Eco-Touring – August 2009

Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine “Eco-Touring” August 2009.


Deep In The Heart Of Napa Valley
Ramblin’ On, by the Napa Nomad – Eco-excursions in the Napa Valley
By Arvis Northrop

Back in the 1800’s great farms and ranches spread throughout the Napa Valley. Today, it can take a fair amount of exploring to reveal authentic vestiges of this valley’s agricultural legacy.
These days we are more accustomed to steel and concrete buildings; our farming and manufacturing have advanced far beyond yokes and plows. But, if one is lucky enough, maybe investigating the more remote areas of the valley floor, or the foothills of our redwood forests, you might come upon the touchstones of our history: rugged, yet elegant barns that signify generations of hard working families who cultivated the beauty of this famous terrain.

Deep in the heart of Wendy Ward is a commitment to preserve the history of the Napa Valley. In 2008, Wendy founded Preservation Napa Valley, a five member, board driven nonprofit organization. As Director, Wendy’s background in preservation policy, political science, anthropology and marketing, give a strong foundation to serve the Napa community. Preservation Napa Valley’s mission is to serve Napa County by helping to preserve and protect “our county’s finite, historic cultural resources through active community education, engagement and outreach.” Just such an active community opportunity lies ahead on Sunday, August 30th: The Barn Tour 2009.

Through the alliance of Preservation Napa Valley and the Napa County Farm Bureau, the first annual Barn Tour will allow the public to visit hidden gems of our farming history. A self-guided tour, much like an art community “open studios” tour, will allow us to visit five working barns that are in use today by the families of wineries and olive oil producers. Also featured on the tour will be exhibits by local artists, tempting nibbles and live music.

Each barn holds a collection of stories of family ties, devotion to their industry, commitment to preserving history and maybe even a little scandal! Visiting the barns gives us a chance to see and feel the texture of our history and to become acquainted with the farming culture of the Napa Valley. The following is just a taste of what awaits you on this captivating tour:

Napa Valley Olive Oil Company: At the end of a residential street in St. Helena, this site has been producing olive oil since the 1930’s. Today the company is a partnership of the Particelli and Lucchesi families. On the outside is the stately antique barn; inside you’ll find a store stocked full of fresh cheeses, salamis and meats, olives, olive oil and a massive array of delicious grocery items.

Varozza Vinyards: The barn on Jack and Dianna Varozza’s property is actually a wood and stone winery from 1885. Since 1913 four generations of the Varozza family have been tending their vineyards and making wine. The barn has been beautifully renovated and structurally retrofitted to continue serving as the Varozza Winery, perhaps for another century.

Spring Mountain Winery: Just over a mile from downtown St. Helena is the hidden wonderland of Spring Mountain Winery. The house and barn were built circa 1886 by gentleman farmer, Tiburcio Parrott. This elegant barn displays the innovative Eastlake architecture and woodwork of the Victorian era. Even the horse stalls are adorned with artistic ironwork dividers.

The Red and White Barns: Many Napa Valley residents are happily familiar with The White Barn, a performing arts venue set in the vineyards at the end of Sulphur Springs Avenue in St. Helena. The White Barn is a nonprofit corporation, headed by Artistic Director, Nancy Garden and a staff of volunteers. Theatrical and musical talents from the Bay Area, West Coast and internationally have been delighting audiences for more than twenty three years. Originally a carriage house, the White Barn was built in 1872.

Nancy Garden’s family also owns the red barn, located just across the vineyard on the same road. Inside the barn is the unique and creative enterprise, Blue Stocking Press, owned by her daughter, Jennifer Garden. Jennifer’s fascinating collection of hand type set printing tools and antique presses are brought to life in this rustic workspace. As an additional means of raising funds for Preservation Napa Valley, The Barn Tour will have a limited edition, hand type set, commemorative poster available for purchase. These collector quality posters have been designed by illustrator Mike Gray and produced by Jennifer Garden.

The Barn Tour 2009, emphasizes the importance of our agricultural industry. Preservation Napa Valley and the Napa County Farm Bureau are honoring our agricultural history and the current working families and enterprises that make our Napa Valley exceptional. For complete information and tickets please visit: You may also call Preservation Napa Valley at 707 258-9286 or email


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