POSTED ON May 14, 2009 | IN Wine News | BY joe

On the Economy
I’m hearing on the business news that some economists feel we may have hit the bottom of the recession and will now experience a slow road back to recovery. We are also hearing about more people taking “day vacations.” On a recent trip to the Napa Valley, it was hard to tell if business was getting better. On a Tuesday night, at the Bottega Restaurant we found no signs of a recession. The restaurant has been booked solid nightly since its opening in December. But the next day at Redd it was a different story. The restaurant was much less busy from what we had experienced in the past. By the time we had finished dinner at 9 pm, there were plenty of empty tables and the bar was deserted.

At the Oxbow Public Market on a Wednesday afternoon, the place was absolute dead. Honestly, there were more workers in the market than customers. I wonder whether this place is going to make it. Maybe the weekends are different, but these merchants need a hefty dose of daily customers to make a go of it. We purchased some meats at the Fatted Calf and the merchant told us that things are very slow during the week.

Just outside the entrance to Domain Chandon in Yountville is where one balloon company launches its early morning rides. We were on a morning walk when we spied six balloon rides getting ready to take off. That surely looks like a positive.

Fill ‘er up
The Wine Garage in Calistoga has come up with a very novel idea. The wine garage was once a gas station and car repair shop, so owner Todd Miller got the idea of pumping wine instead of gasoline. He pours wine into half-gallon jugs from stainless steel tanks using a gas-station type nozzle. I’m not sure if Todd has plans to let customers bring their own jugs of various sizes like they do Italy. That would be fun!

A Charles Shaw Taste Off?
Just read in Peg Melnik’s blog in the Press Democrat that she is attempting to organize a taste-off of “Two Buck Chuck” wines against Napa Valley Wines. She is attempting to organize two panels of tasters, one consumer and the other professional. The way I look at it, Fred Franzia can’t lose on this deal no matter what the outcome. Napa Valley wines, on the other hand, have everything to lose and nothing to gain.

Summer Concerts — Begin Planning
Robert Mondavi Concerts — the 40th Annual
This wonderful series this year includes the B52s, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Natalie Cole and KC and the Sunshine Band. Get your tickets online at the Robert Mondavi Web site.

Napa Valley Festival del Sole
The fourth season of this distinctive summer is scheduled for July 17-25, 2009. This year the Festival del Sole will team up with Robert Redford for a concert benefiting the Redford Center on July 21. This benefit concert takes place at Castello di Amorosa.

Napa Valley Fiction
Just finished reading “Corked by Cabernet” by Michelle Scott. This is a mystery murder that takes place in the Napa Valley. The principal character is Nikki Sands, the manager of an upscale winery and lodge. Nikki organizes a dinner on the Wine Train for guests of the wine lodge and one of the guests is found murdered in the wine storage train car. Nikki gets involved in investigating the crime. This is light reading and more interesting if you like wine and the Napa Valley. One last thing: Nikki enjoys cooking and complete recipes are provided in the book for the meals she prepares.

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