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Vineyard 511

From Hollywood to Vine with Vineyard {511}

Adventures in Wine, Food, Film and Travel

Irene Ojdana
October 16, 2019 | Irene Ojdana

Harvest Party 2019

Harvest 2019 was one to celebrate. Although we wouldn't bring in our grapes for another 2 weeks, harvest was happening throughout Napa Valley, and everyone was thankful for a wonderful year.

Vineyard {511} held its private harvest party for its wine club on September 28, blessed by great weather and great friends. Our vineyard peacock Cabernet was at our front gate welcoming everyone in.



Our winemaker Rob Lloyd was on hand to tell everyone about our latest release--2015 Vineyard {511} Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon. Everyone got along famously and made new friends, while enjoying some wonderful food catered by Oak Avenue Catering in St. Helena.                                    


                                                    We also got the opportunity to re-connect with our friends Tom and Cathy Tardio.


Tom, the new CEO of the Napa Valley Film Festival, of which Ed and I are founding patrons, spoke to our guests about the exciting Festival activities to look forward to this November. Kevin Covert and his wife Stephanie came up from Manhattan Beach, CA (close to where we live in Southern California). The couple that attended from the furthest distance were Ruth and John Eliason from Minnesota, who we met in Belize.                                            

We ended the afternoon by announcing the raffle winner of a magnum of our latest release--our 2015 Cab; the lucky winner was Tim Leahy, who we met on a Bordeaux river cruise in August. Our wine club members come from far and wide, but we love having them nearby.













Time Posted: Oct 16, 2019 at 3:01 PM
Irene Ojdana
October 16, 2019 | Irene Ojdana

Vineyard {511} 2019 Harvest

The 2019 harvest of our Diamond Mountain District Cabernet grapes began at sunrise on October 9. We awoke that morning to see a beehive of activity in our 511 vineyard.


Although we didn't have electrical power inside our house because of a shutdown by Pacific Gas and Electric, the workers outside were a powerhouse of energy, first carefully picking the grapes by hand


and then carrying them away


to be uploaded onto a truck.


From there, the grapes were driven to Napa, where our winemaker Rob Lloyd works his magic on them. We'll have to be patient to get to drink the final product in 2023.




Time Posted: Oct 16, 2019 at 1:41 PM
Irene Ojdana
September 22, 2019 | Irene Ojdana

In Memory of Boots Brounstein

Boots Brounstein passed away on July 31, 2019, at the age of 92. In the San Francisco Chronical, wine-writer Esther Mobley wrote, "With her husband Al, Brounstein co-founded Diamond Creek Vineyards, which became a pioneer in establishing Napa Valley's hillsides as prime territory for Cabernet Sauvignon. Arguably, the Brounsteins contributed more than any other vintners of their era to the idea of single-vineyard, terrior-driven wines."

But to me, Boots was more than a vintner, she was a wonderful friend. I met her at a holiday party on Diamond Mountain, and we shared casual dinners together after that. Boots was such a generous person, inviting my family to the picnics she held around the lake at Diamond Creek. She was a special person who had the ability to make me, as well as everyone else who had contact with her, feel special too.

On September 17, I attended a memorial service for her at The Culinary Institute of America at Copia, in the City of Napa. She filled up a large auditoriam with many friends and family, who wanted to remember and pay tribute to her. The most moving speakers were her six grandchildren, who all spoke about the unconditional love and guidance and support Boots gave them and about how they will miss her. There wasn't a dry eye among us.

Afterward, Phil and Chuck Ross, Boots' sons, and her daughter-in-law Susan, made a toast, L'Chaim, to life, in her honor, as we all raised a glass of 2016 Diamond Creek Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon.



Here is a beautiful photo of Boots as it appears on the booklet given to us at the service.


I'll miss her.


Time Posted: Sep 22, 2019 at 4:00 PM
Irene Ojdana
September 18, 2019 | Irene Ojdana

Hollywood Bowl Concerts

The Hollywood Bowl, in the Hollywood Hills, is a Los Angeles institution and a phenomenal way to enjoy an outdoor concert. The Bowl, a natural ampitheater, had its first concert in 1922 and was renovated in 2005.


Ed and I have season tickets to the Bowl and have been enjoying concerts in our box seats there every summer since before the renovation. We love to get there early to have dinner in the box before the concert starts. We order a delicious dinner online, which is delivered to our box. The food is created by James Beard award-winning chef Suzanne Goin and restauranteur Carolyn Styne (of celebrated local restaurants Lucques, a.o.c., Tavern, and the Larder.)

There were two concerts that stood out this season for us. One was Pink Martini, with lead singer China Forbes, who belted out old favorites.


And the other was and the biggest surprise of all -- Barry Malinow--who I always loved; however, I couldn't predict that he would still be such a marvelous performer. His voice was still wonderful, and he put out a tremendous amount of energy. He sang his greatest hits, like "Mandy" and "Copacabana" and many others.


Now we have to wait till next year to see who will be making our summer special.




Time Posted: Sep 18, 2019 at 6:52 PM
Irene Ojdana
September 16, 2019 | Irene Ojdana

Calistoga Harvest Table

On Sunday, September 8, the Calistoga Chamber of Commerce presented the 5th annual Calistoga Harvest Table, which was a great success. In fact, Harvest Table has become so popular, that tickets for the event sold out in less than an hour. Eight-foot long tables stretched end-to-end to make one 1000 foot table down the length of its main drag, Lincoln Boulevard. The tables were set with white table cloths and lovely flowers to accommodate 800 guests.


Nine participating restaurants served scrumptious meals from amuse bouche to dessert. Ed and I were at the Lovina restaurant's table, where we had a meal highlighted by slow-roasted Niman Ranch NY Strip.


Eight bars served 3000 glasses of wine and beer from over 50 participating local wineries a local brewery. Vineyard {511} 2017 Napa Carneros Pinot Noir was available for purchase. It was a beautiful evening, where we made friends with whom we celebrated the bounty of the valley and raised a glass to the 2019 harvest.


Time Posted: Sep 16, 2019 at 5:00 PM
Irene Ojdana
August 23, 2019 | Irene Ojdana

Bordeaux Wine Cruise

The City of Bordeaux was the perfect place to start our Bordeaux wine cruise on the Dordonne and Garrone rivers throughout the region of Bordeaux. But the port City of Bordeaux is not just about the "Bordeaux blend." It's not just about what happens inside that French oak. It's about the old, the history which reflects the legendary land of monumental architecture of the chateaux, and the new; not just the Bordeaux that was a dingy city to pass through with coal-blackenned facades on the way to somewhere else, but now a vibrant and beautiful city in its own right. It was named a UNESCO world heritage site in 2007 after its crumbling city walls had been taken down and the light let in.

We stayed at the Intercontinental Le Grand Hotel, built where the Roman forum once stood, and where we dined at its celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay restaurant. From our hotel window we saw a sparkling street dominated by the opera house with its grand pillars.


Of course, Bordeaux is about wine too, reflected in its wine museum, La Cite du Vin, designed by Anouk Legendre and Nicalas Desmazieres. Its shimmering gold aluminum facade resembles the swishing around a wine glass.                        


We toured the old city ("Vielle Ville"), in the rain. Apparently, it rains a lot in Bordeaux, just as it does in Paris. In fact, Bordeaux reminded me of a little Paris.


 But the main reason Ed and I were in Bordeaux was to particapate in a "wine lover's cruise" aboard the AMADolce,    


hosted by friends Peter and Katie Mondavi of Napa Valley's historic Charles Krug Winery to explore the greater Bordeaux region.

Aboard ship, Peter gave several tastings and interesting discussions on board about Bordeaux and Charles Krug wines.


We even had a blind tasting, comparing Krug and Bordeaux. I preferred the Krug. I guess I'm partial to Napa wines.

Our shore exursions were very interesting. One of the first was to Saint-Emilion AOC (appellation d'original controllee, a government controlled designation of origin, which signifies where grapes are grown, similar to our AVA or American Viticulture Area). We drove through some very lush vineyards with views of stately chateaux,


and vistited the historic Chateau Soutard for a Grand Cru Classe wine tasting


in modern vat and barrel rooms replete with sparkling chandeliers.


On the way to the Sauternes wine region, we visited the historic Roquetaillarde Castle in Mazeres, a fortress initially built in the 10th century by Charlemagne.


It has been in the same family for 300 years. In fact, the current owner led a tour of the castle and demonstrated how his ancestors could pull up the drawbridge in case of an invasion.


In Bommes, located in the Sauternes wine appelation, we toured Chateau Guiraud to see how its lovely, sweet Sauternes wine was fermented in underground steel tanks.


On our last day in Bordeaux, Katie and Peter Mondavi graciously hosted a private winery tour, delicious luncheon and tasting at Chateau Haut-Bages Liberal in the Pauillac appelation. The wine produced there was classified as one of eighteen Cinquiemes Crus in the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. It is owned by the Lurton family, involved in Bordeaux wine production since 1820.


We increased our knowledge of Bordeaux wine and made some new friends on this river cruise; we hope we will meet up with them again soon.




























Time Posted: Aug 23, 2019 at 1:52 PM
Irene Ojdana
July 11, 2019 | Irene Ojdana

Calistoga Fourth of July Parade

Calistoga's Fourth of July Parade is one of the most fun events in Napa Valley, which both visitors and residents of the Valley look forward to attending. It reminds us what small town life can be--a mirror of Americana.

We had our family staying with us, an addition of 11 people to our household--and we took them all down the hill from Diamond Mountain to experience the lively parade.


There were fire trucks from all over the northern end of the Valley, from Anguin, Deer Park and, of course, Calistoga.


There were classic cars


and Hispanic dancers.


We appreciated all of the work and enthusiasm the participants put into making the parade so special.

Time Posted: Jul 11, 2019 at 4:49 PM
Irene Ojdana
June 30, 2019 | Irene Ojdana

American Fine Wine Awards

The 12th annual American Fine Awards Competition (AFWC) celebration of this year's award-winning wines was held in late June at Sonoma's Buena Vista Winery. There we were presented with a double-gold medal for the third consecutive year for our Vineyard {511} Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon--this year for our 2015.

The AFWC, which began in 2007, has become the most influential wine invitational in the country. The competition takes place each January, and is followed by a series of SIP Social events that feature the award-winning wines and help to raise money for a variety of non-profits and continues to promote the wines throughout the year. Since its inception, AFWC has raised more than $1,000,000 for local charities.

The event was hosted by Buena Vistas's proprietor and international vintner, Jean-Charles Boisset, who handed out the awards.


Notice his studded shoes. I've seen him in animal-skin shoes, but not that day.                                                                  

Buena Vista Winery was founded in 1857 by self-proclaimed count Agoston Haraszthy, who emigrated from Europe in 1840 as part of the California Gold Rush. Now, with Jean-Charles at its helm, the winery has much of the pizzaz as Raymond Vineyards in Napa's Rutherford. One room, especially, has the same flamboyant style in both facilities. Somewhat bordello-like.


We're looking forward to next year's Double Gold!






Time Posted: Jun 30, 2019 at 11:18 AM
Irene Ojdana
June 16, 2019 | Irene Ojdana

Manhattan Wine Auction

The 25th annual Manhattan Wine Auction was held on a picture-perfect day--and raised almost $1.2 million to benefit schools in Manhattan Beach, California. The event was hosted by the Manhattan Beach Country Club and featured food and wine tastings, a silent and live auction.

The food and wine tastings and silent auction items were held on four tennis courts-- where Ed and I poured our 2015 Vineyard {511} Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon.


The whole country club had been transformed for the event. The live auction was held on center court.


Chevron Corporation kicked off the live auction by announcing a contribution of $300,000 to the school district and another $100,000 to the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation. Music and dancing followed a delicious dinner. Everyone had a great time.                                    




Time Posted: Jun 16, 2019 at 1:00 PM
Irene Ojdana
June 7, 2019 | Irene Ojdana

Napa Valley Wine Auction 2019

This year's Napa Valley Wine Auction was a testament to the Napa Vintners Association's commitment to supporting Napa Valley's health and children's education non-profits. The event raised nearly $12 million! Over the auction's 39 years, it has raised more than $185 million. This was a special year, as the Napa Valley Vintners was celebrating its 75th anniversary, with superstar Katy Perry entertaining.

On Friday afternoon, a barrel auction and food and wine tasting were held at the newly renovated Louis Martini winery, which was recently acquired by E. & J. Gallo.. The Gallo's did an amazing job of remodeling the facility. The barrel auction was held inside.


The food and wine tastings were held in two large tented pavillions outside.This year wines were separated by varietal, which was very helpful when choosing among so many options.


The wine areas were interspersed with stations of delicious food tastings supplied by Napa's finest restaurants and food purveyors.


Ed and I provided an eAuction item of Vineyard {511} Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon wine and a vineyard lunch with the two of us. We are looking forward to welcoming the winning bidder and her guests to Diamond Mountain.





Time Posted: Jun 7, 2019 at 9:01 AM