Friday, October 16, 2020

HALL Wines Hosts Napa Valley Firefighters for Virtual Happy Hour Benefit

Posted By on Fri, Oct 16, 2020 at 10:00 AM

Firefighters from the Rutherford Fire Department will Join Kathryn Hal for wines and laughs on Friday, Oct. 16.
  • Firefighters from the Rutherford Fire Department will Join Kathryn Hal for wines and laughs on Friday, Oct. 16.

As the North Bay assesses the damage and cleans up the mess left by the Glass Fire, the latest wildfire to hit the region since fires became an annual tradition in 2017, many residents and businesses are incredibly grateful to the first responders who bravely fight each year to save homes and lives in the Napa and Sonoma Valley.

One of those businesses is HALL Wines, which credits Napa Valley firefighters for keeping its employees and winery safe from damage during the Glass Fire.

Today, Friday, Oct. 16, at 4pm, HALL Wines vintner Kathryn Hall, who runs HALL, WALT and BACA Wines with five tasting room locations in Napa, Sonoma and Healdsburg, is launching a fundraising campaign during HALL’s regularly scheduled virtual "Happy Hour" series on Facebook Live to aid in fire relief.

HALL Wine's virtual "Happy Hour" series, which has aired on social media each week since Covid-19 halted gatherings this past spring, regularly invites celebrity guests to try new release wines. Past guests have included actors like Julia Luis-Dreyfus and the cast of Emmy-winning television show "Schitts Creek."

This week's fundraising Happy Hour welcomes extra-special guests from the Rutherford Fire Department, who will share wine and laughs with Kathryn Hall and another special guest, comedian Tom Dreesen. In addition to raising a glass in support of the Napa Valley firefighters, Hall will also announce the winery's new Fire Relief Fund campaign, which is launching this week in collaboration with the Redwood Credit Union.

To date, HALL Wines has helped raise millions of dollars for the community through events and other local efforts as part of the Strength Together fundraising campaign the winery spearheaded during the 2017 fires. Now, HALL is partnering with Redwood Credit Union to contribute to their Redwood Credit Union Community Fund. One hundred-percent of the money raised goes to help those in need, and the the Hall Foundation will match gift dollars up to $25,000.

Additionally, Hall has set aside $50,000 in funds for employees to share what organizations they would like to nominate to receive funds to a diverse selection of non-profits are being supported. Hall’s luxury hotel based in Napa, SENZA, offered free hotel accommodations including complimentary breakfast to anyone affected by the fires including staff and first responders.

All HALL Tasting Rooms are open for business and include all required safety protocols to ensure the safety and wellbeing of staff and guests and HALL welcomes visitors to the Valley. Safety information can be found at
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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Culture Crush: Five Ways to Stay Busy This Weekend

Posted By on Tue, Sep 22, 2020 at 3:05 PM

Melvin Seals & JGB return to the stage virtually for the free, live-streaming ‘Cats on the Bandstand: A Very Melvin Birthday Show’ on Sunday, Sept. 27. - MICHAEL WEINTROB
  • Michael Weintrob
  • Melvin Seals & JGB return to the stage virtually for the free, live-streaming ‘Cats on the Bandstand: A Very Melvin Birthday Show’ on Sunday, Sept. 27.

Events boasting music, art, wine and other delights are happening throughout the North Bay and online this weekend, and here's a round up of what's worth looking forward to.

Taste of Art
Toronto-based contemporary abstract artist Peter Triantos specializes in creating vibrant, large-scale works that incorporate his splashing-paint technique and expressive brushstrokes of colorful designs. Of Triantos’ most popular works, his “Napa Valley” series is a highly sought-after ode to the region. Seven of Triantos’ paintings are currently featured in the gallery space at Brasswood Estate in Napa Valley, and the artist joins winemaker Angelina Mondavi and Marcus Marquez for a virtual tasting of the new Brasswood Estate line-up, featuring the 2016 Pinot Noir, and a discussion on the inspiration for his “Napa Valley’ series on Friday, Sept. 25, at noon.

Bike Up
Since many people in the Bay Area are working from home due to Covid-19, the annual Bike to Work Day event that encourages commuting-by-bike is now “Bike to Wherever Days,” and bicyclists throughout the region are participating in activities the entire month of September.

The celebration is still going strong in its final weekend, and all three North Bay counties are hosting rides and other fun. Log your rides and win prizes from the Marin County Bicycle Coalition ( or the Napa County Bicycle Coalition ( and participate in activities with Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition like a Bike Parade on Saturday, Sept. 26.

Hands-On Harvest
It’s Harvest Season, and that means work is in full swing in the North Bay’s vineyards and farms. If you’ve ever wondered what life is like for a local winemaker during this time of the year, Muscardini Cellars in Sonoma Valley is offering a chance to do just that with the interactive Harvest Experience & Blending Seminar. The three-part event includes a discussion with winemaker Michael Muscardini, vineyard-owner Dan Sanchez and Wine Club director Karen Hannah; a wine-blending event; and a harvest-inspired lunch catered by local purveyors on Sunday, Sept. 27, from 11am to 3pm. 9380 Sonoma Hwy, Kenwood. $105.

Birthday Bash
Beloved Bay Area musician and longtime member of the Jerry Garcia Band, Melvin Seals (pictured) always celebrates his birthday with a massive concert experience. Even though the pandemic has kept social gatherings on hold, Seals and friends are rocking out for his big day anyways, performing a virtual concert on his actual birthday via Light Rail Station in San Francisco.

Catch Melvin Seals & JGB in a very special one night event titled, "Cats On The Bandstand: A Very Melvin Birthday Show." Joining Seals for this major event will be his band, which includes former Furthur and Dark Star Orchestra guitarist John Kadlecik, deSol drummer Jeremy Hoenig, and bassist John-Paul McLean. Also expect call-ins and other surprise appearances from legendary members of the Jerry Garcia Band family, like Grateful Dead publicist Dennis McNally and Jerry Garcia Band manager Steve Parish. Head to Light Rail Station's Facebook page or Youtube channel on Sunday, Sept. 27. 4pm. Free.

Revisit the Summit
Each September, nonprofit Roots & Branches Conservancy hosts the Sound Summit music festival on Mount Tamalpais. The fundraiser always features cool bands and awesome sights, though this year’s fest was canceled due to social distancing. In lieu of the live event, Sound Summit is turning the clock back with a streaming event, “Sound Effects: SF Bay Area Musicians Relief,” featuring recorded live performances by Wilco, Los Lobos, Bill Frisell, The Stone Foxes and Matt Jaffe from Sound Summit in 2016. The streaming event benefits local artists through the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund on Sunday, Sept. 27, at 7pm. Free to watch; donations welcome.
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Monday, July 20, 2020

Seghesio Family Vineyards Selects Artist for Anniversary Mural

Posted By on Mon, Jul 20, 2020 at 12:46 PM

Artist Angie Mattson's proposed mural, "Night in Zinfandel" will be painted at Seghesio's Healdsburg tasting room later this year.
  • Artist Angie Mattson's proposed mural, "Night in Zinfandel" will be painted at Seghesio's Healdsburg tasting room later this year.
Founded five generations ago, Sonoma County’s historic Seghesio Family Vineyards is preparing to celebrate its 125th anniversary this fall, and in addition to planned parties and events, the winery’s tasting room in Healdsburg will receive an artistic commemoration courtesy of acclaimed artist Angie Mattson.

Mattson is the winner of the Seghesio Family Vineyards’ recent online Anniversary Mural Contest, and her design, “Night in Zinfandel,” won out over hundreds of entries submitted by artists from across the country. Mattson will turn her design into a large-scale art mural at the tasting room later this year.

Mattson’s design is a monochromatic illustration of grape-picking with symbols of nature interwoven throughout. She says it reflects the people, places and values of Seghesio Family Vineyards.

“Since Seghesio is so well-known for Zinfandel, I did a lot of research to get the shape of the leaves and the grapes just right,” Mattson says in a statement. “I also did a lot of research into the flavors of Zinfandel and tried to incorporate those elements into the design. I love the idea that wine is influenced by the land it comes from—the mountains and the sea, the wild herbs, flowers, and plants that grow in and around a vineyard. I wanted to capture the way it feels when you’re in a vineyard and especially at night under the stars when it’s very peaceful but there is still a lot happening—that’s when the animals are coming out and there is some mischief.”

Seghesio Family Vineyards launched the online mural contest in April, and received over 100 submissions from artists of all backgrounds. The entries were viewable online, and visitors were encouraged to comment on their favorite designs, with each comment counting as a vote. The votes were considered when choosing the finalists, along with input from a panel assembled by Seghesio Family Vineyards.

“We were humbled by the outpouring of interest by talented artists across the country who desired to participate in our 125th-anniversary celebration with a mural design inspired by Seghesio’s incredible wines and story,” Stephanie Wycoff, estate director of Seghesio Family Vineyards, says in a statement. “There were many stunning designs, but Angie Mattson’s submission was visually striking and captured the essence of our charm and history with many thoughtful details.”

Contest finalists included acclaimed artists such as Amanda Lynn for her design, “Taste of Life,” Monica Tiulescu for her design, “Zen of Zin,” ELLE for her submission “Vineyards Poetry” and Kimberly Yaeger for her unnamed design. All works can be viewed on the contest website.

Mattson, who also goes by her artist moniker Uto X, is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her art has increasingly been defined as a minimalist folk-art style for the past several years. Also a musician, Mattson began making art by designing merchandise for her band, In The Valley Below, splitting her creative time between music and visual art inspired by her life on the road.

The Seghesio family has been a part of the North Bay’s wine culture ever since Edoardo Seghesio planted his first Zinfandel vineyard in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley in 1895. Today, the winery’s 400 acres of vineyards in Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys produce award-winning Zinfandel and Italian varietals under the direction of winemaker Ted Seghesio.

Due to Covid-19 health and safety restrictions, Seghesio Family Vineyards’s tasting room in Healdsburg is currently opening up its adjacent grove for outdoor wine tastings Thursday through Sunday. Reservations are required and are available on
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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Salvador Dalí Exhibit Debuts in Sonoma

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2020 at 1:09 PM

“Flordali I” by Salvador Dalí. Credit to editor W.U.C.U.A. Jean P. Schneider.
  • “Flordali I” by Salvador Dalí. Credit to editor W.U.C.U.A. Jean P. Schneider.

Salvador Dalí is best known for painting surrealist works featuring melting clocks and long-legged elephants, though the multi-faceted and famously mustachioed artist was also a sculptor, filmmaker and wine connoisseur among other talents.

Dalí even wrote a book on the subject of wine, 1977’s The Wines of Gala, an eccentric guide that features California wine as one of the “Ten Divine Wines” of the world. Throughout his life, Dalí connected wine with art and other emotional experiences, and is credited with saying, “A real connoisseur does not drink wine but tastes of its secrets.”

Now, wine and Dalí come together once again as Wine Country becomes the setting for a new exhibit of the iconic artist’s prints and sculptures, presented in collaboration with The Dalí Universe­—one of the largest private collections of Dalí artworks in the world—and SBHG Gallery at Cornerstone Sonoma.

“The Dalí Universe­” exhibit opens Friday, June 26, and runs through August at the Cornerstone Sonoma outdoor marketplace. The showings run 11am to 5pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and curator Bertrand Epaud will be in town through the first week of the exhibit to offer expert insight into the artworks. Individual pieces are also available for private viewings that can be scheduled by appointment Mondays through Thursdays.

“We are honored to house this stunning collection from the undisputed master of Surrealism, Salvador Dalí,” said Karin Rogers, director of business development at the collective Sonoma’s Best Hospitality Group, which runs Cornerstone’s SBHG Gallery. “Dalí’s thought-provoking works feel rather suited to the surreal times in which we are living, and we look forward to sharing these pieces with the Bay Area and our local community.”

The exhibit will display eight of Dalí’s surrealist prints and will include a collection of nine of his bronze sculptures, which are a previously unknown aspect of Dalí’s work. In addition to painting and writing, Dalí was fascinated by the medium of sculpture, and he created original models and designs that were made into surreal objects based on the subjects in his paintings, such as the melting clocks of his painting “The Persistence of Memory,” and the recurring elephants that appear in works such as the painting “Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening.”
“Triumphant Elephant” Copyright ©IAR Art Resources.
  • “Triumphant Elephant” Copyright ©IAR Art Resources.

For more than 40 years, Beniamino Levi, an Italian art dealer and collector who worked with Dalí during the 1960s, has headed The Dalí Universe collection of art. Fascinated by Dalí’s ability to use different mediums, Levi began collecting Dalí art and sculpture when he opened Galleria Levi in Milan in 1955. The Dalí Universe’s flagship exhibition space is located in Paris, France, though the company tours and loans Dalí artworks to over one hundred prestigious museums and locations worldwide.

Cornerstone Sonoma’s expansive outdoor marketplace includes many independently owned retail shops and wineries, a distillery and a restaurant. The Cornerstone property also includes art-inspired gardens, event venues and the Sunset Gardens & Outdoor Test Kitchen, where gourmet food and wine pairings will be available for purchase and served by Sonoma-based Ramekins Culinary School while the exhibit displays Fridays through Sundays.

Cornerstone Sonoma and the SBHG Gallery will observe strict hygiene and social distancing guidelines in conjunction with Sonoma County’s most current Covid-19 safety measures. Additionally, many of the marketplace's tenant vendors have updated their services and hours during the COVID-19 outbreak and are taking extra precautions to insure the safety of the community.

‘The Dalí Universe’ is on display Fridays–Sundays, Jun 26–August 30, at Cornerstone Sonoma, 23570 Arnold Dr. in Sonoma. 11am to 5pm. Free admission. For more information, visit
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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Safely Shop & Dine at These North Bay Markets

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2020 at 10:47 AM

Stay socially distant while enjoying shops and dining at the Barlow in Sebastopol.
  • Stay socially distant while enjoying shops and dining at the Barlow in Sebastopol.

As stay-at-home and social distancing restrictions are slightly relaxing in parts of the North Bay, many are looking forward to returning to the shops and restaurants they love. Yet, a recent surge in Sonoma County cases of coronavirus has shown local leaders that we are not quite ready for a full re-opening just at this moment, meaning take-out and curbside shopping is still the norm going into this weekend.

If you’re itching to get out, the best way to do so and support local businesses is to visit the shops and eateries at local outdoor markets like the Barlow in Sebastopol, Oxbow Market in Napa and Marin Country Mart in Larkspur.

The Barlow
Situated on a 12-and-a-half acre district in downtown Sebastopol, The Barlow open-air "maker's marketplace" features dozens of retail and dining spots with Sonoma County chefs, vintners and other artisans creating local products and experiences.

Since the March shelter-in-place orders closed the physical locations for these artisans, many have transitioned to online ordering with options for curbside pick-up and take-out. Recently, the Barlow announced that the marketplace’s restaurants and eateries are now open for outdoor dining.

Food and drink options in the Barlow currently includes Acre Pizza, Barrio Cocina Mexicana, Community Market, Crooked Goat Brewing, Fern Bar, Golden State Cider Pax Wines, Seismic Brewing, Spirit Works Distillery, Sushi Kosho, Taylor Lane Coffee, The Farmer’s Wife, The Nectary, Two Dog Night Creamery, WM Cofield Cheesemakers and Woodfour Brewing.

Shops in the Barlow include Barge North apparel and home goods store, California Sister floral arrangements, Elsie Green décor and gifts shop, JG Switzer textile and bedding shop, the Lori Austin Gallery, Rust Clothing Boutique and Scout West County gift and home accessories store.

Oxbow Public Market
In Napa County, where dine-in restaurants and retail are both seeing restrictions lifted in terms of social distancing, the Oxbow Public Market is reopening its spacious and recently remodeled outdoor Oxbow River Deck, which now includes retractable shade structures and lighting.

Beginning Saturday, May 30, open-air, socially distanced communal tables and seats will be available for visitors on the deck, and Oxbow merchants will continue to offer online and over-the-phone ordering and pickup options for guests. The market is soon creating a designated curbside delivery area in the parking lot east of the main market hall as a drive-thru option for those who want to dine at home.

For guests who want to shop at the Oxbow Public Market, the new deck is part of the market’s new set of health and safety protocols made in accordance with all state and Napa County health requirements. The market will continue to also track and regulate the number of customers on hand to comply with social distancing regulations.

Oxbow Public Market merchants that are open for dine-in, takeout and retail include Anette’s Chocolates, C Casa, Fatted Calf, Fieldwork Brewing Company, Five Dot Ranch, Gott’s Roadside, Hog Island Oyster Company, Hudson Greens & Goods, Kara’s Cupcakes, Kitchen Door, Live Fire Pizza, Model Bakery (re-opening May 30), Olive Press, Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant, Ritual Roasters and Whole Spice. Additional merchant re-openings will be announced soon.

Marin Country Mart
Located adjacent to the Ferry Terminal in Larkspur, Marin Country Mart’s assortment of organic eateries, boutique shops and other services are coming back online after closing down in March. The village-style shopping center’s new model, which it’s calling Dutch Door Shopping, allows for curbside and social distant services like online classes in lieu of in-person events.

Shops and services that are open for pick-up, take-out or local delivery at Marin Country Mart include Poppy Store children’s boutique, Clic women’s clothing store, Toy Crazy, George pet store, Hudson Grace décor shop, Sarah Shepard Gallery, Flora & Henri artisanal home and gift shop, Jenni Kayne wardrobe and home goods store, Hero Shop luxury women’s store and Copperfield’s Books.

To-go dining options at Marin Country Mart include Farmshop’s nightly dinner specials, Hog Island Oyster Company, Johnny Doughnuts, Pressed Juicery, Rustic Bakery, Shake Shack, Sushi Ko, the Siam and El Huarache Loco.

Visit each of these markets online first for full details.
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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Review: BNA Wine Group’s Pie Case-Themed Wines

Posted By on Sun, Nov 3, 2013 at 12:55 PM

A visit to the grocery store wine section inspired this week’s Swirl column about the Red Blend wine category. Wine brands with dessert-themed names that clearly telegraph “sweet wine here” have been all the rage lately, to wit: “Cupcake,” “Layer Cake,” “Red Velvet” and “Cherry on Top.” And then I saw a label that just cuts to the chase with “Sweet Red Wine.”

BNA Wine Group, which Swirl visited recently, prefers the nudge-and-wink of its pie-themed labels. Besides, it turned out some of the wines, made by wine industry insider and St. Helena small-town hero Tony Leonardini, have more going for them than a trendy name. Here’s a full review of the BNA wines: 

BNA Wine Group Butternut Chardonnay

2012 “Bandwagon” Monterey Unoaked Chardonnay ($17.50) There’s a saline freshness that keeps it lively through lingering, peanut brittle and golden apple pie flavors. Crisp enough on the palate, but a bit hot rather than thirst-quenching, with a lingering sensation of sweetness.

2011 “Butternut” California Chardonnay ($17.50)
Just reeks of heavily toasted oak, what else to say. It’s like someone took a barrel of Rombauer, a Napa Chardonnay that’s generally viewed as the gold standard of the toasted oaky, buttery Chardonnay style, set it on fire and watched it burn for kicks. But that’s an observation, not a criticism: this is a popular wine, and Leonardini works with a consultant to keep it consistent. It’s a deep gold hue, has got sweet, buttery, kettle corn flavor, and slobbery viscosity.

2012 “Nanna’s Shortcake” Lodi Zinfandel ($17.50) It’s a dessert, but the aroma keeps it interesting. Raspberry syrup leaps out of the glass, accented with spicy clove and Pier 1 furniture aromas. Flavors of soft, sweet, strawberry and raspberry jam, such as from little breakfast packets.

2012 “Humble Pie” Cabernet Sauvignon ($17.50)
There’s a reason the Central Coast is big on Chardonnay and Pinot: Central Coast Cab used to have a bad reputation. But there’s no funky green pepper aroma here. Their sleight of hand does not involve wine additives, says Leonardini, but calculated deployment of oak, and a fair amount of “flash détente,” a super-heating and cooling procedure that’s “Great for color, weight and a bit of the aromatics.” Pumice stone, pencil lead at first whiff, then a sort of “berry medley” breakfast snack bar character. Dusty raspberry-vanilla. Smooth, easy drinking.

2011 “The Rule” Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($24) Also with the pumice and pencil notes. Stony black fruit, with some sweetness on the backend, competing with sturdy tannin. Incense aromas crop up after a time.

2010 “Volunteer” Cabernet Sauvignon ($31) Deeper still, Stygian dark. Black currants and chocolate nibs in a puddle of blueberry sauce; German chocolate cake in a bitter union with burnt fruitcake, mashed under the heel of a leather boot. Now we’re talking serious Cab. Rich and smooth, with grippy tannin. Black olive savory notes with some air, and a day later it did not fall apart, but was improved—something I cannot say for the “red blends” from this week’s Swirl.

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