Yesterday I shared a look at my updated gallery wall with Simply Framed, a wall that definitely doesn’t shy from the bold or colorful. And while gallery walls tend feel very “one-and-done,” I touched upon the process of continually...
I love music. Specifically, I love the feelings that music evokes. If you don’t believe me, just take one quick look at my music library, where you’ll find playlist titles such as “Sappy,” “Pump It Up,” and “Just Relax.” So when Lincoln asked that I come to California during music’s biggest weekend—at least on TV—to help introduce Lincoln’s new Revel System and talk about how music can shift one’s mood or perspective, I was on the next flight out.
Revel, a very well-known name in home audio from Harman, had been working with Lincoln over the past year to create a sound system like I have never seen in a car. A celebration of the Lincoln + Revel collaboration was the Sound of Luxury Experiment, set up at beloved LA hotspot Henry’s. Upon arrival, guests received a special code to lift a garage-like door, revealing a Lincoln MKX and the Sound of Luxury experience. Once we were comfortably seated inside the MKX we pressed play, and the experience truly began. Through the stunning use of video, paired with music composed specially for Lincoln by composer Paola Prestini, guests were transported through nearly five minutes of pure sound heaven.
The music was so powerful. When I had the opportunity to talk with Paola afterward, I couldn’t help but ask her about the relationship between music and moods—to which she immediately replied that sounds “color the music, which in turn sparks certain feelings.” Inspired, I ended up talking with more than a dozen guests that night, and it was apparent that these feelings seemed to be shared. Common emotional reactions to different sounds spanned happiness to sadness, and feelings of longing and remembrance. When asked how sound can shape their outlook or mood, a few people responded almost philosophically with sentiments like “Sound is perception,” “Sound brings life,” and most simply, “Sound is everything.”
After chatting about the emotions tied to music, I’d have been remiss had I not found out about the science behind it all. That’s where Kevin Voeck comes in. Kevin, a Revel sound engineer, has worked with Lincoln for more than a year to create the state-of-the-art system. And while I know more now about sound and sound systems then I had ever imagined I could, two things really stuck with me after talking with the creators of the system and experiencing it in person. First, the ability of the engineers from Lincoln and Revel to research and place speakers very precisely around the car resulted in the sensation that you’re at an actual concert, since the sound is layered in front of you at a very natural level…rather than pouring out of speakers at knee level. Second, the high-efficiency transducers generate sound with minimal distortion…and that is scientific talk for “the quality of sound doesn’t change no matter how loud I play my favorite pump-up tunes.”
All in all, I was blown away by the people I met, the sounds I heard, the energy I felt. I saw firsthand how music connects people…and the Cali weather wasn’t too bad either. Truly, MKR
Lincoln MKX available at participating Lincoln Black Label dealers only.
A few months ago, our photographer friend Kathryn McCrary and her husband jetted to Italy, after dreaming about the Amalfi Coast for over three years. After receiving an unexpected flight voucher, the two decided to take the trip of their dreams to celebrate six years of marriage. (Swoon!)
While we followed along on Instagram, Kathryn and her husband toured Rome, hopped on the train to Salerno, and ferried into Positano to spend five dreamlike days enjoying the best bites and sites the charming coastal town had to offer. Add a day-trip to Capri and sunset-hike along The Path of Gods, and the couple couldn’t have had more of a magical time.
“We knew we wanted one last taste of summer, and the beaches of Positano were the perfect location to celebrate and relax,” said Kathryn. “My favorite memory, however, was the boat ride back to Positano from our day trip to Capri. We were all drinking wine and the boat driver stopped to let everyone take a swim. The water was chilly, but jumping off the front of the boat into the deep and salty Mediterranean Sea was one of the most freeing feelings of my life.”
If our wanderlust was strong before, it was even more so after seeing Kathryn’s sweet scenes from her week along The Amalfi Coast! I then of course asked her the question we all were dying to know: what was your favorite thing you ate?!
“All of the food we ate was great (especially the gelato!), but my absolute favorite spot we went to was Franco’s Bar. It is the new hip bar of the ultra luxurious hotel, Le Sirenuse. The view at sunset was amazing and the atmosphere was unreal.”
P.S. We asked Kathryn if she’d change anything about the trip if she did it again. Her answer? Probably extend the trip by a few more days and stay two nights in Capri or possibly Amalfi. xo
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To capture the pure, organic magic that is Napa Valley wine country, one learns to cherish more than a glass or two (or five) of wine. The entire experience, whether that’s learning about the lay of the land, tasting vintage reserves or strolling the property with the sun on your back, can transport you to what feels like a simpler time.
My guide to Napa Valley, full of family-owned farms, is a place where nobody dresses up for dinner, instead they gather after a long day working the vines to unwind and enjoy the harvest. It’s a place that welcomes wine and food lovers alike, converging to share their passion and perhaps follow their dreams and belief that one grape, one varietal, can change their life.
As I plan my fifth trip to wine country, I wanted to celebrate this magical place and share my favorite ways (thus far) to enjoy Napa Valley to its fullest. As you’ll see in the slideshow above, I gathered my list of must-visit wineries, along with suggested restaurants and travel to-do’s to create the full, majestic experience that will be truly unforgettable.
It’s true that both novice and expert alike will find something to fancy their tastes in Napa. And while many flock to the region to brave the crowds with full glasses in hand living up to it’s sometimes obnoxious label “The Disneyland of Wine,” I find that the most magical moments can be found off the beaten path. Always appreciating the families that made Napa Napa, but always seeking Napa Valley‘s hidden gems.
My biggest piece of advice for you, whether it’s your first time in Napa Valley wine country or twentieth: don’t be afraid to ask questions. At the heart of it, these are farmers. This is their craft, they are immensely proud of their hard labor and rightfully so. You’ll most likely spend time in several beautiful tasting rooms, but when I’m there, I’ll always ask if I can walk the property. Most wineries have beautiful gardens to explore, and “Winery Dogs,” to pet who prove that life in wine country is about as good as it gets.
To me, Napa isn’t a place, it’s a mindset. A place where the rolling hills allow me to do something I can never do; disconnect. A place where I can truly soak up everything I can about the people, the food, the vines, and that dirt that make the wine I have grown to love. In a few weeks, I’m going back to both Napa and Sonoma, and with that comes our Guide to Napa Valley: Part 2. Any suggestions for my next visit, please share! Truly, MKR
NESTLED RIGHT ALONG THE MAIN STREET OF MY FAVORITE LITTLE TOWN, YOUNTVILLE, MA(I)SONRY IS BOTH A WINE COLLECTIVE AND AN ART GALLERY. IT'S A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE WHERE YOU CAN PERUSE WHAT THEY CALL A LIVING GALLERY, WHILE TASTING AND APPRECIATING SOME OF THE BEST SMALL PRODUCTION, BOUTIQUE (READ: IMPOSSIBLE TO FIND) WINES THE AREA HAS TO OFFER.
SUGGESTED EXPERIENCE: WINE & CHEESE EXPERIENCE & MORNINGS AT MA(I)SONRY
LOCATED ON THE EASTERN EDGE OF THE NAPA VALLEY, OVERLOOKING LAKE HENNESSEY AND THE TOWN OF RUTHERFORD, THE KULETO ESTATE IS UNLIKE ANYTHING I'VE EVER SEEN BEFORE. IT'S COMPLETE WITH 82 INDIVIDUAL VINEYARD BLOCKS, THREE DISTINCTIVE SOIL TYPES, AND A RANGE OF AMAZING ANIMALS LIKE TOM THE TURKEY.
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND TAKING THE WALKING TOUR, AND GETTING UP TO THE ESTATE IS QUITE THE ADVENTURE SO GIVE YOURSELF PLENTY OF TIME.
A TRIP TO NAPA WOULDN'T BE COMPLETE WITHOUT A TRIP TO ONE OF MY FAVORITES, ROUND POND. IT'S A RUTHERFORD FARM AND WINERY THAT SPECIALIZES IN THE MAKING OF PURE, EXPRESSIVE WINES, ARTISAN FOODS AND UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCES. NOT TOO FUSSY, NOT LOUD OR BOISTEROUS, JUST AMAZING WINES IN A BEAUTIFUL SETTING.
I ORDER THEIR SAUVIGNON BLANC BY THE TRUCKLOAD AND IF YOU'RE GOING TO JOIN A WINE CLUB, THIS IS ONE TO CONSIDER. LITTLE TIP THOUGH, JOIN THE FOOD AND WINE CLUB SO YOU RECEIVE THEIR MOUTHWATERING OLIVE OILS THAT ARE PRESSED RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET.
LARKMEAD 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 SOIL TYPES: SAND, SILT, CLAY AND GRAVEL. FROM THE WINE TASTER'S PERSPECTIVE, THERE ARE FEW PLACES I ENJOY MORE THAN LARKMEAD'S BIG, BECKONING FRONT PORCH FOR A GLASS OF WINE.
INSTILLED WITH A LOVE OF WINE AT AN EARLY AGE, DARIOUSH KHALEDI IS A LIFELONG COLLECTOR AND LOVER OF WINE. UPON IMMIGRATING FROM PERSIA, HE MOVED TO NAPA VALLEY TO PURSUE HIS LIFELONG ASPIRATION TO SHARE THE ART, ARCHITECTURE, WINE, CRAFTSMANSHIP AND CULTURE THAT INSPIRED HIS JOURNEY.
PULLING INTO DARIOUSH, YOU'LL IMMEDIATELY FEEL THE PERSIAN INFLUENCE BY THE GORGEOUS PILLARS. IT'S ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL AND METICULOUSLY-DESIGNED WINERIES WITH ITS RICH COLORS, ART AND FURNISHINGS. THE INVITATION-ONLY TASTING IS HOSTED BY DARIOUSH HIMSELF IN HIS PRIVATE CELLAR SURROUNDED BY HIS PERSONAL COLLECTION OF WINES.
WHILE IT SAYS "BY INVITATION", YOU CAN REQUEST AN INVITATION. AND IT DOESN'T HURT THAT THEY PRODUCE SOME OF MY FAVORITE WINES, WITH THEIR VIOGNIER BEING AN ABSOLUTE MUST-TRY.
LADERA SITS ATOP HOWELL MOUNTAIN, HIGH ABOVE THE NAPA VALLEY FLOOR. THE VINEYARD'S TERRAIN, IN SPITE OF ITS ALTITUDE, IS BOTH ROLLING AND GENTLE. THIS PEACEFUL SCENE IS NOTHING LIKE THE LAND'S VOLCANIC PAST, AND THE DEEP RICH COLOR OF THE SOIL IS APPARENT WHEN VISITING THE VINEYARDS.
GIVE YOURSELF PLENTY OF TIME TO GET THERE, AND PRINT OUT DIRECTIONS. ABOUT HALFWAY UP HOWELL MOUNTAIN, OUR GPS LOST ITS SIGNAL.
THE CABERNET SAUVIGNON AT SILVER OAK IS REASON ENOUGH TO VISIT THIS PRIZED WINERY, BUT THE PICTURESQUE GROUNDS WILL ENTICE YOU TO STAY. GUESTS CAN WANDER AROUND THE STUNNING COURTYARD, FOUNTAIN AND ICONIC WATER TOWER BEFORE GATHERING IN THE GORGEOUS TIMBER-FRAMED TASTING ROOM COMPLETE WITH A LARGE STONE FIREPLACE.
PURCHASED BY MICHAEL POLENSKE (OF MA(I)SONRY) IN 2003, BLACKBIRD VINEYARDS (A FORMER WALNUT ORCHARD FIRST PLANTED WITH 5,717 MERLOT VINES IN 1997) IS NOW A PREMIUM LABEL IN ITS OWN RIGHT. FITTINGLY, THE WORD MERLOT IS FRENCH FOR "LITTLE BLACKBIRD."
SUGGESTED EXPERIENCE: CALL TO SCHEDULE A VINEYARD TASTING
FAR NIETE IS A STUNNING HISTORIC, TRI-LEVEL WINERY BUILT INTO THE SURROUNDING HILLSIDE. THE 40,000 SQUARE FOOT WINE AGING CAVES AND 13 ACRES OF BREATHTAKING GARDENS OFFER MUCH FOR THE EYE TO SEE, WHILE ITS WINES ARE NOTHING SHORT OF EXCEPTIONAL.
MUMM NAPA HAS TIES BACK TO THE LEADING INTERNATIONAL CHAMPAGNE BRAND IN FRANCE, AND FOLLOWS TRADITIONAL WINE-MAKING TECHNIQUES OF ITS FRENCH HERITAGE TO CREATE THE FINEST, HAND-CRAFTED SPARKLING WINES.
CHAPPELET WINERY'S MOUNTAIN-SIDE ESTATE VINEYARDS ON PRITCHARD HILL HAVE BEEN RECOGNIZED AS ONE OF THE WORLD'S PREEMINENT SITES FOR GROWING BORDEAUX VARIETALS, IN PARTICULAR, CABERNET SAUVIGNON. THE LAND IS CONSIDERED A "RARE TAPESTRY" OF 34 DISTINCTIVE BLOCKS, INCLUDING DISTRICT PLOTS OF CABERNET SAUVIGNON AND PLANTINGS OF MERLOT, MALBEC, CABERNET FRANC, PETIT VERDOT AND CHENIN BLANC.
CHAPPELLET WAS ONE OF THE FIRST NAPA VALLEY WINERIES TO PLANT COVER CROPS AND ADOPT NO-TILL FARMING PRACTICES, AND TODAY THE ENTIRE VINEYARD IS FARMED ORGANICALLY.
IT IS ONE OF MY GO-TO SPOTS WHENEVER I'M IN TOWN AND I MAY BE REPEATING MYSELF, BUT AS FAR AS WINE CLUBS GO, THEIRS IS WORTH IT.
FOUNDED IN 1881, OAKVILLE GROCERY IS THE OLDEST CONTINUALLY-OPERATING GROCERY STORE IN CALIFORNIA, OFFERING A HIGHLY CURATED SELECTION OF THE BEST PRODUCTS FROM FARMERS, ARTISANS AND PURVEYORS IN THE NAPA AND SONOMA VALLEYS.
IT'S THE PERFECT PLACE TO STOP MID-TASTE AND GRAB A SAMMIE AND CHIPS.
WITH A MICHELIN RATED MENU, SOLBAR AIMS TO IMPRESS WITH ITS FARM-FRESH, SEASONAL INGREDIENTS AND PHENOMENAL DISHES. IT EXPERTLY DELIVERS INVENTIVE NEW TWISTS ON TIME-HONORED CALIFORNIA SOUL FOOD RECIPES.
DON'T LET ITS SIMPLE EXTERIOR FOOL YOU. LA LUNA IS A PLACE WHERE EVERYONE FROM FIELD WORKERS TO WINERY OWNERS THEMSELVES CONVENE FOR LUNCH, AND IN MY HUMBLE OPINION, SOME OF THE BEST TACOS I'VE EVER HAD!
GOOSE & GANDER , A WINE COUNTRY PUBLIC HOUSE, IS A GATHERING PLACE FOR LOCALS AND VISITORS TO CELEBRATE NAPA VALLEY'S ABUNDANT BOUNTY OF RUSTIC AMERICAN FOOD. ITS MOUTHWATERING BAR BITES CAN BE ENJOYED IN THE PUB-LIKE DINING ROOM, CHERISHED BASEMENT OR LUSH PATIO. ITS MENU IS SEASONALLY-DRIVEN, AND COMPLIMENTS SCOTT BEATTIE'S RETRO-FRESH LIBATIONS OR A BOTTLE OF WINE. NOT TO MENTION, THEY ALWAYS HAVE BOTTLES UPON BOTTLES OF PAPPY VAN WINKLE ON TAP.
ONE OF MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE NIGHTS WAS SITTING IN A CORNER WITH SCOTT, THE ORISONS, AND FRIENDS FROM LOCAL WINERIES, DRINKING, EATING AND SOLVING THE WORLD'S PROBLEMS.
BOTTEGA IS PART OF THE HISTORIC VINTAGE ESTATES, LOCATED IN ONE OF THE OLDES WINERIES IN THE REGION, AND IT HIGHLIGHTS SIGNATURE BOLD ITALIAN FLAVORS WITH A REFINED TWIST. HEAD TO THIS HOT-SPOT FOR HOUSE-MADE INGREDIENTS AND TONS OF LOCAL PRODUCE FOR LUNCH OR DINNER.
WITH AN AWARD-WINNING MENU AND WINE LIST, AUBERGE DE SOIL IS DEFINITELY A MUST-TRY. ITS RICH INTERIORS ARE STUNNING, BUT ITS FAMOUS TERRACE OFFERS SOME OF THE BEST AND MOST SOUGHT-AFTER IN THE VALLEY...FULL OF THE MOST GORGEOUS PANORAMIC VIEWS.
SUGGESTED EXPERIENCE: APPETIZERS & COCKTAILS ON THE TERRACE AT SUNSET
VINTAGE INN IS A STUNNING EXPANSE OF 80 SPACIOUS GUESTROOMS AND COZY COTTAGE VILLAS, ALONG WITH FIVE ELEGANTLY-APPOINTED PRIVATE SPA SUITES. THE BEST PART? IT'S ALL WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE OF SEVERAL WINE TASTING ROOMS IN THE TOWN OF YOUNTVILLE.