July 16

Napa Valley Vegan at the 2016 Taste of Napa!

festival NV useHi friends! You have no idea how happy I am to be back. My life has been so full of joy, stress, loss and excitement over the last several months. Overwhelming! After five years out of the business, in February, my husband and I decided that it was time for me to get back to work selling real estate. We realized that after 5 years with his current company, his career was dying a very slow (often painful) death and living paycheck to paycheck had finally lost its allure! I began reading 1,800 pages of California real estate practices, procedures and legal aspects. Yep, it was as mind numbing as it sounds! On the last day of March, while on my way to pick up my passes to the amazing Sonoma Film Festival, I was rear ended by a 95-year-old man. My first thought was, “Wow! Kudos to you for still being licensed and independent”. My second thought was “F@ck! My back hurts.” Luckily, within a couple weeks my back and range of motion in my neck were almost back to normal. The downside was that since I had both of my hands on the steering wheel at the moment of impact, both of my wrists were sprained and swollen. That has taken much longer to heal but they are finally almost never sore or swollen. YAY! Within a couple days of this excitement, we got a call from our property manager to let us know that our landlord had recently passed away and we now had 60 days to vacate the home we had lived in for almost three years. We were sad for his family and knowing the current rental market in Napa just a little concerned about finding a place in just 2 months. On top of that, rent had increased by about 20% since the last time we had signed a lease. Sheesh! The hits just keep on a coming! And then things got really sad. My mother-in-law Jenelle, who had been ill and battling Parkinson’s disease for a couple years, finally lost her battle. In so many ways it was a relief to see her finally at peace and no longer suffering but that is easy for me to say. My husband lost his Mom. Now with both of his parents gone his sister Barb is the only person on this planet that has known him his entire life. Sad times. But just as quickly as it seemed that everything was going wrong, wonderful things were happening too! Though the real estate board is still weeks away from processing my application for the exam (I guess everyone wants to be an agent again!), with the help of a friend, I found a job at a small local real estate office. I’m working as an administrative assistant until I’m licensed. I wouldn’t call it interesting or exciting but it is helping me get used to being back in the work force. And thanks to another friend, we found the perfect little oasis in Old Town Napa. A charming little home with the sweetest backyard full of towhees, hummingbirds, bumble bees, butterflies and a little opossum we named Dixie after one of my favorite 90s bands Possum Dixon. In fact, I’m sitting outside right now with my lovely little doggie Violet sitting in my lap! And did I mention that I’m less than 2 blocks to Fuller Park and downtown?!!

TasteLogo400pxTo celebrate my return, I’m participating in Napa Valley’s annual music, food, wine and art festival – Festival Napa Valley (formerly known as Festival del Sole). Tomorrow, I’ll be covering the 2016 Taste of Napa. The event is being held at the new Cairdean Estate upvalley in beautiful St. Helena. Cairdean Estate offers estate wine tasting, dining, shopping and a perfect destination to meet up with friends! It was one of my favorite locations for screening films at the 2015 Napa Valley Film Fest. The event will be featuring dozens of exclusive wineries and just about every local Chef you could imagine including Alpha Omega, Caymus Vineyards, Cliff Lede Vineyards (one of my favorite spots in Napa!), Baldacci Family Vineyards (oh, another favorite), The Hess Collection (a definite favorite!) Aroma Indian Cuisine, Basalt and Carpe Diem. What does that mean to us vegans, you ask? Well…that’s why I’m going to be there. Just like last year, I will be tasting and sipping and chatting up every Chef and winemaker I can meet. It’s a tough job but I am here for you! My next blog post and videos will feature all the vegan-friendly moments so you can enjoy yourself on your next visit to Napa Valley!

I’ve missed you all and am so grateful that you are reading this post. I can’t wait to share the 11th Annual Festival Napa Valley with you! And as always…eat, drink and be vegan

December 9

Meadowcroft Wines – Each Wine Is a Story!

I had the opportunity recently to spend a fabulous afternoon with Tom Meadowcroft, the founder and winemaker for Meadowcroft Wines. It was one of the most enjoyable hours I have shared with someone in a long time! His passion for his craft was palpable and invigorating.

me
Making notes in between sips of wine!

Tom and his family moved to Switzerland when he was just 4 years old. He grew up in Geneva playing, skiing and thanks to his Dad who ran a travel agency, traveling throughout Europe and the U.S. His journey in winemaking began in Bordeaux in the late 70s and led him to wineries in Washington state and Napa. Tom attended UC Davis and the Napa Valley College to hone his winemaking skills before managing a winery that focused on sustainable farming and environmental advocacy. The dozens of properties he managed in Napa and Sonoma taught him not only the principles of winemaking but helped define his vision for his own wines.

courtyard
A cozy corner for wine tasting and relaxing.

Meadowcroft Wines’ tasting room is located at CornerStone Sonoma – this gallery is a beautiful mix of walk-through gardens that change with the seasons, shops, a restaurant and seminars on landscape architecture and design. I had heard wonderful things about the nine-acre gardens and art from friends. It was inspired by the International Garden Festival at Chaumont-sur-Loire in France and its goal is to create a cultural and creative haven by celebrating the connection between art, architecture and nature. It was certainly a lovely surprise finding this quiet little haven tucked away in the most unexpected location.

tasting room exterior
Comfy, casual outdoor seating.

The Meadowcroft tasting room is open and welcoming and is reminiscent of a tin barn. There is plenty of outside seating so you can enjoy the atmosphere CornerStone has to offer. Inside is an eclectic mix of charm, rotating between the look of a French country kitchen, antique furniture and contemporary high top tables with bar stools. Being a lover of nature, I chose a quiet table outside. Hearing the birds sing and the breeze blowing, makes every experience just a little bit better!

white wine pour
Chardonnay…what a lovely way to begin!

As I listened to Tom speak about each wine having a story “with many colors and weaves”, I began to really see his love for winemaking. My tasting started with a bright, aromatic Chardonnay that’s finish was smooth and fruity. Next was an exotic and spicy Pinot Noir that’s grapes had come from an abandoned vineyard. I took a couple of bottles of that home with me! The Syrah was an approachable blend of Syrah and Malbec and we followed up with a beefy Zinfandel. And when I didn’t think it could get any better…we finished with a pairing of Port and cabernet chocolate. What an amazing combination! The wines were a perfect combination of European-style winemaking with a splash of California so they really resonate on the palate! Through the tasting it was clear that Tom loves to play with different grapes and is right at home in the “big sandbox of creativity”!

three close up
Me and my husband Steve hanging out with winemaker Tom Meadowcroft.

Since Tom does not fine the finished product, all of his wines are vegan-friendly. The Meadowcroft hallmark “honeybee” on the label is a symbol of the hard work, the journey of mastering the winemaking discipline and the process of transforming grapes into an outstanding wine. And Tom’s family name means “fertile field on the meadow”! It is clear that he has found his calling. Come to Meadowcroft Wines and taste Tom’s interpretation of the varietals narrative; it is a story that should not be missed!bottle of Pinot

 

Meadowcroft Wines is located in the CornerStone Sonoma gardens at 23574 Arnold Dr./Hwy. 121 in Sonoma. Elaine and Darby offer tastings every day from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Enjoy the wonderful wine, the gorgeous gardens and relaxing atmosphere and as always…eat, drink and be vegan!

 

November 20

Napa Valley Film Fest 2015 – Somms on Film!

Here are the videos of my amazing experience interviewing the Sommeliers and winemakers at the world premiere screening of Somm: Into The Bottle at the opening night of the Napa Valley Film Festival 2015. This was absolutely my favorite red carpet experience. The sommeliers and winemakers were incredibly engaged and gave answers that were uncensored and came from the heart. I hope you enjoy  viewing these short videos as much as I enjoyed making them!

interviewing Geoff

 

CLICK HERE to view my conversation with Master Sommelier Geoff Kruth!

interviewing director

CLICK HERE to see director Jason Wise and writer/producer/wife Christina Wise discussing their film!

Brian McClintic

 

CLICK HERE to see what Master Sommelier Brian McClintic has to say about wine, sustainability, Pearl Jam and his love for Patti LaBelle!

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CLICK HERE to see Master Sommelier Ian Cauble and his girlfriend Mercedes discuss the importance of organic & biodynamic wines!

Fred Dame
Master Fred Dame

 

CLICK HERE as Master Sommelier Fred Dame discusses his interest in pairing vegan food and wine!

 

CLICK HERE to view Steve Matthiasson as he discusses his vegan-friendly wines!

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CLICK HERE to view Sommelier and author Kelli White discuss the importance of transparency in wine ingredients!  

Thanks for watching and always remember to eat, drink…and be vegan!