EarthDay – Celebrate at at the Oxbow Commons

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Come join in the festivities at this year’s Earth Day Celebration on Saturday, April 23rd! Bring the whole family to join in the celebration and learn about our local environment. Earth Day attendees will discover many environmental exhibitor booths featuring products, services, games, and fun children’s activities. Great information will be available on a host of topics, including alternative energy, supporting local agriculture, watershed health, pollution prevention, conservation, local stewardship opportunities, and much more. This year the event has a great new location- the Oxbow Commons! So, come join the fun in their new location beside the Napa River from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.!

In addition to educational booths from local groups and businesses, there will be entertainment for the whole family. Great local bands and dancers will perform throughout the day.

Delicious local food, beer, and wine will be sold. Proceeds from beverage sales at Earth Day fund field-trip bus grants offered every year by the Environmental Education Coalition of Napa County (EECNC), the event host. EECNC funds field trips for Napa County students to visit sites such as Connolly Ranch, Bothe State Park, Lake Hennessey, and the Napa River Eco reserve where they can gain an appreciation of the local environment.  

Proceeds from beverage sales also support the Darcy Aston Environmental Advocacy Scholarship, which is awarded to a local student intending to pursue a career in the sciences.

Be a friend to the Earth and ride your bike to the event where the Napa County Bicycle Coalition will offer free valet bike parking! Attendees are encouraged to bring their own water bottle and stop by our “Water Bar” filling station.

If you want to start the day lending a hand to clean up our local environment,

they have the perfect opportunity for you! Join the Napa RCD and Spring Clean at several sites throughout downtown Napa to pick up litter in the creeks, river, and on our streets. The cleanup runs from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. visit naparcd.org for more information.

The fun doesn’t stop when the Earth Day festival ends! If you want more music, dancing, food, movement classes, nature hikes, stargazing, and great aerial and fire performances, head to Earth Night at Connolly Ranch from 5pm to 10pm!  Visit connollyranch.org for more information and to buy tickets.

Sustaining sponsors of the Earth Day celebration are the Napa Green Certified Land & Winery Programs, Healthy Buildings USA and Latitude 38 Entertainment. For a complete list of additional sponsors, exhibitors, food and beverage vendors, and entertainment, or to learn how to participate in this year’s Earth Day celebration, visit EarthDayNapa.com.

Ca’ Momi Osteria

View More: http://stevejrosenfield.pass.us/camomi

By John & Dorothy Salmon

Another Fabulous Addition to Downtown Napa

Over the holidays, we had the pleasure of dining at Ca’ Momi Osteria in their very hip and cool restaurant on First Street just west of Main Street, where the Westin once hosted their timeshare office and Naked Wines had offices. Ca’ Momi Osteria remade the space into a warm, inviting and unique restaurant with killer Italian food. Their motto is “Obsessively Authentic Italian” and they succeed at that in spades. The decor is upbeat with a bevy of 1950s and 1960s Italian films played on a large wall near the front entrance, and the spacious bar is stacked with zillions of bottles of wine and liquor with unique lights hanging down from the ceiling. The wonderful wood walls and tables and original brick wall at the back of the restaurant give the restaurant a warm feeling. A huge sign over the bar says exactly what Ca’ Momi is all about…“HEARTCRAFTED.” They want to make sure that in addition to ‘Eat Authentic and Be Authentic,’ we need to eat heart healthy foods. That’s good advice for everyone.

When we were there on a Tuesday night during the holidays, it was packed with mostly folks we did not recognize, and we know a lot of locals! That means that our visitors have found and like the place, so it must be good for our locals too! Ca’ Momi seats 46 diners at tables, another 30 at the bar and, weather permitting, 30 more outside. The wait staff is dressed in black T shirts with “Obsessively Authentic” in bold yellow gold letters. The place lives its mission with staff that are professional, fast, friendly and serve great Italian food. The aroma waffling through the restaurant was intoxicating and the food was fabulous.

We were greeted at the door by Jonny Tindall, Ca’ Momi’s Director of Culinary Operations, a Napa native and Vintage High School graduate. Our server, Melissa, was friendly, fun and accomplished in making sure we knew what was irresistible on the menu.

Dorothy started out with a glass of Ca’ Momi Napa Valley 2013 Zinfandel ($12) and John ordered a glass of Ca’ Momi 2012 Chardonnay ($15). Both wines were wonderful. The homemade warm schiacciata wood oven flatbread ($5) was great and so was the hefty portion of the burrata e verdure (originated in Puglia) made from wood-oven roasted vegetables, house-pulled burrata and schiacciata all’olio ($14). The burrata e verdure could be a meal in itself! So much so, that for dinner Dorothy ordered Ca’ Momi’s famous ribolita (Toscana) zuppe made with black kale, cabbage, seasonal leafy greens, cannelini beans, parmiagiano reggaino and housemade ciabatta bread ($12). John had the salsiccia e friarelli pizze made with housemade pork sausage, rapini smoked mozzarella de bufala and no tomato ($18). It was delicious too and very filling. Jonny wanted us to try Ca’ Momi’s pasta con radicchio e zucca (Veneto) made with sauteed butternut squash, chioggia radicchio, shallot soffritto, sage, piave. If you are so inclined, there is a gluten free option for this amazing pasta ($18). We ended up taking half of this home in a box for the following day’s lunch.

For desert (dolci) we ordered the housemade organic gelato, with one scoop of vanilla bean gelato and one scoop of malaga brandy and raisin cream gelato ($7). Dorothy raved about the food and told Melissa that the real test of great italian deserts was perfect panna cotta. So, of course, Melissa brought us Ca’ Momi’s panna cotta al caramello which was the best panna cotta ever ($9)!

Ca’ Momi Osteria has a varied menu of Antipasti originated from all over Italy, great Pastas from bigoli coi rovinazzi, spaghetti ala bottarga, tagliatelle con i funghi di bosco to lasagne alla bolognese and gnocchi di ricotta salata al tartufo nero. The meals are all good sized and delicious. The guests sitting on each side of our table raved about their meals and, again, the place was packed. These are all good signs for success. Ca’ Momi’s pizze offerings are also unique, large and very filling as are their salads (contorni).

The Ca’ Momi wine list is extensive featuring Napa Valley and Italian wines. The owners and staff are all music lovers and promote “Do It For The Love Foundation.” Ca’ Momi offers a unique selection of non alcoholic bottled beverages from Italy ($5) and tropical green or organic black iced tea ($4) along with great cocktails ($12), Cocktail Di Vino ($8) and a nice selection of Birra (Beers) Pints ($6) and Pitchers ($18). Next time we are at Ca’ Momi Osteria we will try their cocktails. Maybe the il siciliano made with charbay meyer lemon vodka, pur blood orange liqueur, bergamot syrup, lemon and grapefruit or their mulo italiano made with 360 vodka, house ginger shrug, cock n’ bull ginger beer and fresh mint. The entire menu is interesting.

In 2010, partners Un-Chef Valentina Guolo-Migotto, Master Pizzaiolo and Winemaker Dario De Conti, and Winemaker and Brewmaster Stefano Migotto, opened the popular Ca’ Momi Enoteca in the Oxbow Public Market and they now further their vision with Ca’ Momi Osteria in 2015. They bring their Northern Italian heritage to Napa for us all to enjoy!

Business Review – Molinari Caffe

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By Craig Smith

Rick Molinari, owner of Molinari Caffe at 828 Brown Street between Third and Second in downtown Napa, painted “Pazienza,” the Italian word for “Patience,” on a wall in his home. He ponders it every day, reminding himself that things will eventually return to normal for his business. Although Molinari Caffe sustained relatively little damage from the 2014 earthquake, his business hasn’t been the same since it hit.

Many people suffered damage from the quake and most have put their lives back in order. Molinari Caffe lost glassware and some duct work from the HVAC system was jarred loose, but otherwise they came through it unscathed, and were able to open a few hours later. But when inspectors came through and looked at the damage to the buildings next to him, which were quake-devastated, they closed the cafe for fear that a neighboring structure could topple onto them. Then they closed the street as well.

The building neighboring Molinari Caffe to the north, the Alexander Square building, may have been the most photographed building from the earthquake. It’s been surrounded by tarp-covered scaffolding since, which completely blocks the view of the Caffe from Second Street. The building to the south was also badly damaged, and tarps covering it block the view from Third Street. Brown Street was completely closed for months. It’s re-opened as more narrow, with K rail in place that blocks the entrance to the deli completely, except from the intersections seventy-five feet away. The courthouse directly across the street will be closed for years, and is completely fenced off. Molinari Caffe is the proverbial island unto itself. Still, the Caffe is open six days a week, although business is way off. Molinari looks forward to the day the construction on each side of him is finished and the street re-opened, if he can survive that long.

Molinari dreamed of opening a coffee shop twenty years ago, but as it often does, life got in the way. Several years ago, while working in San Rafael, Molinari befriended Alfred Peet understudy John Weaver, the master roaster at Peet’s Coffee for twenty years, who is now roasting his own coffees. Five years ago, Molinari lost both his father and uncle within six months of each other. That was his “life is short” wake up call, and his dream of opening a coffee shop was re-awakened. Molinari visited coffee shops all over the country, taking ideas from places he liked. Blending what he learned, and with help from
partners John and Michael Brown, Molinari Caffe became a reality.

Molinari Caffe is one of the few places where people can purchase Weaver’s full line coffee and tea in bulk, including the rare Jamaican Blue Mountain. Molinari refers to it as, “Heaven in a cup.”

Molinari is crazy about good coffee, and believes nothing should ever have to be added to a cup. He uses everything—his cold-coffee is yesterday’s blend, which he says is better with age. He also developed a Nutella coffee, his own signature drink. His food menu includes half a dozen sandwiches, including a sandwich of the day, but he’ll make anything you want.

Molinari’s food output is limited by the size of his kitchen, which led to a brilliant idea and several creative partnerships. Using Molinari’s recipes, Alexis Baking Company prepares pasta, chicken and potato salads for Molinari. Both ABC and Sweetie Pies provide baked goods, and Bui Bistro makes soups.  The Caffe features Zoe’s meats from Santa Rosa and Kohler Chocolates. Molinari Caffe is a coffee shop, but it’s also a deli with a lot to offer.

Molinari is very proud of his Molinari Private Reserve, a wine-infused coffee that’s available in regular and decaf. Molinari T.A.P. (Tastings and Pints) is a program he introduced last year. Wednesday nights from 4:30 to 8:30, Molinari features a small production local winery, paired with charcuterie and a relaxing place to kick back after a day of work. Thursday nights will focus on local beers. The program will begin with a brew from Scott Kendall of Carpe Diem and Jason Holman from Holman Cellars.

Molinari is committed to keeping the business going. “This place is home to everybody, staff and customers alike,” he said. He hears encouragement from all over the Bay Area. “I’ve had people from Corte Madera, San Francisco and Sacramento tell me they love our coffee shop, and can’t believe all we’ve had to endure.”

The coffee is good and hot, the food offerings are great, and the entertainment is fun. Visit Molinari Caffe now, and help keep the dream alive!

828 Brown Street, Napa  |  (707) 927-3623    |  molinaricaffe.com

Open Monday – Friday 7AM – 5PM  |  Saturday 7AM – 4PM

Napa Palisades Saloon – Business Review

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By Craig Smith

Chuck Meyer, one of the four friends who teamed up to open Napa Palisades Saloon, has been in the restaurant business for over twenty years. “In this crazy business,” he said, “it’s almost shocking when the plan comes together and the business is what you wanted it to be. This is absolutely closer to what I had in mind in concept than any restaurant I’ve
ever opened.”

What he and his partners, Kevin Sprenger, John Lohman and Charlie Crebs, wanted was a modern day saloon to support their fledgling brewery. “We’re a group of local guys that live here in Napa. We built a place that our friends and neighbors would feel at home in,” said Meyer. While lots of businesses say they are for locals, these guys mean it. “We didn’t want anything pretentious. If tourists want to come here, that’s great, but we want the place to be full of locals every night.”

Chef Tim Brown, whose twenty years in restaurants include everything from soup kitchens to James Beard award-winning restaurants, is on the same page. “This is a gathering place where people feel comfortable. It feels like your living room.”

While multiple TV screens covering different sporting events hang on the walls, this isn’t really a sports bar. The beer and the food are too good for that moniker.

“With all the great craft beers that are around here, there’s been a big void in the market,” said Crebs. “You can drive twenty five miles in any direction from Napa and taste some of the best beers in the country.” Palisades has thirty two of them on tap, including 101 North Golden Naked Ale, Lagunitas Czech Pils and Drake’s Hefeweizen, as well as hard to find offerings like Heretic Brewery Gramarye and Carneros Brewing Negra IPA. Another dozen taps dispense wine and ciders.

They even brew their own beer, with Napa Palisades 24/7 Session IPA and Napa Palisades 1849 Gold Rush Red currently on tap. Their beers are currently brewed off-site, but will soon be made at the Saloon. Brewing on-site will allow them to get a mixed drink license, at which time they will showcase several whiskys.

The current trend in restaurants is to brew beer as a way of being allowed to sell mixed drinks, but these guys are serious beer guys. “We are doing this so we can brew beer, not just to get the license,” said Crebs. “We’ll also have the best R&D you can get – we can make a beer and find out instantly if people like it.”

Chef Brown has created a menu that far outstrips most pub food. The eight appetizers include a soup or two of the day, Shrimp and Grits with Bacon, Mushrooms and Smoked Chili Butter, and Reuben Croquettes, with Corned Beef, Sauerkraut, Swiss and 1,000 Island. On the Between Breads menu is the Saloon Burger with White Cheddar, Stout Braised Onions, Grandma’s Brown Pickles and The Sauce. There’s also a Lamb Burger, Chicken BLT and Falafel Burger, all served with tantalizing ingredients. The six Plates & Bowls include Pot Roast, Braised Niman Ranch Tri-Tip, Potatoes, Winter Vegetables and Gold Rush Red Jus. As you would expect, the sides tie everything together.

1000 Main Street, Suite 100, Napa  |  (707) 296-1552   |  napapalisades.com

Mon. – Thurs. 11:30am to 11pm | Fri. 11:30am – Midnight | Sat. 9:30am – Midnight | Sun. 9:30am – 10pm

Napa Oktoberfest

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Sat., Sept. 19 | Noon to 6:00 | First Street in Downtown Napa

Oktoberfest has a 200 year history of celebrating beer, and Napa’s Oktoberfest will try and live up to that, with a beer garden that runs the length of the event. But it will also be a fun day of celebration and games that the whole family will enjoy.

“Laughter is a big part of Oktoberfest celebrations,” said Julie Morales, events manager for the Downtown Napa Association and the brains behind this first-ever Napa event.  “We’ll have the elements that people expect, plus some surprises to keep them smiling.”

The music line-up includes good, German music performed by the groups Edelweiss and Karl Lebherz Band, but also and unexpected twist with “Tubas at Large,” an ad hoc group of tuba players organized by local musician and music teacher Alan Parks.

“I’ve been part of organized Christmas tuba concerts for years now. They are lots of fun and I’ve wanted to do something similar, but I don’t want to do Christmas music.”  Oktoberfest is the perfect venue for Parks vision. “We’ll do some of the light classical songs you’d expect, but will also throw in a few tunes from Pirates of the Caribbean and the theme from the Andy Griffith Show. “

And his inspiration for those selections? “It appeals to my sense of humor to hear songs played on the tuba.”

Morales said there will be plenty of beer drinking with “Prosts” (German drinking toasts) throughout the day, with all beer drinkers in attendance joining in. There will also be yodeling contests, Chicken Dances, Fun Photo Booths that will be manned by the Napa 20/30 Club, Corn Hole mini-tournaments and lots of other activities, just for the kids.

Oktoberfest wouldn’t be Oktoberfest without Bratwurst, Strudel and more, and it will all be there.

Oktoberfest began as a Bavarian celebration, and still runs for over two weeks there, drawing six million visitors between mid September and the first few days of October. “We aren’t expecting quite that many people,” said Morales with a smile. “It will be a fun day though, and will grow throughout the years.”

Free parking and admission. Sponsored by Blue Moon and Heineken beers, Team Superstores, Bank of Napa, Napa Valley Marketplace, The North Bay Bohemian and KVON/KVYN.  Without their generous support, the show would not be possible.

Napa Valley LGBTQ Pride

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By Kristin Ranuio

Napa Valley LGBTQ Pride week takes place this year from June 11-18. A group of all volunteers, known as the LGBTQ Pride committee, spent around five months planning to ensure a wide range of activities and events with something for everyone. It begins Thursday, June 11, with “Q at the Q!” Napa Pride Kickoff Celebration at the Q Restaurant & Bar in Bel Air Plaza from 5:30 to 9 PM. Come, order up some of your favorite barbecue and other culinary delights at a social event to welcome everyone to a week of Pride celebrations. A low-key affair, it is the perfect way to start the week and connect with friends, old and new.

Friday, June 12, means it’s time for the Fogata Bonfire at LGBTQ Connection on Lincoln Ave. from 7:30 to 10:30 PM. The Spanish word for bonfire, Fogata is a night filled with fire pits, food, and fun. The casual affair brought new faces last year, and is especially popular with the younger crowd. There is no cost, making it a free night and a good time.

Saturday, June 16, has two events, one during the day, and another adult-only celebration in the evening. From noon until three, the Got Unity? Pride Family Picnic takes place at Crane Park bocce courts in St. Helena. Another free event, it is an opportunity for families and friends of all ages to come together for a relaxed afternoon of fun, hosted by UnityNapa, formerly known as Unity League.

When night falls, the 21-and-over crowd can head over to City Winery for an evening of comedy and dancing. Called, “Saturday Night Live meets Saturday Night Fever”, the night begins with three comedians taking the stage to entertain and delight. Afterwards, local DJ, Rotten Robbie, takes over for a night of dancing. Comedy is from 6 to 8 PM, dancing from 8:30 PM to midnight. Tickets are $20 per event, or $35 for both; doors open at 5 PM. There will be a no-host bar and City Winery will have its menu available to order from. Reservations can be made for dinner that night, and are highly recommended.

Sunday means it’s time for Drag Brunch at the newly-reopened Carpe Diem Wine Bar, another event for the 21 and over crowd. While enjoying brunch, come see drag kings and queens entertain and mingle with the crowd from 11 AM to 3 PM.

Monday also has two activities planned. The first is the Youth & Senior Intergenerational Luncheon from 12 to 2 PM at Napa Valley Lutheran Church. This is a chance to bring generations together to share stories, wisdom, and camaraderie. Monday night offers something for just the younger crowd, 20 and under, with “Night with the Stars,” a youth-Pride dance at Black and White Center. Committee member, Ian Stanley, is especially fond of this event. “It’s something I couldn’t have dreamed of as a youth,” he said.

Tuesday, June 16, brings options, with two events in the spirit of supporting local businesses being held in the evening. Pride Night at Oxbow Market is being held from 5 to 8 PM, and Pride Wine Tasting at Mark Herold Wine Tasting Room, across the street, is going from 7:30 – 9 PM With the close proximity to each other, it would be easy to do both.

All day Wednesday, June 17th, there is a Pride Pizza-Party Dine & Donate event at Mary’s Pizza Shack, and the ice cream social at Monarcas, benefiting PFLAG. Although both events are going strong all day long, there are meet-ups planned from 12-2 PM and 5-7 PM.

To round out the week, on Thursday, June 18, from 6 to 9:30 PM, we close with a film and art show at Black and White Center, featuring the film, Sin Visa. Sin Visa explores the struggles and triumphs of an undocumented student and the challenges he faces, including within his own community. The 84 minute film will be shown, along with an art show featuring the work of Napa actor and artist, Edgar-Arturo Camacho-Gonzalez, who also stars in the film. Two other short films from Zarco Films; Lluvia Fria, and Bi.das will also be screened.

This year, Pride lanyards will again be available. Pick one up at the Napa Farmers’ Market or any Pride event for five dollars. Get your lanyard scanned at each event you attend for an entry into a drawing for a variety of prizes.

Napa Valley LGBTQ Pride week is open to all, and offers something for everyone. All ages, sexual orientations, and ethnicities are invited and welcome to participate in the week’s fun, safe, and welcoming events designed not only for a good time, but to bring the entire

community together.

Napa Valley Arts in April

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by Kristin Ranuio

What do Andy Warhol, Rembrandt, and the Calistoga Camera Club student have in common? You can see work by all of them, and much, much, more, at the fifth annual, Napa Valley Arts in April, featuring works that span artistic disciplines, mediums, genres, and decades.

During the entire month of April, there are dozens of special shows, exhibits, openings, and events celebrating the arts and artists. Events are being held throughout the Valley, from American Canyon to Calistoga, with offerings in American Canyon, Napa, Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford, St. Helena, and Calistoga. Many of the events are free to attend; less than thirty percent will be charging an entry fee, and most of those are under twenty dollars.

The month begins with the “Kick off Arts in April” reception at the Napa Valley Museum in Yountville on April 2, 2015. Events that follow include Art, Sip, and Stroll in Yountville, a behind- the-scenes tour of the 15,000 sq. ft. studio of renowned local artist, Gordon Huether, anonymous urban art at a preview tour of the Napa Valley Ruins & Gardens, and an Art, Antique & Collectible Appraisal Day at the Napa Valley Museum. Visitors may bring in their goods to get a verbal,      

auction, market value for a donation of ten dollars per item; up to five items per person may be evaluated.

Also included is the month–long, Inspiration Station, an exhibition showcasing the original works of Heidi Barrett at the Napa Valley Wine Train Station, The Art of Life presented by Festival del Sole and The Hess Collection, iPhonic Art: Astonishing iPhotography at Markham Vineyards in partnership with Knox Production of Pixels and long-time friend of the winery, Rolling Stone Magazine’s first chief photographer, Baron Wolman, a behind the scenes tour of internationally-renowned artist, Carlo Marchiori’s Villa Ca’Toga, and so many more. There are exhibits, interactive tours, private collections open to the public for the event, artist meet-and-greets, and dozens of other offerings to help quench your cultural thirst.

Participating wineries offer a wide range of events and exhibits, including tours of permanent, and rotating, collections. It offers the opportunity to see wineries you may have been to before in a new way, and to explore new ones, while viewing art and meeting artists. Rather than traveling to Italy or New York to see great works, we have the chance to see them right in our own backyard.

New to Napa Valley Arts in April is the Creative Change Program, launched in conjunction with Arts Council Napa Valley. Throughout the month, partnering businesses and wineries have committed to donate a percentage of their proceeds, or offering an easy way to guests to contribute to help the Arts Council Napa Valley reach their goal of $20,000 by the end of June. Funds collected stay in the community, including helping to keep arts and music alive and well in local schools. This means a chance to do something worthwhile, while having a good time. Creative Change Partners include Andaz Napa, Cairdean Estate, Gordon Huether Studio, Engage Art Fair, Humanitas (sister label to Jessup Cellars, part of Good Life Wine Collective), and the Napa Valley Wine Train.

Napa Valley Wine Train Proprietor and Director of Marketing, Kira Devitt, says,“We are delighted to give back to the local community and thank them for their ongoing support of the Napa Valley Wine Train. As the Wine Train is considered a rolling museum and a treasure in the valley, and the Arts Council Napa Valley strives to enrich the lives of the greater Napa community through arts and culture, we are honored to call the organization a partner.”

The month culminates in the final event of the celebration, Engage Art Festival, at the Napa County Fairgrounds, April 25 and 26.  This two-day, indoor, immersive-art exhibition offers the opportunity to experience the Napa Valley art culture in a dynamic environment, with gallery booths mixed in with active artists’ stations. Here you will have the opportunity to engage with the artists while sampling boutique wines, paired with the culinary artistry of local chefs. Arts in

April Producer, Danielle Smith, says this one is a must-do, with art ranging from classic to outrageous, and everything in between.

A complete listing of all exhibits, activities, special lodging packages and events can be found at VisitNapaValley.com/artsinapril.

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.”

BurgerFi – Great Burgers & Fries…

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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 burgerfi.com/menu 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 | burgerfi.com

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

   

Fun things to Do Downtown for the Holidays

xmas skating wp

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 DoNapa.com 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 Napaonice.com.

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

DoNapa.com