Heidi Barrett – The Diva of Cult Wine

Heidi Barrett – The Diva of Cult Wine

An Afternoon Spent Sharing and Tasting Heidi’s Personal Treasures – Vineyard to Bottle

Heidi Barrett

Heidi Barrett is virtually a household name in the Napa Valley wine industry and a mega-respected icon in the select field of esteemed women winemakers. She was destined to become an artistic winemaker growing up in the vineyards of her renowned winemaker father, esteemed wine pioneer, Dick Peterson and her artist mother, Diane. She worked side by side with her father in a variety of vineyards from pruning to lab tech to cellar rat and everything in between while growing up in the Napa Valley. It was naturally her legacy to continue the path that led her to UC Davis with a degree in Fermentation. This ultimately led to her “500 Point Journey” and the elevated success, notoriety, and enormous industry respect that continues to come her way.

It was a chilly afternoon in the Napa Valley, a perfect day to join in with 100 other Heidi Barrett fans and fellow wine lovers at the Culinary Institute Demonstration Theater for an intimate afternoon with Heidi and her wines. Featuring – Barrett and Barrett, Fantesca, Kenzo Estate, Lamborn Family Vineyards, La Sirena and Paradigm. We might as well have been sitting right in her living room with her, she is witty, inspiring, charismatic, precise, brilliant, passionate about what she does, and loves her diversions such as flying helicopters or scuba diving to name a few. The afternoon’s commentator, Leslie Sbrocco, of KQED’s “Check, Please!” regards Heidi as “One of the most heralded winemakers in the world.” It is Heidi’s mission “to take something from the earth to something elevated we all can enjoy.”

Heidi Barrett often referred to as the 500-Point Woman, is the only female winemaker to achieve five 100-point scores from Robert Parker. As Leslie commented, “in the early-mid ‘90’s this was a really, really big deal.” And it continues to be a tremendous honor and accolade, in fact TIME magazine crowned her “The Wine Diva of Napa Valley.” In 1992 she began winemaking for the infamous cult wine, Screaming Eagle, of which her ’92 and ’97 vintages were awarded perfect 100 score by Parker and set a world record for the highest price paid for a single bottle of wine at 2000 Napa Valley Wine Auction with a winning bid of $500,000! She again soared on the 100 point journey to the top of the charts with the ’92 and the ’93 Dalle Valle Maya, and the ’95 Grace Family!

The Barrett tasting began with a Kenzo Estate Sauvignon Blanc “Asatsuyu” (which means Morning Dew in Japanese). The winery is located up Monticello Road on Mount George at 1500 feet and has 45 planted acres on it 3,800-acre estate property. Heidi sometimes flies her helicopter to the vineyard estate, which cuts her more than an hour drive to a 15-minute flight to what she refers to as a crater at the top of the mountain. She describes this wine as layers of pear, melon, honeysuckle and is more in the Chardonnay style which has a little bit of wood on it, making it rounder and a little fatter, with a textural component, balance, and the “yum factor.”

The 5 Cabernets wines selected to be tasted queued from the oldest first to the 2013’s last. The first of the five tastings presented a 2005 Paradigm Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon. Heidi became winemaker for Paradigm in 1991 and is her longest standing client. Paradigm produces between 5,000 and 6,000 cases with 4 different wines.  It is her mission for people to be wowed, drinkable and delicious when the wines are released; however she said it is up to you on how long you want to age a bottle of wine.  She described characteristics that make a wine age as a very, very slow oxidation. Over time, some things improve and some things decline. She looks at wine as a time capsule. What you get that day you open it, is different each time.  She explained it is like live theatre; it is always a little bit different.

Heidi expressed that she is not actually a big fan of decanting. In lieu of decanters, when drinking cabs, she favors really fine stemware created specifically for Cabernet. Heidi recommends taste before you decant, pour and enjoy the show, it is going to bloom in the glass – she says it allows you permission to slow down! She recommended with regard to decanting, “Just be careful before putting wine in a decanter!”

Wine # 3, the second of the Cabernets she meticulously creates was the 2012 Fantesca, owned by Susan and Duane Hoff, innovators of the well-known chain Best Buy. In 2004 the Hoff’s purchased a 53-acre property, and 10-acre vineyard and thus Fantesca Estate was born. Heidi became winemaker at their Spring Mountain location Fantesca in 2008. In addition to their estate Cabernet, Heidi crafts their Chardonnay and the All Great Things Red Blend with a total of 3,000 cases annually. 99% of the wines offered are direct to consumer. In Fantesca tradition they put a different proverb or a quote on the corks of their wines, calling them “Fortune Corkies.” They love to make it a contest, so be sure to come up with your favorite quote to send off to them. Yours could very well end up on one of their next corks.

Wine #4 presented a 2013 Cabernet from Lamborn Family Vineyards with 3 generations offering exquisite handcrafted Howell Mountain wines magnificently created by winemaker Heidi Barrett since 1997. The Lamborn vineyards are at 2,200 feet elevation offering abundant volcanic soil with perfect mountain climates throughout their 8-acre vineyard (4 acres of Zinfandel and 4 acres of Cabernet). These select vintages are available from their website only or to their exclusive members or in limited restaurants and boutique wine shops. Her mantra on these wines is she does not take the traditional path and does not want to force the product to market too early.

Wine #5, Heidi Barrett’s own label La Sirena (meaning the mermaid) was created on almost a fluke 20 years ago. As an avid scuba diver and a love of the sea, the name came to her and her husband Bo while playing the Mexican card game Loteria. It was a magical symbol and a perfect segue to combine both of her great passions wine and the ocean. La Sirena began in 1994 with only 200 cases of Sangiovese, as she wanted to create a wine that draws you in. Most all of the wines come from their Calistoga estate vineyards with a small amount from Pritchard Hill fruit. Now they produce over 2,000 cases with 6 different wines every year: Cabernet Sauvignon, Pirate TreasuRed, Le Barrettage, Grenache, Art Bus and Moscato Azul. She emphasized the 2013 La Sirena Cab reflects her devotion to balance, elegance, winemaking tradition and classic varietal styling. Plus it is her favorite varietal to make and absolutely what she is known best for.

The #6 and final wine, being tasted for the day: Barrett and Barrett is the winemaking collaboration of Heidi Barrett and her husband Bo Barrett for his winery Chateau Montelena famed for their success at the “Judgment of Paris” in 1973. Heidi and Bo are often described as two renowned winemakers working together. Their Barrett and Barrett Cabernet is a fusion of their two styles. Heidi tends to focus more on the production side, where Bo focuses on the farming. Bo tends to want to pick before Heidi, she likes the silk and finesse and he likes the rustic edge and somewhat tannic.

Heidi and Bo Barrett

Their 2013 Barrett and Barrett Cabernet presents a selection of the very best grapes, and like 2012 Napa Valley vintages, Heidi described 2013 as the perfect growing season. Her tasting notes describe this wine as “an absolutely gorgeous example of powerful Napa Valley fruit. Extremely concentrated, voluptuous, and certain to be a great bottle for your cellar for years to come. Don’t Miss it!”

The magnetic synergy between Heidi and Bo is their connection with Land, Sea, and Sky, with both being extremely active and adventurous as mutual pilots, avid skiers, and scuba divers. The Land, Sea and Sky is their symbol on the back of the Barrett and Barrett bottle. As winemakers they work intimately with the land, the sea and the sky, it is their mantra to bring them together as one.

“The land is the soils of our distinctive vineyards, the sea is the water that nurtures the vines, and the sky is the weather that changes every year.”










Local Dining Gems in Napa Valley, Slightly off the Beaten Path….

Local Dining Gems in Napa Valley, Slightly off the Beaten Path….

Local’s Dining Gems In the Napa Valley, Slightly off the Beaten Path….

By Dynie Sanderson “NapaFoodGal”

Dining in the Napa Valley offers one of the most amazing culinary experiences you can imagine to ever indulge in with so many Michelin Starred restaurants and Celebrity Chefs. Getting in to some of those notable dining establishments can sometimes be a challenge and somewhat daunting. Yes indeed, it is most definitely a memorable experience to have added a dining extravaganza at one of the more exclusive establishments to your culinary bucket list. However, there is more to the Napa Valley dining scene to discover slightly off the beaten path!

If you are visiting Napa for more than a few days or live in Napa full time, a more casual less intimidating experience is a must as Napa Valley’s epicurean expose offers an extensive plethora of incredible dining options a little more off the radar. With Napa Valley’s culinary centric growth, adding to the many popular local’s favorite haunts are new and innovative bistros, cafes, brewpubs and trattorias popping up throughout the Napa Valley. Always a delicious day in our Wine Country! Here are a few selections to give a tasty try!

Boon Fly Cafe

Boon Fly Café – 4048 Sonoma Hwy, Napa 707-299-4870 www.boonflycafe.com This charming café is located in the heart of Carneros in Napa adjacent to the Carneros Resort. This contemporary roadhouse serves modern rustic cuisine with dishes like their Akaushi Kobe Beef Burger or their famous Baby Back Ribs. Don’t miss their Boon Fly Café donuts with the chocolate dipping sauce any time of the day. Weekend Brunch is a must try with the Boon Fly Benedict or the Breakfast Tacos. Dinner is the best time to avoid the crowds, but you can also make a reservation.

Celadon Scallops

Celadon – 500 Main Street, Napa 707-254-9690 www.celadonnapa.com A true hidden gem in downtown Napa. You won’t find this delicious eatery from the road as it is tucked away in a charming courtyard right along the downtown Napa Riverfront. It is easy to find though, located in the Historic Napa Mill Building and well worth the visit. Celadon has been a popular favorite for over 20 years, serving inspired global comfort food along with an award-winning wine list with selections from all around the world. Their flavors offer creative dishes with Mediterranean, Asian and American influences. They are open for Brunch, Lunch, Dinner and of course Happy Hours! Their Pan-Roasted Mussels are a must try!

Graces Table

Fume Bistro & Bar – 4050 Byway East, Napa 707-257-1999 www.fumebistro.com It is not uncommon to run into a familiar face at this popular local eatery whether you are in for lunch, dinner or just a happy hour beverage, it is one of Napa’s favorite neighborhood spots. They have just launched “Sunday Supper Night” – every week they will have a set menu of 3 courses of your favorite comfort foods for $28. A popular staple on their menu is their wood fired pizzas. And of course, if it is an amazing brunch you are looking for, on Saturdays and Sunday’s this is the place to be. They even have a pet-friendly patio for dining as well. So, after your walk at Alston Park, be sure and come on by and bring Fido too!

Fume Bistro Heuvos






Graces Table – 1400 2nd Street, Napa 707-226-6200 www.gracestable.net A Global Kitchen Focusing on France, Italy and The Americas. Michelin Guide refers to Grace’s Table as “Around the World in Four Courses without leaving Wine Country”. This popular downtown bistro has been delighting locals and visitors alike for almost ten years. Chef Mauro Pando and his team serve up 3 meal periods seven days a week, as you can imagine, their kitchen is bustling creating high quality eclectic cuisine. They have received the Michelin Bib Gourmand award for the past five years with high quality yet affordable cuisine. The Argentinian Empanada is one of my favorites on the menu. Their Kurobuta Pork Osso Bucco Risotto is a shining star and their burgers are a must have. There is something for everyone on their innovative menus. Full Bar with Happy Hour Specials too!

Hop Creek Gastro Pub and Nano Brewery – 3252 Browns Valley Road, Napa 707-257-7708 www.hopcreekpub.com It’s not just a locals’ favorite local pub, it is a brewery too!  In addition to their food menu they have an extensive beer menu with craft beers on tap. This casual and friendly dining destination, located in the Brown’s Valley Shopping Center, provides loyal locals and visitors to Napa with a homey and welcoming experience. Their burgers are outstanding and their flatbreads are a must try. If it is Happy Hour time, be sure and stop by, they offer a yummy selectin of “Opening Acts”. Their pretzel bites are a must try and go perfectly with a beer and the ballgame. Breakfast is served on the weekends along with a Mimosa by the Carafe or their Creekside Green Chili Bloody Mary! Dog Friendly too!

Hop Creek

 Napa Valley Bistro – 975 Clinton Street, Napa 707-666-2383 www.napavalleybistro.com Opened in 2013, Napa Valley Bistro quickly became a locals favorite dining spot and power lunch stop for busy downtown executives. Chef’s Bernardo Ayala and co-owner Ernesto Martinez had a vision to create a restaurant nurturing the community supporting local farmers using locally sourced sustainable organic food from the Napa Valley. They have staked their claim in downtown Napa’s expanding culinary scene and have an abundance of loyal patrons who frequent this bistro offering down home fare and fine dining. Building a sense of community is important for Napa Valley Bistro. Timeless favorites on the menu are the Lamb Burger and the St. Louis Ribs. They also offer Vegetarian options as well.

Napa Valley Bistro Beet Salad

Il Posto – 4211 Solano Avenue, Napa 707-251-8600 www.ilpostonapa.com Owner Justin Graffigna had visions of bringing an old school Italian restaurant to the Napa Valley and he did just that when he opened Il Posto off Solano Avenue off the beaten path from the plethora of downtown Napa dining. This Italian bistro offers a homey welcoming atmosphere where the tantalizing aromas from the kitchen welcome you from the moment you step through the door. The recipes are family inspired offering an extensive variety of housemade pastas such as Orecchiette, Tagliarini, Cannelloni, as well as pizzas, antipasti and Secondi dishes – Veal Parmigiana Eggplant Parmigiana to name a few. There is even a Bambini menu for the kids. Be sure to make a reservation, the word has gotten out! Bravo!

Il Posto Sausage Pizza

Taqueria Maria – 640 3rd Street, Napa 707-257-6925 www.taqueriamaria.com One of my favorite local spots for authentic Mexican cuisine, located across from the Napa Valley Fairgrounds is Taqueria Maria. It is considered the “go-to” restaurant for the best Mexican food in town. They serve daily starting with breakfast at 8am. In addition to their extensive menu they offer beer and wine as well as other beverages from Mexico. If you are one of those that like really hot sauces be sure to ask for it, as their Habanero sauce will truly heat things up!  They have become so popular that I can be a little bit of a wait to get a table, though well worth the wait. One of our favorites is their Carnitas!!! Though you won’t go wrong with anything on their delicious menu.

Taqueria Maria

Hurley’s Restaurant – 6518 Washington Street, Yountville 707-944-2345 www.hurleysrestaurant.com Chef Bob Hurley is no stranger to the restaurant scene in Yountville. He has created outstanding cuisine to his loyal following for over 20 years and I too am truly one of his dedicated followers. Bob is no stranger to the community, as he has been a community leader helping to put Yountville and the Napa Valley dining scene on the map as well as a regular participant in numerous charitable events. Hurley’s Restaurant located in the small culinary hamlet of Yountville offers a savory variety of seasonal wine country Mediterranean inspired dishes. Bob is also known for his special dinner events – Wild Game Week, Winemaker Dinners, Cuban Themed Cigar Dinner, Robert Burns Supper, Friday Night BBQ’s and more. On your next visit to Yountville, Hurley’s is a must stop! 

Protea – 6488 Washington Street, Yountville 707-415-5035 www.proteayv.com This Caribbean inspired global cuisine café offers you a delicious stop to delight in the creative dishes transforming everyday street food from around the globe into chef-driven palate pleasing masterpieces. Protea is a Caribbean cuisine fast casual restaurant with counter service and table side delivery where the menu changes daily to take advantage of the freshest of products available in the Napa Valley. Dine on the deck overlooking the town of Yountville with plates of Pickled Steak Tacos, Empanadas, Goat Barbacoa Sliders, the Cubano. For Brunch, the Eggs Benedict and the Huevos Rancheros are a must try. They also are able to accommodate Vegan, Vegetarian and Gluten-Free Requests. This is a tasty addition to the global cuisine offerings in the Napa Valley.


Brasswood Bar + Kitchen – 3111 St. Helena Hwy N, St. Helena 707-968-5434 www.brasswoood.com Located just north of Saint Helena just off Hwy 29 is a wonderful retreat which is the Brasswood Winery where you can wine, dine, sip and shop. What makes their restaurant so special and so familiar is the Brasswood team is the original entourage from TraVigne in St. Helena spearheaded by chef David Nuno who brought with him many of his well-known recipes from the iconic St. Helena Italian restaurant. Not on the menu, but served daily is his signature mozzarella dish, “Mozza”. Be sure to ask for it when you are there. There isn’t a day that goes by that you will spot one of many of the notable winemakers in the valley breaking bread. It has remained a true “Vintners Village”. By the way, their burger is absolutely “Memorable”!


Busters BBQ





Busters Original Southern BBQ – 1207 Foothill Blvd, Calistoga 707-942-5605 www.busterssouthernBBQ.com Showcased in National Geographic, referred to Busters as the “Best BBQ West of the Mississippi” and voted “Best Barbeque” by The Bohemian year after year. When in Calistoga, after a day of wine tasting, Busters patio is the perfect stop for their Authentic Southern BBQ dishes with recipes from the heart of Louisiana with pork ribs, beef ribs, pulled pork, tri-tip, BBQ chicken, savory baked beans. It’s makes your mouth water just thinking of it. Open for lunch or dinner 7 days a week. Dine in or take out! And be sure and stop by for great jazz and blues on Sunday afternoons.