The Agenda: Fall in Wine Country

Fall means harvest in Wine Country and with that bounty comes a season of gratitude, great food and celebration.

Conquering Inner Space Among the Stars at Staglin Family Vineyards

In one of the most successful fundraisers of its kind, the 21st Annual Music Festival for Brain Health at Staglin Family Vineyards brings together a constellation of star winemakers, chefs, researchers and major influencers from around the country to support a single cause: to cure brain disorders in our lifetime. The all-day Music Fest takes place on Saturday September 19 beginning with an illuminating scientific symposium with star researchers from UCSF, UCLA and Mount Sinai, followed by a cult wine tasting with pairings, a performance by Grammy- and Oscar-winning rock star Melissa Etheridge, and ending with the signature VIP dinner prepared by Chef Hubert Keller of Fleur Las Vegas. Proceeds benefit One Mind and One Mind Institute which together forge a new-model coalition of leading corporate, scientific, government and philanthropic entities to raise awareness for, and reduce the stigma of, mental disease and to fast track efforts for a cure.

The cause attracts some of the most elusive cult wineries for whom this event is the only public wine tasting they participate in. There will be over 70 wineries pouring including Araujo, Bond, Colgin, Dalla Valle, Favia Erickson, Harlan, HDV, Joseph Phelps, Opus One, Screaming Eagle, Shafer and Staglin. Bold and delicious bites will be prepared by Chef Sean O’Toole of TORC.

Last year alone, the Music Fest raised $3.5 million to support the research and awareness of wide-ranging brain disorders and injury including Alzheimer's, autism, traumatic injury and psychiatric illness, and to improve lives. Over two decades, the Festival has raised over $221 million for the cause. Tickets for the afternoon events including concert are $1,000 pp; all-day VIP passes including the dinner begin at $5,000 pp with tables beginning at $50,000. For more information and tickets, visit the event website.

Sneak Peek of New Restaurant Openings

Bodega Bay rock cod marinated in brown butter dashi. Photo Kelsey McClellan

The latest addition to the fine dining scene in Napa, the eagerly-awaited Ninebark is expected to open September 29. Former NYC Chef Matthew Lightner brings exciting flavors and innovative preparations to his dishes, a passion cultivated during his time at Noma in Copenhagen, Mugaritz near Barcelona and most recently at NYC’s Atera which received a 2-star Michelin rating after only six months of opening.

Octopus marinated in sweet, spicy and sour dressing. Photo Kelsey McClellan

Working with the freshest local ingredients, the menu will highlight delicious and savory seafood dishes like the black cod and octopus dishes above. The new menu will be complemented with produce-focused cocktails plus artisanal beer cocktails.

Ninebark has a casual elegant feel with a light-filled, airy garden design emphasizing Chef’s market-forward cuisine. 813 Main Street, Downtown Napa.

On the other side of town, the popular enoteca Ca’ Momi in Oxbow Public Market is opening a standalone osteria in a renovated 19th Century brick building in Downtown Napa October 13. The move allows them to expand their offerings of authentic, regional cuisine, home-brewed beers and specialty cocktails based on Italian and local craft spirits. While Ca’ Momi bears the Italian seals of authenticity for its food and Napoletana pizza, the flavors come straight from the heart. Ca’ Momi Osteria will be open 7 days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. with later hours Thursday-Sunday. 610 First Street, Downtown Napa

The Napa Valley Film Festival Opens With the World Premiere of SOMM: INTO THE BOTTLE

The 5th annual Napa Valley Film Festival kicks off November 11 with the ultimate wine feature Samuel Goldwyn Films’ SOMM: INTO THE BOTTLE written and directed by Jason Wise. The film is the much-anticipated sequel to SOMM, an insider look at the quest to make it into the exclusive Court of Master Sommeliers. The sequel follows the sommeliers as they delve deeper into the wines themselves, exploring the vineyards and cellars of great estates in six countries and tasting some of the world’s greatest wines and vintages with the winemakers.

The Film Fest takes place November 11-15 in venues throughout Napa Valley with over 100 screenings including final contenders for best documentary and narrative films, food and wine events, Red Carpet screenings, lavish parties, celebrity tributes, fascinating industry panels and awards ceremony.

Regular festival passes currently cost $275 pp; Pass+ level including priority access and special events currently begins at $615; all-inclusive Patron passes begins at $2,500. Check the website for latest prices and line-ups.

A Luxurious Place to Rest

Auberge du Soleil continues the transformation of its rooms and suites from the charm of Provence to the clean elegance of a contemporary villa. SF designer Suzanne Tucker of Tucker & Marks opened up the layout of the guestrooms and used a warm, muted palette to maximize the sense of spaciousness and light spilling in from the private terraces.

Courtesy Auberge du Soleil

Sculptural tubs, heated limestone floors and detailed tiles in the sky-lit bathrooms add to the spa-like setting and sense of ultimate luxury. 180 Rutherford Hill Road, Rutherford

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