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    Napa and Yountville Revisited

    By David Landis, The Gay Gourmet–

    We’re lucky to live so close to the wine country. If wine tasting weren’t enough, there are many more reasons to visit: the proximity (a little over an hour away to Napa and Yountville), the views, and, of course, the fine dining. During a recent rainstorm, The Gay Gourmet returned to bring a few new places to the fore.

    Gentleman Farmer Wines

    Merriam-Webster defines a “gentleman farmer” as: “a man who farms mainly for pleasure rather than profit.” That mantra permeates everything that the husband-and-husband team of Joey Wolosz and Jeff Durham espouse at Gentleman Farmer Wines, a unique Napa winery where food is also paramount.

    This gay-owned establishment believes that “a life well led is a life well fed.” The Gay Gourmet couldn’t agree more. We had the pleasure of a lunchtime repast with the dynamic owners at their lovely Yountville home. But they’re also re-habbing a historic bungalow (and perhaps a guesthouse next door) to open in downtown Napa, hopefully this fall. Members of the winery’s club can partake in private “experiences” like the one I enjoyed. As we toured the new space, Joey and Jeff gave us a taste of their deliciously dry, Provence-style 2021 still rosé, which scored an impressive 90 points from Wine Enthusiast. At the soon-to-open bungalow, there will be space for up to 50 indoors, as well as al fresco tastings to boot. With the new digs, stay tuned for singular wine samplings, special luncheons, soirées, music, and more.

    A little backstory: Joey is from the Central Coast; Jeff is a native of Napa. Both attended the University of Southern California to study hotel and restaurant management. But it took meeting years later at The Bar on Castro to get this duo together. Both are vintners (and Joey is a talented recipe developer), but their real life’s work is storytelling. Spending an afternoon with them is like visiting life-of-the-party Aunt Marge—only with way better food and wine. The guys believe we should be “fed by thoughtful food, good wine, and engaged conversation.” Conviviality is key.

    This boutique winery produces only approximately 1,000 cases each year; as a result, the wines are of superior quality and are clean and tasty. Showcasing the wines with the excellent recipes that Joey has developed brings out the best in both.

    So, what’s a luncheon with the guys like? When you arrive at their creekside Yountville home, you immediately are enveloped in a world of artistry: impressive design, a piano and an accordion in the corner, chickens in the backyard, and that kitchen—oh my! It dominates the entire back half of the house, but is open to the dining area to, of course, encourage conversation.

    First off, everything is homemade. Everything. We began our afternoon with Joey’s chopped liver (sorry, Mom, even better than yours!) and homemade brioche that was so buttery it melted in your mouth. Two kinds of housemade pierogis followed: a potato cheese and a mushroom sauerkraut. It was definitely a toss-up as to which was our favorite; both were light as a feather but savory with complex overtones.

    Joey also pickles his own veggies and makes his own mustard (who does that?!!) with chardonnay and sherry vinegar. Paired with our first course was the Gentleman Farmer 2020 Chardonnay. I will start off by saying that I rarely like California chardonnays—they’re just plain too oak-y. This one made me change my tune. It has a hint of oak, but the oak doesn’t dominate, so you can really taste the fruit.

    For our next course, Joey and Jeff picked the Gentleman Farmer 2019 “Red Wine” (yup, that’s what it’s called—and it’s a merlot-dominant blend) to complement a delectable Italian spinach ricotta dumpling created in the Napa Valley called “malfatti” (which means “badly formed” in Italian). It tastes just like Italy.

    Our next course was a Fatted Calf hangar steak with homemade spaetzle. The secret to cooking the steak? Joey marinates it with sherry, ginger, and mustard, cooks it sous vide, and finishes it in the saucepan with clarified butter. The steak paired expertly with the Gentleman Farmer 2018 Cabernet (with Merlot), a structured but elegant red wine with a hint of tannins.

    Following the main course, we sampled Joey’s homemade blueberry and raspberry clafoutis with Grand Marnier and lavender buds—paired wisely with the winery’s 2021 Pinot Noir (earthy and not too fruity). And for the finale? Homemade marshmallows, dubbed “crème brûlée on a stick,” cooked tableside over an open flame. All in all, join the Gentleman Farmer club, enjoy their wines, snag an invite to one of their wine club luncheons, and wait with baited breath for the new bungalow to open in downtown Napa this fall.

    Jeff Durham and Joey Wolosz

    Bits and Bites in Yountville and Napa

    So, I’m always asked, “What’s new in Yountville and Napa?” Well, as it turns out, quite a lot. Here are my top picks:

    Morimoto Asia Napa: This is the destination chef’s new outing in downtown Napa, right on the river and steps from the original Morimoto. The Asian offerings tend more toward Chinese rather than Japanese at the traditional Morimoto. They include: some of the lightest crab meat Rangoon I’ve ever eaten, tasty steamed pork dumplings, his signature half Peking duck (well worth the splurge), and sliced okonomiyaki (a Japanese version of egg foo young) like you’ve never had it before. Fun cocktails and a diverse wine list make for a special evening, and they even have an outdoor patio (weather permitting).

    Alpha Omega Collective: One of my favorite wineries in Yountville now has opened an elegant tasting room in downtown Napa and it’s phenomenal. The contemporary design is like stepping into an art gallery and the welcoming staff make you feel right at home. We sampled a variety of both white and red wines, from Alpha Omega in Napa as well as Tolosa in San Luis Obispo and Perinet in Spain. Food pairings (which we didn’t try) include truffle frites, seasonal crostini, and Spanish fried chicken (all locally sourced). Alpha Omega now also has tasting rooms in Healdsburg and Paso Robles.

    Art Walk Yountville: Besides wine tasting and great dining, if you’re in the mood for something different, the town of Yountville has an eminently walkable outdoor sculpture gallery that extends the length of the town. Volunteer Noel Resnick was the perfect tour guide, showcasing the artwork while explaining that it’s all for sale! The tours have a free audio guide so you can walk at your own pace and learn about the artists at your leisure.

    RH Wine Vault: For an elegant wine tasting repast at an historic garden smack dab in the middle of Yountville, you can’t do any better than RH Wine Vault. Part of the Restoration Hardware (RH) chain, this is the extension of the store’s opulent showroom and gallery, as well as its fabulous indoor/outdoor restaurant. Think outdoor chandeliers, fountains, clubby seating areas, and more, all amidst a grove of 100-year-old olive trees. That, as well as an upscale selection of wines for tasting, make for a great way to pass the time.

    R+D Kitchen: Part of the Hillstone chain, this indoor/outdoor eatery might just be my new favorite for lunch. Eminently dog-friendly, R+D has one of the best burgers in town, a yummy crispy chicken sandwich, sushi at the outdoor bar, a great wine list (of course!), superb cocktails, and a beautiful outdoor deck with great views to the vineyards and beyond. Plus, it won’t break the bank—and the service is first-class!

    Scala Osteria: I was glad to see that one of The Gay Gourmet’s favorites, Bistro Don Giovanni, has opened up a downtown Napa outpost called Scala Osteria. There are some of the same favorites that the Yountville flagship offers (like the Mandilli pasta, but here with gorgonzola instead of pesto), but the two-level space is more urban, buzzy, and hip, with great seafood selections (the branzino is a standout), fried anchovy-stuffed olives, and more. Plus, of course, there is a terrific Italian wine list.

    Wine Girl Napa: Why is it that so many tasting rooms are oh-so-boring? Do we really need yet another long, wood bar with the boring lecture about how the grapes were grown? Not so at Wine Girl Napa. This beautifully-designed (think pink) space screams fun, fun, fun—and why shouldn’t wine tasting be fun? Another plus? Wine Girl Napa (part of a chain that includes a Scottsdale venue and soon to be more) offers different wines from various wineries, including (of course) a Veuve Clicquot rosé champagne, as well as a Barbie shot. Host Derek also promises a good time. It is perfect for bridal showers, parties, and fun family gatherings.

    Yountville Pride Week: From June 5–11, Yountville not only raises the Pride flag at Town Hall, but also numerous restaurants and wineries will join the celebration, including: Napa Valley Bike Tours, Bouchon Bakery, Stewart Cellars, Clif Family Winery, Growth Vineyards & Winery, Hoopes Vineyard, Cornerstone Cellars, Jessup Cellars, Handwritten Wines, Lloyd Cellars, North Block Hotel, Chandon, and, of course, Gentleman Farmer Wines. There’s even a free, family-friendly Pride Music in the Park event on Sunday, June 11, with DJ Rotten Robbie and the Lucky Devils Band.

    River Terrace Inn: For a well-located home base when visiting Napa and Yountville, you can’t go wrong with the River Terrace Inn. Located on the Napa River, but within walking distance to Oxbow Market and downtown Napa, this dog-friendly property has modern, updated rooms (some with fireplaces), outdoor decks with river views, and a lovely outdoor patio where you can sip a refreshing cocktail with your pooch. A perfect perch!

    Gentleman Farmer Wines:
    Morimoto Asia:
    Alpha Omega Collective:
    Art Walk Yountville:
    RH Wine Vault:
    R+D Kitchen:
    Scala Osteria:
    Wine Girl Napa:
    Yountville Pride Week:
    River Terrace Inn:

    David Landis, aka “The Gay Gourmet,” is a foodie, a freelance writer, and a retired PR maven. Follow him on Instagram @GayGourmetSF or email him at:

    Or visit him online at:

    The Gay Gourmet
    Published on April 20, 2023