My passion is to share the magic of the Napa valley; it’s history, the geography, the people and the terroir that makes Napa wines so special. Given the chance, I love seeking and sharing with clients an intimate experience with small family owned wineries. This represents the background of my family here in Napa, as both my my mother and father were raised on small family farms. With my UC Davis Plant Science degree and a California Teaching credential from Cal State Fresno emphasizing agriculture in the classroom I enjoy talking wine from ” the ground up”. I also believe in providing not just exceptional service but value too. My Toyota Sienna, purchased new, is emblematic of my commitment to fuel conscious, practical, reliable and convenient transportation. It is not ostentatious and neither am I. Down to earth is my style, but I don’t scrimp on the extras. White linen table cloth and napkins along with Riedel stemware are always on board along with chilled water, a large cooler and other picnic necessities. My $60/hr tour rate, no additional charges within Napa or Sonoma Valley, and gratuity ( though appreciated) left to your discretion represents competitive pricing and terrific value. Best of all you travel with me and I work hard to ensure your Napa visit and wine tour is memorable and meets your expectations. I am also uniquely qualified to make your wine tour “informative, educational and a down to earth good time”. Here’s why…
TOUR WITH A LOCAL WITH DEEP ROOTS IN NAPA AGRICULTURE
In the sixties I grew up with the Mondavis and other wine making families. My father’s family had prune orchards south of Yountville and my mother’s family a dairy ranch near Soda Canyon Rd. on the Silverado Trail. While I helped in my father’s construction company I also picked walnuts at my aunt’s property on Big Ranch Road. Our family knew intimately many of those involved in creating the Napa County AG Preserve. I remember those times well and I can explain how that landmark legislation provided the political framework for what Napa is today.
TOUR WITH SOMEONE WHO HAS TOILED IN THE VINEYARDS AND CELLAR
In 1974, I left my studies at U.C. Davis to live and work at Lynncrest Vineyards, high above St. Helena on White Sulphur Springs Rd. Today it is Marston Family and still a wonderful spot to visit. I worked in both the vineyard, including a stint on a budding crew, as well as being the assistant to then winemaker John Henderson in the cellar during the crush of 1974. Finally in 1979, I received my B.S. in Plant Science Horticulture from U.C.Davis. In 1987, I worked the crush at Pine Ridge Winery for then owners Gary and Nancy Andrus. It was just part of being on their marketing team and I relished the opportunity to soak my hands in grape juice again. For my guests I can explain the nature of winemaking and a fair amount of the science behind it from a first hand perspective and have colorful anecdotes to share while doing so.
TOUR WITH A FOOD AND WINE PROFESSIONAL
I began my restaurant career in 1981 here in Napa. There was very little here then in the way of fine dining other than Auberge du Soleil and Domaine Chandon. I watched as what I served changed from classical French, Escoffier based cuisine presented table side to the flavorful, innovative and wood grilled cuisine of Cindy Pawlcyn presented with casual, wine country inspired elegance. What a sea change it was. Along the way I worked with Cindy Pawlcyn at Mustards, Larry Elbert at the Sonoma Mission Inn, Francoise Guerra at Cafe Pilou and my favorite chef Roy Harland at Harlands in Fresno. While at Harlands I worked with a series of guest chefs including Michael Chiarello and Jan Birnbaum. I love food and have worked with many of the most skilled culinary artists around. My clients receive sound, up to date advice on dining options based on my experience and the numerous contacts I still have in the restaurant industry today.
TOUR WITH A SKILLED WINE EDUCATOR
It was while working for still good friend Francoise at Cafe Pilou that I was hired to sell wine wholesale for Darryl Miller Wine Broker. Back then in 1985 I worked directly with the owners and or winemakers of wineries like Kistler, Caymus, Saintsbury and Iron Horse. What an education that was. I carried the message to not just retailers but restaurants as well, frequently doing restaurant staff training emphasizing the understanding, sensory evaluation and service of fine wine. I spent the next seven years wholesaling wine with other brokers, distributors and wineries too numerous to mention. Acquiring a K-12 Multi-Subject California teaching credential in 1995 from C.S.U. Fresno gave me new tools and a new enthusiasm to share the mysteries and magic of wine with the general public. My guests get an understanding of winemaking and viticulture based on a synthesis of the many wineries I directly represented. This is helpful as I explain the many winemaking styles we’ll encounter. I make it easy to understand.
TOUR WITH A HOSPITALITY PRO
It was in 2000 while floor manager at Brix Restaurant in Yountville that I was recruited to work at Frank Family Vineyards. It was here that I developed my unique style of explaining the history, geography, viticulture and winemaking science that makes Napa Valley so special. For me terroir is more than just a “sense of place”. It has shaped and defines my relationship to this very special wine region. It is this passion, love and knowledge that ‘Terroir Tim’ (that’s me!) shares. “I have the real dirt” is my motto and I assure you “we’ll have a down to earth good time”!