Its that time of year again for the Harvest Party of the year at Crocker Starr – Carnivus Maximus
When summer is on the way out with the colors of fall burgeoning upon the valley and the aromas of harvest are perfuming the air, what better time for a celebration of wine, harvest, and merriment. One of the queens of the crop orchestrated by winemaker and co-owner Pam Starr is Crocker Starr’s Annual Carnivus Maximus soiree held every year on the Sunday before Labor Day at the winery’s St. Helena location.
Over 400 Crocker Starr Casali Members, friends and family descended on a very warm Sunday afternoon this past September to make merry under the Big Top with an abundance of food, flowing wine, music, dancing and frolicking. Games, photo booths, prizes galore, a grand raffle and more are all part of the experience. This renowned afternoon extravaganza has been coined as “the greatest wine celebration of the year”.
Charlie Crocker and Pam Starr
Adding to the flow of the afternoon, owners Charlie Crocker and Pam Starr continuously popped the corks on Crocker Starr library wines, large format bottles from the cellar and pre-release vintages. And, of course, there was also no shortage on fantastic food at the spread of flavors presented on the colorful and festive buffet tables under the party tent.
2010 was the inaugural first Carnivus event where Charlie, Pam, friends and family celebrated in a small intimate setting with a 10-year vertical tasting in the historic 1918 Farmhouse. The Carnivus Celebration was conceived and its roots began with the roasting of the traditional “blessed” pig while sharing great Crocker Starr wine and stories under the Stonehouse Arbor.
Carnivus Crocker Starr Buffet
The tradition continued in 2011 and in 2012, the first party like a #rockStarr had begun. They upped their game and expanded their annual party by bringing in a selection of local purveyors to prepare the ultimate spread with Zuzu’s famous Paella, Hog Island Oysters and of course the pig roasted to perfection by Smoke, who have all been a part of the party since. Also featured this at this year’s celebration were Fatted Calf Charcuterie, Napa Valley Crust wood-fired pizzas and keeping the guests cool – Paradise Shaved Ice.
Live music and dancing and fun and games like guess the cork, giant Jenga and ring toss to win your very own grapevine were also added to the festivities of Carnivus Maximus. Guests also collected stamps on their passport to enter into a drawing to win one of the 3 Big prizes – Grand, Grander and Grandest. Every year the Crocker Starr Labor Day weekend celebration gets bigger and better and is always a quick sell-out event! There are always new surprises in store each year for their returning guests, family and friends!
The event’s success is attributed to the amazing orchestration by the Crocker Starr team and their Napa Valley event planner, Sasha Souza Events who has been designing the event for the past 3 years. Plans are already in the making for next year’s festivities.
Crocker Starr – Estate old vines sustainably & responsibly grown and farmed continuously since 1870, now handcrafting a small production of exquisite, world-class wines from their historic vineyard estate in St. Helena. Winemaker and co-owner Pam Starr designs the estates Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec blend and Sauvignon Blanc to capture the essence of the extraordinary terroir of the vineyard.
For information and tickets, if available please call 707-967-9111
Located at 700 Dowdell Lane in St. Helena. www.crockerstarr.com
“The World’s Next Great Safari”
Welcome to the heart of polar bear country at Churchill Wild where they specialize in ground-level walking tours through the polar bear inhabited regions of Arctic Canada. Churchill Wild owns and operates the only remote lodges on Canada’s Hudson Bay coast, which is home to the largest and most accessible polar bear population on the planet.
It is just a few weeks away before I embark on an adventure of a lifetime through Arctic Canada exploring white polar bears and Nordic wildlife, glistening Northern Lights and the spectacular painted autumn landscape of the Churchill Wild wilderness and tundra.
I will be heading off to the Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge via a scenic flight from Churchill to this remote, spectacular lodge along Canada’s Hudson Bay coast. There is a good chance I will be spotting roaming polar bears, black bears, wolves, along with many species of shorebirds and possibly a moose or two along the way. They have even spotted caribou on their daily hikes and ATV excursions. The Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge is one of four unique specialty lodges offered through Churchill Wild. They are recognized as a proud member of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World.
The “Hudson Bay Odyssey” will take me and a handful of other eager Arctic adventurists (max 16 explorers) to the remote Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge deep in the heart of polar bear denning territory, where the boreal forest ends and the Subarctic begins. It is quite ironic that my journey takes me to the Nanuk Lodge as in college, I was nicknamed “Nanuk of the North.” It seems I was destined to explore this vast and impressive landscape in the Canadian Arctic tundra.
I can expect to see and experience much of what I would have ever imagined seeing ever in my lifetime. “Touch the Arctic. Change your life.” I will be taking a walk on the wild side where I will have the chance to meet polar bears up close and personal, along with world-class service, accommodations and cuisine at the only fly-in Polar Bear Eco-Lodges on the planet – Churchill Wild.
These unique lodges and polar bear safaris are offered July through November. The emphasis of their daily treks is on their walking safari’s, viewing a diverse array of wildlife and birds, open-air cruising on one their custom-made large ATV’s perfect for cruising the vast tundras nourished by the Hudson Bay coastal waters and indulging in impressive tundra-inspired cuisine.
Being the foodie that I am, I will be in for a real treat after my mesmerizing day out exploring the breathtaking boreal bounty of the wilderness. The bounty of Churchill Wild’s cuisine sets them apart as their culinary history takes them back over 50 years where it all started with Helen Webber (mother to Jeanne Reimer, co-founder of Churchill Wild and her friend Marie Woolsey.) Their legendary series of best-selling cookbooks offer up innovative regional tundra cuisine filled with wild game and delicious dessert recipes. Blueberries and Polar Bears cookbooks – www.BlueBerriesAndPolarBears.com
In fact, Jeanne has developed a signature style of her own, which coined as “tundra-inspired gourmet food.” Twenty-five years ago, they took their vision and created this destination adventure. Churchill Wild has transformed to become so much more than a polar bear safari at their elegantly rustic remote lodges in the tundra. They have melded in the element of rustically sophisticated savory creations on your plate into the perfect destination Canadian Arctic Safari.
Crusted Caribou Tenderloin
Photo Courtesy of Churchill Wild
After visiting the recipes and photos on their cookbook website – Blueberries and Polar Bears, and the Churchill Wild website, my mouth is watering already. Their bountiful breakfasts are fit for a king and will surely set us right for our day exploring along this Hudson Bay retreat. Always included is their own inspired version of Red River Cereal. Lunch is often enjoyed in the wild outdoors with gourmet sandwiches and homemade cookies. Yum. It doesn’t look like I am going to go hungry one bit. Crusted Caribou Tenderloin and Cranberry Cake with Butter Sauce are two of their popular creations for the evening’s fare.
Upon our return from the day’s exhilarating journey, a little chill time by the fire and visiting with newfound friends will be in order before we embark on our evening journey of culinary treats. Another unique, memorable evening treat will be the possible viewing of the Aurora Borealis. I am keeping my fingers crossed for that one!!
As they say at the lodge, “Your sustenance is our mission.”
Packing for my upcoming adventure – Remember Dynie, you won’t be in warm Napa, Dress for the Canadian Arctic!
- A must! Cameras and Chargers, Binoculars. Don’t forget the extra memory cards
- Dress in layers – also a warm spring and fall jacket
- Thin mitts, warm sweater or heavy fleece, warm parka, hiking socks, winter hat, long underwear
- Notebook for jotting down memories of each day
- Day pack, dry bag, sunscreen and rubber boot insoles, sunglasses, slippers and comfortable shoes for the relaxing evenings
What to expect!
- Meet and Share Many Experiences with new Friends
- Lots of photo opportunities and there are even professional photos leaders to guide us
- Get up close and personal with polar bears and wildlife beyond my imagination
- Experience the Aurora Borealis
- Indulge in Tundra-inspired cuisine with recipes created by Co-Founder and Best-selling cookbook author – Jeanne Reimer
- Create memories to last a lifetime!
Churchill Wild Check them out, request, brochure, reserve your adventure, sign up for their newsletters, check out their photos, see what it’s all about! www.churchillwild.com
A Few of Their Partners
Blueberries & Polar Bears
National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World
“VGS Chateau PotelleTrip to Bordeaux”
For Jean-Noel, Chateau Potelle is his French tradition, VGS is his American education…. VGS: Good things speak for themselves.
They are now accepting reservations for the popular Once-in-a-Lifetime to Bordeaux!
Greetings friends & world travelers from Jean-Noel Fourmeaux!
“I am so excited to announce and invite you to the VGS Once-in-a-Lifetime Trip experience to Bordeaux. Due to the popularity of this special annual trip, we are adding a second trip in 2020. Having grown up in Bordeaux, and lived in the Napa Valley for over 30 years, words alone cannot express to you what an amazing and exclusively curated “insiders” trip this is. With me as your host, you will gain access to some of the world finest chateaux normally not open to the public, enjoy incredible cuisine, the accommodations pure sublime luxury and the wines, world-class! I hope you will join me!”
The VGS Annual Chateau Potelle Once in a Lifetime to Bourdeaux
September 6-12 and September 13-19 2020
The 2019 trip sold out so quickly, we are adding a second trip for 2020.
Each trip is limited to only 10 couples and will be sold out fast, so let them know your interest ASAP.
Here is the Itinerary:
Arrive at the 5* Hotel Les Sources de Caudalie, your home for the next three nights at your leisure. We will meet at 4:45 PM in the lobby of the hotel to go visit Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte.
Following the winery tour, Florence and Daniel Cathiard, my friends who own the Chateau, will welcome us in their house “La Chartreuse” for an aperitif!
Dinner will follow at La Table du Lavoir at Les Sources de Caudalie
Ready…Set…GO! We will start our week off with special experience! A very rare and unique in-depth vertical tasting of one of Bordeaux’s most celebrated chateaux, Angelus followed by lunch! From Angelus, we will walk to Chateau Canon another celebrated estate in St. Emilion: supreme elegance! From Canon, we will drive to Pomerol, the land of Merlot and visit the boutique Chateau Le Gay.
Following our tasting at Le Gay, we will stroll through the ancient village of St. Emilion and finish our day at Clos Fourtet or Chateau de Pressac (trip 2) and their underground 30 acres of caves, and complete the day with a delicious dinner at the chateau.
SPA TIME! We begin the day (8:30-12:30) by relaxation. Each of you will enjoy a “Ritual Initiation” at the world-renowned Caudalie Spa famous for their use of grape seeds in all their beauty products!
After a morning of pampering, it’s back to business as we’re off to visit Eric Perrin’s beautiful Chateau Carbonnieux for a vintner lunch where the owners of Chateau Malartic Lagraviere and Chateau Guiraud will also join us.
Dinner tonight will at the venerable Chateau Haut Bailly, for a superb dinner or Chateau Guiraud (trip 2).
Day 3 Chateaux
Moving day…have your luggage ready as we head to the Left Bank where we will move into Chateau Beychevelle, our private chateau for the next 2 nights.
Our first stop, the negociant house Ulysse Cazabonne for an unforgettable tasting of very special vintage wines!
Lunch today will be at the esteemed Chateau Leoville Poyferre where Didier Cuvelier, the owner and my favorite cousin will host us!
Following lunch, we will head to Pauillac and visit Chateau Pontet Canet and learn about their amazing organic and biodynamic farming.
Dinner tonight is with the acclaimed Chef Claude Brossard at his Restaurant Le Saint Julien.
Day 4 Chateaux
Prepare yourselves for a wine lovers dream day!
Our first visit, the famed1st growth-Chateau Mouton Rothschild where we will enjoy a tasting of their three family estates to remember. Mouton, Clerc Milon & d’Armailhac.
Lunch today, Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande or Chateau Phelan Segur (tbd).
We will continue this tough day with our next visit, another 1st growth, none other than Chateau Margaux!
Tonight, a spectacular dinner at your very “own” Chateau Beychevelle in their grand dining room!
Day 5 Chateaux
Today we will discover the “magic” of French Oak barrels with an in-depth educational visit to Tonnellerie Radoux. This fascinating visit will be followed with a blind tasting of various wood-aged wines at lunch.
After lunch, we drive to the city of Bordeaux to check into the Grand Hotel for our last night.
Our farewell dinner tonight, we take over the entire Michelin starred Garopapilles Restaurant. With champagne, great wines and delicious food many have called “too beautiful to eat” we will celebrate the end of our trip together!
This memorable insider’s trip includes:
Six (6) nights in luxury accommodations. All meals (I plan every dish so we do not ever have the same meal twice), the wine (the wines we are going to taste and enjoy cost more than the food on this trip!), ground transportation with a luxury van, tips etc. all are included.
You are responsible only for your airfare and personal expenses. Fun, memories, unique experiences and…hangovers for 16,500 EUROS for two.
This spectacular trip t Bordeaux is limited to 10 couples.
VGS Chateau Potelle Club Members have a special discount: Club VGS: 450 euros discount, Connoisseurs, Red and Collectors Club: 650 euros discount
If you’ve been a wine club member for 5 or more years. you will receive an extra 300 euros discount!!!
Club Member discount will be applied to the payment of the balance.
To request a reservation, please contact Jean-Noel Fourmeaux directly BY CLICKING THE BUTTON BELOW
Request Reservation Form
VGS Chateau Potelle is located at 1200 Dowdell Lane in St. Helena
Check them out on Twitter @vgspotelle and Instagram @vgspotelle