Napa Valley Rain Water

napa valley rain water

Captured rain water in the Napa Valley

The Napa Valley needs water! California needs water! This is a welcome sight in the Napa Valley wine country. Recent rains have dumped several inches of water on Napa Valley vineyards and elsewhere in California. Some of this vital rainwater is captured and directed into wells for use later in the vineyard growing season. Later this week another big storm is predicted to hit the area. The big question remains: Will the year 2015 bring us back to normal or above normal rainfall? This photo was taken near the Ballentine Vineyards in the St.Helena area of the Napa Valley. Water is directed into a large drainage ditch that runs the length of the vineyards. What a beautiful time of the year in the Napa Valley!

St. Helena Wine Route - wineries near St. Helean on Highway 29


    Napa Valley Cabernet in November

    Napa Valley Cabernet November

    The remnants of the 2014 harvest in the Napa Valley

    Napa Valley Cabernet in November

    This is the same St. Helena vineyard I have been photographing since May. Napa Valley Cabernet in November is entering its dormant stage. The vines will now sleep until the warmth of the Spring days beckons the vines to once again do their magic and produce grapes for wine. Not much work is done in the vineyards in November. Pruning is usually done in the late Winter. In this particular vineyard, the vineyard management team is getting ready for what they hope will be a rainy winter. Trenches are being dug to direct the water to accumulate for well water. Now is a good time to visit the wine country for two reasons. The Fall colors are dramatic. There are far fewer tourists in the Napa Valley at this time of the year. The exception is the Thanksgiving Weekend, which marks the last hurrah for the tourist season in wine country.

    Additional Information on the St. Helena area of the Napa Valley


      Grandview Hotel in St. Helena


      Historic Acacia House built in 1907 will become the Grandview Hotel

      About the Grandview Hotel in St. Helena

      This is the old Acacia House that was built in 1907. It sits up on a hill directly opposite Pratt Road in St. Helena. It is also next door to the beautiful, historic Beringer Vineyards. The old Acacia House is being remodeled and restored and will become the Grandview Hotel, a 57-room luxury hotel. Completion date for the Grandview is set for the Spring of 2016. The hotel will also house an upscale restaurant, a spa, meeting rooms, and have a large grassy area for various events . This hotel development comes on top of two other hotel projects to the north. The Freemark Abbey Winery is set to break ground on a hotel and wedding center that will have some 90 rooms. Over on the Silverado Trail, and across from the Solage Resort, the Silver Rose Resort construction is just about to begin. The Silver Rose Resort will have 84 rooms and include a restaurant, a winery, and 20 private homes. In downtown Napa, the Archer Hotel is set to begin construction in the Fall of this year. Read more about the the Napa Valley developments in this article,  the Napa Valley is Booming,

      It is rather amazing to see all these hotel developments taking place at once. What will the result be in terms of traffic congestion and the impact on existing hotels, B&B’s and motels in the area between St. Helena and Calistoga? Traffic in downtown St. Helena crawls on weekends and the same can be said for afternoons on weekdays. Will our economy continue to grow and attract more and more visitors to the Napa Valley? These are big companies that are developing these hotels, and I am sure they have done enough research and studies to indicate a successful investment in these projects.

      Additional information on St. Helena hotels and restaurants


        Napa Valley Cabernet in June

        Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon on June 11, 2014 - Revana Vineyards

        Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon on June 11, 2014 – Revana Vineyards

        Napa Valley Cabernet in June

        This photo of Napa Valley Cabernet was taken on June 11, 2014, in the St. Helena AVA. The photo shows the current development of Cabernet Sauvignon on the Valley floor. The leaves and berries look very healthy and Napa Valley Cabernet appears to be in line for a great harvest year. This vineyard is owned by the Revana Family Vineyards in St. Helena. Revana Family Vineyards is a small family-owned winery that specializes in high-end Cabernet Sauvignon. The vineyard is sustainably farmed. On this day the vineyard was in morning fog with the sun breaking through around 10:30 a.m. The afternoon was warm and a cooling breeze swept the vineyard in the late afternoon and early evening.

        Important Napa Valley resources

        Napa Valley Wine Trails
        St. Helena Lodging
        St. Helena Restaurants
        Winery Finder and Trip Planner – Napa Valley


          Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen without Cindy

          We took a very quick overnight trip to the Napa Valley to view a house that a family relative is considering purchasing. On the way, we stopped in St. Helena for lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen. Several weeks ago we read in the S.F. Chronicle that Cindy Pawlcyn had been in a car accident. The newspaper report indicated that Cindy suffered minor injuries. We asked our server how she was doing. She stated that Cindy’s injuries were extensive. She spent several weeks in the hospital and will not return to her kitchen for perhaps as long as 4 months. Our meal was excellent, but we felt something was amiss at the restaurant. Cindy is obviously missed by all. We wish Cindy a speedy recovery.

          piquillo peppers stuffed

          Stuffed piquillo peppers

          A Visit to V. Sattui

          Sign in tasting room

          Sign in tasting room

          I am always amazed at the number of folks who visit this winery and buy wine in huge amounts. I wonder, as probably winery owners in the Valley do, how it is that Dario Sattui is able sell all his wine out of his tasting room. None of the Sattui wine is distributed. The tasting room is a bevy of activity. Our server was efficient and knowledgeable. He knew each Sattui wine like the back of his hand. Impressive, to say the least. By the way, visitors can try one complimentary taste of wine, otherwise it is $15 to taste a lineup of several wines. We had previously tasted the Sattui wines as well as the wines from Castello di Amorosa, Dario’s newer winery located near Calistoga. The overall quality of the wines is very high. Winemaker Brooks Painter is the winemaker for both wineries. The St. Helena tasting room has a cheese and deli shop where visitors can purchase food items and head outside for a picnic lunch. No outside wine is allowed (understandable) and no outside food. I think that is a bit stiff on the food control, but it seems to work because the expansive picnic area is very busy. I need to do more digging into the tremendous success of Dario Sattui and his wines.

          Calistoga Tidbits

          In the late afternoon we walked along Lincoln Avenue, the business area of Calistoga. Since our last visit, there are a couple of new tasting rooms in town and one new restaurant. Do you remember Wappo, a restaurant with an eclectic menu? It closed down several years ago, but recently reopened as 1226 Washington. The menu looks great and, at the W.H. Smith Tasting Room, our server highly recommended it. We will give it a try the next time to Calistoga.

          At the W.H. Smith tasting room, we shared a tasting of 6 wines for $15. The wines were all delicious but expensive. The Sauvignon Blanc was $28. The lineup of Pinot Noir wines was fantastic, but again expensive. Our favorite from the Sonoma Coast was above $50.

          Solbar Restaurant at Solage

          This is the top restaurant in Calistoga. The restaurant is situated in the beautiful and luxurious Solage resort. We had a lovely dinner outside in the warm evening air. The food, wine and atmosphere were excellent. Surprisingly, we found the service lacking. Slow, slow, and slower was our experience. For example, our party ordered a second bottle of wine and it took 10 minutes to arrive. The check including tip came to $390 for four.

          The Solbar restaurant at Solage Resort

          The Solbar restaurant at Solage Resort

          Calistoga Cab Hopper

          I would like to recommend this little taxi company that serves the Calistoga area. They are pricy at $5 a mile, but Calistoga is a small area. As it states in the brochure, taking the Hopper is more fun than spending a night in jail. We called the Hopper from the Solbar, and within ten minutes they were there to take us to our destination. I previously posted an article about the presence of Uber in the Napa Valley. However, they are not as yet servicing the Calistoga area of the Napa Valley.


            Whitehall Lane Winery in St. Helena – The Sauvignon Blanc is outstanding

            Amid the rain and wind this past Wednesday, we managed to squeeze in a tour and tasting at the Whitehall Lane Winery in St. Helena. Tom Leonardini and Family have owned the Whitehall Lane winery since 1993. Whitehall Lane is one of the Napa Valley’s earliest wineries with a start date of 1979. The winery is one our favorites, and we’d selected the winery for our Boutique Wine Trail back in 2003.

            This was our first visit since the winery did a remodel and an addition a couple of years ago. Although the building structure has changed, the personnel remains very much the same, anchored by winemaker Dean Sylvester now in his eighteenth year at Whitehall. Our tour leader was Mike McLoughlin, the General Manger who joined the winery shortly after the Leonardini Family purchased the winery. Consistency is good in this case; the Whitehall Lane wines have been highly regarded throughout its history, highlighted many times by the Wine Spectator for its reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

            Dean Sylvester the winemaker at Whitehall Lane

            Dean Sylvester is his lab checks the Sauvignon Blanc blend

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              Inside Yountville

              The main wine towns of the Napa Valley are Napa, Yountville, St. Helena, and Calistoga. “Inside Yountville” is the first of a series of short videos designed to give the tourist a quick view of the major attractions of these localities: where to stay, dine, shop, and enjoy other very fun wine country activities. In this video, you will quickly see why tourists love Yountville.

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