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Happy Holidays - Thanksgiving Escape to Napa

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Holiday season! We are enjoying the winter temps and all of the parties, functions, and holiday get togethers.


Meanwhile in the midst of the holiday fun we are busy working away on our projects – ranging from a beach home renovation on the far end of Long Island, NY to a beach home renovation in LaJolla, CA with a number of amazing projects in between – of course most right here in Arizona.


Proud to see all three of the spec homes we recently designed in Arcadia and one in Silverleaf all sell in 2016! We now have several new specs in design!


I appreciate all who came to my photography show at Isabel’s store Earth and Images. We had a great turn out and sold several of our Candelaria Collection Pasta Machines and several of my photo pieces – thank you!!!


It is definitely a busy time of the year and business wise it has been really getting busier as the year is coming to an end. Usually the slowest time, I am optimistic with what we might see in 2017. So to gear up and get a little down time in the midst of my 70 hour work weeks, Isabel and I snuck off to Napa to enjoy a long Thanksgiving weekend.


I know many of you have been to Napa – our USA version of Italy just a two hour flight away – we love it. This time we flew into San Francisco and met with our friends and Italy travelers, Gicela and Anthony Dulcich, who drove up from Long Beach and met us at our San Fran rendezvous spot, The St. Francis Hotel on Union Square. I love the St. Francis Hotel and it is definitely my go to spot when I come to the city by the bay!


We scheduled only one evening in the city so we had to make sure we squeezed in a dinner at the Tadich Grill, supposedly the oldest restaurant in San Francisco and California. Always fabulous, the cioppino is a must.


The next morning we squeezed in our morning walk comprised of coffee and some photography. Then we were off for Napa. This time we kept it simple and charming and checked into the Cottages of Napa Valley at the recommendation of our good friend, designer, and fellow Italy traveler, Rebecca Curtis – great recommendation. Charming, simple, unpretentious and best of all – quiet! We loved it and highly recommend.


We checked in and we were off to Michael Chiarello’s, Bottega, in Yountville for a fantastic late lunch. Michael Chiarello is one of my favorite chefs and have loved his show and recipes on the Food Network for years.  The food was outstanding but what stood out for me what the whiskey sour the bartender made with raw egg whites in a shaker…..unreal. Fantastic atmosphere and the food was 5 stars. Not a bad way to start our Napa experience. After our fabulous lunch it was time to do a little shopping, grab an espresso, a little more shopping then back to the hotel to relax. The rain moved in and after a nice nap we were off to Sonoma to The Depot for a quiet dinner.


The next morning was Sunday morning and so we started the day with a lovely Thomas Keller, Bouchon Bakery basket at our doorstep, the newspaper, hot coffee brewing, a crackling fire and some George Winston playing on our Beats Pill we always bring when we travel.


After a leisurely and relaxing start to the day we made our way out into the sunshine and a visit to the Dean and Deluca store on our way to St. Helena, CA. I always love these stores and just browsing and exploring. From there our shopping continued in the charming town of St. Helena. Loved this place with wonderful stores and the Orin Swift Tasting Room smack dab in the middle of town. Nothing like starting the day with a little wine tasting of the Orin Swift collection.


After a nice light lunch we went exploring with a stop at the Castello di Amorosa Winery just north of St. Helena. This winery is over the top in terms of the authentic 13th century Tuscan architecture.  It is spot on and if I woke up from a sleep I would swear I was in Tuscany on one of our Candelaria Tour Italy journeys.


From there we went further up the valley and to the Francis Ford Coppola Winery. Another amazing winery to explore and then add all of the movie memorabilia from his films – especially the Godfather films – , the grounds and gardens and not to mention the wines and you can easily spend some time here.

Coppola Winery movie memorabilia

Coppola Winery

Coppola Winery


So after an afternoon of enjoying wine it was time to top it off with a fabulous dinner at Bouchon. Be prepared to take your time and bring adequate funds. It was fantastic – both service and cuisine.  What an amazing sensory stimulating day – my favorite – from architecture, to beautiful scenery, to fabulous wines to savory cuisine.

Dinner at Bouchon


The next morning we had our day teed up by my good friend and the uber-talented, Landscape Designer, Jeff Berghoff, who does the landscape design on most of my homes. Jeff is currently working on the design for two wineries in Napa and he was so kind to set us up with private tastings at the Caymus Winery  and the V.Sattui Winery both near St. Helena. Wow – knowing Jeff’s style I knew this would be off the charts and it lived up to my anticipation. From our two hour tasting at Caymus to our tasting followed by a lovely picnic on the terrace with V.Sattui President, Tom C. Davies. How gracious to spend time talking with us about our trips to Italy, wine, and the current state of the wine industry. All very fascinating and how wonderful to meet and make new friends in Napa.

The beautiful grounds of the Caymus Winery

The cellar at Caymus

V.Sattui Winery

V.Sattui Winery

V.Sattui Winery

Tasting Room at V.Sattui

Picnic time on the terrace at V.Sattui

Sharing stories with V.Sattui Winery President, Tom Davies

V.Sattui Winery


We finished our evening back in Sonoma with a stop at the original William & Sonoma store and home of founder Chuck Williams – all right there, in of course, Sonoma! Very cool and equally inspiring. You just have to go for it!


Well – our time in Napa was done and it was time to get back to the drawing board but now filled with some wonderful dinners, fantastic wine, some romance, rest, and of course many fun memories. Across the Golden Gate Bridge and back to San Fran – but of course not with a stop at one of Gicela and Anthony’s favorites and now mine the authentic Italian deli of Lucca for Christmas raviolis!


I wish you all an amazing Holiday season! Get out and enjoy some great food, wine and of course architecture!