Weddings in Napa Valley – Locking in the Love

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by Lisa Adams Walter

With Valentine’s Day on the calendar later in the month, February has traditionally become associated with romance and love. The three hundred sixty degree outdoor beauty, pleasant weather for the majority of the year, countless picturesque vistas, many traditional churches, several vineyard settings, and the fame for generous hospitality and romantic escapes…have naturally made the Napa Valley a prime location for the most “love-filled” days of all time: weddings.

Those with a unique perspective of the wedding experience include officiants who marry couples. Current trends reveal that wedding officiants vary widely. Many are religious or spiritual, while many are not. Close friends and relatives are increasingly popular to serve as an officiant for brides and grooms.

Wedding officiants in Napa typically marry people from outside the region, as destination weddings represent another trend that has long been on the rise. Those that have married locals usually know
the couple in some other capacity outside of the wedding.

Pastor Todd Bertani, a Lutheran pastor who performs anywhere from five to ten weddings a year, enjoys the experience of officiating. “I have done a few for local couples, but the majority are from out of state. I have done some for couples from San Francisco, but they are in the minority and usually are transplants from somewhere else. The local couples I have married in the Napa Valley have for the most part been done in the backyard of someone’s home.”

Napa City Councilmember, and former Napa City Firefighter, Scott Sedgley is a lifelong Napan who has officiated at several weddings at the request of several local brides, all of whom were friends of his grown children. “I believe firefighters have earned a position of trust in their communities, and as such are often asked do things and help friends,” said Sedgley.

Isn’t It Romantic?

Of the most romantic weddings in which Bertani participated, he notes was at Napa’s Andretti Winery, “It was a very private wedding of about six people not including the couple. They had been together for about five years, had gone through many ups and downs, and in fact right before they traveled from Florida to come to Napa for the wedding, the groom was in a serious car accident. He somehow decided rather than canceling the trip, to go ahead and follow through with the plans.” Bertani recalls that the beautiful location and the fact that the entire wedding guest list included only their mothers and few others made it a very romantic and meaningful wedding.

Local wine industry veteran, Tim McDonald, has been officiating weddings, mostly for people that he knew prior, for years. With more than twenty weddings on his roster, McDonald has officiated in the Napa Valley, as well as other locations such as Mexico, Laguna Beach, Milwaukee and Salzburg, Austria.

The most romantic wedding that McDonald immediately references was his experience marrying Tony and LeighAnn Torres at Trinchero, the groom’s family winery in St. Helena. “It was the most romantic and special ceremony I’ve performed.”

“I believe it is who is present, genuine love and the appreciation of being part of something that has so much potential that makes a wedding romantic,” added Sedgley.

Location, Location, Location

Bertani credits the local aesthetics for heightening an already glorious occasion, “There are so many amazing places to get married in Napa. Whether a winery, an inn or in a hot air balloon over Calistoga, the setting is breathtaking. Whether it’s in a vineyard or in a forest heading toward the hills…it’s just God’s country.”

McDonald cites the gardens at Beaulieu Vineyards as one of his favorite wedding spots, yet the natural features of the setting stand out, “Napa for me is simply perfect. With its stunning beauty, especially the sunsets, and then moon later if you’re lucky.”

For the local brides, Sedgley states that, “Growing up in Napa, the brides appreciate the natural beauty and small town atmosphere of their home town.”

Why Lock In the Love

February and weddings, are all about the love. McDonald serves as an officiant for very personal reasons. For him it’s not religious, it is a meaningful role that is fun for the couple and fun for him too.

For Bertani, as a member of the clergy, there are larger reasons for ministering to a couple uniting their life, “I have done a handful of weddings for same sex couples. Those have been especially poignant due to the pain and struggle that goes along with fighting against the current of homophobia, still so prevalent in our society, and believing so strongly in their love for one another that they go forward with their love. That to them is a blessing.”

A Capella Extravaganza

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Dave Ruane is on a mission – a mission to ensure that the Napa High Vocal Music Workshop can continue at the school for decades to come. Educational funding sources, particularly those focused upon the arts, have become increasingly slim. Therefore, Ruane, who grew up in Napa and attended local public schools, has taken another Napa High School tradition, the annual A Cappella Extravaganza, and pumped it up into a vibrant, entertaining, evening-long fundraiser for the Vocal Music Workshop program.

The 10th annual, A Cappella Extravaganza is set for Saturday, January 31, at 7:00 p.m. at Lincoln Theater in Yountville. This year, the concert boasts a one-of-a-kind line-up of high school, collegiate and professional groups. Recent Napa High alumni and alumnae will be “coming home” to perform as members of their respective collegiate groups: the all-female sensation, Vocal Motion (UC Santa Barbara), the Stanford Fleet Street Singers (Stanford University), That’s the Key (Cal Poly), the co-ed groups Cloud 9 (UC Santa Cruz), and the Deviant Voices (UCLA) and, also returning this year is the ever-popular, Men’s Octet (UC Berkeley).

In addition to Napa High’s Vocal Music Workshop, Napa County High School a cappella groups scheduled to perform include: PDA / Public Display of A Cappella (American Canyon High School) and The Vocalettes (Vintage High School).

Continuing another tradition, the community will welcome back to the stage this year, Napa High School alumni and alumnae, including Emily Duncan and Kelty Kauffmann (Vocal Motion), Madi Lippmann (Cloud 9), Eddie Ruane and Jeffrey Hanton (Deviant Voices), Jeremy Raven (The Stanford Fleet Street Singers) and Liv Macler and Jonathon Woodward (That’s the Key).

“The first Extravaganza probably had about 60 attendees. Its popularity has grown exponentially each year,” reports Ruane, “The last three sold out. It originally formed as a forum for sharing the somewhat-new genre of modern, a cappella music. It was Jamie Butler, who is now the Choral Director at American Canyon High School, who transformed Napa High’s Vocal Music Workshop from a 1980s, show choir into a modern, a cappella group.” Ruane credits Butler for making “Vocal” what it has evolved into today.

It is Ruane (along with a small group of students and volunteers), however, that has made “Extravaganza” what it is today. Last year, the appropriate-for-all-ages event, sold out the 1,200 seat, Lincoln Theater. This year, a sell-out is likely once again. “Headlining this year’s concert is MO5AIC, a 5-man vocal supernova that leaves listeners wondering where ‘the band’ is,” says Ruane. MO5AIC has been featured with Jay Leno, Prince and Tony Bennett.

A professional musician and educator, Ruane (whose two children are Napa High School graduates and former music-department participants) volunteered to direct the Vocal Music Workshop three years ago. “Along with our Music Office Manager, Gina DeLuca, the success of Extravaganza, and the support of Travis Rogers, we were able to keep the program alive,” Ruane, since hired as director added, “The A Cappella Extravaganza is our most important fundraiser, as we receive zero dollars from the school district for this class. Everyone who buys a ticket helps support Vocal Music Workshop.”

What can the audience expect? “Wow! The word extravaganza sums it up,” exclaims Ruane, “From the traditional style of the Cal Men, to the brazen riffs from many of the other collegiate groups, to our own local, talented, high-school groups, to an internationally-acclaimed headliner that will inspire…Everyone who has attended an Extravaganza for the first time walks away saying they had no idea how great the music was. This is a must-see-and-hear event that benefits our kids.”

Tickets to the 10th Annual, A Capella Extravaganza are on sale now for $25 per person ($20 for students with ID). Normally, a ticket to such a performance would be two to three times the price. To purchase tickets visit the Lincoln Theater Box Office in person at 100 California Drive in Yountville, go to, or call 944-9900.


Napa Valley’s New Years Resolutions

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by Lisa Adams Walter

Giving back to, connecting with others, and making both personal and

professional improvements top the 2015 New Year’s resolution list for
Napa Valley locals.

Every year, I undergo a period of post-holiday blues. Sometimes it hits between Christmas and the New Year celebration. Most often, it fully sets in during the cold, winter period following New Year’s Day. Usually my case of the blues fully manifests itself when I realize that there’s a very, VERY long stretch of time until the next, big, celebratory holiday: Independence Day.

Therefore, a few years ago, I searched for a cure for my post-holiday blues. As it turns out, making New Year’s resolutions pulls me out of my slump. A mini retreat with myself does the trick. At the beginning of January, I purposefully set aside a time to look both forward and backward. A walk during your lunch hour, or that time early in the morning before anyone else in the house gets up, or even a quiet, no-radio-allowed period while you commute to work, could each work well for your mini retreat. Open up your mind and focus on YOU!

For me, a designated effort at the beginning of each year provides a much-needed sense of peace. It is a simple and purposeful way to take care of yourself and those around you. Stop in the midst of the craziness and simply think about where you have been, where you are going, and where you want to be. It is only then that you can resolve to change something, try something new, or leave things alone.

Several Napa Valley locals have shared their resolutions for 2015. Many of the people that I spoke with stated that they don’t usually make resolutions. Once asked, however, they had some meaningful things to share. Perhaps being literally and figuratively shaken by the Napa Earthquake of 2014 has made all of us realize, individually and as a community, that certain things truly matter.

Being better to others, particularly to those we serve,
or to whom we are close, tops the New Year’s
resolution list.

Bob  McClenahan  Napa Valley Photographer, resolves to better serve his clients by bolstering his photographic skills, and his family by being a better husband and father. Along those lines, quality time with those that we love is key.

Kathy Briggs
Napa Valley Esthetician, resolves to improve her family time two ways. “First, by not spending so much time on the phone and computer searching the endless web!” Briggs said, “I will spend that priceless time, time I can’t get back, by enjoying what’s right in front of me; my three children.” To take full advantage of that family time, Briggs is taking it a step further, “The second thing sounds much easier than it is – which is to say YES more often! Yes, we can go to the park. Yes, we can play. Yes, you can have that cookie!” For Briggs, this will improve her life in 2015 and for years to come. “I know this is the perfect resolution!,” she added.

C.C. Commander
  Interestingly, another local family is all set to improve its lives by saying, “No!” C.C. Commander of Napa said, “One of my New Year’s resolutions for this year is to work harder on saying, ‘No’ without feeling guilty. This will allow me the free time to say, ‘Yes’ for the things that truly matter.” Commander is focusing upon the simple things, the things that matter; her two children who are rapidly growing up, and creating projects with her husband, in which the entire family can participate, learn and grow. She is committed to getting back to the basics, and lives by this mantra, “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”

Myles Davis   “Last year, due to my fiftieth birthday, I believe that the year was all about me,” recalls Myles Davis of Napa who planned a solo adventure to Thailand and worked on his personal life in 2014, “So, this year, my resolution will be all about my daughters. Spending more time with them, helping  them more and doing more things for them. I love my three girls and don’t think I’ve spent enough time doing things for them.”

Doug Bridewell   Recently retired Napa City Firefighter has a lot to look forward to in 2015, “With the new chapter beginning in my life, my New Year’s resolution is to focus only on the things that make me happy in life: family, friends, travel, volunteering, outdoor activities, food and wine.” Happiness is contagious, so it sounds like a good idea to me. “I should also include exercise, so I can stay healthy to do all of these things!” Bridewell added.

Julie Perez  Health, self-improvement and gratitude are also popular resolutions. More exercise and cleaner eating, which are obtainable with our moderate climate and agricultural community top the list for Julie Perez of Napa, “Generic perhaps, but I haven’t exercised in year and just started back… I feel great.”

Paul Stokey  of Tesoro Flowers resolves to have more reasonable expectations and, fittingly, plans to remain thankful for the joy and bounty that surrounds him daily.

Anna Carminito  of Napa declares that she will, “Worry less, and be more attentive to other’s needs. I resolve to be more of an asset than a drain, to give more than take.” Many of my own New Year’s resolutions for 2015 have already been mentioned. Living a healthy lifestyle, slowing down to enjoy the moments, practicing daily gratitude and, most importantly, making time for, and paying attention to, those close to me.

Denise Campbell   of Yountville sums it up nicely, “New Year’s resolutions are about working on something in your life that you’d like to change or improve. My current life path is my most favorite path yet. I’ve got a wonderful husband, great kids, an awesome job with great co-workers, a lovely family, and fantastic friends. So, my New Year’s resolution is to be true to myself and continue on this path; Loving life!”

BurgerFi – Great Burgers & Fries…


By John & Dorothy Salmon

We took our very-sophisticated 10 and 13 year old granddaughters to BurgerFi for dinner to check out where their “burger palates” would take them and to help us review Napa’s newest burger joint. Our foray into BurgerFi was the “Kid Test” for burgers and, most of all, the fries, since that’s how they typically judge greatness in a restaurant.

Gracie and Arden were as excited as we were to dine inside the huge, metal two story box on the Napa River Walk. Finding parking in downtown Napa is always an adventure, but we were lucky enough to find a friendly soul who was just leaving as we arrived and happily gave us his parking place right in front of BurgerFi.  We couldn’t wait to check out the view as we climbed to the upstairs deck. You can’t miss BurgerFi, since it shines like a giant, square box of aluminum foil next to the Napa River on First Street between Soscol and Main Streets. Both girls said they liked the open feel of the building with the very cool deck to look out at the River. They were also impressed with the gigantic, eco-friendly fan, the light fixtures, the cool Coke machine, the burgers with BurgerFi stamped on the bun and the Rolling Stones music playing nonstop. Of course, they are always impressed when their grandparents can sing along without missing a word! Although, we must report that the Stones are even older than we are! BurgerFi does have a kind of 50’s and 60’s burger-joint feel, housed inside a 60’s, Lost in Space, George Jetson building.

For those of you who travel up and down the east coast, Florida, the Midwest and, more recently, Denver, and Mesa, Arizona, you might be long-standing fans of BurgerFi, which is a franchise operation headquartered in south Florida. They believe in being eco-friendly and they follow their philosophy by creating chairs from recycled Coke bottles and indoor tables made from recycled milk jugs. Instead of relying exclusively on air conditioning, much of their cooling comes from special, oversize ceiling fans that use 66% less electricity. Gracie really loved the big fan. Fitting right into the California scene, BurgerFi maintains a low carbon footprint and follows strict recycling programs for oil, cardboard, bottles and cans. They get to be on the “Good list” in Napa since we pride ourselves on being sustainable and as green as possible.

Napa’s BurgerFi is their 64th location, so all your east coast or south Florida relatives can feel right at home when they visit you this summer. Everything will be the same as home, except for the humidity. BurgerFi wants to create the “Burgerfication of the Nation” with all-natural Angus beef from cattle that are raised in the most stringent, free-range standards and burgers that are never frozen, never cooked in a microwave, have no hormones, no antibiotics and are guaranteed fresh, juicy and delicious!

The Napa BurgerFi menu offers burgers from $5.87, to their Brisket Burger for $9.97. You can build your own burger with a single, double or triple burger patty, add a fried egg, Blue Cheese, white cheese, Peter Luger Steak Sauce, grilled diced onions, Jalapeno Peppers, A-1 Sauce, BBQ sauce, hot sauce, or their special BurgerFi sauce! You might need to study the menu online at and make your choices before you get there! The servers are well trained, friendly and patient, as first time customers stand in awe and try to figure out what they want to order. We did it the easy way, with four cheeseburgers and the large bucket of fries. If you are not a burger fan, you can order all-natural hot dogs, chicken-apple hot dogs, Wagyu Kobe Beef hot dogs and lots of toppings, such as cheese and kraut, BurgerFi Chili and Hickory Bacon. We saw our pal, Cathy Holmes, that night and she told us that the hot dogs are really good too.  So, next time we will give those a try.

BurgerFi fries range from $3.27 for a pretty good size regular to their big bucket for $5.97 that can feed an army of people. You can get onions rings from $4.27 to $5.57 or do the very-hip cry & fries; an order of half fries and half onion rings for $5.57.  Add salt and vinegar, Parmesan cheese, hot Cajun sauce, cheese sauce, chili or chili and cheese sauce for a nominal fee. Now you can understand why we suggested that you consider your order before you get there!

The milk shakes are terrific, the floats and cows are really good and they serve ice cream in cups, cones or Sundays from $3.47 to $5.47 with a choice of toppings…if you have room to eat ice cream after ordering their burgers and fries. They have take-home ice cream in their Pints on The Run for $6.97.

They even have a “Secret Menu.” If you don’t want a meat burger, you can order a Hippie Veggie made with two, grilled, quinoa burgers served on a potato bun with a side of neon relish.  They also serve their fries well done and extra crispy or limp. We are not sure who might want limp fries, but if you do, this is the place for you. They serve cool craft beers and a moderate selection of wines, along with standard soft drinks, lemonade and Evian bottled water.

Business during the traditional off- peak hours is supplemented by custard sales as well as being a great place to meet for a craft beer or wine. Hey, we are in Napa, so they have to have wine and craft beer!  Custards, however, are pretty east coast.

The girls’ comments included: “Great views, nice ambiance, nice photos, the logos stamped on the burgers are VERY cool” and they loved the very hip, hard- plastic order trackers that light up when your order is about to be brought to you at your table. THAT is definitely something that rarely happens at burger joints. Gracie loved the Mexican coke bottle and ordered that right away. Arden and Dorothy ordered root beer floats and Papa John had a beer.

We had a great time. If you are a boater, kayaker or stand-up paddler, you can tie up at the downtown dock and walk to BurgerFi on the Napa River Walk. BurgerFi will be the go-to place with a great view for the 4th of July fireworks.

There are no salads, no chicken dishes, no sweet-potato fries, but its lot’s of fun and a throw- back experience for all of us who remember the 60’s.  BurgerFi has free Wi-Fi, which was especially important for 13 year-old Gracie. Dogs are also allowed. They cater meals if you want to buy burgers for your party and, best of all, there is no TV to distract you while you enjoy the view.

We will be there again for sure.  Now that Napa is the foodie place to go, there are many options for great burgers up and down the streets of downtown Napa and up and down the Valley…none in a structure like this however!

967 First Street | Napa, CA | (707) 927-5373 |

Open Sun. – Thurs. 11a.m. – 11p.m. | Fri. & Sat. 11a.m. to midnight


Fun things to Do Downtown for the Holidays

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By Craig Smith

While it is hard to believe that another year has gone by, the good news is that it’s almost Christmas.  Who doesn’t love the return of Santa Claus?

There are lots of ways to enjoy time with the family during the month of December.  This year, include checking out all the decorated windows in Downtown Napa.  In fact, cast your vote for what you think is the best of the best.  Most stores will have ballots on-hand for you to fill out.  It’s simple – write down the store name of the window you like the most, and put it in the ballot box.  Winners will be selected on December 15th and will be posted on by the 20th.  Even if you don’t make it down in time to vote, you can still stroll the streets and enjoy the sites.

Here are some other Holiday activities
to enjoy. Merry Christmas!

Carriage Rides

Bring the family for  free horse drawn carriage rides through downtown Napa. It’s one of the best ways to enjoy the Holiday lights on all the buildings, see what the Christmas windows look like in the stores, and just snuggle with the family.  One carriage leaves the Historic Napa Mill on each of the scheduled nights, a second one departs from Coombs Plaza at First and Coombs Street during the same time.  Ride either or both – there are two separate routes, with each route lasting about twenty minutes.  Spend the time between rides shopping and dining in beautiful downtown Napa.  If you enjoy it, come back the following week with your neighbors.  Thursdays, December 4th, 11th and 18th, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Holiday Trolley

Thanks in part to Beau Tours, who helped make the Holiday Wine Trolley available, everyone will be able to enjoy a free Trolley ride downtown.  Bring the family, friends or anybody else you’d like. The Christmas decorated trolley will be playing music of the season as it travels between five regular stops – at the Oxbow Public Market, Historic Napa Mill, Coombs Street at Second, First near Randolph, and at Main & Pearl Streets.  Signage will show you exactly where to get off and on.  Enjoy the whole loop at one time, or get on and off as you wish.  The trolley runs on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, from December 5th through the 21st, from 3 to 6 p.m.

Ice Skating

Now through  January 11th, children of all ages and those young at heart will be able to ice skate in
downtown Napa. The 6300 sq ft outdoor rink has
stainless steel railings, a quality 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 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and until 8 p.m. on Sundays. It opens at 12 noon when school is out, 2 p.m. when students are in class. Skating is
only $12 per person, which includes skate rentals.
More information is available at

Christmas is
a magic time of year.  Join your family and friends in Downtown Napa to shop, dine and enjoy the season.

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


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.


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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.


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.


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.


The Pathway Home attributes two keys to its success:

• Innovative expert care

• Community involvement


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.


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 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.


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

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.