Coomsville, NV’s 16th American Viticultural Area

Curious about Coombsville? Me too….right in our own neighborhood! 🙂

Between a geologist and a water witch

View from Stagecoach Vineyards

View from Stagecoach Vineyards

Yesterday I had the greatest pleasure to visit Stagecoach Vineyards; way up the hillside of Soda Canyon Road.  From the office of Krupp Brothers Estate vineyards, you can see across their property to the top of the mountain side, where 500 acres of Stagecoach vineyards are planted.  This is high-elevation, hot, rugged landscape.   Jan Krupp had a marvelous vision…a person that wants to take his vision all the way.  The land he set his sights on had no known source of water, no roads to the area, and what it had most were huge rocks and thin, rocky soil.  It didn’t seem feasible, or even possible.  Why go there?

I have only heard Jan talk of this vision briefly, but I today I am still pondering with fascination the drive and perseverance that he and his partners put forth to realize this vision.   And the water was found…first, a geologist marked out five areas where water might be, but concluded it was too far to drill…concluded it “couldn’t be done”.   Then a water witch was consulted and yes, there was water, in the area of the marks of the geologist and probably 350 feet underground.  The Krupp’s drilled and got their water.  Today we enjoy the remarkable cabernet sauvignon they have produced…and more. The grapes of Stagecoach vineyards have produced award winning wines for over 50 wineries in the Napa Valley.

I conclude that from here forward, when I think “it can’t be done” or my faith is waning, I will summon my new mantra:   “somewhere between a geologist and a water witch” and I’ll give it another go.

Please indulge yourself and explore the wines of Krupp Brothers,

What about the “witch”??

Intriguing, yes?

Carneros – Wide Open Spaces


Carneros, Napa Valley

Sometimes I feel surrounded by traffic and noise.  All the progress and construction going on in Napa!   Maybe it’s good to just get away from it all, alone in wide open spaces to stretch our legs, our minds and perspectives.  I know just the place to do this, out on the edge of the Carneros.

The Carneros is the largest of the Napa Valley wine growing regions and shared, as well, with Sonoma County.  Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are its most famous grapes, others include Merlot and Syrah and it was the first region to be designated an appellation in 1983. Continue reading

Success from the Heart – Isabelle Saint-Guily, Napa Valley Acupuncture

I find it inspiring to learn about how one chooses a profession that brings joy and gratitude to their clients or customers, and to themselves. Many women are coming to full bloom in their 50’s and this is wonderful to behold. In our 21st century the 50+ woman is vibrant, charismatic and has the confidence and wisdom to proceed with projects she knows are important; that bring joy to her heart as well as others. Our evolution has accelerated in just my own lifetime. Not many years ago a woman over 50 was ignored, even considered “washed up” as in the movie, “Sunset Boulevard” from 1950. Gloria Swanson plays the tragic figure of Norma Desmond, a “has-been” movie star, and it is mentioned that she is just 50 years old! “Phooey!” I say! Recently Isabelle and I got together to discuss why and how she embarked on her journey from massage therapy to Chinese Medicine. I first met Isabelle in a business networking group in 2003. I watched her business grow from a massage table in a spare room in her home, to an office with two treatment rooms in a business complex in Napa, CA. For me, Isabelle’s journey to her success in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine exemplifies a woman whose work and success are from her heart. Now, at 50 years old, Isabelle is thriving in business and her life. Her vocation brings health and joy to her patients; including me!

Some questions I asked Isabelle:

Q: How old were you when you began to build the business you have today? Was it a straight journey or did you begin with something else that twisted and turned and evolved into what your business is today?

A: In my twenties I was divorced and my kids were just two and four years old. I needed to become self-sufficient and I had very little experience. At the time there seemed to be just two industries in the Napa Valley that were feasible for me; wine and spas. I chose the spa industry because my ex-husband was in the wine industry and I didn’t want to be running into him! With massage I could work weekends and from my home. My passion for massage therapy developed right away. I found I had a natural intuition to feel what people needed. I was giving my teacher a massage and I intuitively moved to massage her head. She was impressed because we had not started instruction about the head yet, so this really acknowledged my intuition for working on what is needed. I then became trained in Chi Nei Tsang, a massage therapy that focuses on the abdominal area, a part of Chinese Medicine. This ignited my passion for Chinese Medicine and I began my education to achieve my license. In California you must be trained in both Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine to obtain your license.

Q: How did you recognize what was in your heart to do?

A: Giving massage is very centering, calming and opens the door to intuition; this is what brings me joy as well as to the person receiving the massage. As it led me toward Acupuncture I was fulfilling my intuition and passion for intellectual theory and methods – science. I love the philosophy of Tao; the harmony with nature, as if I was born to be Tao.

Q: Did you ever or how often did you think you were wasting your time or that it was a foolish venture? How did you overcome your doubts?

A: With the acupuncture I never felt any doubt. But in the beginning with school, the kids and working it was very difficult to manage everything. The financial aspects were intense too. Some say you keep your eye on the big picture; but this was not how I persevered. If I looked at the huge mountain of my commitment and project I would be overwhelmed! I had to look at just each month at a time. One month closer to my accomplishment. I stayed in touch with the beauty of how organic Chinese Medicine is. It is pure nature and science.

Q: In the book, Success Built to Last, Stewart Emery emphasizes having a “disciplined practice” to keep on track; ways to measure how you’re accomplishing what you’ve set out to do. Do you have a disciplined practice or two, or more; and what is it?
A: I’m very happy with my QuickBooks program. It allows me to make monthly income comparisons with what I did last year, and even over the last five years. I can compare revenue and expenses and I can see that in June my income is always lower so that I can forecast for that. I can see that the acupuncture facials are profitable; they provide a very effective alternative to cosmetic surgery and the QuickBooks analysis shows me where I can develop more revenue. This year I am focusing on oncology, the benefits of acupuncture in treating cancer patients; helping to relieve their discomfort during cancer treatment. This is a calling for me and I’m happy to work more to increase my revenue.

I also use the Franklin Covey planner and time management system. It has been great in keeping me on track with my goals.

Q: How does your business reflect your passion?

A: My office is in a small complex on the quieter side of town. I chose not to be in the hub of the medical/professional offices because that part of town is so crowded with traffic and shopping areas. This way people, including me, are not all stressed out just getting to my office! People say that my office and treatment rooms have a very calming atmosphere. I have photos I have taken of nature and music that is soothing. All of this reflects my passion for the harmony of nature and well-being.

Q: What’s so great about being 50+ years old?

A: Being 50 doesn’t seem any different to me…except my hair! (now an adorable short gray hairstyle). Becoming 50 you gain respect and acknowledgment for who you are and what you are doing. I believe that age doesn’t matter. You know, the Native Americans never paid attention to age, they didn’t know how old they were; but they look to the elders for wisdom.

Q: What does success mean to you?

A: Just being happy and fulfilled; wanting to go to work!

Eco Travel In Our Own Hometown

When talking about ecotourism, I don’t think many people envision the Napa Valley, California and its infamous Wine Country. I live here, in Napa, California and in 2006 when I returned from an inspiring trip to Kenya and Tanzania my head and heart were full of the concept of responsible travel. I had seen the vast beauty of the Rift Valley and I became aware of how our Earth is actually the same no matter if it is the wide open landscapes of the Rift Valley or the concrete freeways throughout California. It is our home and here we are, all of us, all over the globe, digging and toiling in our Earth; completely dependent on our planet. In addition to this, I believe that deep within each of us is an inherent commitment to care for our planet, our home. Africa raised my environmental consciousness and now I view my own tromping around quite differently. I started to think about other “eco-travelers”, travelers who want to be responsible wherever they go and I began to perceive that ecotourism has more than one issue to it; that we can support others in making choices for responsible travel whether on a short road trip in our own region or traveling around the world. I presumed that those who travel responsibly, “eco travelers”, are not exclusively planning adventure excursions in the wild. They may be from the Bay Area, perhaps statewide or international and they may want to visit the illustrious “Wine Country”. In addition to enjoying beautiful scenery and warm, seductive weather, they also love wine-tasting, fine restaurants and plush accommodations. And they will want to know they are being responsible and respectful of the destination they are visiting. Napa Valley is just about 30 miles from end to end and about five miles across at the widest and we have nearly 5 million people visiting here each year! So, I began to research the possibilities of finding tours, attractions, accommodations and restaurants that support the eco traveler in matching their values and commitments when traveling. It wasn’t easy to uncover, but the good news is that during 2007 the county government and the people of the community strengthened their commitment to be environmentally responsible. Throughout the Napa Valley there are tours, attractions, accommodations and restaurants that strive to be environmentally responsible and raise awareness of ecology and conservation. The Napa Chamber of Commerce now lists businesses that have become “Green Certified”, a business that has been certified through the Bay Area Green Business Program ( and other acknowledged certification programs and “green-minded” businesses that are taking steps to conserve natural resources and prevent pollution, such as using more efficient lighting, purchasing in bulk, watering landscapes efficiently, recycling cardboard, using less toxic products, etc.

The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) developed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ and it is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. In November of 2006, the Gaia Hotel ( opened in the Napa Valley, setting precedence in accommodations as a LEED certified “green” hotel. Along with this positive movement, a limousine and tour company, California Wine Tours, has introduced its “Green Fleet” of “luxury hybrid vehicles”, giving tourists the alternative to the dreaded Hummer. This is brand new green but there has also been devotion to the Napa Valley landscape and the major trade it yields for many years. The winemaker that first catapulted Napa Valley wines to world renown with his highest scoring chardonnay in the Paris Tasting of 1976 went on to develop Grgich Hills Winery, one of the valley’s foremost vineyards that are certified organic using biodynamic farming. This holistic farming practice uses the earth’s natural cycles and organic preparations to grow balanced, healthy vines without artificial fertilizers, pesticides, or fungicides. In 2006, Grgich Hills switched the winery to solar power.

I think the more we know of our own regions and what is being done to further our sustainability and environmental protection, the more we can encourage others to seek out eco friendly choices for our local recreation and leisure activities. I hope to venture out to as many wonderful places around the world as time and money will allow and I also hope to call myself an “eco traveler” in my own hometown.