Christmas Traditions

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By Kimberly Horg

For Napa resident Cherie Knox, parenting had its ups and downs. Worrying about her child wasn’t uncommon as a lot parents have the same feelings when their child is struggling  with the troubles of becoming an adult.

Knox, however, knew her son, Josh Thornley, was coming out of a tough time. It was 19 years ago when he turned his life around. She remembers making plans to decorate a Christmas tree and he never showed up for the holiday tradition.

“This was to be a special year, a special Christmas, a celebration of Josh moving through some scary and difficult times and coming through it all to the other side,” she said.

This mother says there is no way to put it other than she “freaked out”, wondering why he didn’t call. She couldn’t take the sight of the bare tree. She picked it up, stomped outside and down the porch steps and over the bridge went the tree, hurled into the Napa River, under a downpour of rain.

“When I recall this now, it makes me laugh out loud at myself. What must passersby have thought of this crazy woman and her flying Christmas tree,” Knox said. A little while later, her son came home and the worried mother confronted him. He reminded her that plans were made to decorate it on Christmas Eve (the following night) and he was just at a friend’s house.

She remembers he looked at her and gave her a huge hug as tears started to roll. Looking in the corner of the living room, he wondered what happened to the tree. She told him how she chucked it in the river and then began to weep more. After telling him that she had thought the worst, he asked “so, what do we do now? We don’t have a tree.”

“I realized in that moment that my son was, and would be, just fine,” Knox said.

She was reading the book, Simple Abundance, by Sarah Ban Breathnach. It spoke of an ancient legend about the night of the Nativity, and an abundance tray which the writer recreates and leaves on her own porch stoop, for someone in need to come across.

She told he son that even though there is no tree, the
two had so much to be grateful for. So, there it began, the first time she made an abundance tray. The first year, the two used a basket and left it on the same bridge where the tree was discarded. Candles were lit on either side of it. Inside was her son’s sweatshirt, dollars and spare change, a book, a beanie cap and a scarf, some cheese and crackers, and a Christmas card which read, “This is for you, if you are in need. Merry Christmas, Josh and Cherie.”

There was a homeless community living on the river, so the family knew someone deserving would find it. And, sometime in the middle of the night, it disappeared.

That began an annual Christmas Eve tradition for the mom and son. The next year, the new, annual tradition was switched to a backpack, always left with a bow and a card addressed to “This is for you,” and signed with first names and a message inside. The backpacks are filled with items a person living on the street could use, including a poncho, a flashlight, rope, gloves, thermal underwear, socks, matches and, later on, added money and food, as well as a favorite book.

“It became the best part of Christmas for us. There were so much magic, mystery and holiness around it,” Knox said. One year, Knox recalls seeing an elderly homeless man wearing the sweatshirt of her son’s that she put in the basket by the bridge. “I smile still when I think about that day,” she said.

The tradition for them is to go out late on Christmas Eve and choose a spot to leave the backpack, usually in a different place. One of the greatest moments she remembers was years ago when her son came to her house in the early morning hours to see if the backpack, left the night before, was gone. The two drove around the back to the building and were let down to see it still sitting on top of a post along a trail to the river. Then suddenly, looking back through the rear view mirror, he son saw a homeless woman walk up to it, open the card and take the backpack. She hugged it to herself and scurried down the river trail. It was a moment Knox and Thornley would always remember.

“Knowing you made their night a little better is an awesome feeling. I think more people should do things like this,” Thornley said.

The mother thinks of her son’s rebellious years differently now, remembering a time when he himself was lost and homeless. The tradition is an affirmation of gratitude for them. It is an acknowledgement of faith in something greater than themselves; a tribute to the human spirit and the ability to overcome. It is a reminder to always hold the hand of those less fortunate.

Empire Napa…Cool, Hip, Nostalgic and a Tribute to Napa’s Bawdy Past


By John & Dorothy Salmon

If you think Napa has no night life, then you have NOT been downtown in a few years. Most nights of the week, especially on weekends, downtown is bustling with lots of people. We recently spent a fun evening with our “kids” (a loose term for 40-somethings) at Empire Napa. We think of John and Michelle Truchard as our kids too, since our son Rob Lloyd and John Truchard make wine and magic together. Empire Napa opened in May of this year, and has become a hot spot for locals, visitors, hotel guests from Andaz and from the John Anthony Tasting Room next door.

Empire Napa is a tribute to the first commercial establishment in downtown Napa in 1842 … a saloon! Oh, how our history has been resplendent with hospitality, whisky, wine, food and, in the beginning, bad beer. According to our friend Don Winter, the original Empire Saloon was … partially erected in 1848.  It was the first commercial building in Napa County. It was built in the middle of hay and bean fields. But, the Gold Rush started and it ended up as an unfinished building, improperly situated in the middle of a street plot. When the miners returned to Napa, the building was picked up and moved to a proper lot, and a hotel was added. (Incidentally, the Empire Saloon was a polling station for the referendum for the California constitution).

The reincarnation of the Empire Saloon is 21st Century, with many periods of music playing, a well stocked bar with both original and well known drinks, modern, under–the-counter purse hangers, USB plugs and easy–access, electric plugs to charge our electronics. We all know what a horror it is to run out of juice on our cell phones. It won’t happen at Empire!

Dorothy got to spend some time with Nick Rimedio, one of the owners of Empire Napa and its General Manager. Nick is originally from Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, and comes from a big Italian family with a grandmother who was a killer cook. Nick fell in love with fine food and hospitality at an early age and perfected his management skills at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago and in Las Vegas. He moved farther west to become the director of food and beverage at Carmel Valley Ranch, where he met Rick Riess, a former, leading executive from Auberge du Soleil, who introduced him to Napa, a place that immediately felt like home.

Together with Arthur Prieston, and professional interiors assistance from Michael Brennan of San Francisco, they designed Empire Napa. Arthur is a principal of the Prieston Group, whose restaurant investments include High Tech Burrito, Wild Fox in Novato, Per Bacco and Bar in San Francisco. Behind the bar, there are large pipes that look like a pipe organ and are reminiscent of the player pianos in the old saloons in the late 1840’s. The red velvet curtains that enclose the iridescent gold curtains give the place the feel of a speakeasy saloon. Empire is full of antiques, red velvet ropes and a red carpet, so you immediately know you that are in not in a typical Napa restaurant.

Nick told Dorothy that they added a large dining table in the front room, known as the “Gallery” that will accommodate up to 12 guests, in addition to several other dining tables. There they will host special, private, Sunday Suppers for 20-30 people with a special menu paired with wine and cocktails, for a set price. Empire is closed to the public on Sunday’s. Think about it … you can go back in time and be the only people in this very cool saloon/speakeasy. Nick might just surprise everyone and host the best early December party of the year, with a tribute to December 5th, 1933, when Prohibition ended. Now that’s a party we won’t miss since they will be serving Napa’s own “Sacramental wines” from the 1930’s!

Empire Napa is also gearing up for holiday parties this season. Empire Napa holds 120 people and has, not only a great feel, lots of energy, but also, fabulous wine and great food. Jennifer Petrusky is Empire’s hot, new chef and director of culinary programs. Jennifer also worked at Charlie Trotter’s. She competed nationally as the only female apprentice in the 2008, Bocuse d’Or USA competition, under Chef Michael Rotondo, and they walked away with the Bronze Medal and Most Promising Chef Award. In 2010, she returned to Bocuse d’Or USA and, as the only female chef in the competition, won for Best Fish Platter,. She makes small plates of very original food that give diners an opportunity to try lots of different and unique items. We started our evening with Almonds, Rosemary, Cashews and Peanuts ($7); Haricots Verts and Young Potatoes, with Dill and Almonds ($12); Wild Mushrooms, with Crispy Sage Polenta and Spinach ($11); and Lamb Belly, Moroccan BBQ and Pickled Cabbage ($16). We can guarantee that the original Empire Saloon did NOT have that selection on their menu!  Empire Napa also has killer Mac and Cheese ($8); a fabulous cheese plate ($18); and scrumptious meatballs ($15). Finally, we enjoyed the Lemongrass Chicken, with Mango, Peanuts and Cilantro ($10), mostly because Dorothy loves Cilantro on almost anything.

According to Nick, Empire Napa’s most popular food choices are Cauliflower Fritters with Chili Powder and Hummus ($11); the Chilled Shrimp, with Avocado, Cilantro and Ginger ($12) and the Mac and Cheese ($8). We spent most of the evening drinking Lloyd Cellars Chardonnay and John Anthony Cabernet (both made by
Rob Lloyd). We sampled the Napa Bull with Blanco Tequila, Lemon and California Lager ($10) and the Emerald City, made with Brokers Gin, Lime and Simple Syrup ($12). Those might have been served in 1848, but probably not! Empire serves great beers and features local wines from partners John Anthony Vineyards, Ceja Vineyards, Peter Paul Wines, G Wine Cellars and Lloyd by Robert Lloyd. Unlike most restaurants in Napa, Empire Napa does not have a wine list. Their selection of wines changes often and includes wines from Austria, Argentina and Australia. Most wines are priced between $11 and
$14 a glass.

Their fresh-baked cookies are now famous for those folks wandering First Street in Napa around midnight. Other deserts are the Chocolate Cake with Banana and Medjool Dates ($7) and the Carrot Cake, with Peach Compote ($7). If you pop into Empire Napa to see what it is like early in the evening, you will find a cool bar to visit before dinner. If you stick around, it becomes a restaurant, and then a hopping place from around 10:00 p.m. to midnight or 2:00 a.m., if you can stay out that late. With more to come including art and fashion shows, one–of-a- kind fundraisers and themed soirees, Empire promises to be the
place to keep your eye on and always penciled in  your social calendar!

1400 First St.  |  NAPA  |  (707) 254-8888  |

Tues. & Thurs. 7PM-12AM • Fri. & Sat. 7PM-2AM • Sun. & Mon. Open for Private Events


Spicy Chilled Shrimp Salad
with Avocado, Cilantro and Plantain 

1 lb Shrimp, 16/20 ¼ cup Sombal
1 Avocado 4 sprigs, Cilantro

¼ Red Onion, sliced & rinsed 1 cup Bean Sprouts


Plantain Chips

1 Plantain 2 Tbls. Curry powder 1 tsp. confectioner’s sugar

1 tsp. salt Grapeseed Oil for frying


Spicy Dressing

2 tsp. cornstarch (with water until wet sand consistency)

1 cup vegetable stock ½ cup rice wine vinegar

2 Tbls. Soy sauce 1 Tbls. Brown butter

2 cloves garlic, crushed 1 slice ginger, finely minced

1 Thai chili, seeds removed, minced

To make the spicy dressing, bring the vegetable stock up to a boil and add the cornstarch mixture. Stir until completely thickened. Add the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, brown butter and crushed garlic. Let infuse off the heat for 30 minutes to an hour. Strain the entire mixture and discard garlic. Add the chilies and the ginger to the strained mixture and chill.

Mix the shrimp and the sombal together and place in the refrigerator and allow to marinate for at least a half an hour. Remove the shrimp from the refrigerator and grill until just cooked through. Place the cooked shrimp on a flat baking sheet and chill immediately so they will not overcook.

Heat a medium size saucepan over medium high heat with enough oil to fry in. For the plantain chips, remove the outer peel of the plantain and slice lengthwise on a mandolin. Soak in water to remove any of the excess starches. Meanwhile mix the curry powder, confectioners’ sugar and salt together and set aside. Remove the plantains from the water and pat dry on paper towel.

Very carefully place the plantains in the oil and fry until crisp. Remove from the oil and season with the curry sugar mixture.

Assembly: Mix the dressing with the grilled shrimp and vegetables; season to taste.  Place the salad into individual serving bowls and top with cilantro and plantain chips.

Christmas in Downtown Napa

Spend time with family & friends in Downtown Napa

By Craig Smith

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Christmas is a special, magical time, when friends and families come together as perhaps no other time of the year. There are many festive experiences to be shared in Downtown Napa. Make some or all of these are part of your Holidays.

~  Ice Skating  ~

From November 15th to January 12th, children of all ages and those young at heart will be able to ice skate in downtown Napa. The 6300 sq ft outdoor rink is being completely re-designed this year including stainless steel railings, a better ice surface, a real Zamboni, hot chocolate, and your favorite Christmas music. Situated in the parking lot at the north east corner of Coombs and Second streets, the rink will be open until 10 PM Monday through Saturday, and until 8 PM on Sundays. It opens at 10 AM when school is out, 1 PM when students are in class. Skating is only $12 per person, which includes skate rentals. Tickets purchased before Nov. 1st  are available for $10 from selected merchants and non- profit groups. More information is available at

 ~  Christmas  Tree Lighting ~

The kids are home from school and the family is in town to spend Thanksgiving at your house. Join your neighbors the night before in Veterans Park, at the north east corner of Main and Third, when Mayor Jill Techel lights the 29’ tall Christmas tree. Free hot chocolate and cookies are the perfect accompaniment to enjoy children singing and dancing. A Barbershop Quartet will sing before hand, and lead everyone in Carols afterwards. Wednesday, Nov. 27th at 6 PM. Of course, it’s free and open to the public. Bring your skates, and enjoy the rink before or after the tree lighting.

  ~  Christmas Parade  ~

The 51st annual Christmas parade begins at 5 PM on Saturday, Nov. 30th. The theme “Jingle all the Way” lends itself to all kinds of creative interpretations, as Napans build floats; decorate cars, animals and children; and march down the street. Participants are encouraged to decorate using lights, with a prize of $500 going to the entry that the judges think does that better than anyone else. A second $500 prize goes to the entry that best follows the parade theme.

This year’s parade Grand Marshal is Cheryl Richburg, owner of Napa Valley Traditions at the corner of Main and Pearl Streets.  Richburg, whose family has a long “Tradition” in Napa, has owned the store for twenty years. Enjoy the parade with her.

This year, Santa is planning on coming to Napa during the parade. He’ll be visiting with children in the Andaz Hotel lobby on First Street immediately after the parade. Don’t worry if there is a chill in the air – there will be plenty of hot chocolate to take care of it. It’s all free and all fun.

 ~  Carriage & Trolley Rides  ~

Want to see what all of the lights look like downtown?   Wrap a blanket around the kids and check them out in the back of a horse-drawn carriage on Thursdays, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Two different routes each night – enjoy them both!  Or, come downtown between 3:00 and 6:00 on Saturdays and Sundays, and tour all of downtown in the Holiday Trolley. In fact, take a carriage ride, and enjoy a trolley trip as well. You deserve it. Celebrate Christmas in Downtown Napa!

CARE – Cornerstone Assisted Riding & Equitherapy


By Marsha Dorgan

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Thirteen-year-old Maya Derr, sits high  in the saddle on Frank, her favorite 28-year-old Welsh Pony, flashing a grin as big as the state of Texas. The Napa youngster, who suffers from cerebral palsy, is one of the 12 disabled students in Cornerstone Assisted Riding & Equitherapy. The five-acre CARE site in rural Napa offers riding lessons, which, not only teaches equestrian skills, but also provides self-confidence and esteem, physical therapy and tons of love and smiles.

CARE, a non-profit organization, has been in the Napa Valley since 1985. They moved from American Canyon to their new Napa digs in 2012. We work with children with disabilities from 8 to 18 years old. We also have a few adults with disabilities,” said Bonnie Becker, CARE treasurer and a volunteer. Many of our kids have never ridden before. The lessons are also extremely good for building core strength. We have a girl in a wheelchair, who when she first came had to be lifted onto the horse,” Bonnie said. “And now, she can get on the horse on her own with some help. That’s the type of progress we want to see.”

Maya arrived with her mother, Ashley Deer, around 3 p.m., on a sunny Wednesday afternoon all smiles and giggles anticipating her lesson. As her mother pushed Maya’s wheelchair up the ramp, two volunteers prepared her favorite equine buddy, Frank, for mounting. With minimal assistance from the volunteers, Maya hugged Frank’s neck while wiggling her leg over the saddle, edging her feet into the stirrups Then, Frank was led into the covered arena where CARE chief instructor Sharon Commisso took over. Sharon started as a CARE volunteer in 2005. She is now certified with the Professional Association Therapeutic Horsemanship. Sharon led Frank around the arena with volunteers on each side of the horse. “I usually start with a game. We match the students to the horse. There are balance issues we must take into account,” Sharon said.

Many of the kids are accompanied by a sidewalker on each side of the horse as it moves around the arena. Sharon believes there is more value in the lesson than just learning to ride a horse. “It stimulates the nervous system and gives the kids balance coordination, physical strength,” she said. “And it also is a great tool for social skills. They learn good manners, how to listen and follow instructions and the bond with the horse is amazing.

“It is so rewarding to see that big smile from a child who suffers from autism while they are sitting on the horse. It is something for them to look forward to,” Sharon added. Maya’s mother Ashley whole heartedly agrees “Maya just absolutely loves coming here. She looks forward to it,” she said. “It’s so good for her to get out of her wheelchair. It’s just amazing to see how far she has come. She just loves Frank (the horse.) She wrote a story about him. And Frank is the gentlest animal. He’s just perfect for her.” Ashley has high praise for Sharon and the volunteers. “They are incredible. They are all so caring and really love their students,” she said. “I can’t say enough good things about them.”

Amy Youngs, 27, who suffers from RETT, is one of the few adults with disabilities enrolled at CARE. Amy has been at Cornerstone (CARE) for 10 years,” said her mother Kathy. “Amy is non-verbal and has scoliosis. Her doctor recommended we try ’horseback’ riding for Amy. It worked extremely well.” Kathy also touts the social benefits of CARE. “Amy loves it and looks so forward to coming here,” Kathy said. “It is really wonderful for her self-esteem. Amy is no stranger to the world of horses. We go to Tennessee every summer. Amy rode her first Tennessee Walker when she was 15,” said Kathy, beaming.

Ron Reid has been a CARE volunteer for 10 months. “I get personal satisfaction volunteering with Cornerstone. Just seeing how happy these students are is the high point of my work,” he said. “I get just as much out of it as the kids do.”

Many of the five CARE board members are volunteers as well. Sharon is the only paid employee. The volunteers also train and care for the horses and maintain the stable and the outside and inside arenas. In addition to old-timer Frank, there are two other horses Roscoe, a 24-year-old Quarter horse and youngster Annie, 15. The organization is funded by donations and fundraisers.

Lessons are available Monday and Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings. Cost is $40 a lesson for 10 sessions. Information is available or 888-922-7366.

Inspiring a Community of Givers

Inspiring a Community of Givers

By Hilary Zunin

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If only it were as simple as waving a wand. You happen on an exceptional idea. It’s creative, time-tested, and has been immensely successful in another community. If only it could flower here at home. Presto! There’s an Opera House reclaimed, or a winding river path, or a brand new boat dock being installed downtown.

Here’s the idea: Imagine the Napa Valley being known not only for its beauty, wine and food, but for the generosity of its people. And imagine that there’s a simple way to draw attention to the exceptional work of 40 local nonprofits and cultivate a culture of year-end giving for us all. Sounds like magic.

Ah, but ideas that seem magical aren’t always so simple. For a community to be not only sustainable but to thrive requires the concerted effort of individuals, families, private and public organizations. It takes energy, focus, partnerships, activities that raise awareness and sometimes change behaviors. It takes a deep commitment. Most of all, it requires recognizing what we CanDo when we work together.

The Napa Valley Give!Guide campaign, launching  November 1 and running through midnight on December 31, represents the flowering of that kind of concerted effort. It’s a project of Napa Valley CanDo, the grassroots community service organization that helps Guide volunteers to the aid on nonprofits, brought you the Soles4Souls shoe drive, and is helping create a movement throughout the valley that recognizes the benefits of relying less on single-use plastic bags.

This newest CanDo project is modeled after a remarkable Oregon venture produced by Willamette Week magazine. Certainly the Portland community is far larger than the Napa Valley, but the success of the Give!Guide there is staggering. In year one, they raised a modest but much appreciated $24,000 for 20 nonprofits in just two months. In year nine, their efforts garnered $1,967,000 for 110 nonprofits!

The Napa Valley Give!Guide introduces a novel approach to year-end giving. For two months we will seek cash donations starting at just $10 on behalf of 40 small, medium and large nonprofit organizations serving Napa County. The nonprofits are divided into seven categories: animals, arts, community, education, environment, health and wellness, and youth and seniors.

This campaign is designed to appeal particularly to young and first time givers, but its audience includes all those who may not yet see themselves as being in a position to give. Maybe you’re not able to attend most fundraisers, let alone participate in the fabulous Napa Valley Wine Auction. Ah, but you have $10 dollars, maybe more, and your $10 combined with the contributions of hundreds or thousands of other caring valley residents, can have a powerful impact on the many organizations that serve our communities.

The Give!Guide will be distributed as a pullout catalog in the November issue of Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine, our 2013 publishing partner. Extra copies will be available for project-based learning so that school-aged kids and scouts and 4-H members might look to see where they’d like to give.

With this Guide and the matching website, which will be available in both English and Spanish (, you’ll have everything needed to make a contribution that will directly benefit our community. Give to one or more local nonprofits with a single, tax-deductible transaction. A real time ticker will keep track of donations so we can see our progress day-by-day.

Now nothing happens in a vacuum. This Give!Guide project is as much about community building as it is about fundraising. We couldn’t have forged ahead without our mentor, Richard Meeker, creator and publisher of the Willamette Week Give!Guide; and our volunteers, including several dynamic Leadership Napa Valley graduates (Class 26).

Kudos to the Napa Valley Coalition of Nonprofit Agencies, our fiscal sponsor, and the Napa Valley Vintners who have funded the CanDo Spirit Award, a $1000 grant to recognize the passion and commitment of one, young nonprofit employee. Thanks, also, to Thrive Napa Valley for helping us foster and celebrate a thriving community, and to all the gracious sponsors you’ll see as you thumb through the Guide. And we simply couldn’t have completed the project without the generous financial support of the Gasser Foundation.

When we reach out to others, we often first reach in to the very best in ourselves. There, if we’re honest, we find that good intentions alone are not enough. They need to be coupled with positive action. Taking action to enrich the lives of those in our community is what CanDo and so many other service organizations in the valley are about. It was William James, the American philosopher, who said, “Act as if what you do makes a difference.” CanDo says, “It does.”

With the Napa Valley Give!Guide, you make a choice. You make a difference. We make it easy. Join in this exciting new venture November 1 – December 31, 2013. •

Cover Give Guide 2013HR


The Highly Spirited – Beringer Brothers Winery

The Highly Spirited – Beringer Brothers Winery

By Rebecca Yerger

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October is a very spirited month in Napa Valley and County as winemaking and ghost stories abound. One Napa Valley winery, well known for both, is Beringer Brothers Winery, with its iconic Rhine House, fine wines and, it is said, extraordinary paranormal activity.

Beringer Brothers, located near the northern edge of St. Helena, was founded in 1876 by its namesakes – Jacob and Frederick Beringer. Jacob was the visionary who made the wines and managed their winery. Jacob also supervised the construction of the winery buildings and wine-aging caves. The cornerstone for the first winery building was laid in March, 1877. A year later,  Chinese laborers began excavating the caves.

The first Beringer Winery ghost story involves those very caves and laborers. The late Kathleen Kernberger, a local historian and author, recounted the story told to her by her aunt, Virginia Hanrahan. She spoke of how, on windy nights, crying and sad moans would come from deep within the caves. According to Hanrahan, those sorrowful sounds were the wails of the ghosts of the Chinese laborers who had been entombed deep within the caves. That theory was dispelled when records proved that no laborers had been buried there.

Kernberger also explained the eerie sounds were created by strong winds forcing air through fissures in the rocks. Following the application of a spray-on, cement compound throughout the caves, those openings were sealed off, which silenced the chilling wails and moans. However, even after the caves had been coated with that compound, people continue to report feeling exceptionally cold spots in the caves, and hearing faint whispers of the long-since-gone Chinese laborers. Also, photographs of the caves frequently capture images of odd orbs of light.

Returning to Jacob and the creation of the iconic winery; he and his family lived in the L-shaped, wood-frame farmhouse, originally built around 1860 by David Hudson, an early Napa County pioneer settler. However, this residence, with its Greek Revival influenced architectural features of a low pitched, gable roof with a wide band of trim, front porch supported by prominent columns and overall symmetrical form was originally located about where the Rhine House stands today. The Hudson House was moved to its present location using logs placed under the house and rolling it into its current position.

Frederick, the financier and promoter of their winery, was accustomed to living in grand style. In 1883 he commissioned San Francisco architect, A. Schropfer to design his country wine-estate home which was to be built on the visually prominent site formerly occupied by the Hudson House. Frederick was very specific about its design. The future , three-story house was to be a replica of the brothers’ ancestral home located in the Mainz, Germany area.

According to its Historic Resources Inventory form, the Rhine House was, and is, “…a residence in the Chateau style…” The Rhine House possesses this style’s impressive visual mass and scale; steeply pitched, hipped roof with many vertical elements, such as shaped chimneys and roofline crest details; multiple dormers; stone walls; elaborate moldings, doorways and more. To enhance the authenticity of the Rhine House, many of its architectural elements were imported from Germany, including the interior moldings, stairs, mantles, flooring and art glass windows.

The Rhine House also features Stick, style elements which are clearly evident at the second floor level with its smooth exterior plaster walls, ornamented with decorative patterned boards, or “stickwork.” The Stick style also features steeply pitched, hipped roofs similar to the Chateau style found on the Rhine House.

Purportedly, the Rhine House also possesses considerable paranormal activity. In fact, the winery has an overflowing file, documenting numerous encounters.

For example, one evening, just after closing, two employees were cleaning up the downstairs of the Rhine House when all of a sudden a loud crash came from the upstairs, Founders’ tasting room. That room had been Frederick’s bedroom and the place where he died in 1901. The two employees each took a different staircase upstairs and did not pass any mortal on their way to the room. They entered the room to find a heavy silver tray had been thrown across the room, and broken stemware was strewn everywhere. Many attribute this occurrence to Frederick and his apparent disapproval of his private quarters being used as a public space.

While others have heard footfalls ascending the stairs when no other mortal was present, there have been even more unnerving encounters within the Rhine House that have profoundly frightened workers. After hours, the night crew thoroughly cleans the house. And, on numerous occasions, those workers have been startled, or worse, by the sight of Frederick walking through his Rhine House walls. In fact, one worker was so frightened by the sight he ran out of the Rhine house and has never returned to Beringer Brothers Winery.

Apparently, the iconic and architecturally grand Beringer Brothers Winery and its Rhine House offers mortals more than one kind of spirit to sample.

Foodshed – Pizza & Pasta

Foodshed - Pizza & Pasta

By Kimberly Horg

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A bag of chips and a soda is not what most people would consider a balanced meal. Many children grow up thinking healthy food isn’t a necessity so one local establishment is trying to break the chain for disadvantaged youth by turning the table on greens.

Foodshed Pizza and Pasta opened in July of this year with the hope of making a difference in its community. Co-owners Giovanni Guerrera, Sean Pramuk, Michael Miguel and James Ehrlich have dreams of a profitable restaurant that also works as a tool to teach kids how to cook.

It temporarily hires local interns referred from  On The Move (OTM), to help to create a new kind of job training program in the Napa Valley. Its goal is to not only teach healthy eating but promote leadership skills and economic self-reliance among Napa’s low-income population.

OTM plays a critical ongoing role by providing financial support for the Foodshed Internship Program as well as identifying internship candidates. It found the funding to kick start the program.

“We’re thrilled to create the private-public partnership, combining our background with youth in need with foodies at Foodshed,” Leslie Medine, On the Move Senior Fellow, said. “There are many young people in our community who just need their first chance to prove that they can be successful in the world of work.”

Medine says On the Move’s Foodshed interns not only become part of the whole “farm to table” movement but get a great employment experience. Guerrera and Pramuk are great trainers who hold a high bar that will ultimately make a big difference in the life of each of these youth.

Guerrera and Pramuk are former business partners who owned Uva Trattoria in downtown Napa from
2001-2009 so the two know what it takes to run a successful restaurant business.

Guerrera fell in love with the idea of starting a restaurant and teaching kitchen while living and working as a sous chef at the American Academy in Rome a couple years ago. Giovanni worked with trained chefs as well as dozens of interns and volunteers.

“I had been interested in developing a teaching kitchen before I went to Rome so when I heard about the program there it was a perfect fit,” he said. “My wife and I have had a longstanding dream of living abroad with our children so when the opportunity presented itself, we couldn’t say no.”

His parents came to Napa from Italy and opened a restaurant when he was a small boy so he grew up in a pizzeria. Living in Italy was a way for him to reconnect with his roots. Upon return he made his dream into reality. He took what he learned abroad and applied it in his new part profit, part non-profit creation.

The co-owners looked around and did a lot of research, finding out there are non-profit restaurants, but not ran the same way so it is creating a model for profit and
non-profit establishments.

The interns are there for a three month program, 20 hours a week. Each intern is paid $8.25 an hour. It cycles through interns based on need and if it has space, it can hire them. It is trying to reach an underserved demographic, in which young adults either want to cook for themselves or it is a desired career field.

Guerrera says the interns have a different objective every month in culinary crafts, whether it is making dressing, sauces or pasta. A lot can be taught in three months. The rotation gives others the opportunity to learn. In a couple of years, the majority of employees will have gone through the intern program.

“It is a great service teaching kids how to cook,” Guerrera said. “The kids got so much out of it; building confidence to make something out of nothing.”

Foodshed Pizza is committed to authentic production and more conscious consumption. It prepares meals based on locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. Everything it makes is from scratch. Guerrera comes up with the recipes and they are passed down to the interns.

He says it is rewarding to watch a kid cook who has never even seen an artichoke before. For him, this is a way to give back, teaching healthy eating and basic cooking skills to kids who may have not been taught at home.

“I love to cook at home. I have two small children and we cook together but so many children miss that growing up,” he said.

According to him, liking vegetables may depend on the way it is prepared. He has heard interns mention not liking or eating vegetables until working there because he/she only tried canned food. Preparing it unique ways is a new experience for some.

“I wasn’t familiar with different types of produce,” Jesus Guzman, 22 year old intern and Napa resident, said. “I never had healthy food choices before but now I am eating healthier since I started working here.”

Guzman says he eats vegetables now that he didn’t before. Because he has discovered new produce and various ways to prepare it, he eats greens on a daily basis.

“It has been a wonderful experience being an intern here,” he said. “I am creative in cooking and would like to expand my cooking skills.”

Guerrera says the feedback has been positive from interns and customers. He has seen highly motivated interns and others who were just not ready to make the commitment.

The goal of the owners is to keep growing in other areas. In the future it hopes that the restaurant can generate enough funds to pay for the internships. It wants to establish relationships with other restaurant, so it can work together to recruit jobs.


630 Airpark Road in Napa • 

For info go to or call 265-7760

All Photos by Megan Reeves Photography

Napa Valley Bistro

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By John & Dorothy Salmon

Barbara Nemko and Dorothy are frequently together as board members of the local non-profit, NapaLearns, which is dedicated to transforming our schools in partnership with our County-wide teachers, principals, superintendents and school boards. We decided that it was time for the Nemkos and the Salmons to get together for a fun dinner at Napa Valley Bistro. We vowed NOT to talk about public education. Napa Valley Bistro is located on Clinton Street, between the New Tech Network of Schools and Azzurro Pizzeria, in the space formerly occupied by Neela’s Contemporary Indian Cuisine. Napa Valley Bistro has redecorated the space and it is lovely and upbeat. The great food is very reasonably priced, with main courses ranging from $12 to $27, and salads anywhere from $7 to $15. Having reasonable prices is a good place to start when you are not on First or Main Streets in downtown Napa.

Owner and Chef, Bernardo Ayala, came by as soon as we sat down and told us his story. Bernardo has a long history in Napa, most recently as the executive chef of Silverado Brewing Company, before Jackson Wine Estates bought the lease and closed the restaurant.

For locals, you will probably immediately recognize Bernardo Ayala when you see him, since his experience in Napa includes creating great food at the California Cafe, Silverado Resort, Domaine Chandon, and the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. Bernardo’s partner, Eduardo Martinez, is also a familiar chef in the Napa Valley, having worked at Rutherford Grill and the Napa Valley Grille before becoming the Sous Chef at the Culinary Institute of America and the Executive Chef at Market. Together, these two remarkable chefs are bringing crowds into Napa Valley Bistro who are looking for great food, a very nice wine list, incredible desserts and reasonable prices. There is no corkage fee for the first bottle. Any bottle after that is $10, but they will waive that fee if there is a bottle purchased from their list.

The menu is a blending of good old American style and very eclectic Mexican food, some California Asian and, what Bernardo Ayala calls, Classic American with a twist.

We began our meal with a bottle of 2012, Lloyd Chardonnay, and a bottle of 2012, Gundlach Bundschu Tempranillo Rose’. Both wines were wonderful and made even more so with no corkage fee. Along with the wine and the funny conversations with Barbara and Marty, we were served Napa Valley Bistro’s homemade bread, which is rich, warm and really good. We decided to try some small plates to begin our evening. So, we ordered the Crispy Calamari with Red Bell Peppers, Onion, Fennel and Ancho Chile-Lime Aioli ($11) and Marty ordered the Dungeness Crab Cake ($13). We were told that the Blackened Chicken Empanadas with Avocado, Lime Crème Fraiche, Black Bean Puree and Queso Fresco ($13) was “to die for” and next time we will try that. The Small-Plate Menu is full of great options, such as Corn and Pasilla Pepper Relish, Tomatillo-Avocado Coulis with Organic Greens.  Also on the dinner menu are some terrific salads. You can choose from a Chopped Bistro Salad with Seasonal Vegetables, Goat Cheese, Egg, Bacon, Avocado, Garbanzo Beans and Mustard Vin, or the Chinese Chicken Salad, with Bell Peppers, Pickled Ginger, Almonds, Fried Wontons and Sesame-Soy Dressing. These is not your typical American Cuisine!

For our main course, Barbara chose the Rosie Organic Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Garlic Sautéed Spinach, Homemade Jalapeño Cornbread and Gravy ($18). The cornbread was fabulous and we all got an opportunity to sample it. Marty ordered the Local Fallon Hill Lamb Burger with Feta Cheese, Rosemary-Mint Aioli, Brioche Bun and Potato Chips ($15). He was raving about the Lamb Burger and passed a few bites around the table to share. John ordered the Niman Ranch, St. Louis Ribs with Smoky Molasses BBQ Sauce, Sweet Potato Fries and Coleslaw ($18) and said the ribs were as good as any he has ever had. Dorothy ordered the special that night, Rack of Lamb with Fingerling Potatoes, mixed with Shitake and Chanterelle mushrooms ($27). Also on the dinner main course menu is Grilled Flat Iron Steak with Cheddar Mashed Potatoes, Sautéed Asparagus, Garlic-Fries, Herb Butter and Bordelaise, and a Niman Ranch Grilled Pork Chop, with Potato Gratin, sautéed Spring Vegetables and Whole Grain Mustard Pork Jus. If you are vegetarian, there is the Vegetarian Lemon Thyme Risotto with Asparagus, Carrots, Cherry Tomatoes, Watercress, Crispy Leeks and Basil Oil and, for big or little kids, the Bistro Mac n’ Cheese with Vella Dry Jack, White Cheddar, English Peas and Crispy Bacon ($13). This mac and cheese would be the way to get your kids to eat their peas!

Since this was a review, we had to try the desserts. So, we ordered the Warm Scharffenberger Chocolate Fudge Cake ($8), the Fresh Seasonal Fruit Crumble Mascarpone Ice Cream, Mix Berry Coulis ($8) and Bernardo insisted that we try his incredible Tres Leches & Vanilla Bean Natilla Mango & Guava Compote with Cinnamon Nutmeg Churros ($8). We all agreed that the Tres Leches and Vanilla Bean Natilla with Mango and Guava Compote served with two small handmade Cinnamon Nutmeg Churros was out of this world!

Napa Valley Bistro serves draft beers, bottled beers, wines by the glass, ginger ale, iced tea and some wonderful wines from Domaine Carneros Brut, Cliff Lede Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, Hess Select North Coast Pinot Grigio, and some great local reds, rose’s and Pinots.

We think that Napa Valley Bistro is a great place to be anytime for lunch or dinner. They have also started serving Sunday brunch from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. There are an array of breakfast favorites along with a nice selection of lunch items so we can feed the appetites of many all in one meal. I have attached a copy of our brunch menu for you for reference. Give it a try!

Open 11:30 am until till 9 pm (10 pm on Fri. and Sat.) Sun. Brunch 10-2pm. Closed Monday

975 Clinton Street| NAPA | (707) 666-2383 |


Fried Chicken 

Yield:  Makes 4 Servings

4 thighs (bone in and skin on)

4 drumsticks (bone in and skin on)

½ gallon buttermilk

¼ cup salt

½ bunch thyme

2 bay leaves

1 head of garlic, but in half

4 cups flour

4 tsp salt

Pepper to taste

Cayenne Pepper to taste.

In a flat container place chicken thighs and legs, sprinkle salt, thyme, bay leaves and garlic. Cover with buttermilk. Allow to stay in this cure for 12 hours minimum (24 hours is ideal).

Sift together flour, salt, black and cayenne peppers.  Place a small amount in a shallow pan.

Pull chicken out of buttermilk mixture and allow excess to drain off. Do not completely dry chicken meat. Dredge each piece of chicken separately in flour mixture. If you develop lumps sift again. Make sure to completely coat each piece of chicken. After flouring each piece go through and reflour.

Immediately after flouring gently place legs and thighs in 200 degree deep fryer. The thighs will take approximately 30 minutes and legs approximately 20. They will rise to the top of the fryer when they are finished and the color should be a
pale golden.

Allow chicken to drain and cool.

When ready to serve reheat in 360 degree fryer for one to two minutes until chicken has a beautiful dark golden brown color and is crispy. As soon as it comes out of the fryer, season with salt. If you are not ready to serve, you may keep it in an oven (350 degrees) for a couple of minutes but it will burn of lose some crispness if it is kept too long.

Eduardo Martinez •

Main Street Reunion Car Show

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Organizers of the Main Street  Reunion  Car Show, now in its 11th year, want to make this year’s event the best ever.  But, the show already boasts of having 400, pre-1976, vintage cars, all in virtually pristine condition, as well as great food, drink and entertainment for the whole family. Plus, admission is free. How do you top that?

For the Napa Valley Cruisers, who organize Main Street Reunion with the Downtown Napa Association, it was a no brainer.  “A Show & Shine event the night before the car show gives everybody another chance to see the cars in more of a party atmosphere,” said Tammy Robinette, president of the Cruisers.  “People can check out all the great cars, enjoy something to eat and drink, plus listen to good music too. How great is that?”

The music at Show & Shine, which premieres Friday, August 16th, 5 to 9 p.m., in the Oxbow Public Market parking lot, is provided by the Hot Rod Juke Box Band, a Bay Area oldies band with a reputation for having people on their feet.   The cars participating in the car show on Saturday will be able to register early,  pick up a couple of goodies unique to Show & Shine, and display their cars.  Many of the Napa Valley Cruisers will have their cars on display as well.   Enjoy the food there, stop in the Oxbow Public Market or any downtown restaurant before or during, and you’ve got a great Friday Night.

Main Street Reunion Car Show is 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.,  August,  17th.  Cars are everywhere, lining the streets on First, from  Soscol to Franklin, and Main from Pearl to Third, as well as the surrounding streets and parking lots.  Vintage automobile aficionados will want to give themselves the whole day to see the cars and talk to the owners.  For the people who own, restore and show their cars, this is a labor of love.  “There are some amazing cars out there, and  owners take a lot of pride in restoring and modifying  them into real showpieces.  People really appreciate  these cars, and it’s a treat to get to share them,” said Mike Phillips, the Napa Valley Cruiser in charge of this year’s show.  “I’m also surprised to see how many really great cars there are right here in Napa.”

The show has gained a national reputation.  Last year, Dennis Gage, host of Speed TV’s “My Classic Car,” visited Main Street Reunion, and made the show the subject of one episode. It originally aired in the spring, and can still be seen.  “I know Main Street is a beautiful show,” said Phillips, “but seeing it on TV made me appreciate it in a whole new way,” said Phillips.

Trophies are a part of every show, but the Cruisers can rightfully claim to offer forty of the best looking awards out there. Last year, Robbie Azevedo and Johnny Stoer created awards modeled on antique gasoline pumps that people loved.  “I’m tired of going to shows and getting a plaque with a flat image of the shows logo on it,”   said Azevedo of his inspiration for using pumps.  “We wanted all the awards to look great, and look great standing next to each other on a table.”  Stoer is well known locally for his work as a painter; painting everything from trophies to skateboards to cars.  The result of their collaboration was a hit with attendees. “One guy somehow left the show without his award last year,” said Phillips. “We sent him a picture of what he had missed, and he and his wife drove here from Fresno the next weekend just to pick it up.”

The cost to register a car for Main Street Reunion is $35, $40 after August 9th, which also gets you a spot in Friday’s Show & Shine.  Applications are available at, or by calling 257-0322.  Hurry – the event is only open to 400 cars and closes when that number is reached. A portion of the proceeds from  Show & Shine and Main Street Reunion will be donated to the Pathway Home.

Sponsored by the Napa Downtown Association, Napa Valley Cruisers, Napa Valley Marketplace, Blue Moon Beer, Team Superstores, Kaiser Permanente and Wells Fargo Bank.  Without their generous support, the show would not be available.  Visit for
more details.


Show & Shine Car Show Preview August 16th - 5 to 9 p.m.

Main Street Reunion Car Show - August 17th - 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Hundreds of vintage cars  twice!

Sometimes, more is better.

Takin’ it to the Streets! Napa Humane 2nd Annual Walk for Animals

Takin’ it to the Streets! Napa Humane 2nd Annual Walk for Animals

A benefit for Napa Humane • August 4tH

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Anything but a lazy summer Sunday morning, Downtown Napa “goes to the dogs” with Napa Humane’s, Walk for Animals event…a short stroll that goes miles and miles for the animals.


You can celebrate, and support, companion animals by walking with, or without, a pooch – that’s the fun of it! While there will be upwards of 300 dogs at the event, one can walk in honor of a beloved pet – such as a cat or a bunny – or in memory of a loved one lost.


Expected attendance is over 500 people at this family-friendly, fundraising event to support Napa Valley pets and the people who care for, and about, them. Check-in and complimentary coffee and morning snacks begin at 7:30 a.m. The Walk begins at 8:30 a.m.


And, this year…they’re takin’ it to the streets! The Walk route is on closed Downtown Napa streets – west on First Street, crossing at School Street, and east on Second Street – with participants enjoying the camaraderie of walking together in a show of their support for pets of all kinds.


Walkers begin, and return, to Veterans Memorial Park, filled with music and activities sure to please, such as creating a custom paw-print keepsake, a doggie costume contest, microchip check-ups, photo opportunities and, even a caricaturist
on hand.


Also on-site will be Napa Humane’s Mobile Adoption Unit, which will transport adoptable dogs from the Napa County Animal Shelter to strut their stuff.


“We are really looking forward to the second year of this fun Napa Humane event to help us help Napa Valley pets and their people,” says Executive Director Jane Albert. “The Walk for Animals brings out the best of the animal-loving community that we
call home.”


Dr. Chris Shacoski of SPEC (Solano-Napa Pet Emergency Clinic), one of the event’s lead sponsors, says of the Walk for Animals, “We are thrilled to be a part of such a great community event supporting the work of Napa Humane. They are an important part of keeping a healthy pet population and we are proud to be their partner in this work.”


For just $25, animal-lovers register online and create a profile page which they can customize with a photo of their pet, and tell their personal story of a special pet, and of their desire to help animals in our community. They set a fundraising goal and have the option to join, or create, a team. Walkers then collect donations from family, friends, and colleagues in support of their participation in the Walk for Animals.


Every registered walker receives an official, Walk for Animals, t-shirt and goodie bag and, for their fundraising efforts, there are eight levels at which participants can
earn prizes.


100% of proceeds from the event support the services that Napa Humane offers, such as their affordable Spay/Neuter Clinic, which performed record 5,000 surgeries last year, as well as supportive services for the animals in the Napa County Animal Shelter, such as mobile adoption events for homeless pets to find their new homes.


The organization’s Humane Education Program educated over 4,000 children throughout the Valley last school year, teaching safety around dogs and cats, responsible pet care, and humane lessons, such as knowing the right time for a pet, the right pet for your family, and that a pet is your pet for all of its life.


To register for the Walk for Animals, and to learn more about Napa Humane, visit or
call 707.255.8118 x205 and follow them on Facebook  and Twitter.