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Musically Delicious

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By Igor Sill

Yes, exceptional vineyard soils, meticulous farming, ideal weather, a master winemaker and superb terroir make for extraordinary wines, but, what if classical music was that last remaining secret element to crafting incredibly full-bodied out-of-this-world wines?

Though there are a few Italian wineries that believe blaring loud speaker music onto their vineyards improves their vines’ growing cycle.  Science, however, points to the fermentation stages of a wine’s development as the better target where music can impact the beauty, finesse, smoothness and quality of the finished wine.

The role of yeast in the winemaking fermentation process is certainly the most critical element which distinguishes a grape’s transformation, or as the French call it, “élevage” (the progression of wine between fermentation and bottling known as a wine’s adolescence or breeding). Fermentation is a complex biochemical reaction in which yeast consumes sugar in the grape juice (must) and releases alcohol and carbon dioxide. It determines the future quality of wine and occurs shortly after harvest.  Fermentation can take anywhere from four to eight days for red Bordeaux style wines, and as long as several months for Burgundian style white wines.

When classical music is introduced during the yeast’s élevage period, it interacts with the microorganisms and enlightens their magical elements, truly bringing them to life.  Music is channeled in through a Pioneer Elite surround sound system with THX throughout the Winery. The increased yeast activity translates into fuller-bodied wines with deeper complexity of flavors. “I can sense and taste Chopin, Borodin, Mozart, and Ravel’s Bolero effects on the wine’s development.” Says Winemaker, Igor Sill.  The systematic arrangement of these rhythms exhibit perfection of elegant construction, exquisite detail, and harmonious finish which propels the yeasts’ passion for their tasks, converting sugar into alcohol.  “Serenading the yeast’s activities encourages far better microscopic single-cell conversion involvement in our fermentation tanks.  The rhythm and harmonious sounds seem to maintain a much more constant fermentation temperature allowing our wines to ‘open up’ fully.”  Music is played for 4 hours per day, each and every day, then restful peace fulfills the remaining hours.

“I have come to realize that wondrous music during the winemaking process provides both, our wines and myself, with an undeniably profound sense of serenity, calm and tranquility while allowing the wine to exhibit its unique expression of personality.” Says Sill.

As in music, wine, art and life, the simplest of details can bear extraordinarily exceptional results.

About the author:
The author Igor Sill farms a 24-acre mountain vineyard in Atlas Peak and a terraced cabernet sauvignon vineyard in St Helena, Napa, California.  He’s a passionate winemaker; vintner; wine lover; writer; Court of Master Sommeliers; attended UC Davis’ winemaking program; Member, Napa Valley Wine Technical Group; Judge, International Wine Challenge, London UK and holds his Masters from Oxford University. See more at: www.sillfamilyvineyards.com

10 Favorite Napa Valley Wineries to Visit by Igor Sill

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By Igor Sill

What are the best Napa Valley wineries to visit? This isn’t an easy question to answer because there are so many truly amazing Napa wineries. Some people prefer the small boutique “micro” wineries, some want a winery that focuses on their favorite wine style or varietal, while others want a lively venue with many amenities like restaurants, shops and art galleries.  This list is meant as a starting point on your exploration of this globally revered wine region.

No other wine region on the planet draws as much attention as Napa Valley.  It’s incomparable beauty pairs seamlessly with generations of winemaker passion to craft some of the world’s truly exquisite wines, as a result, it’s visited by well over three million people every year; making it one of California’s top tourist destinations (Disneyland ranks #1).  Perfect for a day or weekend trip from San Francisco, Napa Valley awards one with beautiful scenery, exceptional wineries, world-renowned wines and, of course, an unforgettably memorable experience.

Napa Valley contains well over 400 wineries, with most welcoming guests with winery tours, wine education and tasting rooms.  While enticing, the sheer number of winery options can be overwhelming.  This article was originally published back in February of 2016 based on reviews from visitors compiled via yelp.com.  In this updated version, I researched both yelp.com and TripAdvisor.com to uncover those wineries that recent visitors felt offered excellent wines, a substantial, service-oriented winery experience, rich history, as well as an informative and entertaining adventure.  Seems a lot has changed since then, both from visitor reviews and the winery programs themselves.

Both of these websites are free and provide consumers an open platform to voice their experiences about the quality of products, services and experiences so that anyone can instantly acquire information from countless other consumers about their personal experiences ranging from restaurants to movies to physicians and, wineries!  After compiling the most positive ratings, I visited these top 10 wineries unannounced to confirm the reviews.

The recommendations listed are supported by analyzing well over 3,000 yelp.com and TripAdvisor.com shared reviews, for the best, a few hidden gems, as well as my own first-hand experience of their hospitality, quality of wines, ambiance, history, the overall wine tasting experience and the memories that linger long after the visit is over. Yelp has always been a dependable community review site with full user profiles helping others determine if they might agree with a particular reviewer’s taste.  Yelp encourages users to post real photos and their real first name and last initial. I believe both Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews are reliable, trustworthy and fairly representative by visitors.

Excellent wines are certainly treasured; however, the experience a winery and its staff provide determines its guest’s assessment and the desire to return.  Wineries achieve first class status when their staff enjoys greeting people, are extraordinary experts in their fields and capable of conveying their knowledge in a friendly, fun and understandable fashion.  Life is way too short for lousy wine and a mediocre time.  And so, with the help of yelp.com and TripAdvisor.com shared reviews, here are 10 of my favorite wineries with tastings and tours that are open to the public.

Of course, this list only scratches the surface. Napa has dozens of other wineries worth noting, such as Beaulieu, Beringer, Cakebread, Chateau Montelena, Ehlers, Far Niente, Mondavi, Pine Ridge, Shafer, Silver Oak and many more.

The smaller wineries will often receive guests on an appointment only basis, so always call ahead, or visit their website for availability.  Also, note that Napa zoning restrictions preclude picnic eating at all but a couple of Napa estates, so hold off on that picnic basket.

Virtually all wineries will charge a fee for the tour or tasting, but given the amount of information garnered and the quality of wines poured, along with the beautiful and stylish settings; these visits are an incredible bargain.

My list of the best Napa Valley wineries to visit:

1) V.Sattui Winery, St Helena, Napa:  This is the most popular and most visited winery in all of Napa.  Hours are 9-5 in the winter and 9-6 in the summer months with no appointment required, 7 days a week.  V.Sattui continues to evolve and upgrade their guest experiences, recently adding a Concierge Service designed to custom tailor visits based on guest preferences.  It’s a top favorite because they offer old world Italian charm, more than 60 different wines, champagne and ports, vast picnic grounds, personalized winery and barrel tasting tours, food pairings, a legendary deli with fresh foods, cheeses and a friendly, knowledgeable, well trained staff.   It’s one of the few wineries that consistently receives top awards for their wines crafted by noted Winemaker, Brooks Painter who joined V.Sattui in 2005 from Robert Mondavi Winery.  The main tasting room is as close to a party as you’ll get in the often seriously elitest Napa.  For those who want to learn and talk about terroir while indulging in aficionado conversations about serious wines should visit their Vittorio tasting room (Tower) where wine expert, Marc Golic, can be found.  There’s always a party going on at this winery because it’s always packed with visitors, frequent summer BBQs, special events, entertainment and weddings year round.  This winery has a full time wedding and special events Michelin Star Chef, Stefano Masanti, insuring exceptional cuisine matches glamorous events.  Culinary Director, Joe Schneider, combines award winning wines with weekly food pairing tasting events.  It’s also a great spot to relax with their wines while enjoying a family lunch on their picnic grounds.  The terrace grounds behind Vittorio Tower is like walking through olive tree lined lavender fields in Italy. V. Sattui is a family, dog friendly winery where you’ll see children having a great time as well.  This is truly a wonderful and gorgeous place to spend your day. V.Sattui believes in doing very little advertising, relying mostly on word-of-mouth from loyal Wine Club members, which seems to be working very well for them. Highly recommended for fun-loving novice wine buffs as well as the accomplished wine aficionado.

1111 White Lane
St Helena, CA 94574
(707) 963-7774

2) Darioush Winery, Oak Knoll, Napa, CA: I made reservations for 4 at Darioush Winery for a flight of 5 wines hosted tasting on a busy Saturday afternoon @ $150 per person. We arrived a bit early and drove up that beautiful long driveway at the base of Atlas Peak off of Silverado Trail. We were graciously greeted as we approached the entry by Mark, a very friendly concierge who checked us in with a smile and served us a wonderful Russian River Chardonnay. Mark quickly guided us inside to a waiting living room setting in front of a massive fireplace graced by Persian columns. Mark then introduced us to our host, Derek, who engaged us with a bit of history behind Darioush’s founder, Darioush Khaledi, who achieved the American dream by immigrating to the US from Iran following the Islamic revolution and started what turned out to become the largest family-owned grocery business in Los Angeles. He then founded Darioush in 1997 to bring the opulent architecture, rich culture, arts and wines of the famed royal city of Persepolis to Napa. And, that he has done. The winery is amazingly impressive, with Persepolis columns framing the entrance with a royal palace setting inside. Our 5 wines were served paired perfectly with artisan cheeses and nuts. We tasted 2 Syrahs, a Merlot, a 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon and lastly, the Darioush Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. All were luscious and superbly outstanding. Darioush himself walked over, introduced himself and welcomed us to his winery with a genuine and gracious hospitality, making us feel like royalty. Derek then invited us downstairs where we toured Darioush’s personal wine collection cellar, filled with first growth Bordeaux wines, in the style of Haut-Brion, Chateau Latour, Chateau Margaux (one of my personal favorites), Chateau Lafite and Mouton Rothschild, including a bottle of 1942 Chateau Lafite Rothschild–reportedly one of only 2 left in the world. Derek then pulled out a wine thief and proceeded to extract tastings for each of us from a cellar French oak barrel of 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, yet to be bottled or released. It was truly outstanding and, though a bit young, will clearly be brilliant in a few years. Overall, we tasted some 7 lovely wines and were graced with an unforgettable wine tasting experience in one of Napa’s absolutely finest wineries.  Without question, an exceptional and unforgettably memorable experience, worthy of 6 Yelp stars (5 is the max)! Appointments required.

4240 Silverado Trail
Napa, CA 94558
(707) 257-2345

3) Castello di Amorosa, Calistoga, Napa, Ca: Castello di Amorosa knows how to make a huge first impression.  Set on a Calistoga knoll, this authentically styled, 13th Century Tuscan castle winery is unlike any other you’ll visit.  It took some 15 years for owner Dario Sattui (founder of V.Sattui Winery) to construct it and has all the elements you’d expect from an authentic Italian castle, such as a moat with drawbridge, high stone walls, gargoyles, a church and fully equipped torture chamber.  The castle winery produces hand-crafted Italian-styled wines including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Primitivo and Sangiovese.  A number of guided tours and tastings are available. The castle hits all the marks: delicious wines that you can only get from here, unforgettably gorgeous grounds, delectable foods and cheeses, and a friendly, knowledgeable staff.  Busy and crowded.  $25 gets you into the castle along with 5 tastings.

4045 St. Helena Highway (Hwy 29)
(707) 967-6272

4) Spottswoode, St Helena, Napa: Spottswoode is a true family owned historic winery on the west side of St Helena in the Napa Valley.  Established in 1882 by George Schonewald, the estate is distinguished by the historic Victorian home portrayed on their wine labels.  Founder, Mary Novak was a vital part of the fabric of Napa Valley and its wine community since 1972. Her intelligence, sense of humor, humility, and vivacious personality continues to inspire all at Spottswoode. Today, the winery is managed by her daughters Beth Novak Milliken, its President & CEO and Lindy Novak, who runs the winery’s wholesale marketing program.  The family produces a small portfolio of 4 delicious varietals, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and a miniscule amount of Syrah and Albarino.  Their hospitality and tasting room is in a quaint Victorian farmhouse nestled amongst the vines. Tours are available on Monday through Fridays at 10AM with no more than 10 people allowed, so call in advance as this is a popular site.  Spottswoode is consistently rated one of the very best (5 stars) at Yelp.

Phone (707) 963-0134
email tours@spottswoode.com to make a reservation.

5) Inglenook Winery, Rutherford, Napa:  As one of the original Napa wineries, the elegant, ivy-covered Inglenook was founded by Finnish sea captain and Wine Connoisseur, Gustave Niebaum in 1879.  Gustave was passionate about making fine wines in small quantities.  Many Hollywood legends were drawn to this Napa treasure in the 1930’s and 40’s including Carole Lombard, Clark Gable and Jean Harlow to name just a few.  In 1975, Francis Ford Coppola acquired the notorious winery from the Niebaum family and spent considerable time, money and energy restoring it back to its magnificent original splendor.  It has since been known by several names, ala Niebaum-Coppola, Coppola and Rubicon until 2011, when Francis Ford Coppola acquired the Inglenook trademark, paying more, he said, than he had paid for the entire estate.  He has since, restored the historic name Inglenook to the estate so that it remains a true crown jewel of Napa Valley.  Tours are by appointment and definitely worthwhile so that you can appreciate these amazing grounds.

6) Artesa Vineyards and Winery – Out of all these wineries, Artesa offers the very best overall Napa views.  The family-owned winery is set into the highest hill of its 350-acre estate. A terrace offers beautifully expansive vistas of the surrounding countryside, and on clear days, a view of the San Francisco skyline.

Artesa’s architecture reflects a series of Spanish Mediterranean themes. Originally named Codorniu Napa, the name was changed to Artesa in 1997, which translates to “handcrafted” in catalan. Today Artesa wines are crafted from the varietals for which Carneros and Napa Valley are best known: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Tastings are $35, $45 and $55 per person dependent on exclusivity of the wines served.  There are some truly amazing picturesque views to absorb as you enjoy some truly great wines.

1345 Henry Road
Napa, CA
(707) 224 1668

7) Domaine Carneros, Napa, CA: Founded by the noble French family behind Champagne Taittinger, this majestically grand château is a splendid way to enjoy the Carneros Appellation of Napa. This stunning, fairy-tale château was modeled after an 18th-century French mansion owned by Taittinger. Carved into the hillside below the winery are exceptional sparkling wines reminiscent of those crafted by Taittinger, using estate grown Los Carneros grapes.  The estate is located in the southern part of Napa Valley near the cooler climate of San Pablo Bay.  There are 3 terraces from which you can enjoy breathtaking views while sipping extraordinary Sparkling and Pinot Noir wines. If you elect to take a tour, you’ll experience behind-the-scenes look at how sparkling wines are produced, from the vineyards through to the bottling process and culminates with a sampling of wines paired with an array of artisan cheeses, gourmet caviar, smoked salmon and charcuterie while seated in the Louis XV–inspired salon or on the terrace overlooking the vineyards. Reservations are required. 1240 Duhig Road. Napa, CA 94559. (707) 257-0101, email:

1240 Duhig Road
Napa, CA 94559
(707) 257-0101
email: tours@domainecarneros.com
Tasting Hours: 10:00AM-5:30PM

8) Luna Vineyards, Napa, CA: Co-founders Michael Moone and George Vare launched Luna Vineyards in 1995.  Wonderful, magically modern and an absolutely amazing small estate vineyard close by to downtown Napa and a short distance from Silverado Resort.  You can leave your car parked at your Napa B&B and easily get there via bike.  Luna, located on Silverado Trail is the largest producer of Pinot Grigio in Napa. They offer a sunny patio area with ample comfy chairs to relax in while tasting their wines.  Luna is more like a wine bar than a working winery, with music playing and a relaxed comfortable setting.  You can also catch the beautiful scenic views of the historic Silverado Trail overlooking the vineyards from their rooftop tower.  They specialize in Atlas Peak mountain varietals which include Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese.  Reservations are recommended.

2921 Silverado Trail
Napa, CA 94558
Open Daily: 10:30AM – 6PM
(707) 255-5862

9) Opus One, Oakville, Napa. This winery originated as the joint venture between Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe Rothschild who teamed up to create this magnificent winery focused on producing a single Bordeaux styled blend based on Napa Valley floor Cabernet Sauvignon.  Opus One Winery delivers a luxurious, though somewhat formal wine experience. The estate is impressive, especially when driving down the center driveway to the winery entrance.  Looking out across Opus One’s vineyards from the upstairs terrace, you immediately sense the beauty of Napa Valley.  This is a winery to just sit back, relax and absorb a wonderful glass of wine with the company of good friends.  It doesn’t get any more luxuriously sophisticated than this, so take plenty of pictures while there.  Constellation Brands acquired Robert Mondavi winery in 2004 and entered into a management agreement with Baron Rothschild to manage Opus One.  The Winery tours are by appointment only, so call in advance to secure your reservation, and if possible, note that their very best and most knowledgeable tour Docents are Sandy, Nancy, Vicki, Hank and Japanese-speaking, Kaede.  Opus One produces only one wine, a Bordeaux-style Cabernet Sauvignon blend, so be prepared for tasting one lovely red wine in a bit pretentious and pricey setting.  Opus One is worth the visit.

7900 St. Helena Highway (Hwy 29)
Oakville, CA 94562
(707) 944-9442
Tasting Hours: 10:00AM-4:00PM

10) Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars: Founded in 1970 by Warren Winiarski, this winery brought international acclaim to Napa Valley winemaking when their 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon won the famous 1976 “Judgment of Paris” tasting.  A bottle of 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon was inducted into the Smithsonian National Museum in 1996 as a result of being awarded first in this competition and to reflect the impact that the achievement had on Napa’s wine industry.  The winery’s newly remodeled facility provides floor-to-ceiling views of its vineyards as its centerpiece.  The winery’s cave “is the moral center of the universe” according to founder Warren Winiarski.  He installed an amazing floor-to-ceiling Foucault pendulum at the center of the vaulted caves. It’s an awesome sight to behold as it swings methodically.  The winery was sold to a joint venture by Chateau Ste Michelle and Marchesi Antinori in the summer of 2007. Reservations are accepted Monday through Friday from 10AM to 4:30PM

Email: tours@cask23.com
5766 Silverado Trail
Napa, CA 94558
(707) 261-6410

After an enjoyable and fun-filled day of wine tasting, you may want to continue your romantic adventure by exploring a few of Napa Valley’s finest restaurants.  Paring those exceptional wines is a very real part of the wine country lifestyle. Chef Thomas Keller’s French Laundry, located in Yountville is a three Michelin stars, though getting a reservation is challenging and, if successful, costly, however, the intimacy of the dining experience make it well worth your while.  Another favorite is Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford, offering superb dining with a magnificent valley view.  A bit further north in St. Helena, is one of my favorites, Market, on Main Street in downtown St Helena.  Not far away, is PRESS Restaurant which boasts exquisite steaks and one of the valley’s best all-Napa wine lists. On Silverado Trail is Chef Christopher Kostow’s The Restaurant at Meadowood, another 3 star Michelin restaurant.  Further north in Calistoga is another of my favorites, Solage’s Solbar which offers a relaxing and beautiful setting, local and seasonal ingredients as well as an extensive wine list. So, pack your bags and increase your expectations. You won’t be disappointed.

About the author:
The author Igor Sill farms a 24-acre mountain vineyard in Atlas Peak and a terraced cabernet sauvignon vineyard in St Helena, Napa, California.  He’s a passionate winemaker; vintner; wine lover; writer; Court of Master Sommeliers; attended UC Davis’ winemaking program; Member, Napa Valley Wine Technical Group; Judge, International Wine Challenge, London UK and holds his Masters from Oxford University.

Countdown to Flavor! Napa Valley March 22-26, 2017

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Countdown to Flavor! Napa Valley March 22-26, 2017 Five Days, plenty of  amazing events and one legendary festival – The countdown to Flavor! Napa Valley, March 22-26, 2017, has begun! The five-day food and wine festival support programs and scholarships at The Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone Campus in St. Helena, CA. Flavor! During Flavor! Napa Valley, you’ll soak up inspiration from iconic chefs and winemakers while experiencing the best that Napa Valley has to offer. As you discover new flavors, you’ll also be supporting programs and scholarships of emerging talent from The Culinary Institute of America.

Flavor! Napa showcases the finest in farm-to-table cuisine and world class wines with a series of local and celebrity chef demonstrations, intimate winemaker workshops, as well as grand tastings and exclusive experiences to bring out the best flavors of Napa Valley.  Tickets for Flavor! Napa Valley are available at FlavorNapaValley.com.

A highlight of Flavor! Napa Valley 2017 events include:

Thursday, March 23, 2017

“From Vineyard to Bottle – Exploring Napa Valley with Iconic Winemaker Heidi Barrett” at the CIA at Copia 2:30 – 4 p.m.; $95 per person

Moderated by wine, food and television star Leslie Hartley­Sbrocco of KQED’s “Check, Please!” this exclusive seminar and tasting is focused on Heidi’s secrets behind how she captures the deep and complex flavors of the fruit in the wines she makes for her La Sirena and Barrett & Barrett labels, as well as other special selections from the highly­touted Napa Valley brands Paradigm, Fantesca, Kenzo Estate and Lamborn Family Vineyards.

“Napa Valley Icons Dinner” presented by the Silverado Resort and Spa at Silverado Resort and Spa 6 – 10 p.m.; $295 per person

Guests will celebrate the food and wine icons of the Napa Valley at the Silverado Resort and Spa while honoring legendary winemaker Heidi Barrett, who is responsible for some of California’s most notable cult wines. From multiple 100­point rated wines to setting a world record when a 6­liter bottle of her Screaming Eagle 1992 Cabernet Sauvignon sold for $500,000 at the Napa Valley Wine Auction in 2000. Participating chefs include Host Chef Jeffrey Jake from Silverado Resort and Spa; Matthew Accarrino from SPQR; Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski from State Bird Provisions and The Progress; Ken Frank from La Toque; Michael Schulson from Schulson Collective; and esteemed CIA graduate Waldy Malouf.

Chef Demo “Tyler Malek and Lisa Vega at the CIA at Copia 10 – 11:30 a.m.; $75 per person

Indulge your sweet tooth with Chefs Tyler Malek, co­owner and chef of Salt & Straw Ice Cream, and Lisa Vega, executive pastry chef at Dandelion Chocolate.  Guests will experience what happens when great minds collide with their unique use of ingredients, techniques, and secret tricks of the trade, and reap the delicious benefits of this culinary match with Salt & Straw’s innovative, seasonally­driven ice cream, and Dandelion’s small batch bean to bar chocolate.

Friday, March 24, 2017

 Terroir to Table – “The Blend Experience at Paraduxx” at Paraduxx Winery 10 – 11:30 a.m.; $95 per person

During this lively, hands­on experience, guests will be guided through a component tasting of the three core varietals that make up Paraduxx and learn the techniques of winemaking. Wines will be seasonally paired with bites from local chefs, Natalie and Jonathan Niksa, of La Saison, Napa Valley.

Terroir to Table – “The Spirited Side of Napa Valley” at 2:30 – 4 p.m.; $95 per person

The class is designed to showcase the spirited side of Napa Valley. Guests will start with a welcome beverage and short distillery tour, followed by a whiskey barrel tasting with the Napa Distillery owner and distiller. After the tour, guests will enjoy a multi­course small plate and cocktail/spirits pairing experience in the grand tasting salon. Each course will be prepared exclusively for each cocktail/spirit, made with spirits crafted at the distillery.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Terroir to Table – “Exercise Your Senses with St. Supery Estate Vineyards and Winery at St. Supery Estate Vineyards 10 – 11:30 a.m.; $95 per person

This class explores wine aromas suggestive of fruit character, barrel aging and terroir while tasting four estate grown St. Supéry wines. Guests will exercise their sense of smell through a series of aroma identifications designed to discover how personal sensory memory impacts how aromas are recognized. This interactive sommelier­led experience includes a mystery wine game to ultimately guide guests to identify more aromas in their glass to heighten the enjoyment of wine.

“Legendary Napa Valley, The Grand Tasting” at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone VIP admission is 6 – 7 p.m. and tickets are $225 per person; general admission is at 7 p.m. and tickets are $175 per person.

The sixth annual Grand Tasting at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena allows guests to taste their way through the Napa Valley with a selection of sweet and savory bites from more than 25 Napa Valley restaurants, paired with wine from more than 80 Napa Valley wineries. Participating restaurants include Angele Restaurant; Brasswood; Harvest Table; Lucy Restaurant & Bar; Nuri; PRESS Restaurant; Sam’s Social Club; Silverado Resort & Spa; Tarla Mediterranean Bar & Grill; The Farm at Carneros; and The Restaurant at Auberge du Soleil. 2 Flavor! Napa Valley includes additional Napa Valley Wine Tours; Terroir to Table events, Chef Demonstrations, and Wine Classes.

Wine Events at Flavor! Napa Valley with Christopher Sawyer of SawyerSomm.com – WINE MANAGEMENT AND PROGRAMMING – Christopher Sawyer is an internationally-renowned sommelier,  wine educator, journalist, consultant, critic and public speaker: He travels the world following trends in wine and participating as a VIP judge in the world’s top wine competitions, and has been featured in a wide range of national media, including USAToday, MSN, NBC, ABC, CBS, Redbook, The Hollywood Reporter, Maxim, National Geographic Traveler, CNN and Esquire.

Visit Napa Valley is proud to announce the event sponsors for Flavor! Napa Valley 2017:

● Founding Sponsor: Silverado Resort and Spa
● Presenting Sponsor: Downtown Napa Association
●Jeroboam Sponsor: Bright Event Rentals
● Double Magnum Sponsors: Celebrity CruisesMr. EspressoTriMarkNapa Valley Marriott.

by Manda Bear:  Instagram and Twitter.

 

Winter Fancy Food Show at Moscone Center, San Francisco January 22-24, 2017

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INNOVATION – YOU’LL DISCOVER IT HERE

Mark your calendars for the largest specialty food and beverage show on the West Coast!

Join us in San Francisco from January 22 – 24 to discover the hottest new products, producers, and trends at the 2017 Winter Fancy Food Show.

Don’t miss your chance to network with more than 33,000 industry professionals and tastemakers. Register today!

Sunday, January 22, 2017: Show Open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.*
Monday, January 23, 2017: Show Open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.*
Tuesday, January 24, 2017: Show Open 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.*

* The Gateway Ballroom open early at 9:30 a.m. each day

Win a $500 Amazon Gift Card!To enter, take a selfie at the SFA Booth (North Building, Lower Lobby) and post to Twitter with hashtag #LiveFromWFFS17. Winner will be randomly selected on Tuesday, 2/1 and notified via Twitter private message.

Schedule for Sunday, January 22, 2017 

 

Flavor Trends: Hybrids, Extremes, and What Tastes Good Right Now
8 – 9 a.m.
Get up to speed on food and beverage trends and the flavors that will drive successful new products.

Start Right, Grow Strong: 9 Critical Steps
8 – 9:30 a.m.
Gain a comprehensive, commonsense plan for entering and succeeding in the specialty food market.

How to Create a Product Mission for What You Make or Sell: A Workshop with Bi-Rite 9 – 10 a.m.
Join Bi-Rite founder Sam Mogannam and discover how to write a product mission that reflects your values and strengthens your business.

Sell Smart: The Best Channels for Your Product
9:45 – 11:15 a.m.
Learn about trade channels, the role of brokers and distributors, and how to create a successful sales pitch.

Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony
9:30 a.m. | North Building, Lower Lobby

Price It Right: Using Costs to Create Real-World Price Sheets
11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Master the ins and outs of product pricing in this practical, hands-on workshop.

Leadership Awards Ceremony
5 – 6:15 p.m. | South Building Esplanade Room 305-307
Join us to celebrate the outstanding contributions made by Association members.


About the event:

Discover 80,000 on-trend and best-in-class products including confections, cheese, coffee, snacks, spices, ethnic, natural, organic and more. Connect with 1,400 exhibitors representing the latest in specialty foods and beverages from across the U.S. and 35 countries and regions.

Since 1955, the Fancy Food Shows have been North America’s largest specialty food and beverage marketplace. Between the Winter Show in San Francisco and the Summer Show in New York City, the Specialty Food Association events bring in more than 40,000 attendees from more than 80 countries and regions to see 260,000 innovative specialty food products, such as confections, cheese, coffee, snacks, spices, ethnic, natural, organic and more.

The Shows are attended by every major food buying channel, influential members of the trade and consumer press and other related businesses.

The Winter Fancy Food Show presents educational seminars and talks addressing the basics of specialty food, innovation, trends, and other topics important to manufacturers, retailers and other members of the trade.

Exhibitor Information:

The Winter Fancy Food Show is the West Coast’s largest specialty food and beverage event. Exhibit with over 1,500 exhibitors and put your products in front of over 19,000+ quality buyers.

Exhibiting in the Winter Fancy Food Shows is the most convenient and cost-effective way to meet buyers from every major food/beverage buying channel in the U.S. and around the world.

The Fancy Food Shows are known for the quality of their attendees. An impressive 85% of all Show attendees either authorize or recommend purchasing decisions. A sampling of buyers that attend every Show include Whole Foods, Costco, Kroger, Barnes & Nobles, Wal-Mart, The Fresh Market, Amazon.com, Restaurant Associates.

About Specialty Food Association, Inc.:

The Specialty Food Association is a thriving community of food artisans, purveyors, importers and entrepreneurs who bring craft, care and joy to the distinctive foods they sell. Established in 1952 in New York, the not-for-profit trade association provides its 3,000+ members in the U.S. and abroad the tools, knowledge and connections to champion and nurture their companies in an always-evolving marketplace. The Association (formerly the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, Inc.) owns and produces the Winter and Summer Fancy Food Shows, and presents the sofi Awards honoring excellence in specialty food.

Follow Winter Fancy Food Show: Facebook | TwitterLinkedIn


This is the second year that @DepLifestyleMag will cover this amazing event. Remember to tweet and Instagam @DepLifestyleMag and  harshtag #WFFS17 #DepLifestyleMagazine.

The Winter Fancy Food Show 2016 had record-breaking attendance up 16% over last year. With nearly 20,000 attendees, 1,500 exhibitors, and over 1,000 new products. The Specialty Food Association is the industry authority. They are the market’s largest audiences, and the unmatched visibility for your brands and products. The Specialty Food Association is the single most authoritative resource for information on specialty foods, delivered to the largest audiences in the specialty food purchasing and supply chain.

This year we are looking forward to visit these booths:

Urbani Truffles booth #2747, they always have the best San Francisco Bay Area chefs cooking up the storm with their fresh truffles and much more. You don’t want to miss this, trust us.
The Perfect Puree of Napa Valley at the Cantina Cocktails & Aguas Frescas at booth #4311, daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Visit chef Nancy Silverston for her latest gelato, she will be featuring her Nancy’s Fancy Gelato and Sorbetto Artigianale at the Winter Fancy Food Show (Booth 2509).  Come taste our incredible gelato, see our fantastic new packaging and meet the celebrated chef behind it all!

Polo Dolce #754 is collaborating with The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco to bring 3 new exemplary products, including a NEW! Milk Chocolate Bar, to their selection of award-winning artisan confections

Marquis #5505
Cobram Estate Kitchen #116
Chocolate by Torn Ranch #739

Jarlsberg Cheese #4719 Try new delicious Lotito Foods Cheese Folios™ — lightly baked sheets of cheese that are made from Parmesan, Cheddar or Jarlsberg® cheese that you can crisp, wrap, shape or bake! Folios are a first of its kind cheese made of all natural, part-skim cheese, that is carb and gluten free and high in protein.

Hniha Gourmet #5308
Wild Planet #1352
Formosa Hot Sauce #508
Three Jerks Jerky #481
Twang #1256

Just Tea Farmers #4842 you can find the most unique packaging – complete with hand-carved African tea spoons and triangle shaped packages.

Schaller & Weber #481 crafting the finest charcuterie, high-end deli meats, wurst, bacon and pâté that New York has to offer.

Bantam Bagel #1572
Ocean Halo #3000

Tiffany’s Torcher Hot Sauce #10 Now with three FDA approvals on specialty sauces made with fresh ingredients, no additives or preservatives and a secret blend of 5-7 Scoville rated peppers, Tiffany’s Torcher Hot Sauce is setting the standards for Gourmet Hot Sauces and Cooking Sauces.

 

EAT SHOW, The New Standard For Tasting Events, To Launch This October 1st, 2016 In Los Angeles.

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This October 1st, the EAT Show will launch at The REEF in Los Angeles. Hosted by the event organizers behind popular food festivals “KTOWN Night Market,” “OC Block Party,” and “Crave Expo.” The EAT Show differs from the teams larger scaled festivals that have brought over 100,000 of Southern California’s foodies. It’s a more intimate showcase that is industry focused, a celebration of the culinary industry and the restaurants and chefs who are doing their part in making Los Angeles one of the food capitals of the world.
Follow them here for more details, this an event you foodies don’t want to miss and it’s going to be epic. Don’t forget to use hashtags  #The EatShow #EatShow and #DepLifestyleMagazine to be re-gram on Instagram @DepLifestyleMag.
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The event will showcase over 50 vendors from the LA and OC area, including Fogo De Chao, Seoul
Sausage, The Halal Guys, Roscoes Chicken and Waffles, Street Churros, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream,
Raindrop Cakes, Dino’s Chicken, and more.
There will be a ticket cap of 2,000 guests which will be spread out between two sessions, lunch and
eatshowdinner. This voids the problem that thousands of attendees face while attending other tasting events –
crazy, unorganized lines, which usually lead to overwhelmed vendors and unhappy attendees. The limited ticketing distribution was implemented to make food the headliner of the show, not the crowds.
eatshow1Tickets for the event are $50 for general admission, and $90 for VIP, which allows for early, priority
entry along with a gift bag from participating sponsors. For more information visit
DATE: October 1st, 2016
Session I: 12:00pm – 3:00pm
Session II: 5:00pm – 8:00pm
1933 S Broadway Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90005

$50 for 3 hours of exclusive tasting from all 50+ food vendors! That’s less than $1 per vendor!

eatshow3They offer limited to 1,000 tickets per session to avoid the crazy lines!21+ Open Bar! **

An industry tasting event featuring the best restaurants in LA


Each ticket gives you access to sample ALL of our amazing vendors. Purchase a VIP ticket to avoid the lines with one hour early access, along with special gifts from sponsors!
Confirmed Restaurants & Sponsors*
118 Degrees
Aqui Es Texcoco
Aroha New Zealand Cusine
Boxed Water*
The Brixton SM
Cacao Mexicatessen
Chibiscus Asian Cafe
Chocolate Chair
Choctal
Clearly Kombucha*
Cold Bruja Coffee Co.
Dahlicious*
Dino’s Chicken & Burgers
Dirt Dog LA
Enlightened*
El Tepeyac Mexican
Emporium Thai
Fala Bar
Family’s Beef Steakhouse
Fogo De Chao
Fruigees*
Glico*
Golden Owl
Haagen‐Dazs*
The Halal Guys
Hanaro Sushi
Hansen’s Cakes
Helados Pops
Jangsoo Makkoli*
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream
Krave Jerky*
Kona Red Hawaiian Coffee
Company*
Komodo
Lady M
LAVA Bloody Mary Mix*
Le Petit Paris
Lucky Boy Burgers*
Lucky Strike
Maggiano’s
Max City BBQ
Monster Energy Drinks*
Nitro‐Pop
Norigami Tacos
Nyotaimori Sushi Experience
Okamoto Kitchen
Organic Gemini*
Pig N Whistle
Pop Champagne Restaurant
& Bar
Raindrop Cake
Restauration Long Beach
Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles
Seoul Sausage Co
Sipp*
Smarty Pants Vitamins*
Stir It Up
Street Churros
Summer Buffalo
Swami’s Sandwiches
Temple Premium Protein Bar*
Tentenyu Ramen
Tito’s Handmade Vodka*
Tom’s Urban
Tsingtao Beer*
Vita Coco*
Woo Bamboo*
Yelp LA*

Yojie’s Japanese Fondue .. and more!

Company: Lights and Sounds Collective and Ganma Magazine.

 

Murrieta’s Well Estate Vineyard in Livermore Valley, California

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Just recently re-opened to the public in Livermore Valley this
muriettas-frontyard-6summer 2016, Murrieta’s Well specialize in terroir-driven, limited production wine blends. Their winery name pays homage to Joaquin Murrieta who discovered their historic estate nestled in the Livermore Valley in the 1800s. His spirit of exploration inspires their unrestrained winemaking philosophy of artfully handcrafting the finest small-batch wine blends that showcase the best of their estate each vintage.

What makes Murrieta’s Well unique

They believe in the art of blending – all of their wines are crafted to murrietas-barrelsshowcase the best of their estate each vintage, so the composition of their wine blends will change each year to reflect this philosophy.

They have a small lot approach to growing and making their wines. In the vineyard, they pick the prime location for each varietal – caring for them as individuals based on what techniques will help produce the best fruit. In the winery, they make each varietal as an individual wine, then blend them together and age again to create wines that are a beautiful survey of the estate.

All of their wines are sourced exclusively from their estate, which helps them ensure consistency of style and deliver a high-quality tasting experience vintage after vintage.

murrietas-robbiemeyerWe also got to chat with Murrieta’s Well’s  winemaker, Robbie Meyer. He is an acclaimed winemaker who has worked over 19 vintages in some of California’s best winegrowing regions (Napa Valley, Santa Barbara and Sonoma). His wines have collectively received over ninety 90+ point ratings.

Their newly re-modeled estate is  approximately 500 acres, stunningly beautiful,  the place is gorgeous. It’s all lit up with twinkly lights and even in the daylight projects a dim, romantic feel to it. It’s definitely a great place to host your special vent.

muriettas-foodMurrieta’s Well also offers food pairing and it serves at their patio. Menu includes Market Fresh, Charcuterie, Cheese, Shrimp & more. The Dungeness Crab Roll was perfect with their refreshing  Chardonnay. The Eggplant Parmesan Flatbread with their Tempranillo. We enjoyed the Beef Short Rib and Polenta pairs with their Small Lot Cabernet Sauvignon. And the B.L.T. Flatbread goes just about any wine, but we love to pair it with their structure Cab Franc.

muriettas-frontyard-2If Wente Family Estate is a popular for their Summer Concert fans, the beautiful re-modeled Murrieta’s Well Estate Vineyard is going to be a for weddings and celebration events destination in no time, in Livermore Valley wine country.

They grow 21 different varietals, on three soil profiles,  elevation from 560’ – 860’ feet above sea level.

murrietas-vineyards-2They offer these vineyards:

• Hayes: 560’ – 860’
• Ernest: 575’ – 615’
• Louis Mel: 575’ – 715’
• Raboli: 615’ – 650’
• Sachau: 615’ – 845’

They plant specific rootstocks and varietals where they will best thrive in each of these soil profiles. All are well drained gravel, but have different rock compositions that will affect how the vines grow. It is important to recognize that each soil type exists on the property in different areas and the position/aspect, slope, and elevation also play a major role in how the vines develop.

murrietas-robbiemeyer-carolynwente1. Livermore = very gravelly coarse sandy loam;
2. Pleasanton = gravelly fine sandy loam – cultivated;
3. Positas = gravelly loam, annual grass pasture.

Their history goes way back since 1884, Louis Mel fell in love with the estate and purchased the land for him and his wife. Mel built a gravity flow winery into the hillside and planted a vineyard from cuttings from famed Chateau d’Yquem and Chateau Margaux.

murrietas-wineWe got to hear the fourth generation winegrower Carolyn Wente sharing her growing up on the vineyards, how her family business has helped and prospered this region since day one.

In 1930, Louis Mel sold the property to his friend, Ernest Wente. The property has been part of the Wente Family estate ever since.  In 1990, Fourth Generation Winegrower, Philip Wente and his friend, Sergio Traverso partnered together to revive the winery. They named the winery and wine label, Murrieta’s Well, paying homage to the rich history of the property. In 2010, they launched the  estate wine blends – The Whip and The Spur – in celebration of our 20th anniversary. Then 2016, they released our new package and remodeled our historic tasting room. Now that opens to public by appointment only.

The Wente Family Estates is the oldest continuously-operated family-owned winery in the country, owned and managed by the murrietas-tasting-roomfourth and fifth generations of the Wente family. The family owns of estate vineyards in the Livermore Valley, San Francisco Bay and Arroyo Seco, Monterey appellations. All of their wines are distributed throughout the United States and select brands are featured in over 70 countries worldwide.

In 2010, Wente Family Estates was among the first wineries to murrietas-eventreceive the Certified California Sustainable Wine-growing designation, and one of the only wineries to certify every aspect of its business. In 2011, named Wente Family Estates was named American Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast and a top 30 wine company by Wine Business Monthly. With the deepest respect for the knowledge passed down from previous generations, the fourth and fifth generations of the Wente family continue their global vision for wine quality and integrity through passion, dedication and pursuit of excellence.

Visit Murrieta’s Wells
3005 Mines Road
Livermore, CA 94550
Tel: (925) 456-2395
Website: www.murrietaswell.com

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All Things Pig and Pinot at Silver Trident Winery – Ralph Lauren Tasting Home, Yountville, Napa Valley June 2016

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If you in Napa Valley  this weekend, and would like to attend this “All Things Pig and Pinot” at Silver Trident Winery – Ralph Lauren Tasting Home, Yountville, Napa Valley.  To mark the release of their 2014 Benevolent Dictator Revelry included. It’s complimentary and delightful for their Flagship members.

Tickets are still available here – Contact: Brian Woolery 707.945.0311,  or email: brian@silvertridentwinery.com.

silver-trident

Some of the most magical moments in the Napa Valley are when friends open up their hearts and homes to share wine in a relaxed and welcoming setting. That’s exactly the experience we’d like to provide when you visit them.

Imagine walking into a Tuscan-style stone building in the heart of the charming town of Yountville, within walking distance of the celebrated French Laundry and other Michelin-starred restaurants. It’s intimate and inviting, with a warm and beautifully appointed living room, dining room and library. There’s no tasting bar, no rush, no standing on your feet.

SilverTrident_Family_29718You’re in the private home of a small family winery, and you’re greeted by a friendly, knowledgeable host, who invites you to make yourself comfortable and settle in for a relaxed tasting of outstanding wines.

Now imagine this: Just about everything you’re admiring all around you—from the art and decorative accents to the furniture and floor Silver Trident Ralph Lauren 1coverings, from the serving trays to the crystal wine goblets—has been curated in association with Ralph Lauren Home. And, just like their wines, it’s all available to add to your collection.

Welcome to the Silver Trident Winery Tasting Home. A whole new approach to wine tasting that pairs great wines with world-class home décor. A whole new experience of luxury and comfort.

Follow them on:

Website: SilverTridentWinery.com
Twitter: Twitter.com/silvertridents

Silver Trident Ralph Lauren 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Manda Bear

Taste of Mendocino 2016 – Saturday, June 25, At Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture

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If you in San Francisco this weekend, and would like to take a break from the Pride Parade, Taste of Mendocino, brings the wines to you. Tickets are still available online and at door, but don’t wait. It’s a cool event that you don’t want to miss. www.tasteofmendo.com

TOM-HappyDance

Taste of Mendocino”, an exclusive showcase of Mendocino wine and handcrafted food items, is coming to San Francisco on Saturday, June 25th, at Fort Mason’s beautiful Gallery 308, from 1pm-5pm.

Luxury travel and fine wine are a natural combination, so Mendocino WineGrowers Inc. has partnered with Surf Air, the nation’s first members-only private flying club.  Surf Air will randomly choose two lucky participants at Taste of Mendocino to receive a free round trip ticket to any Surf Air destination.  A $5,000 value, the lucky couple will fly between any of the Surf Air destinations in California and Las Vegas.  Must be present to win.

TOM-BlinkGoneOver 30 Mendocino wineries will be pouring small lot wines, and artisanal food producers from Mendocino County will be serving up delicious samples to complement the wines.  Attendees are sure to find at least 30 more reasons to fall in love with one of America’s favorite wine destinations.

Hosted by Mendocino Winegrowers, Inc. and Visit Mendocino County, this intimate wine event will celebrate the people and products that make Mendocino County such an unforgettably special place.

Tickets are $60 per person and available online at www.tasteofmendo.com

Follow them on:
Twitter: Twitter.com/TasteOfMendo 
Facebook: Facebook.com/TasteOfMendocino

by Manda Bear

Pasote Tequila by 3 Badge Mixology

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We got to try all Pasote Tequila Blanco, Reposado, and Anejo recently at the launch party in San Francisco. We got to try the cocktail version and the straight up shots. We enjoyed it very much. It’s perfect for this Summer season.

pasote tequila 1There’s 9 new tequila brands are launched each and every month, according to the data of Tequila Matchmaker NOM database. Isn’t that amazing? Some of them taste and smell quite similar, we are no tequila experts, but we have our fair shares of drinking them.

We dig up a little more about this new Tequila, it was made by Felipe Camarena in his distillery, El Pandillo, which is located in the Los Altos region of Jalisco. He touches every single one of them when they live the distillery. He’s a master distiller as people call him.

pasote tequila3 Badge Beverage Corporation has introduced Pasote, a line of Mexican tequilas made from 100 percent pure blue agave. The new Pasote tequilas will be sold in select markets throughout the U.S. by the company’s spirits division, 3 Badge Mixology.

Named for the fierce spirit of Aztec warriors and their uncompromising commitment, Pasote includes Blanco, Reposado and Anejo tequilas. Each is made from ripe blue agave that is evenly baked and then carefully distilled with pure rainwater and natural spring water in copper pot stills.
pasote tequila cocktailsPasote’s master tequilero grows blue agave in the Jalisco Highlands in Mexico and uses traditional production techniques to make the notably pure and distinctly herbal Pasote tequilas.

“Pasote represents the highest quality and craftsmanship in tequila,” noted August Sebastiani, president of 3 Badge Beverage Corporation. “We use the finest ingredients and time-honored tradition in production, and we named itPasote to capture the Aztec warrior tradition of celebrating victories by drinking the sacred agave. The pasote spirit lives on in these artfully crafted tequilas.”

Pasote Blanco ($49) shows the essence of roast agave with fragrant citrus aromas, a crisp, balanced palate and an uncommonly long, silky finish. Pasote Reposado ($59) was aged six months in American oak and has fruit-forward aromas, rich, soft flavors and a finish that is long, sweet and clean. Pasote Anejo ($69) was aged for 18 months in American oak, which mellows the character of the roasted agave and gives this premium tequila soft aromas, rich mouthfeel and a long, smooth finish.

pasote tequila 3The Pasote label features three bold, hand-screened graphics of distinct warriors. Each custom-madePasote glass bottle is madeby a family of glass artisans and has distinctive, slightly asymmetrical wave patterns visible in the glass.

Pasote Tequila is available from 3 Badge Mixology, the spirits division of 3 Badge Beverage Corporation.

Website: www.3badge.com/mixology/
Twitter: www.twitter.com/PasoteTequila

Instagram: www.instagram.com/3badgecorp
32 Patten Street
Sonoma, CA 95476.
Tel: (707) 996-8463

Pasote-Tequila

 

 

 

 

by Manda Bear

pokéLOVE has landed in Palo Alto, California

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pokéLOVE is excited to announce the opening of its first restaurant in June, 2016 located in Palo Alto at Town & Country Village.

pokeLOVE4pokéLOVE has a healthy fast-casual structure with an extensive menu that has been creatively crafted by restaurateur Alex Chan and Executive Chef Colin Long. The concept for pokéLOVE was created based on their passion for creating simple food that is natural, sustainable, minimally processed, and also incredibly flavorful.

pokéLOVE cares about every ingredient and the quality of their
seafood is paramount. Chan is a man of exceptionally high personal standards and values genuine collaboration. With connections to Northern California purveyors and local ingredients, they source their seafood from some of the best sources locally and around the world, such as Wild Isles Organic Salmon.

pokéLOVE’s values are centered on the fact that “Delicious food can pokeLOVE3still be really healthy and good for you, and that you should not have to compromise taste for calories.” pokéLOVE believes in using only the freshest ingredients of the highest quality that are bursting with nutrients, vitamins and plenty of fatty acids.

We got to sit down and interview restaurateur Alex Chan this week. And we also got to try variety of the dishes, endless combination even for the pickiest eater. And if you can’t eat raw, they can can steam or bake the salmon for you. Sous vide chicken and Unagi are also on the protein list for you. Plenty of choices for vegetarian and vegan. All their sauces are gluten-free, no nut, and children friendly place.

DLM:  What inspired you to pursue this pokéLOVE restaurant concept?
Alex Chan: I have a sincere appreciation for all things food and wine.
pokeLOVE5Not counting Antarctica, I’ve traveled to 6 continents in search of the best food. Food is so much more than just 3 stars or 0 stars. I’ve been to best restaurants in the world, but I really don’t give a damn about ratings and stars.  Some of the best meals I have had are in night markets that would not pass any reasonable health inspections. But I’m cool with that. Food is so much more to me than stars.  It’s about sharing, about giving, about experiencing. Why did I start pokéLOVE?  Because I’m crazy about simple food, that is healthy food, that is really tasty.  And because what’s worth doing is worth doing RIGHT. My inspiration for pokéLOVE is create the very best poke experience by serving the best poke, with the best toppings and dressings in a fun place that is chill with a cool vibe. 
 
DLM: Do have a corporate chef to help you with creating the menu? Where have chef worked before?
Alex Chan: Our executive chef is Colin Long.  Colin graduated from pokeLOVE2the Culinary Institute in Florida. From Quattro at the Four Season’s in Palo Alto to Blowfish Sushi at Santana Row, Colin brings a unique culinary background in western and eastern flavors.  He has spent a lot of time sourcing fantastic ingredients and creating dressings that would fit in most fine dining restaurants. There is a purity and sincerity to the food he makes and to the fish that he cuts. The little details do matter to Colin. The subtle nuances of flavor, color and texture do make a difference. Even something as simple as our wakame (seafood salad), is locally sourced and has no artificial flavors or preservatives.
 
DLM: There’s quite a few poke restaurants popping up around the Bay Area recently. Do you think it’s an emerging trend now? Just like Boba drink or crawfish a few years back?
Alex Chan: It is emerging and it currently is a trend. Put good food is never trendy, good food is always “in” and the consumers move to healthy and nutritious food is not going to change.  pokéLOVE brings a unique fast casual dining experience that is exciting to this space.  Inevitably, the crème always rises to the top and some players will fall by the wayside. Our food, our vibe, our brand, our respect for our ingredients and our level of customer service is anti-trendy.
 
DLM: What’s your philosophy here and what set pokéLOVE different than the rest of the poke restaurants in the Bay Area?
Alex Chan: My motto is:” we don’t eat to live, we live to EAT!”  First and foremost, the food at pokéLOVE is so much different than other strip mall poke shops.  We give a shit about our ingredients and we treat it with care and respect.  The quality of our seafood is paramount.  We have taken great pains to source our seafood from some of the best purveyors in the Bay Area and around the world and we are the only ones to proudly offer Wild Isles Organic Salmon.  In addition to the extensive protein selection, customers can select from organic quinoa, organic farro, soba noodles, rice pokeLOVE1noodles, or even quinoa tortilla chips for their base. We offer our customers an unlimited selection of traditional and edgy toppings to build their own bowl, including numerous organic options.  We pickle all our pickled vegetables in house; including our pickled leeks, shiitake mushrooms, and daikon.  We make all our dressings from scratch utilizing natural ingredients and all out dressings are gluten free.  We don’t believe your food should have dressings that come out of a PUMP! At  pokéLOVE , we want our customers to let their creativity and tastes buds roam as we craft whatever they desire, in whatever combination they wish.  Our goal for every customer to help them find that elusive healthy balance of salty, sour, sweet, bitter, spicy, and umami in a fun, relaxed and chill atmosphere. 
 
DLM: What does sustainability mean to you?
Alex Chan: Sustainability to me means walking a fine line between eating what we want and giving a real damn about the environment and our oceans. At pokéLOVE, we source all our seafood from highly reputable vendors and we are able to trace the origins of everything we buy.  We have some wild items on our menu, but only when the item is in season and bountiful.  Our farm raised products come from some of the best seafood farmers in the world. In fact, our house salmon is from the Faroe Islands, long regarded as the benchmark salmon preferred by chefs around the world.  Beyond our food, sustainable also means to be environmentally conscious.  All our bowls and utensils are compostable or recyclable and nothing in our operations go to a landfills.  Even the garbage bags we use are compostable.
       
DLM:  How did you get to this restaurant business? What’s your background? Can you share with our readers?
Alex Chan: I was an accountant turned food dude.  After graduating from the University of Southern California, I was a Consultant at Price Waterhouse. I  eventually lost interest in bean counting, and became the Master Franchiser for Cold Stone Creamery in Northern pokeLOVE7California. I developed over a hundred units in less than 5 years.  A wine enthusiast, I jumped into the vino business and started Vintage Wine Merchants at Santana Row (“Best Wine Shop” – San Jose Mercury News Readers Poll).  A few years later, Vintage Wine Bar at Santana Row opened, serving up cabs by the glass, stinky fromage plates and became the “Hottest Wine Bar” in San Jose (METRO San Jose).  I’m also co-owner of several established independent grocery stores in the Bay Area.  I’m happily married to my crazy low maintenance college sweetheart, and has three beyond super cool kids.  
DLM: What do you for fun?
Alex Chan: When I’m not working. I love to get out on the hills and pretend that I’m in the Tour de France, play golf when my old-man shoulder does not ache, watch some USC football with the family, play Iron Chef at home, and will never turn down the occasion to have some good eats and a nice glass of wine with family and friends.
 
DLM:  You’ve emphasized community service in your career and through your restaurant. In addition to being active in many organizations?
Alex Chan: We are still evaluating which community and non-profit organizations we plan to partner with.  As a sign of how serious I am about giving back and being involved, 10 cents will to go charity for every bottle of water we sell. Community involvement is a core value of the company and we give damn about giving back to the local communities that we do business in. 

855 El Camino Real, Suite 9
Palo Alto, CA 94301
Open from 11am to 9pm daily

by Manda Bear