Hello, Napa!

Hello Napa!

Join owner, Andrew Brancato, as he shares about his recent trip to enjoy the flavors of Napa Valley, CA!

The experiences at the wineries and restaurants left me with so many great ideas for our own businesses, wines I look forward to sharing on our wine lists, and new menu ideas. 

This past week I had the pleasure of visiting Napa Valley to explore one of the most beautiful parts of the country, learn more about wine, explore wines I had never tasted, and of course, eat great food. 

On my journeys, I was lucky enough to be hosted at Silver Oak Winery, The Prisoner Wine Company, Buena Vista Winery, Oakville Grocery, Hanson of Sonoma, Raymond Vineyards, and Elizabeth Spencer Winery.

I would like to thank Kyle Ehman and his team at Standard Beverage for arranging such an amazing experience for us as well as Jean-Charles Boisset for his team's hospitality at several of his properties. 

As for food, we did not miss the opportunity to take advantage of all Napa has to offer. We ate at Model Bakery, Gott's Roadside, Oxbow Public Market, Oakville Grocery, Farmstead, Bistro Don Giovanni, Morimoto Asia, Cole’s Chop House, Grace’s Table, and Ad Hoc. 

The experiences at the wineries and restaurants left me with so many great ideas for our own businesses, wines I look forward to sharing on our wine lists, and new menu ideas. 

One notable experience was our newfound love for Cabernet Franc wines. We took every opportunity to sample the wine made from the “Father Grape” to the Cabernet Sauvignon, and man was it great. Our favorite was the Cab Franc from Buena Vista where we also had the opportunity to taste a wonderful Rosé Champagne, a Pinot Noir, and a Zinfandel. 

At the beginning of our trip, we stumbled upon Vermeil Wines, where we tried our first Cabernet Franc wine and received some great food recommendations from our host. Not only did we love the tie to Kansas City, as Dick Vermeil spent five years coaching the Chiefs, but we also enjoyed hearing about the Vermeil family’s third-generation operation.   

It was hard not to admire the family-run business of Silver Oak. From the minute we stepped foot on the property, we noticed the class and precision. We really loved hearing about their family story, touring the wine-making facilities, and tasting several great Cabernet Sauvignons from Silver Oak and Pinot Noirs from their sister winery Twomey. I took advantage of shipping some of their wines home for my collection and look forward to expanding their presence on our menus. 

At Hanson, we learned about the production of vodka using grapes and how Hanson infuses their vodkas through a very organic and thoughtful process. Their infusions really shine in a craft cocktail setting. 


The team at The Prisoner Wine Company expanded my love of their wines to an offering they call Saldo. We learned the word “Saldo” fittingly means “I join” in Italian, representative of the way various grapes come together to make an incredible wine. I also think the name is fitting as wine joins us together around the table.

We got to enjoy the Saldo wines during an exquisite four-course lunch prepared by their talented culinary team led by executive chef Brett Young. We were treated to an Alaskan Halibut taco paired with Saldo White Zinfandel, a chicken mole tamale paired with Saldo Falanghina, a show-stopping citrus salad comprised of oranges, blood oranges, grapefruit, avocado and jicama, tomato rice and smokey moro beans, and excellent chips and salsa; all paired with Saldo Zinfandel, Saldo Red Blend, and Saldo Carignan. It was nice to try some varieties that we had never tried, or even heard of, such as the Falanghina, the Carignan, and a carbonic-style Zinfandel. Look to check out the Saldo Zinfandel at the Brass Onion very soon. 

Our host at Raymond Vineyards was a wealth of knowledge with everything from biodynamic farming, grape plants/vines, wine production, and most importantly, wine. She toured us through the active and impressive facilities where we sampled different wines along the way. We were lucky enough to meet the winemaker and visit all of the tasting rooms. We loved the Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon and brought home a case of the Acre Red Wine blend. The blend is bold, rich, and full-bodied and will make a great pair to a Bolognese. 

Elizabeth Spencer was the most laid-back experience; we got to taste several selections while enjoying Willy Wonka on TV as well as Julia Child baking pies and cakes on another TV. We also listened to great tunes provided by our host Marco. We tried winery exclusives as well as some wines available in Kansas and Missouri. We loved seeing their impressive outdoor courtyard, where they host tastings when weather permits. We brought home a very interesting Meyer lemon aperitif wine that we look forward to making refreshing cocktails with this summer at the lake. 

After so many years of tasting great wines and trying to learn as much as possible, there will be nothing that compares to seeing it all firsthand. Learning about the different appellations that exist in Napa Valley and how the different varietals of grapes grow throughout the region will be an unforgettable journey—one that I look forward to going back to visit again. There is so much wine to explore!