A Journey

The Restaurant at Meadowood

by admin on November 5, 2014

REPOST FROM 2013.

A returned phone call, availability for an immediate meeting and true interest in the happenings at St. Helena Olive Oil Co.  are not things that I would expect from one of the youngest three Michelin star chefs in the Country.   Christopher Kostow, chef at The Restaurant at Meadowood, is a breath of fresh air.

On Friday…yes as in four days ago…I decided that one of our posts should be on The Restaurant.  I am going to feature a different venue in the Napa Valley with every newsletter and thought whom better to start with then a customer who inspires us to be the very best.  I knew the chances were slim that I could get pictures or a meeting at this late date but I never have time to contemplate odds.  I reached out to Ben Nerenhausen, sous chef, as he had been our  contact.  He said he would forward it to Christopher and they would see what they could do.  In the same note, he asked for more olive oil….hmm…perhaps a delivery I would make myself..with iphone camera in hand.

The following morning Kaelin and I headed out to make the delivery and perhaps have lunch at The Grill.  Christopher had left me a message that morning so I returned his call as we drove past the Meadowood gates.  I had no expectation of meeting him that day but after the conversation turned to olive oil and his passion was apparent, I let him know we were right outside his front door…with olive oil.  He did not defer to his receiving person but rather came up and let us in himself.  He went on to give us a tour of the remodeled restaurant and kitchen…his pride in every detail was on his sleeve.

After our tour, we sat down to discuss how we could work together this harvest.  I brought him up to speed on our estates, varietals, etc… and we discussed the characteristics he was looking for in an extra virgin olive oil.  It was apparent that a tasting would be in order so we could match descriptors and I could really understand what flavor profiles he was looking for.  The conversation was so inspiring as it gave me more to shoot for this year…I know it’s going to be a big harvest so I’ll have fruit to work with…and to create something that will please his pallet is a challenge that I am looking forward to.

I knew at this point that I could take a little risk and talk to him about the products that we make for our Napa Valley Bath Co.  We talked about our organic Napa Valley lavender essential oil, hydrosols, and the calendula oil that I just made…after all, calendula flowers are edible and used in salads.  He was curious…and was interested in samples to get a better understanding of the flavor profiles.  His open mindedness and sense of wonderment was refreshing…and inspiring.

As we prepared to say good-bye, Christopher invited us to The Restaurant for dinner…so we could understand what they do.  It was the mix of emotion from his overwhelming hospitality, sense of connection, and generosity that left me speechless…but only for a second.  I graciously accepted his invitation….Tuesday the 17th at 7:30pm….dinner for three at The Restaurant at Meadowood.

With next steps in place, we said our goodbyes and headed back to the car.  As we walked out the door,  Kaelin giggled and said, “Wow, mom, I love this part of your job! “.

Stay tuned for next weeks newsletter where we reveal how Christopher and his staff fed a vegan, a vegetarian and a carnivore.

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Williams Sonoma Catalog Cover!

by admin on August 14, 2013


I finally get to announce the launch of our products with Williams Sonoma and the fact that we are on the cover of their Fall Catalog!  It’s been a challenging process that began over a year ago.  To see it materialize is truly exciting!

As you know I’ve stayed away from wholesale distribution but after meeting the WS team I had a sense that they shared in our passion.  Because of the high volume of their order my first reaction was to have a bigger operation produce and pack for us.  I quickly discovered that our methods of production were not condusive to such operations…too time consuming.  Not willing to compromise our quality levels, I told our WS buyer that we would not be able to do the deal.  When she heard the dilemna she was very passionate about their desire to have us stay true to ourselves and they would support us in all ways to produce in house.  Their desire to have authentic product motivated me to try to make it happen.

I still had to really think about this as we produce about 480 units a day…and their order was weeks worth of production…and we had to keep up with our internal production…and could I really ask my crew to pack that many cranberries into bottles?!!  Truly on the fence, I went to the powers that be…Margarita and Lourdes.  They have been doing all of our production for over 10 years…and I told them the situation.  They didn’t even hesitate…”we can do it”… they exclaimed…”we want to do it!”.  With them on board I decided that we would go for it.  It’s been a long road since that day….with lots of roadblocks and long days…but my entire staff pulled together as a team and made it happen.  They took pride in every step of the way…and so did our vendors…Cape Blanco Cranberries, our Balsamic Producer who we’ve known for 20 years, our olive growers….everyone who was a part of this venture did so with great enthusiasm…which as always translated through to the finished product.

Now that the last pallets are being shipped we need to shift our focus to our new exposure….and we would appreciate a little help from you!  We are obviously going to be exposed to a lot of people who do not know us like you do…so if you’d like to help us in spreading the word then we’d love it if you would give your honest feedback on the WS website.  If you use our extra Virgin Olive Oil perhaps you could write a short review on Our EVOO product page or if you’ve had our Cranberry Balsamic Vinegar, it would be great if you could share a review on the Cranberry Balsamic product page...if you just have a general comment about our Company you can share that on the featured story page.

Word of mouth is why we exist and now we have a great opportunity with your honest feedback to build our community so we can continue to grow and have positive impact!

Thank you for all of your continued support!

In gratitude,

Peggy

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Note from Peggy

by admin on July 17, 2012

I have a mentor and good friend who taught me about front loading.  Front loading is work with no visible return…just keep pushing up the mountain, he would say, and soon you will reach the peak and begin your descent.   He assured me that it would be well worth it.  I’ve drawn strength from these words many times throughout my journey.  The part I think he intentionally left out was that I was climbing Mount Everest…raising two kids and building a business with limited capital…it was a steep climb…and breath taking on every level.

I haven’t thought about front loading in a long time.  At one point, I figured I either missed the peak or was on an endless trek where my mission was to grow stronger and learn to appreciate the moments of peace.. renew and begin again.  Either way, I simply stopped thinking about it…until now.

We have had a lot of wonderful and exciting things happen this year.  The move from Rutherford was a risky one done mainly on intuition…and it has paid off.    I’ve been able to focus on our two stores on Main St. and we’ve driven enough traffic through the stores and website to maintain our momentum.  We were able to afford to move ahead on the remodel of the front of our Main St. building…a truer reflection of who we are…with stone that came from the original stone used in the building.  What a find that was!

I hired an amazing manager for our retail location on Main St.…Marc Golick…I’m sure some of you are following his recipes on our blog.  He not only is an amazing chef but his passion for what we do fills the entire building.  He has changed our game and brought our customer experience to a level that I had hoped for but had never been able to achieve.

We’ve begun the development of our new private “tasting lounge” in the vault area of our Main St. location.  More details to follow but slated to open on September 1st.   It’s an idea that I’ve had for years…so thrilling to be able to make it happen!

Our new venue, Napa Valley Bath Co. , is pulling its weight in its first year.  It’s opened a new world for me…and connected me even deeper to our planet.  I’m having so much fun developing the brand and the products…and am passionate about finding ways to deliver the healing medicines of these plants to you.

And the most exciting news of all…my cousin who has had a career as Vice President of operations at The Gap and Petsmart has decided to come back home to Yountville and join our team.  She will be the Chief Operating Officer.  We have talked about this day for many years…I don’t think either of us knew it would be now but it is..and I’m not questioning it!  I will be freed of day to day operations so I can do what it is that I am most passionate about…creating, nurturing and fostering growth.  She begins on August 6th!

And then our newsletter…or mini magazine as I like to call it.  I’ve had this idea for years.  I wanted to publish a beautiful magazine with inspiring messages and authentic, thoughtful content.   The ease of the internet has made a mini version possible…and my goal is to make it something you look forward to seeing in your inbox.  We will keep you up to date on our happenings, share product and industry knowledge, and feature a special place or person in the Napa Valley that you may or may not be aware of.   Every week we will determine what we think you may be interested in…we will not push content for content sake.

The girls are growing up and doing well.  Emily had an amazing semester in South America and Kaelin is loving NYU and getting ready to head to a semester abroad in Tel Aviv.  Kaelin is home for the summer and it is heartwarming to have her energy and that of her friends in our house again.

Now more then ever, I treasure my time in the morning for my meditation rituals.  I take a respite in the middle of the day to simply be…reconnect with what matters…and regroup for the next part of my day.  I’m smelling the roses…and the lavender…and the lemon balm…and I’m working harder then ever.   There are still many challenges and difficult days but there is an easier movement through the pitfalls…a greater faith in what lies ahead…a stronger sense of the purpose of this journey…and an awareness to the renewal that the earth grants me every day.   I realize now that I stopped thinking about front loading when my focus shifted from the peak to my step….and the funny thing is…once I shifted…so too did everything else.

I hope you are well and appreciative of this very moment.

My very best,

Peggy

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The Perfect Pair

by Emily Shartin on February 6, 2012

What better occasion to think about pairings than Valentine’s Day?

It’s no surprise that we love food, and we love coming up with new ways to use our products — our customers ask us for suggestions all the time and we are more than happy to oblige. When Valentine’s Day — a celebration of pairs — came around, we wanted to come up with some special combinations that were a little different, a little more festive. Today, we’re introducing some wonderful new products that we’re excited and proud to be carrying, and we’ve matched them up with some of our tried-and-true favorites.

Our staff had a lot of fun tasting and putting these gift ideas together. We hope you’ll try them out as part of your Valentine’s Day festivities (either as a gift or part of a special meal), let us know what you think, and maybe come up with a few new pairings of your own.

100% Napa Valley

four 100 ml bottles of our estate extra virgin olive oils

This collection features four estate extra virgin olive oils straight from our home, the Napa Valley. We work closely with each of these small growers throughout the season, ensuring that their olives are grown sustainably and organically. When the time comes, we are there to harvest and mill the olives, and collect the season’s fresh, new olive oil for our customers.

We are offering this set of oils in special 100 ml bottles that Peggy sourced directly from Italy. Each oil exhibits different characteristics, from the delicate flavor and buttery texture of the Ribolli, to the robust fruitiness and pepperiness of the Epstein Estate. They are all perfect for drizzling over fresh greens, poached eggs, roasted vegetables or cheese (more on this below), stirring into soup, or sampling straight up with a fresh, crusty baguette. Need we say more?

Something Cheesy

1 jar of Plumline quince jam, 1 jar of Katz and Co. limited edition sage honey, 1 100 ml bottle of Epstein Estate extra virgin olive oil

We love cheese by itself, but even the best cheeses can be elevated with the perfect condiments. A collection for the cheese fanatic in your life:

We are excited to be one of the first retailers to work with Santa Cruz-based Heidi Schlecht, who carefully sources seasonal, organic fruit for her Plumline jams (she even grows a lot of the fruit herself!). Heidi used to own a cheese shop, so along with classic jams like apricot, strawberry and raspberry, she also makes beautiful cheese condiments like quince jam.

Quince, for those of you who are unfamiliar, look kind of like a cross between a Golden Delicious apple and a pear. Typically too acidic to be eaten raw, they make wonderful, slightly tropical, tart jams with a hint of warm spice and a lovely pink color. Quince (known as “membrillo” in Spanish) is classically paired with the aged Spanish sheep’s milk cheese Manchego, but is also good with other hard cow and goat’s milk cheeses. We also love it on scones or toast, or stirred into a bowl of Greek yogurt.

Along with Plumline’s quince jam, we are offering a limited release Black Button sage honey from our friends at Katz and Co. in Napa. This richly-textured, not-too-sweet honey was extracted early in the spring from bees that pollinated rare wild sage plants. It’s one of our favorites for drizzling over fresh goat cheese or tempering the robust flavors of blue cheese. It’s also a good choice for dressings and marinades, or glazing roasted meats.

And don’t forget that olive oil makes a lovely addition to your cheese plate as well. We are offering a 100 ml bottle of our Epstein Estate olive oil, which is wonderful drizzled over fresh burrata (an Italian mozzarella-style cheese) with a little salt and pepper, or aged sheep and goat’s milk cheeses.

For more on pairing cheese with olive oil, click here.

Simple Decadence

1 bar of either Dandelion chocolate OR Poco Dolce chocolate with olive oil and sea salt, 1 100 ml bottle of Balsamic Vinegar di Modena Methode Tradizionale

Of course, it just wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without a little chocolate. We are very excited to offer you two locally-made chocolate bars that we’ve recently added to our collection.

Dandelion Chocolate was started a couple of years ago in a garage in East Palo Alto, and quickly gained a following for its “bean-to-bar” chocolates. The company, which recently relocated to San Francisco, is one of only a handful of producers in the country that sources cocoa directly from growers around the world, and then uses it to make chocolate. These simple, elegant, delicious bars are true reflections of their origins and of the farmers who grow the cocoa. We are one of the first shops to carry Dandelion Chocolate, and we are very excited to be working with this growing company.

Because we couldn’t resist, we also are offering a chocolate bar from the San Francisco confectioner Poco Dolce, appropriately flavored with two of our favorite things: olive oil and sea salt. While this might sound like an unusual combination, we promise you that the light fruitiness of the olive oil works wonderfully with the richness of the bittersweet chocolate, while the salt helps to brighten the flavors.

Along with the chocolate, we are offering a special 100 ml bottle of our insanely popular aged balsamic vinegar. Those of you who have tried it know that it is almost a dessert in and of itself, but for the perfect Valentine’s Day treat, we recommend it over fresh strawberries.

A ROSEmary

1 jar of Plumline pear rosemary jam, 1 jar of Katz and Co. Range wildflower honey, 1 375 ml bottle of rosemary extra virgin olive oil

Did we mention that we love cheese? Our last Valentine’s Day combination features a few more suggestions for all the cheese fanatics out there, including another standout from Heidi at Plumline: pear rosemary jam. Sweet with just a hint of minty savoriness, we loved this one on blue cheese and with semi-firm cow’s milk cheeses like Tomme de Savoie. Its texture is reminiscent of applesauce, which also makes it a great pair for farmhouse cheddar.

Katz and Co.’s Range wildflower honey is classic, mildly sweet and very versatile. It’s a good match for delicate fresh goat cheeses, aged Pecorinos or stronger blue cheeses. It’s also perfect for stirring into tea or drizzling over granola.

Lastly, we give you a bottle of our rosemary extra virgin olive oil to tie it all together. Try this on fresh goat or sheep’s milk cheeses, firmer Greek cheeses, or keep an eye out for cheeses that are coated in herbs — a drizzle of this oil will give those flavors a nice boost. We also love a splash over pasta with red sauce or fresh focaccia.

For a little more inspiration, check out this wonderful olive oil/rosemary cake recipe.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

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Never Say Never

by admin on November 18, 2011

100ml bottles
For those of you who followed our journey in Italy, you will remember the crazy Italian glass distributor that I met in Certaldo. Well, for months after my return to the States, Mr. Cervantes and I tried to work together to import the 100ml bottle that stole my heart. Time passed, things got busier and I decided to shelve the project. I gradually lost touch with Mr. Cervantes, and all that remained of the memory was this really sleek, sexy 100ml bottle that was the baby to our 375ml. [click to continue…]

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Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar

by admin on September 8, 2011

I’ll never forget the tasting that my sister and I worked at Vintage 1870…now V Marketplace in Yountville. It must have been in 1995. It was not the first time that I tried to sell my wares in my hometown. The previous venue was years before…I believe I was around 10 years old when I made my debut in the “gourmet” food industry…I remember being off to a good start in sales with the first tour bus rolling in early but as the day progressed, my sales were offset by the growing number of returns. Apparently I picked our cherry plum tree a tad bit early. [click to continue…]

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INNA jam?

August 30, 2011

It Takes One To Know One. When a Meyer Lemon Marmalade class sells out within a few hours, you have to wonder who the instructor is.  I love Meyer Lemon Marmalade as much as you but come on…a sell out in less then a day online?  Something was up. Out of curiosity and a bit [...]

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Quinta do Tedo

August 16, 2011

One of the reasons I chose Florence, Italy as our home in 2009 was the knowledge that a dear friend, Kay Bouchard, lived just outside in the Chianti Region. She was a great source of information and inspiration…my security blanket. I had known that she and her husband Vincent were developing a winery on the [...]

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One Mans Junk…..

April 5, 2011

There was no brand strategy meeting in Y2000 to determine the look of our retail stores.  There was the day that I was sitting in the middle of an empty 3,200 sq. ft space, flat broke, ready to open, with product of course…but nothing to put it on.  My dogs were there so I’m sure [...]

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Meet the Diva – Saturday, February 19, 2011

February 8, 2011

Come join us this Saturday for a cooking class with Judy Witts Francini, aka, Divina Cucina!  Judy will transport us all to Tuscany as she prepares Sage and Walnut Pesto Cibreo’s Passato Di Zucca Sicilian Orange Salad Panna Cotta and Olive Oil Cake There will be plenty to sample and you will leave with a [...]

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