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November 2011

Haven for the Holidays

I cannot believe that the holidays are right around the corner. Time again to think about family gatherings, delicious feasts, and of course shopping for gifts.

This year, why not avoid the crowds, stress, and headaches of the malls and big box stores and support some local businesses? My friend Lindsay Hill is kicking the season off with a series of pop-up shops and fun events surrounding her fashion boutique, Haven, together with some other local entrepreneurs. So not only can you shop local and cross some items off your list, but you can have fun doing it.

First up is Haven and Raspberry Bouquet's Dress Yourself, Dress Your Table event on Thursday 11/17 from 6-9pm. Shop Haven's cool clothing and accessories, view Raspberry Bouquet's sample floral arrangements for your Thanksgiving table, and snack on food from The Charlestown Gourmet.

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Then, don't miss Haven's Holiday Pop-up event at One Thompson Square from December 1-3. I've gone to this before, and Lindsay does a wonderful job staging this space with all of her beautiful merchandise.

Haven Wallets_medium Mg_1775_medium

And don't forget about Small Business Saturday, a day to support small business owners, help fuel the economy, and invigorate communities across the country. It's on Nov 26th this year, and you can get $25 back from American Express when you use your card at a small business on this day.

So get out there and start shopping!


The Hess Collection & Domaine Carneros

On our last full day in Napa, we stayed relatively close to "home" and visited two wineries - one decidedly modern, and the other reminiscent of old-world France.

The Hess Collection, which not only produces wine, but also houses works of modern art from Donald Hess' private collection. Most of it was over-the-top modern, but there was one installation that I loved: "Hommage" by Leopoldo Maler, which is an old Underwood typewriter with gas flames coming out of it, representing the inflammatory political essays of his uncle (a well-known Argentinian writer). The gallery only shows about 25% of his collection, which he started in 1966 and limits to 20 living artists whose works he wished to support long-term. The balance is shown in museums around the world.

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Hommage(Photo credit for "Hommage" goes to I Dream Lo-Tech, since there was a "no photos" sign on the work and I obliged)

Domaine Carneros, a giant chateau situated on a hill surrounded by vineyards that was architecturally inspired by the 18th century Chateau de la Marquetterie in Champagne, France (in fact, both properties are owned by Taittinger, the French wine family famous for producing Champagne). We sat on their sunny terrace and enjoyed an assortment of sparkling wines, cheeses, and charcuterie.

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Ahhh, Napa...until we meet again!


The Silverado Trail

The Silverado Trail is a beautiful drive that runs parallel to the main drag in Napa (Route 29) but seems light years away from the hustle & bustle of that busy strip. It's a much less congested road, with wide open expanses of grape vines on one side and views of the Las Posadas State Forest on the other. We took a leisurely drive along it one day and visited two vineyards:

Mumm, which is known for its sparkling wines and has gorgeous grounds, complete with flower garden, seasonal pumpkin display, and a barn-like art gallery full of Ansel Adams prints. We sat on their dog-friendly patio (beautiful spot) and enjoyed a tasting of 5 different sparklers, with a bonus round of Santana DVX, a special sparkling wine resulting from a collaboration between the winery and musician Carlos Santana.

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Just down the road, we visited ZD Wines, a fantastic, no-frills, family-run operation (for 3 generations) that produces Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon. In fact, their 1969 Pinot Noir was the first to carry a Carneros designation on the label. These were among our favorite wines on the trip.

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Sterling Vineyards

Sorry - last week got away from me before I could wrap up the vineyard tour. I have a few more to cover, so here goes...

Sterling Vineyards is a bit further up the road in Calistoga, but we made our way there because we were already fans of their popular wines and heard that the tram ride up to the winery has beautiful views. So we boarded the gondola and were lifted about 300 feet up to where their white stucco building - designed to look like one from the Greek island of Mykonos - provides a stark contrast to the lush mountains surrounding it. It felt like a monastery, complete with bell towers (one of the bells, incidentally, was recovered from an old church in London that was destroyed during WWII). Here, we did a self-guided tour and tasting, sat out on their patio overlooking the two vineyards from which they source their grapes, and finished up in their dining room for a final flight of wines.

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