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From Hollywood to Vine with Vineyard {511}
Adventures in Wine, Food, Film and Travel


Ed Ojdana
March 13, 2013 | Ed Ojdana

Tony Hseih and the Downtown Project

I was fortune to be invited to the Montgomery Technology Conference held at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica, CA, on March 6 and 7.  This is the 10th year of the conference, and I’ve attended most of them.  The keynote speaker on March 6 was Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, the online shoe and clothing company, which was acquired by Amazon in 2009 for $1.2 billion.  Tony is also the author of Delivering Happiness – A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose, which debuted #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List in June 2010 and stayed on the list for 27 weeks.  I knew of Tony but had never heard him speak.  He’s an evangelist for corporate culture.  As Tony puts it “…if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff like delivering great customer service or building a long-term enduring brand will just happen naturally on its own.”

I was expecting to hear a lot about how corporate culture shaped Zappos.  And while I heard some of it, he was really there to talk about the Downtown Project.  He’s taken what he has learned about company culture and is applying it to revitalizing the Fremont East area of Las Vegas.  The goal is to restore this overlooked local community north of the strip through investments in startups ($50 million), real estate ($200 million), small business ($50 million), and education, arts and culture ($50 million). A large portion of this investment has been personally funded by Tony. This is no ordinary redevelopment project but a carefully thought out project designed to transform the area into the most community-focused large city in the world.  I was fascinated as he talked about “serendipitous collisions” – the interactions between people that drive learning and innovation.  Sounds like pie-in-the sky, but Tony related how these collisions are facilitated at Zappos and at the Downtown Project including the metrics to measure how many collisions they are facilitating.  Go to for more information and a great slide presentation on the project.  I’m looking forward to reading his book as well.



Time Posted: Mar 13, 2013 at 7:45 AM Permalink to Tony Hseih and the Downtown Project Permalink
Irene Ojdana
March 3, 2013 | Irene Ojdana

Dining at Redd Restaurant in Yountville

Last night,  we had dinner at Micheline-starred Redd, in Yountville, with the mayor of Yountville John Dunbar and his wife Robin Dunbar, host of Verve curated wine country tours.

Chef Richard Reddington turns out amazing dishes, such as the delicious Prime N.Y. Steak with short ribs, which paired perfectly with our Vineyard {511} . Robin loved her Petrale sole with coconut jasmine rice, clams, chorizo, and saffron curry nage.

We originally met John and Robin at the Sundance Film Festival, celebrating the announcement of the opening of the Napa Valley Film Festival, of which the four of us are founding patrons; we've been good friends since then.

Time Posted: Mar 3, 2013 at 5:23 PM Permalink to Dining at Redd Restaurant in Yountville Permalink
Irene Ojdana
March 2, 2013 | Irene Ojdana

San Tung Chinese Restaurant

On our way back to Napa Valley from San Francisco, we ate lunch at San Tung Chinese restaurant,  1031 Irving Street, recommended by Butterfly's Rob Lam. Charles, the owner, served us the chicken wings and pork and leek dumplings, which we loved. I can't wait to eat my leftovers tomorrow for lunch!

Time Posted: Mar 2, 2013 at 5:17 PM Permalink to San Tung Chinese Restaurant Permalink
Irene Ojdana
March 1, 2013 | Irene Ojdana

Dinner at Butterfy Restaurant

Ed and I finally got to eat at our good friend, neighbor, and Reverie winery-owner Norm Kiken's beautiful waterfront Butterfly Restaurant, located at Pier 33, at San Francisco's Embarcadero.

We were welcomed by Norm's business partner and talented chef Rob Lam, and feasted on his delicious pan-Asian fare while gazing at the sunset over San Francisco Bay. Our favorite dishes were mushroom cappuccino soup, with white truffle oil and porcini powder; smoked salmon chips; kalua pig with butter lettuce cups; and banana bread pudding with coconut ice cream. We ate the whole thing!

Time Posted: Mar 1, 2013 at 5:09 PM Permalink to Dinner at Butterfy Restaurant Permalink
Irene Ojdana
February 28, 2013 | Irene Ojdana

Tour of UC Davis Jackson Sustainable Winery Building and the Teaching and Research Winery

After another of Ed's board meetings, this time with the Executive Leadership Board of the Department of Viticulture and  Enology at UC Davis, we donned hard hats and green florescent vests for a private tour of the soon-to-be completed Jackson Sustainable Winery building, which will enable the adjacent winery, brewery, and food processing complex to become the first self-sustainable, zero -carbon teaching and research facility in the world. The $4 million building, slated for a grand opening May 29 of this year, was made possible by a $3 million pledge by the late Jess Jackson and his wife, Barbara Banke, proprietor of Jackson Family Wines.

We also got another look at UC Davis's two- year old Robert Mondavi Institute Teaching and Research Winery, designed to serve as a test bed for production processes and techniques that conserve water, energy and other vital resources. The 34,000-square-foot-facility received official LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification--the highest environmental rating awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The photo provided here shows the world's first wireless fermentation system, thanks to a $3.5 million network designed, built and donated to the university by the president and CEO of Silicon Valley-based Cypress Semiconductor Corp., T.J. Rodgers, who is also a wine lover and winery owner. Amazingly, the 152 fermentation tanks are wrapped in rubber, inspired by wet suits!

Time Posted: Feb 28, 2013 at 4:55 PM Permalink to Tour of UC Davis Jackson Sustainable Winery Building and the Teaching and Research Winery Permalink
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 Permalink to Napa Valley Film Festival Board Meeting and Cole's Chop House Permalink
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 Permalink to Eighth Street Wineries Open House and Alpha Omega Barbeque Permalink
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 Permalink to Wine Tastings Up and Down Napa Valley Permalink
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 Permalink to Culinary Institute of America's Induction into its Vintners' Hall of Fame Permalink
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 Permalink to Hollywood to Vine Permalink