92 South Bay Accent
FROM TOP: SCOTT CHEBEGIA, COURTESY OF CHARLIE PALMER STEAK, OPPOSITE; STONE BREWING
trees and scented bushes. Treats include daily breakfast cooked by
Dina herself and afternoon wine and cheese. Guestrooms feature
rock walls, white linens and flat-screen TVs. It’s a labor of love for
this couple focused on resuscitating the building that was once the
Calistoga Hospital. A full-scale tennis court will soon be ready for
anyone who wants to rally with Richard.
SIPS Armageddon. That’s how Ray Signorello describes the fire
that consumed his 30-plus-year-old Signorello Estate Winery, the
only Napa Valley winery charred to ashes. “I thought it was just
a brush fire and that would be the end of it,” he says. Signorello
didn’t fully believe what was happening until his winery manager
explained it on the phone: “The whole building is on fire, and
everything is gone—our offices, our home, the hospitality center
and wine lab.”
The promise is to rebuild, and for now, there’s a new modular
tasting lounge, dubbed the Estate Room, accessible by appointment
only. Visitors are encouraged to book the popular Estate
Experience featuring a driving tour of the vineyard, along with
wine tasting and food pairing.
Over at hilltop Palmaz Vineyards, embers the size of his hand
fell from the sky. CEO Christian Palmaz tried desperately to rescue
his family guesthouse by watering it down, but it was impossible as
the wooden deck had caught fire. When the home disintegrated,
he switched gears to save the wine stored in its underground cave.
Palmaz had to rely on his customized software system to “know”
how to maintain the fermentation tanks by calibrating
the temperatures accordingly. The plan worked and the
wine was spared, saving millions of dollars. “We never
designed the system to work without a human counterpart,
but it certainly had to that day,” he says.
It’s business as usual at Palmaz, and tours offer guests
an eye-popping look at the complex technology that
resembles a military war room. New this year is the expansion
of its wine club, now named the Brasas Food
and Wine Society. Members who request a Brasas Ranch
subscription receive bi-monthly deliveries of wagyu beef
from the family grass-fed cattle ranch, equivalent to onesixth
of a cow.
Tasting rooms are getting much attention in Napa as
winery acreage is hard to come by. The Village Tasting
Rooms has recently opened, featuring eight local wineries
under one roof. Next door, Napa Smith sells craft beer.
Burgess Cellars offers a 90-minute seated experience
in its new Mountainside Room. Guests take in vistas,
1,000 feet up on the Howell Mountain hillside while
trying six selections.
Stone Brewing Company, a taproom and restaurant,
comes online after a two-year renovation of the historic
Borreo building near the Napa River. Sit on the patio,
order a beer and refill your growler.
EAT Three weeks after Compline Wine Bar & Restaurant
opened in Napa, the fires struck. However, co-owner
and Master Sommelier Matt Stamp was undaunted. “We
closed a day or two but pretty much stayed open the
whole time. We hunkered down.” By spring, word got
out about the 400 international wine selections and its
affordable retail shop. Diners find comfort dishes such as
hanger steak and duck-fat fries, king salmon and gnocchi.
The yum: its classic burger, thick and juicy.
When the website says, “Nice to Meat You,” you know there’s
serious bovine business going on. Groups and couples are flocking
BEET SALAD AT
STEAK AT ARCHER
HOTEL NAPA Napa
Sonoma THE BUBBLE LOUNGE AT
BUENA VISTA WINERY