Dan & Marguerite Capp’s – Capp Heritage Vineyards and Tasting Room

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By Craig Smith

Dan Capp, a fifth generation Napan and owner of Capp Heritage Tasting Room at the corner of First and Randolph Street in downtown Napa, drove a tractor on the family farm, as he says, “as soon as my legs were long enough to reach the pedals.”   Until he reached that height, he lugged boxes of peaches and apricots, some weighing almost as much as he did, to customer’s cars.  Farming is basically all he’s ever done, planting his first vineyard in 1973.  He and wife Marguerite have produced award winning wines, but it’s hard work.  That’s okay though – Capp comes from hearty stock.

Capp’s great-great grandmother, Frances Griffith, came to the Napa Valley at 13 years of age, on what may have been the first wagon train party to successfully make it over the Sierras, in 1845.  Her family had been living in Missouri, where times were tough.  The family sold everything they had, purchasing plows, seed, clothes and tools to start a new life in Oregon.  The oxen that pulled the wagons would pull the plows at their new home.  One hundred and thirty-five wagons started the trip to Oregon Territory.  Along the way, some of the group decided to come to the Napa Valley instead, and thirty wagons broke away and headed out on their own.

The trip took six months.  When the smaller party reached the Sierras, they fashioned pulleys out of lumber and rope, and hoisted the wagons, one by one, over the mountains.  Fording rivers meant cutting lumber to build rafts.  It was brutally hard, and not everyone, or the wagons, made it. One of the travelers was David Hudson, age twenty-five, whose sister gave birth to twins en-route. One of them died in the desert. 

The small group settled in Calistoga, which was still Mexican territory.  The ruling Mexican government considered the newcomers to be illegal aliens and would not rent or sell them land.  Fearing war with the US, officials decided strip the group of their supplies an expel them. The former Missourians had not traveled that far to move again without belongings, and a small group, including Hudson, formed the Bear Flag Republic.  Their flag was sewed, in part, from the petticoat of Capp’s great-great aunt.  A few weeks later, US troops claimed the territory, raising the American flag in Sonoma, where Frances Griffith and her parents now lived.  Over a year after leaving Missouri, the surviving wagon party members now had a permanent home.

Capp’s relatives mined for gold before the Gold Rush even started, and were able to purchase property from Dr. Bale that included everything from the Napa River in St. Helena to the Sonoma County line.   Hudson and Griffith were married in the Sonoma Square in 1847 by the new governor of California.  Griffith, then 15, was the first American woman to get married in the State.  One of their sons, Capp’s great uncle, was Rodney Hudson, the first person born in St. Helena.  David Hudson planted vineyards there in 1852, after building a large house, where they raised their five children, including two who survived the Donner Party. In the late 1860s, he sold his property to his vineyard foreman, Jacob Beringer.  The now-famous Hudson House still stands on the property.

Capp’s paternal grandmother married Giuseppi Antonio Caporicci.  A strong woman, she insisted that her new husband become a US citizen and anglicize his name to Joe Capp.  The family stayed in farming. Their youngest son, Robert Lee Capp, took over the business after WWll.  Robert Lee had two children, Dan Capp being the oldest.

Some of Dan’s earliest memories are of working on the farm.  In 1963, he joined and spent four years in the Navy.  After leaving the service, Capp finished college at Cal Poly with a degree in agricultural engineering.  He met Marguerite a month after she turned 17, and it was love at first sight.  He handed her a glass of water, and both felt a spark when their hands touched.  Ironically, neither knew the other had the same electric experience until five years ago.  He took her to her high school prom, and married her a year after she graduated.  The Capps have two children, a son and their daughter-who got married in the new tasting room several months ago.

Dan Capp was the first person to be hired at Franciscan Vineyards, and planted all of their first vineyards.  He and a partner planted their own vineyard in 1973. Sixteen years later, Capp bought his partner out, and has been independent since.   The wine business has changed since Capp first got involved over forty years ago.  It’s big business now, with many small wineries having been swallowed up by large corporations.   While he and Marguerite agreed that it was time for them to start making their own wine, the business model dictated by the corporations made entry into selling it prohibitive.  Capp figured he had three options, travel the country extensively and set up independent distributors, wade through years of the permitting process and then spend millions to build a winery, or open a tasting room.  Option three, which Capp said wouldn’t have made sense ten years ago to open a tasting room in downtown Napa, is today the most logical.

“Opening a tasting room,” means different things to different people, but to the Capps, it meant designing a room that reflects Dan’s heritage as well as their wines.  The space they wanted had the dark, wooden bar from the old Carriage House at the Noyes Mansion in one of the two rooms.  Dan was inspired to design that room the way the lobby of an 1880’s San Francisco hotel would look, an homage to his great-great grandfather.  The room features a pulley system of ceiling fans that conjure up images from a Jules Verne novel.  The second room is done in art deco, a tribute to his mother’s family, and utilizes curves and more feminine colors.  While in the service in Monterey, Capp spent evenings listening to ad hoc musical groups playing in Cannery Row.  Performing on sawdust floors, it was magical, and he wants to recreate that magic in the art deco room.  Music is low key, so that people can talk or focus on the
players, as they wish.  The commercial kitchen in
the building will be increasingly used to produce small plates.

The Capps have built their lives and farms methodically, and intend to let their tasting room   develop at its own pace.  They are much more concerned with organic quality than immediate profits.  Their cabs are terrific, but Marguerite said that if someone was to try only one of their wines, she would suggest the Barbera.  She describes it as “medium to full bodied.  A rich wine with high but not excessive acidity that works well with Italian food.  It is not a wimpy wine.”  The Capps currently produce 2000 cases a year for their labels and sell bulk wine, plus grapes, to others wineries.  Marguerite said that they don’t make cult wines, but good, upper end wines that anyone can drink, any day.  “Our wine is made to be enjoyed with good food,” she said.  “Drink it slowly, and enjoy life.”  The Capps are committed to following her excellent advice.

THE PATHWAY HOME

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by Jeannine Yeomans

The Pathway Home is a nationally–acclaimed, residential treatment program in Yountville for Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans who have returned home suffering from the “invisible wounds of war,” severe Post Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury.

The generous people of the Napa Valley have been a key to the success of this non-profit. While donations come from the greater Bay Area and across the country, Napa Valley residents have provided core support through their financial contributions and volunteer efforts to help the veterans return to a healthy civilian life.

THE PROBLEM

Veterans commit suicide at the rate of 22 a day in our country. This is the number reported by Veterans Affairs.  Some experts fear the actual numbers are even higher. Active-duty suicides have outnumbered combat deaths for the past several years.

An estimated 500,000 U.S. military who served in the war on terror since 2001, have come home with severe Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), which can lead to suicide, severe depression, anger, guilt, alcohol and
drug addiction, unlawful behavior and other problems.

This is a national public health crisis that affects not only our veterans, but also their families and communities.

FINDING A SOLUTION

The Pathway Home was founded in 2008 by CEO, Fred Gusman, who chose the location on the peaceful and protected grounds of the Veterans Home in Yountville, which provides the atmosphere of a collegial rather than a hospital setting.

Veterans stay in the residential building (rented by the state for $1 per year) for an average of 14 weeks of therapy and innovative care at no charge to the veterans or their families.

Almost all of those admitted over the years had considered suicide and 60% had tried to kill themselves. Seventy three percent had quit or been fired from a job. Eighty percent had tried school, of which 83% dropped out.

More than 455 veterans have graduated successfully from TPH and they report a 91% satisfaction rate upon return to civilian life after their treatment.

The Pathway Home is the only residential program of its kind in the United States, designed to serve only Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans and it has been recognized by the Joint Chiefs of Staffs office as a model program for best practice in treatment of veterans with PTS.

UNIQUE KEYS TO SUCCESS

The Pathway Home attributes two keys to its success:

• Innovative expert care

• Community involvement

INNOVATIVE CARE

The Pathway Home has shifted from the “normal” and traditional methods of treatment by providing a multi-disciplinary, comprehensive, integrated, community model of care.

A safe, supportive, respectful and challenging therapeutic community is provided for those who have conquered the many stressors of war, but find themselves experiencing severe problems upon return to civilian life.

TPH provides a wide array of evidence-based therapy in groups and individually. This includes arduous trauma therapy, lasting at least four weeks, as well as therapy for moral injury, addiction, anger management, family counseling, restorative and creative therapies including art, creative writing, yoga, music and humor.

The variety of expert psychological, social, and rehabilitation services provided by The Pathway Home generally do not exist in traditional VA hospital, residential PTS programs.

COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS

Pathway Board Chair, Dorothy Lind Salmon, says
community involvement is the “secret glue” in the healing process.

TPH has formed strong partnerships with community

members, businesses and other nonprofit programs while bringing individuals, organizations and the local community into the circle of healing.

This collaboration is a huge key in helping combat veterans realize they are valued members of the community and that the community wants to take an active role in helping them rebound from their war experience.

Volunteers help The Pathway Home with fundraising and also provide a wide array of recreational activities including fishing, social events, bowling, hiking and art classes.

NAPA ROTARY CLUB

Napa Rotary Club and its 120 members have chosen TPH as their primary service project and have proven to be a critical support arm.

Each year, the club raises more than $80,000 for TPH in its Rotary Ride for Veterans. Rotary also donates equipment such as bicycles and vans. The service-club members offer an array of pro bono professional and legal services to TPH veterans, including employment, dental care and mentoring.

DONATIONS

The only thing keeping The Pathway Home from helping more of our nation’s heroes is funding.

The program relies 100% on private donations and grants and receives no government or taxpayer support. While The Pathway Home works with, and gets referrals from, Veterans Affairs, supporters believe we cannot rely on government alone to help our military veterans.

Donations immediately help the program and its residents and an increase in funds would help the program grow to serve more and to help start similar programs in other communities.

All donors, staff and volunteers who support TPH are united in the belief that the greatest casualty of all would be to ignore the problem and do nothing about this national health crisis.

Zack’s Story

Zack Skiles, U.S. Marines

San Francisco

I deployed with the Marines to Iraq in January of 2003 for the initial invasion. The word was we’d be home before summer, but we were there 10 months. I was told our unit took over 270 small arms attacks and roughly 35 scud attacks. To be honest though, I stopped counting after 30, because I didn’t want to test fate.

When I got back I had some pretty major symptoms of post-traumatic stress, insomnia and nightmares. Five years after my honorable discharge I was homeless in San Francisco and stealing whatever food I could to eat. I didn’t just get out and give up. I went to work, I went to school and I did my best to build a new life. Unfortunately, my symptoms got in my way. When years of failure are stacking up behind you, it’s just logical to want to end the suffering, which was definitely where I was at.

The Pathway Home gave me the best psycho-education, the best therapeutic experiences and gave me the very foundation on which I plant my feet today.

TPH works with each patient as an individual to establish their specific needs in order to make the most of their time in the program. It is the only program in the country providing this kind of care.

It is because of The Pathway Home that I was able to return to school, graduating Summa Cum Laude in Psychology in spring of this year at John F. Kennedy University. I’ve been able to establish therapeutic programs of my own with other combat veterans from South Sudan to San Francisco based on my experience at The Pathway Home.

It changed my life and continues to change the lives of every veteran who walks through their doors, because that’s what they do. They’re game changers.

Gary’s Story

Gary Belush, Army

Gary Belush, who served three tours with the U.S. Army in Iraq, said that when he came home, he was stuck, and in denial. He considered suicide twice, had family problems and spent time sitting alone in his garage.

“But I came to Pathway and it gave me a way to live life differently and to manage my fears. I wish I could say there was an app for that,” Belush said (to laughter) when he graduated from The Pathway Home.

How You Can Help

Or the web at thepathwayhome.org

Click on the “donate” button   Or mail a contribution to:

Mike Horak, Development Director

The Pathway Home

PO Box 3930 | Yountville, Ca. 94599

The Pathway Home, Inc. is a registered 501(c)3

nonprofit organization.

CanDo’s 2014 Napa Valley Give!Guide

Cover Give Guide 2014HR

by Hilary Zunin

Does lightning ever strike twice? Can the eager debut of a grand idea be sustained in its second year? Will it spark community involvement in 2014 for local nonprofits worthy of your support?

Coming November 1 to a mailbox and website near you, a “portal to the possible.” It’s the 2014 Napa Valley Give!Guide.

A project of Napa Valley CanDo, last year’s debut edition of the Napa Valley Give!Guide started with a bang.  From November 1-December 31, generous valley residents donated over $106,000 to 40 fabulous nonprofit organizations, all serving Napa County. The “Fab 40” represented seven categories of service:  Animals, arts and culture, community, education, environment, health and wellness, and youth and seniors. A new set of 40 nonprofits is featured in the 2014 edition. They include both organizations whose names are household words and small groups doing big things with whom you may not yet be familiar. Half of the nonprofits in this year’s Give!Guide are participating for the first time.

This novel approach to community funding invites locals to donate to one or more stellar nonprofits. Donations begin at $10 and donors may choose to give to one or more groups in varying amounts. Volunteer Olivia Ervin says “We like to put it this way:  You make a choice; you make a difference; the Give!Guide makes it easy.”

The concept consists of two parts:  A catalog featuring the 40 nonprofits is distributed as an insert in the November issue of Marketplace Magazine. At the same time, a user-friendly website, in English and Spanish, includes more information, daily incentives, and a real-time ticker showing how much has been donated to each nonprofit. Beginning November 1, visitors to NapaValleyGiveGuide.org may give to one or many organizations with a single click. For those who prefer to write a check, forms are provided to help ease the selection process. Napa Valley CanDo takes no fee for this project. It’s a labor of love.

Nadia Valenzuela is involved with the Give!Guide for the second year. She and a handful of dynamic volunteers came to the project last year from Leadership Napa Valley. “Our practicum group decided to work with CanDo to bring this exciting project to fruition. Along with the fact that all the funds stay in Napa County, we liked the respect the process demonstrates for each donor. With some other charitable groups, a central authority decides where to put your donations. The Give!Guide allows each donor  to choose exactly where he or she wants their tax-deductible donation to go.

Who is the audience for CanDo’s Give!Guide? “The Guide! is for everyone,” says Hilary Zunin, co-founder of CanDo and a Give!Guide volunteer. “If you care about the Napa Valley, you’re in the right place:  Young people, new donors, folks who’ve never thought of themselves as philanthropists. People who already pledge support with money and time but appreciate that the Give!Guide eases the path from intent to action. Visitors who take away memories and want to leave a little something by way of thanks.”

Along with the concerted efforts of the 40 nonprofits and CanDo volunteers, community partners make it all possible. The Gasser Foundation, Terra Firma, Leadership Napa Valley, Thrive Napa Valley and Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine all provide financial support. Individuals and businesses throughout the Valley offer incentives each day to encourage donors to make that gift:  A massage, a dinner for two, a sparkling necklace. Incentives are noted daily on the Give!Guide website and Facebook pages.

The Napa Valley Vintners do as well, by generously sponsoring the CanDo Spirit Award, a $1000 prize to an exceptional young employee committed to the nonprofit sector. In 2014, Ms. Sarahid Rivera Vazquez of Legal Aid Napa Valley, is that worthy individual.

“The rewards in working at a nonprofit are always rewards for the heart, never the wallet,” says Vazquez. And yet the CanDo Spirit is alive and well in her dedication, “I want to continue to be part of change in my community, one family at a time.” Vazquez will be honored at the 2014 Give!Guide’s Kickoff Celebration , open to the public, on November 6 at the Paul Ash Lobby of the Napa Valley College Performing Arts building. See NapaValleyGiveGuide.org for details.

Look for your copy of the 2014 Napa Valley Give!Guide the November issue of Marketplace. Let’s see if, with your generous support, lightning can strike twice.

List of 40 Nonprofits:

ANIMALS

Napa Humane

Sunrise Horse Rescue

Wildlife Rescue Center
of Napa County

ARTS & CULTURE

Napa County
Historical Society

Napa Valley Youth Symphony

COMMUNITY

Church Women United Clothing Center

Habitat for Humanity

Legal Aid of Napa Valley

Napa Valley Community Housing

Puertas Abiertas Community Resource Center

UpValley Family Centers

Vine Village

EDUCATION

Community Resources
for Children

Connolly Ranch

Girls on the Run Napa Valley

If Given A Chance

Moving Forward Towards Independence

Napa Valley Adult Education

Napa Valley College Child

Development Center

Napa Valley Education Foundation

Teacher Resource Center
of the North Bay

ENVIRONMENT

Napa County Resource Conservation District

Napa-Solano Audubon

HEALTH & WELLNESS

Community Action
of Napa Valley

Cope Family Center

Family Service
of Napa Valley

Napa Emergency Women’s Services

Napa Valley Hospice
& Adult Day Services

The Pathway Home

The Table

YOUTH & SENIORS

Active 20-30 Club of Napa

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the North Bay

Boys & Girls Clubs of Napa Valley

Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind

Foster Kids Fund

Girl Scouts – Up Valley

Service Unit

Loving Animals
Providing Smiles

Napa CASA,
A Voice for Children

Rianda House Senior Activity Center

Rohlffs Manor

Spirited Secrets of the Napa State Hospital

Napa State Asylum

by Rebecca Yerger

Some Napa County buildings have gained distinction, and even notoriety, not only from the architectural style they possess, but also the spirits that possess them. One such place is the Napa State Hospital. Through its long history, its sheltered separation from the community-at-large has generated numerous stories of paranormal activity.

Opened in 1876, the Hospital was considered to be a state-of-the-art, progressive, treatment facility. The Hospital was originally called the Napa State Asylum – a place of refuge for the troubled being.

The Asylum was a self-sustaining and sufficient facility, with orchards, livestock, farm buildings, workshops, a cemetery, and more. Many of the patients worked within the Asylum facility as part of their treatment. The philosophy of those times was that if the patients were given a sense of purpose through constructive and physical activity they would heal.

However, there were some patients who were restricted to their quarters housed within the main building. This massive stone building with its towers became known as “The Castle.”

Near the former “Castle” site, the unexplained has occurred frequently. In one building within this area, a paranormal prankster called “Freddie,” likes to play “keep-away” with the mortal hospital staff. Items such as jewelry, socks, pens and patient files disappear. After about two days, “Freddie” returns to continue the game. It begins with the staff feeling a brush of cold air at their sides and a tug at their pockets. When they reach into their pockets, they find the missing personal item. As for the files, they are eventually found in one of “Freddie’s” favorite hiding places in the building.

Another paranormal incident that occurred in a building near the former “Castle” is far more chilling. It is said that within a small room that served as a supply room for many years, many mortals have been assaulted by a pair of malevolent spirits.

The terror begins with a loud crash, as if heavy wooden doors are torn from their hinges and locks. Then, with great speed, two, large, shapeless forms charge towards the mortal who they pin against the wall. Those who have endured the incident have all said the freezing-cold forms emit a horrible stench as they vocalize unearthly laughter. The assault ends just as the forms raise what appears to be knife-wielding hands. Understandably, many mortals request transfers out of that ward following their paranormal assault.

As previously mentioned, originally, the Asylum grounds contained numerous buildings, such as a dairy and workshops. Regarding the latter, each shop had a specific purpose, such as plumbing repair. For many years, when the plumbing shop was still in use, one Obsessive-Compulsive male patient essentially ran that shop.

About a decade or so after that patient’s death, circa 1907, the new shop foreman, a mortal, was perplexed by a daily oddity. Every night the mortal would layout the tools and materials he would need for the next day’s projects. However, the next morning he would find all those tools and materials had been neatly put away. And, every time the he tried to reorganize the shop, the next morning he would find even the heaviest of equipment returned to its long-standing locations. Eventually, the foreman gave into the
“Phantom Plumber.”

In addition to the workshops, the Asylum grounds featured residences of late–Victorian, architectural styles. These buildings served as housing for the doctors-in-residence and their families. One of these residences is said to be occupied by a genteel, Victorian-era lady. Her form, while faint, is full length and dressed in clothing typical of the 1880s. On the rare occasion when she is seen, she is sitting in a chair in what would have been the parlor. At first, she seems to be focused on some handwork, such as needlepoint. When she looks up to notice the mortal in the room, she smiles, sets down her project, gets up and walks towards the person as if to welcome him or her into her parlor. Then, as she leans forward as to kiss the person’s cheek she fades, to leave behind a faint and chilled scent of rose for the bewildered mortal to experience.

Another location of paranormal activity at the Asylum is the old cemetery. It is said that a number apparitions have been seen at this location. According to these stories the apparitions are only partial in form, but clear in detail. One account tells of two male ghosts, dressed in early 1900s clothing, who seem to be fighting violently until they eventually vanish from view. Two other apparitions appear to be a young mother and her toddler daughter from the 1930s. While holding her daughter, the woman sways about and seems to be singing, silently. Suddenly, the child is torn away from the woman who then appears to sink as if she has fallen to her knees as she sobs. She vanishes shortly thereafter.

These accounts are just a sampling of the Napa State Hospital ghost stories told over the years. Whether true or not, they have added yet another layer to the mysterious mystic of this 138 year old Napa County icon.

If you enjoy hearing local ghost stories and paranormal tales, please join me as I share yet another sampler of Napa County’s supernatural events on Wednesday, October 29 from 6 – 7 P.M. at the Napa Library – 580 Coombs Street. For more information call 253-4235.

A 6.1 Earthquake Brings With It An Immeasurable Magnitude of Community Support, Activism & Gratitude

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by Cherie Knox

We drifted off that night of August 24th – most of us anyways – finally letting go of whatever had busied our minds that day, settling into slumber for the night.  Caught up in the routine of our daily lives, we tend to focus on our own little microcosm of life. Worrying about safety and solid ground is not usually top of mind. Then Mother Nature strikes, in the form of an earthquake, in the middle of our good night. For most of us, it was a humbling experience. My friend Charlie Toledo reminded us in a Facebook post, that it was a good reminder that we are merely guests on this planet. Wow.

When Connie called, asking me to write a story that focused on all the good that came out of this tragedy, I accepted. I didn’t know then that the interviews and writing would be such a huge source of healing for me.

People in and outside of Napa showed up in big and small ways to help others. Truthfully, there are just too many stories to tell in the space of this article. Within seconds of that terrifying and devastating quake, though, I can tell you with complete certainty, that our immediate and collective response all over town was to rise from the rubble, shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart. And, this surprised none of us.

Special recognition and deep gratitude goes out to our police, fire, elected officials, city and county leaders, employees and work crews – all of whom were tireless in their efforts to restore us and our town.

Here are a handful of stories about the good that helped light our way
that morning.

Helping Others Release the Trauma

Mimi Glavin (The Playful Garden) and Rhea Zimmerman Komerek (Blossom Chiropractic/Love Bomb The Movie) partnered together to find a massage chair as well as a quiet location for Mimi to offer massage after the quake. Rhea, caring for her patients off site, offered to share her temporary location with Mimi. Unable to enter their own businesses, these two women focused instead on healing the minds, bodies and spirits of those affected by the quake.

Catalysts for change can come to us in unexpected ways. As many would share with me, this earthquake changed, awakened or shifted people’s minds, hearts, and souls. For Mimi, she recognized a renewed passion to return to doing bodywork and helping people on a deeper, more spiritual level. For Rhea, with the trauma of her personal experience of 9/11 resurfacing, she wanted this quake “not to break me down, but to break me open.”

How Does One Calm an (Earth) Quaked Town? With Coffee and Pastries,
of course!

Alexis Handelman (ABC Bakery) tells me that employees were working when it happened. She and her staff connected immediately. Smelling gas, they told Alexis they feared the place ‘would blow’. She urged them to vacate the building, which they did right after turning off the gas line. Alexis called Barry Martin to find out what had happened. Barry told her it was quiet downtown, but her front windows were busted out. She dressed and went to see for herself. It was pitch black, but peering inside she could see forms of broken glasses and plates everywhere. Wine and spirits flowed out from underneath the liquor store next door. Mike, a nearby neighbor and regular at ABC, said he would stand vigil over the building. Alexis walked through her bakery. Breads and pastries, their baking rudely interrupted, lay on the floor with cookware and equipment. “Everything”, she said, “was catawampus.”  Employees showed up to help, as texts began to fly into her phone. Her reply, “Bring brooms, gloves. The power is on!” Suddenly Alexis announces to her staff, “We’re going to make coffee! Set up a table outside. Put out ‘to go’ cups. Put everything we have out in baskets.” It hits her.  This is the time to be comforting people. They do just that, served up along with hot coffee and baked goods set upon a folding table on the sidewalk out front.  For eight hours.

People were so grateful, she said. Strangers and friends – guests from Andaz, her regular customers, weary first responders, and homeless folks – all huddled together to share stories. Alexis realized that what they created outside that morning is what they create inside every day – a place for people to gather. She tells me that not until late that afternoon would her tears flow. “Not because of all the loss I had” she quickly clarifies as tears come again, “but for my own sense of gratitude.” Chuckling, she jokes that the morning was her own Hanukkah miracle (a reference to a story from the Talmud about a small cruse of pure oil, enough for just one day, that burned for 8). “We had enough baked goods and coffee to serve everyone who showed up that day.” What has she taken away from this experience? I see tears appear again, but this time they come with a tender smile. She says, “Life is precious and it’s short. It reminds you to fill the moments of every day in the best way you can, to bring the best part of you to each day.”

They All Said Yes!

Joan “Joni” Dittrich (Founder, Kali-Ki Reiki & Wisdom School) saw pain and trauma on the faces of those that attended her classes. She knew this was a mirror of our community as well. She wanted to do something to help people begin to heal. So, she called out to others. On Friday evening, the 29th, Janet Kuhn graciously opened her Yoga Passion Studio for the event. As Joni and Janet tell it, every person asked to help or participate said yes. Some members of the local Threshold Choir (Sudie, Jody, Rende, Marcy, and Rosemary) sang. Rosemary Gallagher (also involved in the Fuller Park event) gave a ceremonial blessing that honored the earth. Joni coordinated and facilitated all of it and led a guided meditation that evening to a room packed full of people. Heavy-hearted and subdued upon arrival, attendees left feeling quite a bit more grounded and peaceful.

I Am Not a Hero!

Fred Corona (from Taqueria Rosita) is quick to say he is not an earthquake hero. He wants me to know “what really happened.” Miraculously, his building didn’t suffer much. He was ready to open Sunday, until he saw the beleaguered look in his employees’ eyes, impacted by the quake themselves. He sent them home. They opened Monday. They were slammed with business. TV crews, business people, and locals all showed up. Fred’s restaurant was one of just a few open downtown. His staff was overwhelmed. Tuesday was even crazier. “The same people as before, only now add construction workers to the mix.” Fred contemplated hiring more people. Checking on his friend Baris (of Ristorante Allegria), he noticed the owner of Don Perico’s standing outside his restaurant with his wife. Fred and Marcos knew each other casually. It disheartened Fred to hear the couple discussing their options, all of which were grim. It was clear the restaurant would not open right away and Marcos expressed concern for his employees. While driving home, Fred realized he had a solution that would help both of them. He would offer to hire Marcos’ staff to work for him until Marcos could hire them back. Two of Don Perico’s three employees went to work at Taqueria Rosita. In the midst of many crippled businesses downtown, his was open and thriving. The irony of it all was not lost on him. He was grateful for his situation, but saddened by the plight of so many others. Creative thinking and a sharp business mind provided Fred with a solution that helped both restaurants. I’m fairly certain those two transplanted employees and his own stressed out staff are grateful to Fred for his efforts, even if he insists
he is no hero.

Silver Linings and Comfort Dogs Come to Roost Napa

Like other downtown businesses, Patricia Trimble (Roost Napa) was doing her best to weather the impact of the two-way street conversion. Then the building that houses her store caught fire. Then the earthquake came to town. Enough already! Once the plywood was up where her storefront glass used to be, she took some red chalk paint and wrote “We (Heart) Napa.” Her plight and her plea to viewers, to please come to Napa to dine, shop and sleep here, was captured during a televised interview, along with an image of that piece of plywood. It garnered the exposure that she and all of downtown Napa needed for the upcoming Labor Day weekend. “Come!  We are open for business!” became the rally cry of downtown. Reuters, the LA Times, the SF Chronicle, the Wall St. Journal, and others picked up Patricia’s story. She talked to me about the silver linings that came afterwards – a man drove from Lafayette just to haul her trash away; two Afghan teens from SF made a point of buying one thing from each downtown shop; a Swedish couple on honeymoon came to help her sweep; a fund was created for donations of Sloan Chalk Paint to help restore her inventory; an out of town girlfriend unexpectedly showed up to comfort her in the midst of what felt like yet another aftershock. Strong and humorous through so much adversity, it was the Comfort Dogs that brought down her wall and allowed her to cry publicly. She sits across from me with that 100-watt smile and says her earthquake experience “made me fall completely
in love with
my town!”

Hmmm, I Know Some People

Dale Carriker (President, Rotary Club of Napa) is a no-nonsense guy with a wickedly sharp sense of humor. After he and his wife Lynn – a proud Kiwaniian, by the way – cleaned up their home, they drove their truck to the Garaventas floral shop to help them. So many neighbors and friends did this for one another that day. Dale then decided to invite his fellow Rotarians into action at their upcoming meeting. He asked them to consider making a donation to the Salvation Army, which they would use to help Napa’s quake victims. The basket was passed. The donations collected. At the end of that lunch hour, they had $5,000 in donations! The Salvation Army purchased gift cards to help those in need, like seniors on fixed incomes with no money to replace spoiled food. Dale tells me, humbly and without pretense, “We all have an opportunity to help someone else. That’s all we did.”

Have Plywood, Will Travel!

Mike DiSimoni (Adobe Lumber) arrived downtown at 4:30 that morning to check on his buildings. After assessing them, he headed back to his lumberyard to pick up materials he would need. Loading plywood, it struck him that he should load up as much of it as he could and deliver it to anyone downtown who needed it.  With the help of his daughter Gia and her boyfriend Daniel Collins, they drove back to Napa. In a few hours, they delivered 100 sheets or so of plywood. Mike was touched to see several carpenters, with their nail bags on and tools in hand, running alongside his truck, offering to help put the plywood up wherever it was needed. What compelled him to act that morning? Mike says he reached back to his experience in Richmond after the Loma Prieta quake. Like in Napa, he saw people dazed and shocked, who needed help. So (in a cast from a shattered ankle), he put his focus on doing what he could to help other Napa businesses.  Asked if anyone stood out to him that morning, he recalls Alexis. “She came running over, wanting to pay me for the plywood.” He refused her money, and instead took a cup of her coffee!

Did You Hear the Angels Singing?

Kate Munger (Founder, Threshold Choir) arrived in Napa on August 30th, along with choir members from Napa and beyond, to sing for and with Napans under the trees of Fuller Park. Choir members sang, soft and sweet, while seated next to Napans, who took turns reclining in chairs, eyes closed and bodies gently coaxed into relaxing. Everyone was invited to sing along. For some, the experience brought tears. For all, it brought an afternoon of peace and calm to a community still very much on edge. With 117 choirs in the US, UK, Canada and Australia, they sing to ease and comfort those at the threshold of living and dying. Kate also sings with prison inmates and wants to expand that singing to communities that have suffered trauma. “I knew lots of people in Napa were having a hard time releasing tension, coping with agitation, and so on. I know singing grounds me and I simply wanted to offer this to Napa.”

Napa County Animal Shelter’s Kitten Season

Diane Mwp

by Laird Durham

It’s kitten season at the Napa County Animal Shelter, an annual event from late spring to fall. This year’s drought kept the rains away, but it brought a flood of kittens to Napa’s feral cat population. Eighty kittens, so far, have been brought to the shelter.

From birth through eight weeks, kittens need constant care and training.  Eighty kittens would swamp the shelter. Coming to the rescue are more than 30, volunteer, foster homes who raise the kittens, one at a time, or in litters of as many as five, until they are old enough to be brought back to shelter in shifts to be spayed or neutered and socialized enough to be put up for adoption.

Rarely is the mother cat a part of the foster-home package.  95% of the time the kittens are orphans, so the foster homes nurse the orphans with a special milk-substitute from bottles or syringes.

“We are indebted to the foster homes,” says Kristen Loomer, Director of the Napa Animal Shelter, holding an armful of kittens.  “The foster homes keep the kittens alive and train them to be adoptable.”  This year, especially, Kristen is looking for more foster home volunteers.  The Napa Animal Shelter provides veterinary care for the foster home kittens, and all of the food and health supplies needed by them. If you might like to foster kittens in your home, give Kristen a call:  707-253-4382.

While kitten season peaks in the summer, the Animal Shelter’s dog adoption program goes on all year.  Last year, the center arranged for the adoption of 900 dogs, and cared for 500 stray dogs, half of them returned to grateful owners.   Many of the kitten foster homes have adopted dogs from the shelter.

Diane Matuszewski has been giving kittens a foster home for six years, along with Bitsa, her kitten “foster dog”, himself a 4-year-old rescue dog from the Napa animal shelter.  Diane says Bitsa loves kittens. Diane and her husband own and operate FlexWineTours.com from their home office.  Although the tour business operates 7 days per week, Diane is able to look in on the kittens several times a day, and wean them, train them to use the litter box, and socialize them so they can be neutered and put up for adoption when they are
old enough.     

This is Diane’s fourth foster litter, three of which included the mother cat.  Her present charge is a mother cat Diane has named Minni Purrl, who is still a kitten herself, and her two babies, one male, one female, which Diane took in when the kittens were just 3 days old.  After two weeks, one of the kittens is still nursing.  The

other is starting to eat solid food.  “I put some in his mouth and he found out it tasted pretty good,”
Diane said.

Diane insists “it is really easy to be a kitten foster home”, especially when the mother comes with the litter.  “Baby kittens need to be fed about every two hours,” she says, “but only for a few weeks.”  Because she believes it helps keep her foster kittens calm, Diane streams spa music all day through her computer in the kittens’ sanctuary, a room that doubles as Diane’s winery-tour office.

Diane also is a volunteer dog walker at the Animal Shelter, and helps train volunteers.

Last year, Hector Badillo and Chris Trujillo gave foster care to 37 kittens.  This year that record may be broken.  Right now, the men are fostering just one kitten, 3-4 weeks old – the only survivor of a litter abandoned by a feral cat under Napa bushes and discovered by a passer-by who brought the starving kitten to the shelter.

Chris named the kitten Lily.  Hector said that after only three days he had tamed the kitten from feral behavior (hissing and attempting to claw) to eating solid food, using the litter box, and lying down with the partners’ rescue dog, Seija.

“This is the biggest reward of kitten fostering,” Hector said.  “Watching a semi-feral animal become well-behaved and companionable.”  He said that when you feed a kitten – especially from a bottle – the kitten quickly becomes attached to you and likes to be cuddled.

Hector is an animal technician with the Napa Animal Shelter where he has been providing care and training for the shelter’s animals for five years.  Because of his special skill, Hector usually gets the kittens that are the most troubled in behavior or health.

Chris is a student at the San Francisco Art Academy.  His and Hector’s daily schedules don’t overlap, so one of them is home almost all the time.  At the rare times when the kittens would be alone, Hector takes advantage of his job and brings them with him to the shelter.

“When we have a litter of several kittens,” Hector said, “they all have different personalities.  When one learns to eat solid food, or use the litter box, the rest will often follow.”  Kristen Loomer agrees.  “No cat is like another,” she said.  “Every one of them is unique.”

Hector added a twist: “There is usually a trouble-maker in every litter, and it seems like that is the one the rest of the litter wants to follow.”

Fostering kittens is a family affair for Cynthia and John Hamilton and their son, Josh.  Although Cynthia is the primary care given, John and Josh pitch in when Cynthia is volunteering at the Napa Animal Shelter.  The Hamilton’s have been fostering kittens for two years and, so far, have fostered ten litters, the largest with five kittens, and only one has included the mother cat.  One litter of four kittens was not really a litter; all four of the kittens were unrelated and were of different ages.  Two of the four were “pretty wild”, Cynthia said.    

“The oldest kitten in that bunch helped me out by ‘teaching’ behavior to the younger and wilder ones,” Cynthia said, such as using the litter box, keeping themselves clean, and behaving socially.   

In July, Cynthia fostered two kittens, one of them a “Hemmingway kitten”, with five toes instead of four on her rear paws, and seven on the front paws. Technically called polydactyls,  the many-toed cats, also called “mitten cats,” were popularized and raised by Ernest Hemmingway.

A rescue dog, a black lab named Cricket, and an adult cat, named Savanah, are part of the Hamilton foster family, and help with socializing and training.  Savanah was a foster kitten, and was slated to go back to the Napa Shelter but, Cynthia said, “John became attached to her, so she stayed with us.”

Jax Diner Open for 3 Months and Already Winning Awards!

jax wp

Jax White Mule Diner had only been open a couple of months when the 6th Annual Chili Cookoff rolled around in August.  Hardly enough time to have honed their chili recipe to a competitive level, or so you might think.  Jax’s chili not only won First Place with the judges panel, which included a few discerning Napa Chefs, it also won The People’s Choice Award, meaning the folks attending also thought it was the best.

Impressive. Especially since chili is just a small part of their breakfast and lunch menu. J.B. Leamer, founding owner of Jax White Mule Diner, remembers going to the local diner with his grandfather.  It was a center of community activity – a relaxed, affordable place to enjoy a good meal while catching up with family and friends.  Leamer loved everything about it, and for years thought that if there was ever an opportunity to open a place just like it, he would jump on it.

That opportunity presented itself when Leamer was wearing his hat as a realtor, showing a client the space at 1122 First Street in Dwight Murray Plaza.  “Gillwoods had just closed,” said Leamer.  “I realized downtown didn’t have a diner anymore.”  Leamer suggested to the client that he consider opening one in that spot.  One thing lead to another, and Leamer ended up making the plunge himself.

Opening a restaurant is always a big risk.  So far, Jax has been a huge hit.

“When I saw where they were located, I figured they’d be out of business in a month,” said Michael Holcomb, a local who owns several properties downtown.  “Then, I tasted the food.  I eat at Jax three or four times a week now.”

Because this is Napa, Leamer was able to assemble an enviable team to run the diner.  Chef Jason Buckley, who helped make the Napa Valley Grille a success before leaving California for a few years, has delivered on the classic Americana vibe Leamer had envisioned.  Bobby Cabrerra, for years a fixture at Downtown Joe’s, sees to it the kitchen runs well and that the service is top shelf.  Tony Morales, formerly with Silverado Resort and Spa and Celadon, is the Managing Partner, ensuring guests’ expectations are met.  Part of that is having the courage to occasionally follow the chef’s whims and go off-menu.  “We participated in BottleRock, and served Tater Tots smothered in cheese and crumbled bacon.  People loved them.”

“We’re really making old school new again,” said Leamer.  “Come in and enjoy our relaxed atmosphere with your neighbors while sharing great comfort food, beer & wine, while enjoying the game on one of the large screen TVs .  Jax is Napa’s place for Happy Hour, Wed-Fri from 3pm-7pm with $3 beer, $5 wine, special appetizers and dinner entrees per our clients’ request. Look for longer hours  Wednesday through Friday with a menu that will include fried chicken and other favorites.

JAX will accommodate your fantasy football draft or private event. Just give them a call at 707-812-6853. Open daily, 7am at 1222A First Street, off Dwight Murray Plaza, west of Main and First Streets, serving breakfast till 3pm.  Wednesday through Friday, open till 9pm.

As Morales says, “Come in, relax and get your mule on.”