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

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.