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Vineyard 511

From Hollywood to Vine with Vineyard {511}

Adventures in Wine, Food, Film and Travel

Irene Ojdana
May 12, 2013 | Irene Ojdana

Dinner at the Napa Valley Reserve

Napa Reserve St HelenaEd and I attended a lovely reception and dinner, which was part of the  third annual Volley in the Valley Tennis Tournament, at the Napa Valley Reserve.  The Reserve is a private wine estate, where members can make wine without the hassles associated with making wine.  Members can participate as much or as little as they like. With their membership fee and agreement to purchase a certain amount of wine, they can have terrific wine for their own personal use; they just can't sell it.

The tournament itself was held at Meadowood, in St. Helena, to raise money for the Adventist Heart Institute, which directly benefits St. Helena Hospital. The champagne reception was held in the Reserve's outdoor Pavilion Patio and the dinner in the Pavilion Dining Room. My favorite part of the dinner prepared by Estate Chef Alejandro Ayala was the lovely, light, "sweet" starter Sweet Pea Agnolotti, with pea tendrils, green garlic and lemon.

The highlight of the evening was the featured speakers: Dr. Gan Dinnington, Cardiothorasic Surgeon, St Helena Hospital; Peter Magowan, President and Managing General Partner, San Francisco Giants, 1993-2008; and Jeff Greenwald, MFT, and author of The Best Tennis of Your Life and Fearless Tennis. What I hope I will remember most from Greenwald  is that, after missing a point in tennis (as in life) let the windshield wiper totally wipe it away and go on to the next point.

Time Posted: May 12, 2013 at 5:00 PM
Ed Ojdana
March 16, 2013 | Ed Ojdana

Death of a Napa Valley Icon

I just heard the sad news that Jimmy Barrett passed away on Thursday, March 14, at the age of 86.  Jimmy is an icon in Napa Valley and best known for producing the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay that shocked the wine world in 1976, particularly the French, when it won a blind tasting in Paris beating out a lineup of French wines.   Now known as the “Judgment of Paris,” this competition helped to put Napa Valley on the map.  It was also the basis for the movie Bottle Shock, starring Chris Pine, Bill Pullman and Alan Rickman.  Two of the producers of Bottle Shock, Marc and Brenda Lhormer, are the founders of the Napa Valley Film Festival.

I did not know Jimmy very well and first met him playing in the men’s Saturday morning tennis matches at Meadowood Resort.  Although in his 80’s and not very agile, the result of several knee operations, if the ball landed anywhere near him, he would return it.  Like his underhand serve, his returns had a lot of spin on them.  It took me quite a while to adjust to his returns – more than once I could only laugh as the ball curved away from my racket and I was left swinging at air.

Photo: SCOTT MANCHESTER/Press Democrat

A few years back, Irene and I sat with Jimmy and his wife, Judy, at the wedding reception of our friend, neighbor, and Reverie Winery owner Norm Kiken and wife Suzie Donahue.  I remembered one scene in Bottle Shock where Jim Barrett (Bill Pullman) and his son, Bo Barrett (Chris Pine), don boxing gloves to settle their father and son differences.  Naturally, I had to ask Jimmy if he still boxed.  To my disappointment, he said he had never boxed in his life.  Unlike movies based on true stories, where fictious events are added to enhance the entertainment value, Jimmy was the real thing in life.


Time Posted: Mar 16, 2013 at 1:21 PM
Irene Ojdana
February 27, 2013 | Irene Ojdana

Napa Valley Film Festival Board Meeting and Cole's Chop House

After Ed's attendance at an executive board meeting of the Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF), where the board discussed the budget for 2013 and plans for the upcoming NVFF to be held Novemeber 6-10, 2013, Ed and I stopped by Cole's Chop House, in Napa, to give Wine Director Jim Gallagher a tasting of our Vineyard {511} '09 cab. He liked it! What's not to like?!?

Time Posted: Feb 27, 2013 at 4:40 PM
Irene Ojdana
February 24, 2013 | Irene Ojdana

Eighth Street Wineries Open House and Alpha Omega Barbeque

Yesterday, we ventured out of Napa Valley to Sonoma for the Eighth Street Wineries Association Open House with my brother and sister-in-law Herb and Rita Silverman, who were visiting from Southern California. At this annual event, we explored ten neighbor wineries,  which included MacRostie and Patz&Hall, and enjoyed their new and current releases, barrel samples and library wines, paired with exceptional gourmet fare.

Next,  we wound our way back to Napa Valley and the gorgeous Alpha Omega winery, where owners Michelle Fields Blaggett and Robin Blaggett treated guests to an evening of mouth- watering smoked meats, created by Robin Blagett, pizzas by Tra Vigne, and lively foot-stomping music.

Time Posted: Feb 24, 2013 at 4:31 PM
Irene Ojdana
February 23, 2013 | Irene Ojdana

Wine Tastings Up and Down Napa Valley


Last night, Ed and I attended two terrific receptions at the beautiful Silverado and Raymond Vineyards, as up and down Napa Valley wineries were hosting tastings for the wine buyers and media folks attending the 17th annual Premiere Napa Valley (a wine futures auction that raised $3.04 million for the Napa Valley Vintners' Association programs.)

At Silverado, one of the media members we talked with was Jay Spaleta, Associate Publisher at Wine Enthusiast, to whom we promised a tasting of our own Vineyard {511} Cabernet Sauvignon when he returns to Napa Valley next time with his wife. We ate some fabulous sliders, topped with caramelized onions, while gazing at the wonderful view  overlooking the vineyard; and afterward, in the barrel room, we were treated to tastings of various wineries, including Alpha Omega, Frank Family and Rombauer.

We chatted with Frank Family winery owner Rich Frank, not only about his wines, but also about his successful TV shows, Royal Pains and The Americans, for which he is the executive producer. We also chatted about our small world that his kids and my nephew, Geoff Silverman, manager of T.V.writers, went to high school together.

And then, while tasting some delicious Rombauer Chardonnay, Rombauer owner K.R.Rombauer reminisced with us about the not too distant past when Rob Lloyd, our current winemaker, was the Rombauer winemaker. Another six degrees of separation!

Later that evening, we made our way to Raymond Vineyards, where masked owner Jean-Claude Boisset, looking very mysterious and debonair, welcomed us to his "Napa" Gras celebration, where we all donned colorful feathered masks.

Feted with abundant shrimp, sushi and oyster buffets, we were entranced by scantily-attired dancers hanging from the rafters of the fermentation cellar. We topped off the evening tasting the terrific soon-to-be-released Raymond Masquerade Cabernet Sauvignon in the plush and sexy red velvet room.

Time Posted: Feb 23, 2013 at 4:15 PM
Irene Ojdana
February 19, 2013 | Irene Ojdana

Culinary Institute of America's Induction into its Vintners' Hall of Fame

Last night, Ed and I attended the Culinary Institute of America's (CIA's) annual induction into its Vintners' Hall of Fame, at Greystone, in St. Helena. This year's inductees were labor leader Cesar Chavez and wine writer Frank Schoonmaker, both posthumously, winemaking pioneer Meridith (Merry) Edwards, and Wine Advocate founder Robert Parker. As it turned out, Merry Edwards was the only recipient to attend, as Robert Parker unfortunately sustained a back injury and was unable to attend; he did, however, accept the honor via a video presentation.  Needless to say, the food and wine before and after the awards ceremony, were yummy.


Time Posted: Feb 19, 2013 at 3:31 PM
Irene Ojdana
February 15, 2013 | Irene Ojdana

Hollywood to Vine

Welcome to our blog!

The purpose of our blog is to keep you informed about the status of Vineyard {511} wines, vineyard, and winery activities. We also want to share information with you  about special events in and around Napa Valley, as well as about our interest in independent film and travels, especially to wineries worldwide. Unless otherwise indicated, all events mentioned in this blog take place in Napa Valley.

We plan to update the blog at least weekly, if not before, so stay tuned!

Time Posted: Feb 15, 2013 at 2:40 PM