Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Napa Bottle Blog: Farmstead
As I make up the charts for interviews and visits of the sources that will form the bones of the new Born to Shop California Wine Country, I use every printed guidebook to have a look-see at opinions on each property. After all, there are 400 wineries just in Napa Valley and I will not be covering all of them. I also need the right mix of wine bars, regular retail, farm stands, olive oil purveyors, chefs and hotels.
One of the leading properties to catch my eye was Long Meadow Ranch, which I understood was going to be one fancy farm stand.
Sooooo, when I booked an inspection, I actually wore jeans and wellies and barnyard clothes. Silly me. The address I was given was neither farm nor ranch nor veg-stand, but a construction site of the soon to be opened Farmstead, a collection of restored buildings at the edge of St. Helena, across the street from the restaurant Tre Vigne and a sneeze from the original Taylor's Refresher (burger joint).
Farmstead consists of a tasting room, which will open in December, in a restored gothic farmhouse and a newly-built stand alone restaurant created by Executive Chef Sheamus Feeley, who for the past eight years did kitchen concepts for the Hillstone Group out of their nearby Rutherford Grille. The restaurant will open to the public in January.
Since he has lived in Napa for many years, Feeley is familiar with the local lifestyle and is creating a restaurant for the community. His major innovation is that there will be no corkage fee for guests so that tourists can bring in a bottle they have bought in their explorations of the destination and local vintners can bring in their own wine for friends and family. Naturally, there will be a wine list--with a modest mark-up, Sheamus stresses. The standard markup for wine in these parts is three times cost, which Sheamus finds way too high.
Long Meadow Ranch, written LMR, is a vertical operation that has wine and wow. They grow their own grass-fed cattle, they grow their own produce, make their own olive oil and in between all that also have wine. Between the Tasting House and the restaurant, Sheamus will have a garden for visitors to actually see the process of bringing food from earth to table; there will also be demos as well as a nursery selling organic feed and farm products.
Watch this spot; obviously I will be reporting as both venues open to the public.