The Exclusive Napa County Locals’ Top Ten

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By Lisa Adams Walter

Napa County address provides both front row seats for, as well as behind-the-scenes peeks at, a vast array of activities and events that can be found “only in Napa.” Locals have the rare benefit of experiencing Napa County unlike others. Year round there are a myriad of ways to become involved either as a supporter, participant,
spectator or volunteer.

As a local, I am continuously on the hunt for the best way to experience our region. Check back each month for some of the top “only in Napa Valley” opportunities in which to indulge, contribute, or become a part.

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Yountville Town Wide Yard Sale – Saturday, May 7

Hundreds of homes in Yountville bust out the excess for a massive town-wide yard sale only once per year. Typically this event is the first Saturday each May, and this year the date is Saturday, May 7. Roll into town, or roll out of bed and walk around if you live there, as nearly every street is dotted with yard / garage / tag sales filled with thousands of treasures. As with any such sale, the best stuff can be found early so grab a cup of java and hit the streets. It’s a fun event to park and stroll.

Grad Nite Napa – Volunteers Needed Now

While our Napa Valley High School Seniors won’t experience Grad Nite until June 9, the giant volunteer task force required to stage this important event needs to be fully in place in May. The organizing committee expects in excess of 600 students from the Napa area high schools to attend. The graduates will enjoy a safe evening that will include a hypnotist, live D.J. and dancing, casino, laser tag, salon hair styling and manicures, interactive games, arcade games, a poker tournament, all night all-you-can-eat buffet, plus surprise events. It takes an army to pull it off, and in addition to the enjoyment of making these kids happy, volunteers are fed very well and have fun. To become involved contact Bruce Nothmann at 707-637-6880 or visit the volunteer area of the website at NapaGradNite.com.

Mother’s Day Weekend Tea Tasting – Saturday, May 7

While there are a bounty of Mother’s Day activities in the Napa Valley ranging from wine tastings, to private tours, to balloon rides to brunches, celebrate with mom a day early at an elegant seated tea tasting by Creative-a-Tea at River Pointe Resort on Lincoln Avenue in Napa on Saturday May 7 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. The event will include four different confections from local Napa establishments and five choices of specialty teas. Reservations are required, $25 per person. Visit CreativeaTea.com for more.

Mondavi Summer Music Festival  – Tickets on Sale

With an inaugural season that kicked off in 1969, the Mondavi Summer Music Festival is one of the Napa Valley’s first modern-day and longest-running cultural traditions. While the Robert Mondavi Winery is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, this annual event which was launched soon after the winery was founded has been a showcase for both established and rising musical artists for nearly fifty years. The summer season is announced each spring, and many times the hottest acts sell out quickly. As a local, that means you need to snatch your tix up now! Visit RobertMondaviWinery.com and click on Summer Concerts.

For Locals Afternoon in the Vineyards – Saturday, May 7

Members of the Napa Valley Vintners Association invite Napa Valley residents to tour their neighborhood vineyard on designated dates throughout the year. The next tour date is set for this month on Saturday, May 7 from 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m. Attendees will learn about the grapegrowing process, responsible vineyard management and the Napa wine community’s commitment to conservation, while meeting winemakers and vineyard managers who will lead tours and answer questions. Participating wineries for 2016, all Certified Green Napa Vineyards, include Trinchero Napa Valley (American Canyon); Trefethen Family Vineyards (Oak Knoll); Chimney Rock Winery (Silverado Trail); Honig Vineyard & Winery (Rutherford); Joseph Phelps Vineyards (St. Helena); and Benessere Vineyards (St. Helena). For precise vineyard addresses and locations visit: NapaVintners.com/community/afternoon_in_the_vineyards.asp. This event takes place rain or shine and there is no cost to attend. Simply visit the vineyard closest to you, reservations are not required.

Pawsport Napa Valley Benefit Napa Humane – Thursday, May 12 – Sunday, May 15

There are lots of wine events, but only one that’s fitting for you and your canine.  Pawsport Napa Valley, the only local dog-friendly, passport-style wine tasting event also benefits Napa Humane. Support this important event at 17 Napa Valley wineries and tasting rooms, which will feature exclusive tastings, food pairings, discounts, souvenirs for you and your pup, doggie treats and more! Pawsports are $75 per person and you must be age 21 or older to attend. For more visit NapaHumane.org/PawsportNV/

Girls on the Run 5K – Saturday, May 14

For one of the most fun, and empowering, outdoor fundraisers check out the Girls on the Run 5K which takes place at Napa Valley College. Girls on the Run (GOTR) Napa & Solano, now in its tenth year, has assisted more than 3,800 girls. Last year, 775 girls were served by a staff of 2.5 and a family of 100 inspiring volunteer “life coaches” at 40 school sites in Napa and Solano counties. At this “Superhero” themed event, attendees can soar, fly, leap or run through the course which meanders out into Kennedy Park for 3.1 miles alongside 460 real life GOTR Superheros (the girls) and 110 volunteer life coaches (the mentors) who will be celebrating their GOTR Power. Be a Superhero, go to GOTRNapaSolano.org to register or volunteer.

Napa Town & Country Fair  – August 10-14   NapaValleyExpo.com

While “fair time” may seem far away (this year the fair is set for August 10 – 14), now is actually the time to get going if you plan to participate (or have kids who plan to participate) as an exhibitor. Locals can enter a wide selection of categories ranging from baked goods, to home décor to photography to arts to crafts to gardening. There are also categories for junior exhibitors as well as kids that are involved in both 4-H and FFA. Online entries for competitive exhibits in all age ranges are all open as of May 1. To review the categories, and enter online, visit napavalleyexpo.com. Tickets for the fair, early purchases save money, are also on sale now.

Napa High Instrumental Music’s The Festival! – Saturday, May 21 3:00 to 7:00 pm – NapaHighBand.org

The entire community can enjoy the Napa High School Instrument Music Program’s inaugural downtown event called: THE FESTIVAL! On Saturday, May 21 from 3:00 – 7:00 p.m. this outdoor, musical fundraiser will take place in the Oxbow Commons near Oxbow Marketplace. In addition to music by Napa High students, the event will also include food, wine, crafts and fun! A full-uniform parade march by the marching band, a concert level performance by the string orchestra, competition demonstrations by the drum line and color guard, entertainment by the jazz band will be performed. Admission is free, with food, wine and other activities available for purchase to benefit the music program. For details or to donate visit NapaHighBand.org and click on “support.”

Farmer’s Market – Season Is Here

Whether you are located Upvalley or in South County, there’s a farmers’ market not too far away. May is the opening of the season, and shopping a local open air market is not only a ton of fun, it’s one of the best ways to support a local, hardworking farmer while obtaining extremely fresh, just-picked, mostly organic, sustainably grown and interesting fresh ingredients, as well as specialty foods and artisan goods. Both markets also feature educational programs, and culinary demonstrations, as well as entertainment.

The City of American Canyon received a grant from the USDA to get a farmers’ market up and running in American Canyon. The market will have its grand opening on Sunday, May 1, with a ribbon cutting ceremony, live music, kids’ activities, and more.

The Napa Farmers’ Market will open on Tuesday, May 3 at its new location at the South Napa Century Center, near the Cinemark Theater and In-Shape fitness center. Napa Mayor Jill Techel will cut the ribbon at 8:00 am and the first 100 shoppers on May 3 (and also on Saturday, May 7) will receive a gift from the market.

Throughout the year I will continue to search for “only in Napa Valley” opportunities in which to indulge, contribute, or become a part. Feel free to send suggestions to lisa@adamswalter.com.

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2013 Small Business of the Year – Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine

2013 Small Business of the Year by the Napa Chamber of Commerce

 
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By Evy Warshawski
 

16 Years and Counting…

Meet Connie Anderson, co-founder, owner and publisher of Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine. For the past 16 years, she’s embraced that frenetic pace with pride in her product, an innate sense of humor and her heartfelt love of community. And, others have taken notice.  Marketplace has been honored as the 2013 “Small Business of the Year” by the Napa Chamber of Commerce.  No small feat for someone who, despite a high school award for yearbook layout, had little interest in graphic design or journalism at the time.

“I was a business, marketing and numbers person,” Connie explained, “but after I moved to Napa in 1989, I got a cute little Mac that looked like a toaster.  I took up desktop publishing and got the job of laying out the first KVON/KVYN, ‘Best of Napa Valley’ publication in 1993 working with George Carl.  Magazines just took off from there.”

Digging her heals in with that infamous “can do” smile, Connie, together with partner Deborah Stevens who ran the Contra Costa Marketplace, began her startup in ways similar to many small business entrepreneurs:  by doing everything!  From graphics to editorials, bookkeeping and occasionally cleaning windows, her philosophy from day one was simple:  “Be fair, honest and give good customer service, regardless of your business,” she advised.  “Take the high road when there is a question, and go with your gut feelings.  This has always served me well.” The partnership has split up and Deborah has since taken the Contra Costa Magazine and Connie has kept the Napa one.  Connie highly credits her staff for their work and dedication.

Marketplace, considered a “must read” by locals, is mailed gratis each month to over 42,000 homes and businesses throughout the Napa Valley and is supported by advertising.  Ten-year veteran, Marketplace sales executive, Mary Beth Herman, came to her position without an iota of media experience.  “Connie was kind enough to take a chance on me,” she mused.

Describing her role as that of “bartender psychologist,” Mary Beth is proud of the reputation that Marketplace has in the community.  “I truly enjoy meeting with people, developing rapport and, ultimately, friendships,” she said.   “I view my job as helping people be successful and sometimes that means helping them with advertising, but
not always.”

“Connie is a great person as well as a fabulous manager,” praised Mary Beth, “And, she has taught me so much about being successful in business.    She has the ability to step back and assess the situation before making a decision.  I am much more reactive.”

Statistics confirm that only one in ten new magazines
survive the rough waters of publication and public acceptance.  From its inception, the local success of Marketplace reflects Anderson’s strong priority to “give back” to
the community.

“This is an area I am most proud of,” Connie beams.
“We are supporters and sponsors of countless nonprofit organizations, the performing arts, Downtown Napa,
service clubs, the Queen of the Valley Foundation, the Chambers of Commerce, Grad Night, and so much more,
by donating space in the magazine each month.”

Sherrell Harper, local artist and arts advocate concurs:
“Marketplace and its wonderful employees regularly donate their time and energy to community projects and community service, helping support Kiwanis Club of Napa with building playgrounds, providing activities and programs for special needs children and working with our high schools to get our teenagers involved in social services.”

Harper notes, “If you are at a local event, you can bet a member of the Marketplace staff will be in attendance, stepping up to support the community.   And then, making sure pictures, results and needs of those community resources are made public.”

Connie’s community spirit and philanthropic philosophy is shared by her small staff, three of whom completed Leadership Napa Valley.  Over 100 hours of paid employee time is donated annually to charity work, and an education program for employees’ advancement is also available.

“I believe in hiring and then developing employees to work at their very best level,” said Anderson.  “We are a small staff; so, we each have our own responsibilities and own our particular department.  I give them the tools they need — equipment, software and training.  I believe in the employee/employer equation:  you give to them, they give it all back.  It’s about respect and responsibility.”

Looking towards the future, Connie and her team plan to keep the Marketplace’s winning formula intact:  fresh, entertaining, informative and, always, local.  “This publication is for EVERY resident of the Napa Valley every month,” Connie said.  “Between our work, advertisers’ support and the faithful readers, this is truly THE Napa Valley community magazine.”