cabbage kimchee in her culinary demo “Not Your Typical Brussel Sprouts”. Inspired by the film Wasted! The Story of Food Waste, local chef Chris Cosentino shows us how not to waste food in delicious ways in his session on Snout to Tail. The film Knife Skills – which shows how a world-class French restaurant in Cleveland staffed by former prisoners is changing lives – finds a parallel in “Knife Skills & Life Skills” pairing the filmmakers with the team behind SF restaurant Cala – which hires a majority of their staff from Delancy Street and other SF rehabilitation centers – to create life-changing dishes.
There are several food and wine films not to miss at the fest including Back to Burgundy, directed by Cedric Klapisch that captures the inescapable pull of a family Domaine, and Michelin Stars: Tales from the Kitchen, directed by Rasmus Dinesen, a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the Michelin process and the starred chefs who crave and loathe it.
The Napa Valley Film Festival is available for 1 to 3-day passes ($85-225 pp) or 5-day festival pass ($295 pp) for screenings, wine tasting and culinary demos; 5-day festival pass plus ($695 pp) includes priority seating and access to main parties and events; and all-access VIP Patron passes beginning at $2,500 pp for highest priority seating for all screenings and events, invites to Vintner Circle dinners, exclusive receptions and parties, celebrity tributes, awards ceremony and more. Check the Napa Valley Film Festival website for full details on the over 120 films presented, locations, participating celebrities and vintners, and to book.
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