Collage of images in a film strip

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


Irene Ojdana
August 1, 2018 | Irene Ojdana

Sun Valley Wine Auction

For the 3rd consecutive year, Ed and I poured our Vineyard {511} Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon at the Sun Valley Center for the Arts Wine Auction. Held in Sun Valley, Idaho, the Auction (in its 37th year) is a celebration of wine in support of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts' year-round art education programs.

The Center provides arts, music and theater education to 4,000 students in Blaine County with the money it raises each year from the Wine Auction, Vintner Dinners, and its Vine & Dine. Its Scholarship Program has awarded more than $850,000 in the past 20 years to Blaine County students and educators for advanced study.

At the Gala, guests generously raised their paddles to bid on auction lots generously donated by avid supporters of the Center's mission. We shared our Vineyard {511}  Cab, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir at our table and bid from there.


One live auction package donated by fellow Calistoga vintner Suzanne Phifer Pavitt inluded four nights in Music City Nashville with visits to various museums and musical venues. The trip was so popular that Suzanne donated it 3 more times so that 4 bidders in total won the package reaping a wopping $96,000 for the Center. Another auction package was a trip to New Orleans, that included a private-catered dinner prepared by Emeril Lagasse.

The next day and evening, we poured our wine there.


But there was more Auction activities. We rode a gondala and then a chair lift to appreciate the beauty of Sun Valley from above.


And we hiked Sun Valley


to appreciate it up close.



Can't wait for the Sun Valley Wine Auction 2019!







Time Posted: Aug 1, 2018 at 4:00 PM Permalink to Sun Valley Wine Auction Permalink
Irene Ojdana
July 17, 2018 | Irene Ojdana

Wine Tasting at Continuum Estate

Ed and I took his brother, sister-in-law, two nephews and their spouses (with 10-month old Georgie in tow), our daugher Kelly and husband Jeff and their son Ian (our grandson) for a tour, tasting and scrumptious lunch at Tim Mondavi's Continuum Estate. The contemporary-looking winery, on Atlas peak, is amazing, not surprisingly as it was designed by renouned architect Howard Backen.

After the tour, we were served roasted summer vegetables with balsamic vinagrette and burrata, fregola tabbouleh, pan-seared chicken breasts with romesco sauce, and plum-frangipane tart with soft whipped cream, all prepared by talented chef Sarah Scott. The meal was paired with 2009 and 2014 Continuum--a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot. What made the meal really special was that Tim and his daughter Carissa joined us for lunch, and we really enjoyed getting to know them.


The afternoon was dedicated to honor The Queen of the Valley Hospital, as Tim generously donated the luncheon, which Ed and I bid on and won at the hospital's foundation dinner.

As we were leaving, Tim presented Ed, me and daughter Kelly with a magnum of 2013 Continuum.

                                            continuum mGNUM

That magnum was enjoyed by the whole family that night with dinner--we didn't waste any time with that!


Time Posted: Jul 17, 2018 at 6:08 PM Permalink to Wine Tasting at Continuum Estate Permalink
Irene Ojdana
June 12, 2018 | Irene Ojdana

Manhattan Wine Auction

On June 9, for the third year in a row, Ed and I poured our wine--this year our 2014 Vineyard {511} Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon, our 2016 Carneros Napa Valley Pinot Noir and Chardonnay at the 24th Annual Manhattan Beach Wine Auction, held at the beautiful Manhattan Beach Country Club. Prior to the dinner and live auction (held on center court),


the tennis courts were re-invented into wine and food tasting pavillions, separated by silent auction stations.





All proceeds from the Manhattan Wine Auction provide critical funding to the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation (MBEF) and the MBEF Endowment. Setting a new record, the sold out crowd of 2000 raised $1.3 million for local schools. MBEF is a community-driven fundraising organization, which supplements state funding for programs that inspire learning, enrich teaching, and promote innovation and academic excellence in the Manhattan Beach public schools.


Time Posted: Jun 12, 2018 at 1:40 PM Permalink to Manhattan Wine Auction Permalink
Irene Ojdana
June 6, 2018 | Irene Ojdana

Napa Valley Wine Auction 2018

I am so proud to be a  member of the Napa Vintners Association (NVV). It knocked it out of the park again this year by raising an incredible $13.6 million for Napa Valley charities at its 38th annual Auction Napa Valley, which took place May 31-June 2, 2018. Through the Auction, NVV supports community health and educational organizations critical to helping families and children in need, especially as it had done following the wine country wildfires.

Since the Auction's inception, NVV has been able to donate an amazing $180 million to local charitable causes-- and now it's $193.6 million! More than 100,000 clients of local nonprofits are touched by Auction proceeds annually. Every child in Napa County has access to health insurance, thanks to the Community Health Initiative. (NVV is the largest private funder of this program in Napa County.) What's raised here, stays here.

As it has been since the Auction's inception, Meadowood Napa Valley was the venue for Saturday's Live Auction Celebration, considered the highlight of the three days of activities. The event's biggest wine lot was donated by Opus One, which included its wine dating back to 1979 and a trip to France for a masquerade ball at the Palace of Versailles. The lot was doubled for a second winner, so the total brought in for that lot was a whopping $1.4 million.

The day before, Charles Krug winery was the site for Friday's Napa Valley Barrel Auction and wine and food tasting event. It was the best Barrel Auction I'd attended, well organized in a lovely venue. The highest lot for the barrel auction was a red blend of 2016 VGS Chateau Potelle, which went for $114,300. In the online auction (to which we donated wine and a vineyard lunch experience), the highest lot of a salmanazar of Shafer Vineyards 1995 Hillside Select went for $20,200.

                              Ed With Katey and Peter Mondavi, Jr., of Charles Krug Winery, at the Barrel Auction


                                         Irene With Michelle Baggett of Alpha Omega at the Barrel Auction


Some other fun events we attended were a "tent raising" at Meadowood--a party for Meadowood members to make up for the loss of the use of Meadowood facilities during Auction events--and a kickoff bottle party at Charter Oak restaurant for NVV members. There we were introduced to the honorary chairs for this year's Auction, fourth-generation Mondavi sisters of the Peter Mondavi Sr. family--who kicked off the festivities.                   

                  Ed and Irene at Meadowood Tent Raising Party with Greg Tucker of Notre Dame Wine Program

                                                  tent raising                                                                                                  

I am looking forward to next year's Auction, which will be celebrating the NVV's 75th anniversary with the best wines in the world!


Time Posted: Jun 6, 2018 at 6:10 PM Permalink to Napa Valley Wine Auction 2018 Permalink
Irene Ojdana
May 28, 2018 | Irene Ojdana

Women for WineSense Wine Tasting

Ed and I were recently in Orlando, Florida, to pour our wine at a wine dinner and at a wine tasting for members of Women for WineSense (WWS), Orlando Chapter. WWS is a nationwide education, mentoring and networking organization for wine aficionados and industry professionals, both women and men. There is a Napa/Sonoma branch, the founding chapter, actually founded 27 years ago by a woman with whom I play tennis at Meadowood, Michaela Rodeno.

The dinner was held at a steakhouse, Christner's (formerly Del Frisco), where WWS members and other guests, sampled our wine. The juicy steak was a great accompanyment to our 2012 and 2013 Cab. The next night, our wine tasting was held at our distributor's warehouse, where our Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, in addition to our Cab, paired wonderfully with the cheese and charcuterie provided by WWS.                                                                                   





We tried to go to Epcot Center on our last day in Orlando, but we got rained out. We'll try again next time in Orlando.

And now that I know about WWS and am very impressed with the organization, I will definitely check out the Napa/Sonoma chapter.

Time Posted: May 28, 2018 at 4:50 PM Permalink to Women for WineSense Wine Tasting Permalink
Irene Ojdana
March 10, 2018 | Irene Ojdana

Two Trips to the Jungle

Ed and I took time off from gazing at grape vines to gazing at the thick swinging vines in the foliage of tropical rain forests. Over the New Year's holidays and then again in February, we found ourselves in Central America among howler monkeys and crocodiles.


Belize crocodile

The first of the two trips was to Costa Rica with our kids Kelly and Jeff and their son--our 5-year-old grandson Ian. We stayed at a jungle resort called Tortuga Lodge and Gardens, set on a private rain forest reserve bordering Tortuguero National Park on the north Caribbean coast. We flew in from Liberia on a light charter flight and landed on a very short local airstrip. Whew! We then crossed the Tortuguero River by boat to get to the lodge located on the river; the only way to get there is by boat as there are no cars on the island, only flat-bottomed boats.

From there, we did some great kayaking and floats along the river with naturalist guides. We saw iguanas, monkeys, three-toed sloths, river otters, crocodiles, toucans, parrots and other neotropical species.


After four nights of somewhat roughing it there (and very early-morning wake-up calls by howler monkeys), we flew and then drove to the luxurious Four Seasons Resort, located on the northern Pacific Coast of Costa Rica on the Papagayo Peninsula in Guanacaste. Someone's got to do it! The resort is built between two golden sand beaches for great swimming there or in its four swimming pools.

The highlight there for all of us was an hour and a half exursion to the Rincon Volcano in the Rincon de la Vieja National Park. We were actually on the bottom of the volcano--trips to the top are unlawful and dangerous--and got to hike along side bubbling volcanic activity and lush waterfalls.


Not too long after Ed and I were back in the U.S., we made our way to Belize. Back in 2017, at a Calistoga and St. Helena Boys Club fundraising gala, we bid on and "won" a stay at two hotels in Belize. Both are owned and were donated to the Boys and Girls Club by film director and fellow vintner Francis Ford Coppola. Although the first we hotel we stayed in --The Turtle Inn-- wasn't in the jungle but in a thatched cottage at a white sand Carribean beach and was where we kicked back

Ed by pool

drinking my new favorite rum drink called a caipirinha,

Caiparina recipe

the second-- Blacaneaux Lodge--was located under a jungle canopy along a rushing river.


The highlight of our trip to Blacaneaux was an exursion to the Mayan ruins at Caracol. Situated high on the Vaca Plateau deep in the Chiquibul Forest Reserve, Caracol is the most extensive Mayan site in Belize, discovered in 1936. At the heart of the site lies the massive pyramid of Caana (Sky Palace), which is now almost fully restored and reaches a height of over 135 feet.

Belize Caracola

Another highlight of this exursion was actually getting there and back as the road leading into and out of Caracol was flooded.

Flooded Road

But we forged ahead without seat belts and with windows lowered in case we had to swim out of the car. A scary but exhilarating experience.

We loved our trip to Costa Rica with our family and to Belize just with the two of us. We love the friendly people there and the opportunity to immerse ourselves in nature. We'll be back soon.


Time Posted: Mar 10, 2018 at 2:23 PM Permalink to Two Trips to the Jungle Permalink
Irene Ojdana
March 3, 2018 | Irene Ojdana

Premiere Napa Valley

On February 24, Ed and I poured our 2015 Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon at the 22nd annual Napa Valley Vintners Association (NVV) Premiere Napa Valley. Premiere, a barrel tasting and futures auction of wine, was held again this year at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). It raised more than $4.1 million to support the NVV's mission to promote, protect and enhance the Napa Valley.


Premiere featured limited-edition lots, sold as futures to the trade--retailers, distributors, restauranteurs--of wine made only one time for the auction. Every bottle is hand-numbered and signed by the winemaker. We participated in the online auction with 30 other vintners. Our 5 cases raised $10,000. The top selling wine in the live auction went for 20 cases of Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon for a wopping $110,000 to retailer Total Wine--or $458 a bottle!

Earlier in the week at another Premiere activity at CIA--a luncheon--we listened to keynote speaker, famed restauranteur Danny Meyer. Meyer is the CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group and the founder of Shake Shake. His restaurants include wonderful New York City's Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern and The Modern. He talked about the power of hospitality in restaurants, business, and life--about how you make people feel. Something important to remember.



Time Posted: Mar 3, 2018 at 4:16 PM Permalink to Premiere Napa Valley Permalink
Irene Ojdana
November 24, 2017 | Irene Ojdana

Napa Valley Film Festival 2017

The seventh annual Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF), which ran November 18-12, was an amazing week celebrating cinematic storytelling in all it's forms and celebrating the bounty of Napa Valley with incredible, film, food and wine in a beautiful setting.  It was a wonderful way to showcase the area's resilience to bounce back from the wildfires that effected some parts Napa Valley. The festival donated 10% of proceeds to the victims of the wildfires.

The week was hectic going from film to film, partying like crazy at dinner parties at Meadowood and Eleven Eleven and at receptions at the Caldwell Snyder Gallery, Italics Winegrowers, Acumen Wines, CIA at Copia and at the wrap party at Materra/Cunat Family Vineyards. The night before the official opening, Patrons of the NVFF were invited to a screening of "Back to Burgundy," about a heartwarming French winemaking family. After the screening, we headed down the street to the Caldwell Gallery for a meet the artists reception. The next night, Ed and I chatted with actor David Arquette at a pre-opening night reception at Acumen Tasting Lounge.


The opening night film at Napa's Uptown Theater was our favorite film (which we sponsored), "The Upside,'" starring Bryan Cranston, Kevin Hart and Nicole Kidman. The film about a parapralegic crumudgeon (Bryan Cranston) and his cheeky personal assistant (Kevin Hart) was hilarious and uplifting and also our favorite film of the festival.

The next day, Ed participated in a panel in the Festival's Artist in Residence program at Meadoweed, giving advice to up and coming filmmakers. Meadowood has been a major sponsor of the Festival for the whole 7 years. Ed is on the board of Go Digital, a digital distribution company.

I do want to give a shout out to "Laddie," a documentary about Alan Ladd Jr., produced by his daughter Amanda Ladd. All I thought I knew about Alan Ladd Jr., was that he was the son of romantic film star Alan Ladd. Little did Ed and I know how prolific a producer of blockbuster movies he was until he retired, such as "Star Wars,"and "Braveheart."

That evening we watched as Access Hollywood's Natalie Morales hosted a celebrity tribute to  legendary filmmaker Nancy Meyers ("Private Benjamin," "Something's Got To Give," "Parenthood," and "It's Complicated,") to name a few. Meyer talked about the current revelations of sexual assault in Hollywood and praised the women who had come forward "who were doing something amazing for all of us." Actors Michael Shannon and Michael Stuhlbarg ("Boardwalk Empire," "Fargo"), also received celebrity tributes. After the screening of "The Shape of Water," in which both Shannon and Stuhlbarg starred, we sat next to Stuhlbarg and his wife Mai at the dinner that followed.

We attended a Caldwell Vineyard Maverik tribute for Will Ferrell with a 1-1sany conversation with writer Andrew Steele. Afterwards, we watched a screening of off-beat "Stranger Than Fiction," in which Ferrell plays an accountant of all things and in which he was happy not to play a crazy person. Later that evening, Ed and I sat across the table from Ferrell and his lovely wife Vivica Paulin.


The festival concluded with a closing night screening of "Molly's Game," directed by Aaron Sorkin and starring Jessica, Chastain, Idris Elba and Kevin Costner, the game being Molly's (played by Chastain) high stakes poker scene. The wrap party followed at Materra Cunat Family Vineyards, with food, music and dancing and looks towards NVFF 2018.




Time Posted: Nov 24, 2017 at 5:07 PM Permalink to Napa Valley Film Festival 2017 Permalink
Irene Ojdana
October 26, 2017 | Irene Ojdana

Autumn Leaves on Diamond Mountain

Our peacock Cabernet loves color since he is so colorful himself. Yesterday we caught him gazing at the beautiful autumn colors on Diamond Mountain, under blue skies and clear air.

Peacock Views Fall Colors

Later in the day, Cabernet's adopted mom and pop--Irene and Ed--checked out the beautiful Napa Valley--at Auberge du Soleil--where they celebrated Irene's birthday for dinner overlooking the Valley at sunset and more fall colors.

Auberge du Soleil

We're so glad to be in Napa Valley, and are looking forward to sharing its beauty with many family and friends soon.

Time Posted: Oct 26, 2017 at 11:22 AM Permalink to Autumn Leaves on Diamond Mountain Permalink
Irene Ojdana
October 7, 2017 | Irene Ojdana

Vineyard {511} 2017 Harvest

When asked what the most memorable day of the year is, most people will say Christmas or New Year's or Thanksgiving. However, for folks in wine-growing regions of the world, harvest is right up there, if not the most memorable. It's the time when nature and wine-making skills--yield and quality--converge to honor what growers have been working towards all year long--bringing the fruit to the crushpad.

With temperatures soaring over 100 degrees for weeks in August and September, we harvested our Cabernet Sauvignon on Diamond Mountain earlier in the season than expected--on September 28. Under night lights, our vineyards were aflurry with activity from 4am to 10 am. (The prime time to begin harvest is 4 am, when berry temperature has cooled down to around 65 degrees.)

Harvest Pickers

We were a little disappointed that our yield was smaller than it was in 2016 because of the heat spikes during the summer; nevertheless, the quality of the fruit was great--as usual.





Time Posted: Oct 7, 2017 at 11:00 AM Permalink to Vineyard {511} 2017 Harvest Permalink