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Monday, October 26, 2015

10/26/2015 - Liqueur from Chile and the Knowledge of Wine

Slow Living Radio welcomes Chilean guest Benjamin Naylor, who, with his partner Nicolas Albagly has created a liqueur using the native herbs and Maqui berries of their country.  And for some inspiration to build on your wine knowledge, we invite Swiss born, R. Christian Oggenfuss, to share his path to founding the Napa Valley Wine Academy.

Firstly, a welcome to Chile:

Ben and Nicolas

Benjamin Naylor and Nicolas Albagly
MQi Liqueur

MQi liqueur is the product of a careful process in which tradition and innovation are combined. Native, medicinal herbs are distilled in old copper still distillation devices according to traditional Mapuche methods, thus creating a delicate, aromatic base which is then combined with macerated Maqui for a prolongued period to extract its exquisite flavor, aromas and powerful anti-oxidant properties.
About the Maqui Berry

The Maqui is an indigenous berry found in the south of Chile, used throughout the generations as part of the Mapuche’s (local indians’) diet, who collected and either ate it as fruit; or, drank it as wine or semi-fermented grape must. Some recognize the fruit to have the most anti-oxidants on the face of the planet, and recent scientific investigations have demonstrated that, thanks to its beneficial properties, it may even help prevent some illnesses such as Alzheimer’s.

The Maqui is collected in the Bío Bío Valley (Chile’s most southern wine growing region) as well as Chile’s Patagonia. The terroir of Talcamávida (or ‘Mountain of Thunder’ as translated from Mapuche) is situated at the old fort site of the Araucan War, on the shores of the great Bío Bío River. MQi is elaborated according to a long, inherited tradition in the art of distillation brought over by the Spanish together with wisdom passed down the Mapuche generations as how best to prepare the fruit and medicinal herbs. Using state-of-the-art technology, the distillation process is carried out in small batches, allowing for a high quality finished product. This way, a unique liqueur, natural and aromatic, free of chemical components; and, with all the anti-oxidant power of the Maqui is produced.

Suggested uses

MQi liqueur can be enjoyed as a cocktail, as an innovative way to make a Cosmopolitan, or as an aperitif combined with Champagne – MQi Royal – even just as a digestive served with just ice. Ideal food pairings include pork sirloin with an exotic plum sauce, ceviche prepared with tropical fruit, fresh cheeses; and, puddings based on intensely flavored fruits such as mango or guava.


R. Christian Oggenfuss, D.W.S., F.W.S., I.W.P.
D.W.S., AIWS, FWS, IWP, WSET-Certified, Chief Educational Officer
Napa Valley Wine Academy

Christian Oggenfuss is a second year Master of Wine student with the prestigious Institute of Masters of Wine in London, a passionate wine industry spokesman, wine educator and founder of the Napa Valley Wine Academy. He holds the DWS (Diploma Wine & Spirits), the highest certification from the London based Wine & Spirit Education Trust and is an Associate Member of the Institute of Wine & Spirits. Christian also holds the French Wine Scholar (FWS) certification with the French Wine Society as well as the Italian Wine Professional (IWP) certification with Italian Wine Central.
He brings 20 years of wine experience to wine education as a marketer and brand builder for wine brands including: Stags’ Leap Winery, Etude, Beringer Vineyards, Benziger Family Winery, PlumpJack Estate Winery, Odette Estate, CADE Estate Winery, St. Clement, and V. Sattui Winery.
Christian has also successfully launched wine related businesses in Switzerland and traveled extensively to all major wine regions in Europe and North America. He is fluent in Schwiizerdütsch (Swiss-German) and English. Additionally, he is a Certified Champagne Wine Location Specialist (Champagne Bureau) and a Certified Port Wine Location Specialist (Port Wine Institute).
Founded in 2011, NVWA is a community of passionate, creative, forward-thinking people who share a dedication to elevating the industry. Situated in the heart of Napa Valley, they have one foot in the classroom and the other in the vineyards.
From their Education Center in Downtown Napa, the academy offers wine certification programs, workshops, intensives, boot camps and more, to students of all walks of life, whether on a specific career path or merely for personal satisfaction.
The world-class instructors are committed to fostering excellence, creativity, culture, and advancement in the wine industry and beyond. When you become a student of the Napa Valley Wine Academy, not only will you explore and expand your knowledge of the diverse world of wine, you’ll also forge critical relationships, deepening the human connection, making accessible what once may have seemed inaccessible.
Courses are offered in several of America’s best-known wine epicenters: Napa Valley, Santa Barbara, California and at the world famous Bern’s Epicurean Hotel in Tampa, Florida. The Napa Valley Education Center is situated in the heart of California’s most famous wine region and also serves as headquarters. The Tampa Florida courses are located in the Epicurean Hotel, part of the world famous Bern’s Steak House, which has earned the Wine Spectator Grand Award since 1981.  Santa Barbara courses are held at Firestone Vineyard, the allowing students to experience wine education at a working winery. And beyond the classroom, students can explore the exciting wine regions of Santa Barbara and Paso Robles on a private itinerary.
Certifications Offered

The Napa Valley Wine Academy is an Approved Program Provider with the Wine & Spirit Education Trust in London as well as a private school member of the Society of Wine Educators.


Friday, October 23, 2015

10/19/2015 - A Concierge and a Winemaker - Living Life in Wine Country

Slow Living Radio celebrates the lives of two people who have discovered their passion in the Wine Country of California.  Our first is a second career concierge in the highly acclaimed Villagio Inn & Spa. Mary DuVorue, delights us with her story, local off the beaten track recommendations and experiences.

Dan O'Brien, who is now with Larkmead winery, then joins us to talk about his career in wine - from Sommelier, to wine marketer to winemaker, dedicating his new label to his late mother, Gail.  It's an inspiration to hear. 

Dan O'Brien

From stock boy to wine director to winemaker, Dan O’Brien has dedicated the last 20 years of his life working in every facet of the wine industry. A native of Rhode Island, Dan got his start at a local package store building displays and stocking shelves after class in high school.

During college Dan began managing the wine cellars at some notable restaurants in Providence including The Capital Grille, XO Cafe and Ten Prime before moving his career to Boston where he was hired as a Sommelier at Grill 23 & Bar.

After 5 years as a Sommelier and Wine Director running some of the top cellars in Boston, Dan moved to the San Francisco Bay Area as the opening Wine Director for Cavallo Point in Sausalito. A unique opportunity to build a wine program from the ground up. During his time at Cavallo, Dan began developing priceless relationships within the industry, allowing him to create his first wine label, Cultivar.

Dan left Cavallo in 2011 to begin managing wineries and making wine in Napa and Sonoma. From 2012 to 2015, Dan worked as Estate Director for the highly regarded Long Meadow Ranch in Rutherford, where he ran the winery’s sales and marketing operations and developed new brands for the company's continuous growth in vineyard holdings, including Farmstead by Long Meadow Ranch and Hunt & Harvest.

Today, Dan spends his days as the Director of Sales & Marketing for Larkmead Vineyards in Calistoga. In his spare time Dan is the winemaker for his own label Gail, producing single vineyard wines from appellations in and around the Sonoma Valley in dedication of his late mother.

About Larkmead

Dating back to the late 1800s, the story of Larkmead spans two families and over 100 acres of valley floor vineyard. The Estate has been part of the Solari family for nearly 70 years, continuing the proud tradition of producing world-class wines that was started in 1895.

The Larkmead Estate is made up of three contiguous vineyard parcels at one of the narrowest points in Napa Valley. The vineyard spans almost the entire breadth of the valley floor from Highway 29 to Silverado Trail with the Napa River dissecting it in half. From the winemaking perspective, it offers tremendous diversity in the soils due to centuries of alluvial flow. Today, the vineyard's three block contain four primary soil types: sand, silt, clay and gravel. It is this broad range of growing conditions that brings distinct terroir to our wines.

About Gail Wines

Gail Wines is a small, family-owned wine company producing single vineyard wines from the eastern hillsides of Sonoma County. The wines are fermented in small lots using ambient, native yeasts then aged sur-lie in seasoned French oak barrels with minimal movement or manipulation. Each bottle is bottled unfiltered and hand-numbered all in the name of our mother Gail.

The Concierge Insider: Yountville, California



Mary DuVoure, Villagio Inn and Spa, Yountville, Napa Valley, California.

 Villagio Inn and Spa and Vintage Inn are wonderful choices if you are planning a trip to the Napa Valley.  Large, luxurious rooms, a breakfast spread beyond belief, and within minutes’ walk of some of the country’s best restaurants, including the French Laundry, Bouchon, Redd, Michael Chiarello’s Bottega, Hurley’s, Bistro Jeanty and so many more, These are dotted amongst wine tasting rooms, galleries, spas, boutiques and a chocolate shop to die for, Kollar Chocolates in the historic V Marketplace.

Seated in relaxed and gracious elegance in Villagio’s spacious welcoming lobby, you will find concierge, Mary DuVoure, who’s warm and generous spirit will surround you and start your journey in true Napa style.  Enjoy Mary’s stories!


How long have you been a concierge?

I left the corporate world to take the position at Villagio Inn and Spa in Yountville in 2003 and haven’t looked back.

What is your most unusual request?

Once I was contacted by a guest arriving in a few days, who was planning on surprising his girlfriend with a marriage proposal and vacation at the hotel.  He had selected, purchased and shipped an entire wardrobe, with make-up, toiletries and all she’d need, asking me to set up the room for her.  Needless to say, she accepted the proposal!

What is your favorite local “hidden” gem?

Kayaking on Lake Hennessy, or going up to Somerston Estate where you can drink the spring water from the ground.

Favorite 1 day getaway?

Going to the ocean, like Rodeo Beach to walk my dog.

Favorite weekend getaway?

What referral gets the most “thank you’s” or “wow”s

Dinner at the French Laundry, and also Bottega..

Best Napa “splurge”?

Aside from The French Laundry, a chauffeured guided experience of the valley. They get you into all the unknown wineries with special treatment everywhere you go!


Best quality value for the money?

Lunch at Bouchon Bakery or Oakville Grocery.


Favorite international destination



Best unknown photo spot

Pride Mountain vineyards picnic ground or Cardinale Estate in Oakville where you can get a 360 view from their balcony.

Most unforgettable trip moment

When I arrived in London on one trip, a business man I had met on the plane offered to share his driver taking me to a great hotel, then picking me up the next day for a tour.

Favorite city to visit

Favorite city hotel

Hotel Fountaines du Luxembourg, on the Left Bank of Paris.  For a tired visitor arriving after a long flight, it was perfect – champagne and fully stocked bar, right amid all the Left Bank’s wonderful cafes and such refined elegance!

Most moving thank you gift

A guest made me some hand strung pearls, that she had personally selected knowing my favorite colors, eyes and style.

Something no-one knows about being a concierge

How much work it takes to be good at the job.  You really need to be able to get outside of yourself and be thinking of the guests’ preferences.

When you travel (aside from the obvious) what do you never leave home without.
A black coat that covers all occasions – dressy, casual, wind and rain.

If you only have 1 day in Napa, you must………

Hire a driver; visit 2 great wineries with a picnic in a vineyard.  It’s more important to get quality than quantity to experience the “essence” of the valley.

What are your favorite travel apps and websites?

Best spot for People Watching

Bouchon Patio.



Thursday, October 15, 2015

10/12/2015 - The Diary of Ken Frank

To begin our show, Sally brings a sneak preview of her recent trip to Chile to launch Food From Chile, where she was honored to meet President Michelle Bachelet.  Stay tuned for more on Chile and it's amazing food and wine scene! 

We are delighted to welcome back our friend, Chef Ken Frank of La Toque at the Westin Verasa in Napa to share his latest travels including Expo Milano.  Here he cooked for the James Beard American Restaurant which was housed in the exquisite Duomo.

Ken also brings us back to real living in many of the cultures he has visited - France, Holland, Italy, and more. 

Acclaimed Chef Ken Frank is entirely self-taught and brings a distinctive, personalized touch to his contemporary French cuisine at La Toque restaurant in Napa, California. Chef Frank’s love of French cuisine began when his family moved from California to Yvoire, France, where he remained to begin his culinary career. After returning to California and refining his skills, Chef Frank first achieved national acclaim at age 21 at La Guillotine in Los Angeles. In 1979, he opened the first La Toque on the Sunset Strip.  After a 14-year run, Chef Frank sold the restaurant and in 1995 opened the award-winning Fenix at the Argyle. In 1998, the second incarnation of La Toque made its debut in Rutherford, California at The Rancho Caymus Inn. La Toque was awarded a Michelin Star in 2007, the first year the organization published a San Francisco Bay Area guide, and which it still retains today. In 2008, Chef Frank moved the restaurant to The Westin Verasa Napa. For years Chef Frank hosted the James Beard Foundation’s Legends of Wine celebration, honoring such wine luminaries as Robert Mondavi, Christian Moueix (Chateau Pétrus and Dominus), and the Barrett Family (Chateau Montelena) with his cooking. La Toque has continued to be well-received by the nation’s top critics and reviewers. In 2008, La Toque earned a three-star review from the San Francisco Chronicle. In 2014, La Toque received Wine Spectator’s Grand Award, the highest honor for a restaurant’s wine list.

Ken's Devilled Eggs as Expo Milano

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

10/05/2015 - A Yountville Retrospective

This week, Steve delves back 50 years to the incorporation of Yountville, now a mecca of fine dining, shopping and wine tasting.  Our guests, John Dunbar, Mayor of Yountville and Steve Bardessono, owner of the land where Bardessono Inn & Spa now sits, reflect on the changes over that time, and how it has grown into an international visitor and dining destination.

Yountville, Napa Valley, offers the quintessential Wine Country experience in an idyllic and tranquil setting. This inviting and charming town is sure to inspire, providing visitors what they’ve come to expect in a world-renowned destination, with the unmistakable flavor of surprise, too. Yountville is simply an experience for every taste.

Coupled with the spectacular wineries that come with the territory, Yountville offers so much more. Whether it’s the unmatched dining, world-class art community, thriving and eclectic shopping options, luxurious hotels, quaint inns and spectacular spas, or simply the breathtaking scenery and friendly locals, the Yountville experience awakens all the senses.

Yountville is proud to be the home of fantastic Michelin-rated restaurants. National and international media frequently come calling for its incomparable chefs, and every visitor finds something—usually several somethings—to please their palette.

Between Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Theatre, the Art Walk and Napa Valley Museum, Yountville rewards new and returning visitors with stunning and ever-changing creative displays. Yountville delights in its wide-ranging cultural experiences with new exhibits and performances, as well as a full events schedule and seasonal extravaganzas. There is always something exciting happening to keep visitors coming back for more.

John Dunbar
Yountville Mayor

John F. Dunbar was re-elected to a second term as Mayor November 4, 2014.  Mayor Dunbar was first elected Mayor November 2, 2010. Prior to being elected Mayor, he was elected as a Council Member November 7, 2006 and was appointed by Council as Vice Mayor for two consecutive terms. Dunbar was first appointed as a Council Member by the Town Council on October 19, 2004 to fill an unexpired term of office due to a resignation of a former elected Council Member. Dunbar also served on the Town’s Zoning & Design Review Board prior to being appointed to the Town Council.

In addition to serving on the Town Council, Dunbar represents the Town of Yountville on the following regional and county wide boards and commissions: 

Steve Bardessono

A third-generation Yountville resident, Steve Bardessono's family settled in the little town of Yountville in 1926. When Steve and wife Pat Bardessono built their home on the property in the early 1970’s, they incorporated into it an existing stone building meant for wine storage. (An underground wine cellar was not possible due to the high water table, so in the late 19th century their family built the aboveground stone “cellar”). In later years, the building was taken apart stone by stone and saved for reuse on the Bardessono (inn and spa) exterior walls. The stone is a local limestone called Tufa. The large blocks of the Tufa stone have been sliced into tiles and used on both the exterior and interior of public spaces of the namesake LEED Platinum certified 62-room Bardessono Inn & Spa.

Steve Bardessono with older brother Peter in the early days of Yountville, and now.