The Agenda: This Fall in Wine Country

The Next Generation of Casual Eateries Delights at Handline in Sebastopol

Photo by Dawn Heumann

At Handline Coastal California, casual is fast, coastal and completely California. Lowell Sheldon and Natalie Goble of popular Peter Lowell’s organic restaurant in Sebastopol turned a former Foster’s Freeze into a modern 50-seat eatery that dishes up local flavors and seafood in a sleek setting.

Photo by Dawn Heumann

Restaurant designer Sean Quigley of RareField Design, known for SF hotspots Central Kitchen and Flour+Water, built off the existing lines of the former 1960s Foster’s Freeze structure to create a larger, brighter space with high ceilings and voluminous, translucent sliding windows. The food is light and fast, but the dining area is timeless and stylishly designed with thick, Douglas fir tabletops, formed concrete walls and dropped metal lighting, putting Handline’s fast casual concept in a category by itself.

Photo by Dawn Heumann

Re-think the classic drive-in menu. Because the catch is so fresh and local, fast casual includes brightly flavored ceviches, raw and grilled oysters, even a satisfying fisherman’s stew. Diners will also find the familiar burgers and tacos made with house-milled tortillas, but with fresh seafood options. There’s also a great selection of brews, local wines and Agua Frescas to complement the meal, as well as a sweet finish of Foster's Freeze style soft serve ice cream.

Photo by Dawn Heumann

At Handline, you won’t find the typical drive-in parking lot – the asphalt has been repurposed into Gabion cages which help frame the finely integrated garden and “picnic area” of the casual eatery, landscaped by Gary Ratway, as a comfortable oasis in Wine County. Handline is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. 935 Gravenstein Avenue, Sebastopol

Enter the Rarified World of Japanese Fine Dining at Kenzo in Downtown Napa

Kenzo and Natsuko Tsujimoto introduce the rarified world of Japanese fine dining to the Napa Valley with Kenzo, expected to open November 16 in Downtown Napa. The restaurant, with its intimate 400 square foot floor space, will offer a traditional prix-fixe Kaiseki menu in its 27-seat dining room and hand-formed Edomae sushi at the coveted 10-seat sushi bar. The look will be clean and modern but rich in materials and detail such as walls of vertically grained teak and ceilings of clear maple carved in an intricate naguri pattern, all imported specially from Japan. All specialty tableware was also made and flown in from Japan.

Experienced Napa Valley vintners with their Kenzo Estate as well as restauranteurs with four restaurants in Japan, the Tsujimotos continue a tradition of enlisting the best. This time, the culinary star at the helm is Executive Chef Hiroyuki Kanda whose Tokyo restaurant Kanda has achieved three Michelin stars nine years in a row. Chef Kanda is overseeing the overall concept, menu, training all key staff in Japan and will be based in Napa during its opening run and continue to play a role in crafting seasonal menus. 1339 Pearl Street, Downtown Napa

Scottish Heritage at the New Stewart Cellars Tasting Room

Photo by Rebecca Chotkowski

The design of the new Stewart Cellars in Yountville was inspired by old Scottish ruins, a nod to the Stewart family heritage, but the look is clean, modern and exemplary of the new urban tasting room. Hospitality and residential specialist Arcanum Architecture designed the three buildings to feel like a comfortable country estate that’s connected by open walls and courtyard spaces while SF designer Ken Fulk completed the look with sumptuous and elegant interiors.

Photo by Rebecca Chotkowski

The large horseshoe-shaped bar in the Tasting Hall anchors the space as a casual gathering place for walk-in tastings.

Photo by Rebecca Chotkowski

The NOMAD Heritage Library with its oversized fireplace and cozy furnishings is the perfect spot in cooler weather for private tastings of Stewart Cellars luxury wines such as the Stewart Cabernet Sauvignon and NOMAD Beckstoffer Las Piedras Cabernet Sauvignon. A convenient and tasty alternative for breakfast and lunch is the casual Gather Café with lighter but satisfying options including mouth-watering salads, grains and sandwiches.

Stewart Cellars is open daily to the public for tastings from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., café hours are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. 6752 Washinton Street, Yountville

Blue Note Opens West Coast Jazz Club in Downtown Napa

The legendary NYC jazz club celebrates its 35th anniversary with the opening of its first West Coast outpost Blue Note Napa October 25 in the historic Napa Valley Opera House. The intimate first floor space is being completely renovated and re-designed by international artist Gordon Huether to capture the classic jazz club vibe, enhanced by Wine Country cuisine, wines and cocktails.

Image courtesy Blue Note Napa

Blue Note Napa will bring world-class jazz artists to perform such as GRAMMY winning Chris Botti who will open the venue with a four-night engagement (Oct. 25-28). On the second floor of the venue, the Opera House Ballroom will feature more diverse national acts including The Struts on November 4. Blue Note Napa will be open seven days a week from 5 p.m. to closing. Check the website for calendar and to book. 1030 Main Street, Downtown Napa

Fall Is For Film

The 6th annual Napa Valley Film Festival takes place November 9-13 with over 120 new independent films including exclusive screenings of award season contenders. In addition to daily screenings, guests have the opportunity to hear or mingle with over 300 filmmakers at industry panels, celebrity tributes, posh parties and winemaker dinners.

Joey Deutch, photo by Justin Campbell

Highlights include the Celebrity Tributes night on November 10 featuring Domaine Chandon Rising Stars Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell, Raymond Vineyards Trailblazer Chloe Grace Moretz as well as Dev Patel, whose award season contender Lion is being screened at the film fest. Empire fans can look forward to seeing film and TV producer and director Lee Daniels honored as Charles Krug Legendary Filmmaker. The evening will be hosted by Access Hollywood’s Natalie Morales and Kit Hoover. And on Saturday November 12, attend Napa Valley’s own red carpet affair at the Awards Ceremony followed by the Festival Gala.

Charles Krug Carriage House screening venue. Image courtesy Charles Krug

Screenings and events take place at 13 venues throughout Napa Valley. Multi-day passes range from $125 pp to $625 pp; single day passes and multi-ticket discounts are also available. All-access VIP Patron passes start at $2,500 pp. Check the Napa Valley Film Festival website for details and to purchase passes.

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