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.

Molly’s Angels Needs You!

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By Lisa Adams Walter

Sometimes the simple things mean the most. Small acts can make a big difference, and leave a lasting and important legacy. In Napa, the simple act of placing a large pickle jar on a restaurant counter more than 15 years ago created a community of care by some local “angels.”

In the late 1990s, Molly Banz, then a Napa restaurateur, learned of a local family hit with an enormous tragedy. Family members, and their home, were lost in a devastating fire. With her unstoppable spirit and desire to help, Molly rallied her customers by simply placing a pickle jar on the restaurant counter to encourage customers to give what they could to help the surviving family members pay for funeral expenses. Quarters, pennies, five dollar bills, along with a few Benjamins and dimes, began to fill the jar. Molly’s customers, who became known as “angels,” paid for the final expenses for that family AND raised enough to help them also relocate to a new home. Molly’s Angels was born!

Molly had a simple plan: if everyone in Napa County would donate $1 per month, there would be plenty of money to help those in need due to catastrophic events. Over the years, thousands of people, ranging from children to the elderly, have been helped. Referrals from social workers, neighbors and friends of those in need, as well and the needy themselves, reach out.

Molly’s Angels has evolved mainly into a free transportation program for any senior citizen who resides in Napa County. Angels will even assist by taking Napans to medical appointments out of town to important facilities such as U.C.S.F. Medical Center, Kaiser Hospital Vallejo and Kaiser Hospital Vacaville.    

The existence of this important, non-profit service relies on two things: monetary donations and gifts of time. “We rely on volunteers to assist with driving the client. They will pick up the client at their house, stay with them during the appointment, and will also take the clients grocery shopping or to pick up their medication after the appointment,” said Nicole Pfister, Director of Volunteers for Molly’s Angels.

The staff at Molly’s Angels repeatedly hears, “If it were not for Molly’s Angels, I would not be able to get to my doctor.”   One local resident even said that, “If it weren’t for Molly’s Angels I would have lost my leg!”

Molly’s Angels client, Sharon Haeckl, remembers that when Molly’s Angels came into their lives, she and her husband and were both nearly bedridden, without

family nearby, “Their loving and friendly staff gave us quality care and service. They provided transportation to numerous doctor appointments without complaint or cost. Without their services we would not be here today.  It was like a light in the window when Molly’s Angels arrived.”

When asked how Molly’s Angels has helped, Hedy Kinder started singing, “You light up my life!”  She went on to explain, “Molly’s Angels has enriched my life and has given me a better quality of life. They have taken away some of my worries and doubts. They go above and beyond my expectations.”

Absolutely critical to the mission that the late Molly Banz started are the volunteers, such as Andrea Stover who said, “I want to do something to help others and this is one of the things that is easy to do and very rewarding. The people are very nice and so appreciative for the service. They don’t have complete control of their lives anymore and this is a way for them to regain some control. It provides options for seniors and helps them to not feel like a burden to their families.”

Circumstances sometimes necessitate the creation of a custom program for special needs, of which there are many. Additional programs in which Molly’s Angels participates include: “Access Adventures,” which provides outdoor recreation, open space access, education and therapy through a working partnership with horses; “Share the Care” which is a Napa County-based peer-to-peer program that connects older adults in need of assistance with advocacy, referrals and support for well-being and quality of life; “Celebrating Seniors” a festival, with food, information and fun for seniors
and “A Senior Wish” developed to make a wish come true for several seniors.

Molly’s Angels is always seeking, and needs, new “angels” – so if you are moved to do some simple things to help, call (707) 224-8971 send an email to mollysangels@mollysangels.com or visit the website
at mollysangels.com.

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.

Brix Restaurant & Gardens

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By John & Dorothy Salmon

We recently had a lovely dinner with our pals, Ron and Teri Kuhn, at Brix to celebrate our good fortune, our children, grandchildren and the Kuhns’ incredible Pillar Rock Cabernet. We laughed through most of the dinner, while commenting on how lovely the setting is at Brix, with its warm interior and a rock-star garden, enjoyed from the outdoor dining area when the weather is good. Ron and Teri headquarter at their primary home in Chicago, but get to enjoy Napa, Florida and Arizona when they visit their other homes. Fortunately for us, they are planning to spend more time in Napa, especially in the winter when Chicago is freezing, windy and covered in snow. Their kids and grandkids live in Chicago, so that’s where their hearts are when they are not in Napa making sure their Pillar Rock wines are doing well across the United States.

Brix has been a staple on Highway 29 since 1996. The Kelleher Family has made Brix a top-notch restaurant and magical place for weddings, receptions, meetings, celebrations of any kind and a great place to be for romantic occasions or simply dining out with friends. Brix Restaurant and Gardens is a classic pairing of unique, contemporary cuisine with a French accent. With 16 perfect Napa Valley acres of beautiful gardens and vineyards, you will always find just-picked vegetables and a great wine selection from its list of more than 800 labels.

When we arrived, we were met by General Manager, Michael Cope, who has vast experience in the restaurant business with years at The Girl and the Fig in Sonoma. Since we were with Ron and Teri, we of course, enjoyed their Pillar Rock 2007 Stags Leap Cabernet ($170). Needless to say, it was a good thing we were with them! The wine is amazing as are Ron and Teri, who are consistently generous donors at Auction Napa Valley and the V Foundation, as well as spreading their philanthropy across the country. Teri was the V Foundation, 2010 Fund-A-Need Honoree as a Leukemia survivor, generously supporting Leukemia Research through the V Foundation.

After Notre Dame alum, John and USC alum, Ron dispensed with their usual banter recalling the rivalries of the two schools and which has the better football team, we started our evening with Roasted Pedrone Peppers, topped with aged balsamic ($10) and the Crispy Fried Green Beans, served with spicy mustard sauce ($10). We also indulged in the special flat–bread, with cherry tomatoes, arugula, crème fraiche, rib-eye caps, feta, fontina and a drizzle of balsamic ($15), which Teri said was the best flat bread she had ever eaten.  Our server, John Adams, was very attentive, lots of fun and made great suggestions all evening.

For our main course, Ron ordered the Roasted Colorado Lamb, served with black mission figs, fennel bulb, blue cheese, toasted pistachios and fig chocolate-sauce ($38). Teri ordered the Salad of Baby Field Greens and poached summer peaches, honey-whipped ricotta, spiced hazelnuts and peach vinaigrette ($10) and the Sicilian Casserole with grilled octopus, beef bone marrow, tomato-braised beef tripe and herbed Parmesan bread crumbs ($12). John enjoyed the Grilled Atlantic Salmon with broccoli rabe, Italian-seafood tomato sauce, green olives, speck ham with roasted eggplant puree and oregano bread crumbs ($27) and Dorothy was delighted with the Caramelized Sea Scallops served with a medley of toasted almonds, snap peas, mint, chili peppers and sweet corn, with a truffle vinaigrette ($33).

Since we knew that the meal would lead to this review, we HAD to order desserts! So, we shared the Grilled Summer Peach, served with an almond streusel, whipped brie, saffron honey and peach lavender sorbet ($10) and the Triple Chocolate Snicker Sundae with chocolate polenta cake, caramel sauce, curry-roasted peanuts, caramelized banana with chocolate ice cream ($10).

The dinner menu at Brix is extensive and interesting; the bar is lots of fun; the wine list is wonderful and Brix is a favorite of locals and visitors alike. Brix is a favorite partner and a featured restaurant at Hands Across the Valley, The V Foundation, Flavor Napa Valley and many more local events. The menu changes daily, drawing inspiration from the restaurant’s extensive gardens and traditions of the winemaking regions of Southern France and Northern Italy. The flower and vegetable gardens contain both raised-beds and in-ground beds in which crops grow year round. Tiny salad greens, fava beans and strawberries in the spring; French beans, eggplant, tomatoes, berries and melons in the summer; apples and pears, hard squash, potatoes, and fresh onions in the fall, and Meyer lemons and sweet limes, sweet peas, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower Romenesco and butter lettuce in the winter.

In the Lounge and Wine Bar, you can sit by the fire
and enjoy a glass of wine, with wine tastings by
appointment, featuring the Kelleher Family Vineyard wines grown in the Oakville Appellation.

A few weeks after our dinner we were back at Brix speaking with Matt Guyot, their talented Special Events Manager about a possible rehearsal dinner for our daughter. I guess that is the best recommendation
that we could make!

Aureole Ranch Horse Rescue

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by Laird Durham

When Anne Houghton, CEO of Aureole Ranch Horse Rescue, was three years old, her mother bought her a pony. So began a 35-year love affair with horses. Today, Anne cares for 16 horses, a mule, a donkey, and two goats — all of them rescued while on their way to a slaughter house.

Anne told me that some 20,000 horses are sent from California each year to slaughter houses in Canada and Mexico where they are butchered and exported as food to countries in Asia and Europe. The horses come from thoroughbred breeders and racing stables, drug production operations, riding academies, trek outfitters, cattle ranches, and private owners. Most of those horses are purchased at livestock auctions where they are bid on by “kill buyers,” fattened up in feed lots, and illegally transported to Canada or Mexico.

Aureole Ranch is a “virtual” ranch. Anne doesn’t own any land. Her horses are scattered from Southern California to Washington, where they are maintained by fosterers, and by Anne and her husband, James, who personally care for most of them at three locations in Calistoga, Petaluma, and St. Helena. Volunteers lend a hand from time to time, to feed, groom, exercise, and clean up after them. Cleaning up is a big job. A

horse puts out an average of 30 pounds of manure a day.

Anne and James have full-time day jobs. She is the tasting-room manager for the Maldonado Family Winery in Calistoga, and he is a chef for the Trinchero Estate winery in St. Helena. Much of their income goes to pay for the horse-rescue operation – literally eating up about $30,000 a year at $3 for a bale of hay. It costs $200 per month or more to board some of their horses.

Aureole Ranch Horse Rescue achieved Federal, non-profit status last year, so Anne now can offer tax deductions for foster care. They are actively seeking people to foster horses, to adopt them, to volunteer to help care for them, to provide grazing and stable facilities and, of course, to donate money for

the operation.

A Horse For Kelly To Ride

Monique Beal of Santa Rosa is one of Anne’s horse fosterers, whose daughter, Kelly, 16, is the care giver. Kelly has been riding horses since she was 5. When the Beals moved here from San Diego about a year ago, they began looking for a horse for Kelly. They met Anne through her winery job, and became fosterers for a 15-year old Saddlebred gelding named Chance, rescued from an auction. The Beals pay to board Chance at Cloverleaf Ranch, and are responsible for veterinary care and bi-monthly shoeing done by a professional farrier.

Kelly provides the care: grooming, companionship, and bathing.

Whoa! Bathing? A horse gets baths?

“Oh, yes, Kelly,” says. “Horses get dirty just like dogs, and have to be bathed. Of course, right after I give Chance a bath he goes out and rolls in dirt.”

Kelly rides Chance 3-4 days a week, so fostering is a better alternative than a riding academy. Her preference is English riding, which makes Chance’s background as a show horse a good match. Kelly does both trail riding and ring work, and has bonded well with the horse. Chance usually is in pasture when Kelly arrives at the ranch. When the horse sees her he whinnies and runs up to her at the gate.

Monique believes fostering a horse and caring for it teaches young people patience, discipline,

and respect.

It has taught Kelly a love for animals that she expects to carry over into an adult occupation: she wants to become a veterinarian. If she goes away to college in another 2 years, the Beals will return Chance to Aureole Ranch.

“If we have to give up fostering Chance I think we would continue to pay for his care,” Monique says.

Horses Are Just Big Pets

When most people think about horses they think of them for riding, racing, or working cows, along with pick-up trucks and horse trailers. But for many horse fosterers and adopters, horses are pets and companions, rarely ridden. That’s how Stacey Windbigler, 44, thinks of them. She says she spends more time telling her troubles to her big Percheron, Samson, than she does riding him. At 6 feet 2 inches tall at the shoulder, Samson towers 14 inches over Stacey. Stacey says he is the biggest horse she could find.

“I’m not the only one who thinks of horses first as pets,” Stacey says. “I see a lot of women with hay bales on their SUVs.”

As many animal owners have found, Stacey thinks owning an animal develops a bond and mutual respect. “I have learned as much about myself as I have about my horses,” Stacey says.

Stacey became a fosterer for Aureole Ranch when she was looking for a companion for Samson. She began fostering a Thoroughbred mare, Megan, rescued from an auction in Washington. Stacey and Samson became so attached to Megan that Stacey adopted her.

What is the difference between fostering and adopting? According to Stacey it is the level of commitment.

“It would be a good idea to start by fostering a horse, and then adopting later if a bond develops, and the finances work out”, she explains. It costs about $700 a month to foster or adopt a horse, including boarding charges, feed, and care from vets and farriers. Stacey spends more than that by giving her horses a lot of herbs, both Chinese and domestic.

Stacey has a deep love for animals of all kinds, developed from the time she was young in the remote mountains of Northern California where there were few kids her age. When she was 7 years old she rode steers in a rodeo, and always had dogs and cats, but never a horse. Now, besides her two horses, she has two dogs, two cats, three mini-burros, and a pond full of turtles. Stacey has two grown daughters and a ten-year-old son. Stacey and her husband are looking for 4-5 acres of land where they can build their dream house and pasture their animals.

Anne Houghton is eager to find adopters for her horses as well as fosterers. “Every horse that is adopted gives us another spot for a rescue.” she says.

Happy 50th Anniversary Yountville!

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by Lisa Adams Walter

This year brought on a celebration in the Napa Valley that’s set to last throughout 2015: the Town of Yountville is celebrating its 50th Anniversary. Similar to the world-class hospitality for which the village is known, Yountville is set to celebrate in inimitable Napa Valley!

When pioneer George C. Yount settled in what is now Napa County nearly 185 years ago, it is doubtful that he realized what his legacy would be. One of the first white settlers in the area, he was the first U.S. citizen to obtain a Spanish land grant in Northern California, and what is now Napa County, from the Mexican government. Respectful of the Native Americans who originally inhabited his land, Yount named his parcel Caymus Rancho after the tribe.

Among other firsts, Yount was the first to plant grapevines in the Napa Valley. He also built a large, water-powered flour mill that was called the “Star of the Pacific Premium Mill.” Originally, Yount named the tiny settlement within his grant “Sebastopol.” However, because there was another town with that name not too far away, soon after he passed away in 1865, the townspeople renamed the place he founded “Yountville” in 1867. Later in the 1860s, when a railroad was built in the Napa Valley, an increasing number of people became aware of Yountville. The site was very attractive to Gottleib Groezinger who bought a 20-acre parcel from the Yount estate and built a large complex that included a winery and distillery. The buildings remain as V-Marketplace (locals refer to it as Vintage 1870) which is still the bustling centerpiece of the town.

In 1884, right around the time of the peace agreement that ended the Civil War, the Veterans Home of California (now the largest in the state) was founded in Yountville on land adjacent to what was originally Yount’s grant.

A full century passed after Yount’s death, before the town was officially incorporated on February 4, 1965, fifty years ago. I spent many days of my childhood exploring Yountville with one of my best friends, who lived on Yount Street. There were more local bars than restaurants, we’d peruse Vintage 1870 and sample tastes from The Chutney Kitchen, I don’t recall a winery tasting room within the limits of the town.

“Yountville was a just a roadside collection of taverns supporting the Veterans Home until the locals decided to incorporate. That decision and subsequent improvements marked the beginning of the lovely town we, and thousands of tourists, enjoy each year,” said John Holt, an Anniversary Celebration Committee Member.

Still, with the rapid changes of the last twenty to thirty years, Yountville has maintained a sense of authenticity, and definitely its own charm. Today, less than 3,000 residents, many of whom live at the Veterans Home, inhabit the town which is quite likely one of the friendliest and happiest places on the planet. As the Napa Valley has evolved into a world-class destination, Yountville has been on the forefront of that evolution creating a peaceful, and elegant place to live, work and explore.

Yountville Town Council Member Margie Mohler and Anniversary Celebration Committee Member who moved to the town in 1999 said, “What is special to me about Yountville is the community spirit and the common feelings that we all live in a special place where neighbors are more like family and care for each other.”

Another celebration committee member, Napa Valley Museum Executive Director Kristie Sheppard added, “The 50th anniversary is a huge milestone for the town and a reminder that our rich history isn’t that old. It’s amazing to see how Yountville has changed over the past 50 years, more than 150 years since the town was first settled by Americans.”

The Yountville 50th Anniversary Celebration kicks off on February 4 at 5:00 p.m. with a free event at the intersection of Washington and Yount Streets that will feature an aerial photograph of locals that live and work in the town, as well as a celebratory toast and treats.

Other festivities planned for the year include a theatrical presentation of Yountville’s history by students of Yountville Elementary School during Yountville Days, a summertime White August Night, the installation of a pair of one-ton, quartz grindstones from George Yount’s mill near the Yountville Community Center and a historical film series.

“The significance of our 50th anniversary is that a group of people came together fifty years ago and wanted a better place to live – a place safe for the children and a place of which everyone could be proud,” Mohler added, “I think somehow we all continue to be part of Yount’s spirit – he was referred to as the ‘kindly host of Caymus Rancho’ – and we kindly welcome friends, new neighbors, and guests who come to visit our town.”

As a resident of Yountville, I agree. Indeed, George Yount would be proud.