September 3

Mason Cellars vegan wine

Jon at Mason Cellars
Jon at Mason Cellars

I’ve lived in Napa, CA for almost three years and have to admit that before this magical city became my home I didn’t really have much of an appreciation for wine. When I was younger, I loved my beer and as I got older I always preferred a red apple vodka martini or two. It didn’t help that I chose my grocery store wine based on how much I liked the label! That’s how everyone chooses a good wine, right?! Wrong! Just ask any of the 4.5 million people who visit our over 500 wineries in Napa Valley annually!

As I began to visit different wineries and enjoy tasting the many different varietals – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Sauvignon Blanc being my favorites, I really began to have a much greater appreciation for wine and finally understood what the big deal was all about! As I became more interested in wine tasting, it became very important to me to be sure that what I was drinking was vegan. Turns out that many of the wines I loved were not animal friendly at all. Part of the winemaking process includes a  “fining” process. To a lay person like you and me basically a fining agent is added to the wine and it attracts grape particles, dead yeast cells and can even remove some tannins to make the wine more drinkable. All of that seemed reasonable enough to me until I found out that many of the fining agents used include blood powder, casein (milk protein), egg whites, isinglass (fish bladders) and gelatin. But do not despair, the great news is that there are vegan fining agents available for winemakers to use – carbon, bentonite clay, limestone, kaolin clay, silica gel and plant casein are all good alternatives.

As part of my promise to you to eat, drink and shop my way through Napa Valley, I recently visited Mason Cellars and tasted their incredibly tasty vegan wines. Mason Cellars tasting room is located at 714 First Street near Oxbow Public Market. Their delightfully fruity releases include the citrusy Mason Sauvignon Blanc, the intense grapefruit Pomelo Sauvignon Blanc, the crisp apple Three Pears Pinot Grigio, seasonal berry 60 North Merlot and the earthy Mason Cabernet Sauvignon. Just delicious!

Mason Cellars Merlot

Instead of using animal proteins, the winemaker Randy Mason uses bentonite clay to fine his wines. His goal is to create the finest wine possible, make it consumer friendly (we vegans thank him for that!) and price it fairly so everyone can enjoy his passion. With wine ranging from only $10 – $24 a bottle, Randy has made his wine accessible to almost everyone! If you stop by between 11 and 5:30 Thursday – Monday you can also enjoy complimentary wine tastings.

You will also have the pleasure of meeting Jon who is in charge of the tastings. His knowledge of the wines is exceptional and he is very friendly! The tasting room is also very dog friendly.  In fact, if you come in with your four legged family, Jon is going to be sure that you all feel welcome! I also had the opportunity to meet their much loved office dog Cabo. She was rescued by Laura, the office manager and gets to spend her days hanging out at the Mason tasting room.

My favorite work of art!
My favorite work of art!

Randy’s wife Megan is in charge of the design and set-up of the delightful tasting room. Come in and take a look at the local artists showcased while you are sipping wine. I enjoyed all of the pieces but I did have my favorite!

It was really hard to choose a favorite wine but I settled on a bottle of the Merlot and Pinot Grigio to enjoy at home. And I will definitely be back for more!

To enjoy at home!
To enjoy at home!

On Tuesday, September 16th at 6 p.m. PST I invite you to join me on Tout Suite’s live program. Napa Valley Vegan will be featured on this episode. I will be discussing my vegan adventures through Napa Valley and will be preparing Butler’s BBQ soy curls and pairing it with Mason Cellars vegan wines. If you would like to be a part of the live audience or join us from the comfort of your own computer click this link to register! I would love to see you there!

 http://toutsuite.com/events/living-vegan-napa-valley

August 26

Small World Cafe & Restaurant in Downtown Napa

Thanks to everyone for being patient. I have been busy eating, drinking and being merry gathering material to share with you. It is an amazing job and I’m happy to do it! I also wanted to thank Small World for being open for dining just 24 hours after the earthquake that damaged much of downtown Napa!

928 Coombs Street, Downtown Napa
928 Coombs Street, Downtown Napa

Small World offers delicious Middle Eastern food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They offer six Vegetarian Pitas – Original Falafel, Hummus, Baba Gunnooch, Grilled Mushroom, Grilled Zucchini and Grilled Eggplant – all of which are vegan! They also offer two vegan platters – Falafel and Hummus. The platter meals are very large and can easily feed 2 or leave you with enough leftovers for another meal. They also offer 6 tasty fruit smoothies that can be made vegan if you ask!

I enjoyed the Falafel Platter today and it was absolutely delicious. It is even gluten-free if you skip the pita bread! Check out the photo below. That is a lot of food for $11 and includes mixed salad, falafel balls, hummus, tahini dressing and pita bread. I’ve eaten here several times and this platter is definitely my favorite!

Falafel Platter
Falafel Platter

Small World is located at 928 Coombs Street, Downtown Napa. They are open Monday thru Friday from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. They serve breakfast until 11:30 but the only option for us vegans are the smoothies. They also offer juice, tea, lemonade, chai tea, beer on tap and wine by the glass. It is a very casual atmosphere with indoor and outdoor seating and the staff is really friendly. You can place your order online and have it delivered! Head to downtown Napa and thank Small World for offering so many delicious vegan options.

Sidewalk seating available!
Sidewalk seating available!

Visit their website at – http://worldcafenapa.com/

August 14

Hair Sanctuary!

Tina Hoffman -Owner of Hair Sanctuary & me with my new fiery red 'do!
Tina Hoffman -Owner of Hair Sanctuary & me with my new fiery red ‘do!

 

For all of my fellow vegans out there who have been searching for a hair care system that is not only free of carcinogens and ammonia but is also organic AND vegan, your wait is over! Tina Hoffman, owner of Hair Sanctuary has been a hairstylist for 17 years. She has worked with many different hair color systems. Some of the products  were not safe for our planet, her clients or animals. She began to find that there was a deep conflict between her personal goals and professional life. If Tina wanted to continue creating art with hair, she knew something had to change. Her journey began 8 years ago. After trying products from health food stores that didn’t quite do the trick and extensive research, Tina found Organic Color Systems (OCS) based out of the U.K. Because of the limited distribution in the U.S. (Florida only), Tina started this new phase of her career by contacting OCS Headquarters directly. As Tina transitioned her salon to the OCS System she found that many clients were excited about the change but just as many clients were skeptical that the results would fall short of their expectations. The truth is she did not lose a single client because of the new products! In fact, the only things her clients gave up were harsh chemicals, artificial fragrances, and the toxic odor many of us associate with hair salons. When I became a new client, I had short platinum blond hair. You can just imagine the chemical odors I experienced at other salons. What I remember most about my first experience at Hair Sanctuary was that when she rinsed the product from my hair it smelled like rose petals! Amazing. Now I am a fiery redhead and when the product is rinsed out it smells a bit like licorice. Yum! Many new clientele (me included) seek out her services because of her choice of compassionate, animal-free products. She has also chosen to use styling products that are all organic and many are also vegan. Now with the support of Organic Color System, Tina can be a better artist and feel good about her choices. If you would like to set a consultation and appointment, please call Tina at Hair Sanctuary located in downtown Napa at 1834 First Street, Suite #14 (707) 225-1754. Tina’s clients are all referral based so please be sure to let her know that you read about her and OCS on my blog – Napa Valley Vegan,

There is nothing more beautiful than knowing that our choices are mindful and loving of other living beings!