Drink, Eat and be Merry! Exclusive tastings.

Your friends come to town and you need an A-Game Expedition to share your love of wine with a day trip to explore unique vineyards in the Napa Valley. Wine has evolved to a lifestyle and a massive commercial business, evolving from use as a holy sacrament used in religious ceremonies. Anyone can visit the cellars lined up along the congested bumper to bumper Hwy. 29 or the Silverado Trail.  We prefer smaller boutique properties, exclusive premium wine producers who generate less than 2000 cases a year and are not open to the general public.  Clients meet privately with winemakers/vintners for tastings of their wines and lunch on property. An enchanting experience meeting the makers and understand their personal Journey, the interconnection between wine and the place where it is made—the vineyard. 

A last-minute request from a client drew us back to our exclusive Napa Valley firm who curates bespoke wine experiences. We provided a comprehensive overview with a possible overnight Valley stopover at a private Villa or hotel – we were gratified to discover suites at Calistoga Ranch for the single night and a chef table on the edge of the vineyard for an under the moonlight dinner!

Fall Crush Napa Valley

Our client had a noteworthy plus, a jet would deliver them directly to Napa, definitely a luxurious amenity! Our team took over on arrival with a deluxe eight passenger Mercedes Sprinter, comfort and style and a designated driver. Vintage cars are also available for smaller groups. We can add a few miles of bicycling as well if you are inclined. Fields of golden yellow mustard blossoms line the paths in spring, autumn is equally stunning, glorious shades of ruby reds and brilliant yellow, the verdant summer leaves transform into a fall pageant, a reminder of the portentous sleepy season.

Back to a day of unique private tastings and lunch under the trees on a hilltop estate with a small vineyard proprietor. Only you and your friends will be the guests here sipping handcrafted wines, away from the crowds. Guests need an appointment and would struggle to find the property, located off of an unmarked road with no vineyard sign. Any tasting here is by appointment only, for serious wine enthusiasts, and takes place at the owner’s home, the vineyard is predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon but there are also some Bordeaux varietals and even a small amount of Sangiovese on site. This family celebrates more than 60 years of farming in the valley, but their roots were planted there more than 100 years ago. Four generations of family manage the successful sought-after vineyard.

Napa Valley Vineyards

If you can tear yourself away from the rambling hillside property and the soaring views, mosey to Vice Versa Winery and enjoy a private tasting with Vintner Samantha Breton. A few years ago, Vice Versa began selling its wines “en primeur” and allowed Paul Hobbs to complete his integral work as the team welcomed consulting winemaker Philippe Melka to the helm of the winemaking team which also includes Maayan Koschitzky and Ashley Leon. Big Cabs dominate the wine menu, the founder’s philosophy and wine style is rigid. After 22 months of aging, only the best barrels make Vice Versa. The best of the best make BBS. The best of the BBS make Magnificent Seven. This draconian approach to classification is rarely taken as it leaves tiny yields, but they find what remains is the purest expression of a vineyard’s identity and in turn, the wine’s spirit. They consider these wines a work of art.

You may have noticed we don’t include many names, the Vintners prefer we not mention their properties to prevent unscheduled tastings. We offer a select list of visits with some of Napa Valley’s most prominent vintners, a curated experience.

Fall leaves Napa Valley

Wine loves good company, you invite your friends, we will curate the wine Journey!

Ojai Valley Inn Farmhouse Chef Dinner

The reasons for travel are many, I adore combining a hotel or villa stay with a fine dining experience. The Ojai Valley Inn recently completed a Farmhouse event space on their rambling property which is utilized to host elegant pop up dinners with famed chefs. Last week I attended my first and I hope just the beginning of many more events at The Farmhouse. The stunning event space, designed by famed architect Howard Backen of Backen Gillam Kroeger in Napa Valley encompasses an expansive 20,000 square foot culinary and event center, connecting world-class food culture with indoor/outdoor functions. The space is amazing, an indoor /outdoor experience – see previous post for full description of events.

Ojai Valley Inn The Farmhouse

In an exclusive dinner wine tasting experience Neal Fraser, chef and owner of critically acclaimed Los Angeles restaurants Redbird, Vibiana, and Fritzi Coop mingled with guests and served a tantalizing dinner. A culinary journey inspired by his renowned style of cuisine with a family-style dinner paired with wines from Heitz Cellars. Chef Fraser touts an impressive resume that includes a degree from the Culinary Institute of America and an honor roll of kitchen credits such as Wolfgang Puck’s Eureka and Spago, Checkers Hotel under Thomas Keller, Joachim Splichal’s Pinot Bistro, Hans Rockenwagner’s Rox, and the highly revered Boxer.

Bar Director , Redbird, Tobin Shea.  

The cocktail hour began beneath the immense Oak trees, so indicative of the Ojai Valley Inn property, with passed appetizers and a Redbird-inspired cocktail bar by Bar Director Tobin Shea.  Mingling with the guests were the Inn’s Director of Operations Ben Kephart and Master Sommelier, Carlton McCoy, the President and CEO of Napa Valley’s famed Heitz Cellars, and former wine director of Aspen’s The Little Nell. McCoy, 34, was one of the youngest candidates ever to achieve Master Sommelier status in 2013 and is one of only two African American master sommeliers. Although we moved inside the spectacular Farmhouse for the seated dinner, the massive glass doors on each end of the soaring space revealed the evening sunset and the warm evening breeze. Chef Neal Fraser and Chef de Cuisine Jason Bowlin announced the menu for the family-style dinner as wait staff served generous platters of each course.  The scrumptious wine pairings by Heitz’ Carlton McCoy, included the very collectible Cabernet Sauvignon Martha’s Vineyard.

We were thrilled to have Chef Fraser sit with us post dinner, staff delivered a small craft bottle of Russell’ Reserve Single Barrel Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey and we toasted his success. If you are interested in having Chef come to your home, I have his personal contact info. One meal he would particularly love to curate is a hunt dinner – if you have a Ranch and hunt boar, he’s interested in preparing a full-blown feast!

Foodies, golfers, sun seekers will all enjoy an experience at The Ojai Valley Inn and The Farmhouse, earlier post lists all the upcoming events which include cooking classes and famed chef dinners.

Chef Neal Fraser chef & owner of critically acclaimed Los Angeles restaurants Redbird, Vibiana and Fritz Coop at Ojai Valley Inn Farmhouse Dinner
The Farmhouse at Ojai Valley Inn
The Farmhouse Dinner Menu with Neal Fraser at Ojai Valley Inn