POSTED ON February 27, 2009 | IN Wine News | BY Joe Becerra

Wappo Restaurant is Closed

One of our favorite long-time restaurants, Wappo Bar & Bistro, has closed its doors in Calistoga. For years this restaurant with its eclectic menu has been a favorite of locals and visitors alike. So far, we have been unable to find out why the restaurant closed. Was it the economy, the competition, or just the time to end a good long stretch of serving up fine dining? We hope it was the latter. We will surely miss Wappo.

Hurray for Michael Chiarello and the Bottega Restaurante in Yountville

San Francisco Chronicle food critic Michael Bauer gave the newly-opened Bottega Restaurant in Yountville a Three-Star rating (Excellent). In his review, Michael Bauer praises the outstanding cuisine as well as the star power of owner and chef Michael Chiarello. Michael Bauer also cited the wine list as extensive and well priced. He also noted that, despite the economy, the restaurant was packed with diners. Congratulations to Michael Chiarello and his staff. The review is at

The Culinary Institute — Saturday Classes for Tourists

If you are planning a visit to the Napa Valley, why not consider a two-hour Saturday class at the Culinary Institute at Greystone in St. Helena? The famous cooking and wine school will offer a series of classes for food and wine enthusiasts, called “Saturday at the CIA.” The lineup of offerings looks very interesting, with enough of a variety classes to bring visitors back for more. A couple of examples are “Flavors of the New Spanish Table” and “Tasting Wine Like a Pro.” The cost of each class is $75. The classes are “hands-on” and geared toward the average food and wine lover.

Freemark Abbey Reopens Tasting Room

Last month Jackson Family Wines announced some bad news with layoff notices to a significant number of its workforce, but this month there is good news. Jackson Family Wines is reopening the historic Freemark Abbey tasting room. The family company purchased the Freemark Abbey Winery in August of 2006 from Legacy Estates. The company has spent a great deal of cash and effort to restore the tasting room to showcase the history of Freemark Abbey, which began making fine Cabernet Sauvignon in 1967. The Jackson Family Wines intends on preserving the history of this famed winery

Judd’s Enormous Wine Show Continues Each Friday

Judd Finkelstein of Judd’s Hill Winery in the Napa Valley has launched a very wacky wine show that he calls “Judd’s Enormous Wine Show.” You might think Judd is producing this wine broadcast to sell Judd’s Hill Wine. I watched the first two episodes and I’m still trying to figure out what in the heck this crazy show is all about. Watch it and comment. I wonder what Judd’s pioneering wine parents think about all this wackiness.

13th annual Premiere Napa Valley Barrel Tasting and Charity Wine Auction

On a positive economic note, the 13th annual Premiere Napa Valley brought in 1.5 million dollars in barrel future purchases. The annual event brings the wine trade from all parts of the wine world to bid on prized wine. The Napa Valley Vintners Association was not sure what to expect in this economy and was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. Last year’s auction brought in a record 2.2 million dollars.