A Top Down Drive to Napa…

I always like an invite in my email. Not too cynical or busy to hit delete without opening. Now, I won’t go to the opening of a car door, but anything that sounds fun, tasty and interesting.. hell, yeah.. I’ll try and make it. So it was when I got an invite in my email to check out the CARneros Luxury Road Trip promotion that Carneros resort is doing with Black & White Car Rental in conjunction with their downtown San Francisco, Beverly Hills, LAX or SFO car rental locations. Fancy driving a convertible Bentley GTC or Mercedes GE63 AMC up the coast for a two night stay or longer at Carneros Resort?

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Zion Curiel

I wouldn’t mind that adventure at all so I got in touch with Carneros’ Beverage Director, Zion Curiel, who said they are welcoming all travellers from the promotion to experience their drinks and resort. Zion was a fine fellow to do the NSI quiz, pausing often to think his answers through and being totally passionate about Napa’s wine, hospitality options and traditions. Cheers and enjoy…

What was last night’s dinner? Long pause. It’s been crazy lately, doing our year end inventory, which makes for some long nights. My wife reheated some fried chicken and mashed potatoes from Q Restaurant & Bar. I was happy. 

Favorite music? Old school hip-hop. Those guys were master storytellers -artists like Big Daddy Kane, Tupac, Dr. Dre are just incredible. I even like some of the newer artists as long as you tell me a story without being repetitive.

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Favorite drink? When I worked at French Laundry I had a sip of Chateau d’Yquem 89, a Sauterne, that just blew my mind on what a wine could be. Not syrupy or too sweet, but these fantastic subtle honeycomb flavors. So send me a bottle of that any day.

Favorite place to eat in Napa? R&D Kitchen. We don’t do a lot of dining out with a young family of 3 kids, but R&D has a big patio, allowing the kids to run around and the food is good and reasonably priced. 

What makes a great wine? In a word, balance. You got to have the fruit and acidity, while allowing the terroir to come through which makes it unique and special.


Favorite thing about living and working in Napa? The location is amazing. An hour south to a great city. Two hours away from mountains inland or an hour west to the beach. Plus, the incredible weather we get almost year round.

Any brush with celebrity? Yes we get celebrity guests at Carneros. I worked at French Laundry for 11 years and my fav there was Tony Bennett. Such a class act, the way he comported himself and thanked all the staff. Really a highlight.

Any wine, restaurant or trip on your bucket list? I’d love to go to NOMA restaurant in Denmark and I’d love to go to Jerusalem and explore the wines and architecture there. 

Final thoughts? Just how amazed and proud I am as a native of Napa, at the resiliency of our community. Between the wild fires and the pandemic, how everyone has pulled together, has a don’t give up attitude and can’t wait to have people come back.