Category Archives: peeps + players

tim hanni, creator of vinotyping

Tim Hanni is one of two Americans to first earn the title “Master of Wine”. He relentlessly writes, educates and pleads with wine lovers to reconsider the way they sip, swill, drink, eat, entertain & live with wine. In truth, he begs people to reconsider what they think they know about wine (which is why he is so perfectly suited to partner with us!).


Share via email
Posted in peeps + players, vintotype | Leave a comment

angéle parlange– person to know in NOLA


In life there are very few people who open your eyes to a certain way of thinking/ being– and my good friend Angéle is one of those.  Everything about her has always inspired me: her clever wit/ eye/ speak… I marveled at the way she collected + reinterpreted, as well as her ability transform the mundane on a vanity/ bar cart/ bedside table/ dining table.

Angéle is a true Creole/ Francophile at heart: she grew up living on one of the South’s most pure + beautiful plantations called Parlange– complete with a guest house that once served as a pigonere; she is also a descendant of Sergeant’s Madame X… Today is she one of the great tastemakers/ designers and much of her work was inspired by the Salon of Paris in 19th century, where her grandmother held court. When we met 15 years ago, she had her own shop/ Salon on Magazine Street in New Orleans, filled with treasures/ curiosities/ wild inspirations.  It inspired me to open up my very own Salon, on the west coast!

Recently she published a book called Creole Thrift sharing life as she sees it.


Share via email
Posted in entertaining, peeps + players, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

the woman to know…

Behind every good man is an exceptional woman who makes his life happen with elegance. Laura Cunningham is that woman to Thomas Keller– and together they have reinvented the fine dining landscape of America. Like a modern-day Emily Post Laura has set the standards + protocols for all exquisite culinary experiences had at any of Thomas Keller’s establishments– French Laundry, Per Se, Ad Hoc, and Bouchon… Everywhere you look,   her good taste + fingerprints are on everything.

Share via email
Posted in peeps + players | Leave a comment

one bay area resident

Share via email
Posted in peeps + players | 1 Comment

designer to the stars…

Erin Martin has got style for days + days… And is quickly being considered one of a small-handful of great talents personifying California interior design today with her brazen + massive style, embellished with naughty point of view and super-sized scale. Her interiors are dripping with edge and comfort, creating dining rooms + living rooms where you’d have to call the cops to get guests out the front door!

Locally, her fingerprints are all over the place– and her latest reveal is Richard Reddington’s REDD WOOD. Vignettes of her world are on display in downtown St. Helena at the Martin Showroom– a space loaded with extraordinary + brilliantly-edited vintage finds/ antiques/ and anchor objects that transform rooms in an instant. My favorite find in her shop is her over-the-top collection of photography books.

PS– she is also spotlighted in my sister, Claiborne’s book AMERICAN BEAUTY— looking fierce and fabulous.

photo credit: claiborne swanson frank

Share via email
Posted in peeps + players | Leave a comment

the man behind marin country mart

Jim Rosenfield is the proprietor of the Marin Country Mart, Brentwood Country Mart + Montecito Country Mart– a shameless visionary, with equally shameless good taste– committed to dazzling/ serving/ elevating his communities by combining under one roof many of each region’s defining vendors + purveyors. He brought his brand of magic to Marin County, taking over the old + very tired Larkspur Landing, transforming it into the Marin Country Mart– a world of deliciousness anchored in outdoor life + conviviality.

Jim has a nose for sniffing out MAJOR TALENT…. The MCM has such cult-like epicurean vendors as: Miette, Rustic Bakery, Farmshop, Belcampo, El Huracho Loco, Three Twins Ice Cream, Space NK. And then he sprinkled in some of the most-loved small retailers, such as: Poppy Store, James Perse, Malia Mills, George, Unionmade– and soon to be Roberta Roller Rabbit + Calypso. But the greatest part of Jim’s formula is that he always incorporates neighborhood services that are the back bone of daily life– at Marin Country Mart there is a shoe repair, barber shop, post office, toy store, dry cleaning, ballet school and yoga studio. Everything about this formula is WINNING.

This concept is one of the great modern-day community center prototypes in America. Stay tuned for more!


Share via email
Posted in peeps + players | 1 Comment

veronica beard proudly presents…

Friends, I gotta brag… My sister Veronica Beard + her sister-in-law Veronica Beard are white hot and their clothes are flying off the racks across the country.  Keep your eyes peeled this fall for the VB concept store in New York.

It started with “the jacket + dickie”

And now it looks like this:


In the meantime, you can see the VB Spring Capsule at Philanthropist/ Wilkes in SF + Pearl in Napa Valley and check out the shop + blog.

A Fashionable Life: Veronica Swanson Beard 

Share via email
Posted in peeps + players | Leave a comment

queen of the oxbow market

kara's cupcakesKara Haspel Lind is spoiling the Bay Area, with not 1– but 5– locations of her wildly successful cupcake shops, called Kara’s Cupcakes.
Kara’s Cupcakes is the anchor of the Oxbow Market, and sets the tone for the well-edited culinary experience there.

I met Kara on the first week of the opening of her first shop in the Marina– and have been a huge fan sending out dozens of cupcakes to friends in the delivery room, school parties, work lunches, and every reason in between.  What captures my attention most about Kara + her business, is she’s figured out how to be married (to her business partner), raise a 4 year-old daughter, run a mini empire (that is only 5 years old), and be truly philanthropic at the same time..


kara's cupcakes kara's cupcakes, kara haspel lindkara's cupcakeskara's cupcakes

photo credit: nicole mcintosh bruce

Share via email
Posted in peeps + players | Leave a comment

ira yeager, international bohemian legend

Ira Yeager is a world-famous painter above all things and almost equally-famous bohemian/ raconteur/ entertainer from Northern California (mostly in Calistoga), acting as tho he were living in the 18th century. Ira is my mom’s best friend + is the wildest eccentric I know, with a mad mane of hair covered in flecks of paint + a permanently raised Dali-esque brow– always sharing exotic tales from every corner of the earth.


Truth be told, Ira is one of Napa Valley’s great treasures and talents: his art is always found in the most interesting/ unusual/ eclectic/ photographed homes of Napa.  Over the years he has painted everything from magnificent Wappo Indians, Victorian shoes, Marie Antoinette’s peasants, teapots, farm animals to mention a few–  and his work is often signed under the moniker “Von Yeager, 1786.”  His paintings are highly imaginative + magical + brilliantly colorful.  His decadent Peasant Series adorn the walls of both the Salon + Sip Shoppe as if they were the jewels of a queen. Between the two rooms, there hang 25 enormous paintings illuminating all the humor, mischief, ridiculousness of life of 18th c agrarian life, as Ira imagined it.


Share via email
Posted in peeps + players | Leave a comment

one to watch: josh phelps

I want to be clear about something: this post has ZERO to do with the fact the Josh Phelps’ dad, Chris Phelps, makes our wines… seriously.

Josh Phelps was gorgeous + lovely + barely out of college when he sweetly gave me a bottle of his first release– a Cabernet Sauvignon called TAKEN… I was flattered, and immediately tucked it away in our cellar. It wasn’t until one unsuspecting night, when my husband handed me a glass of wine… a wine that was so shockingly good, that I had to ask whose it was before taking the next sip– it was that good.

josh phelps, taken wine, cabernet sauvignon

To my delight, it was Josh’s wine, TAKEN— and it was awesome: slurpy/ luscious/ round/ forward, with a long, lingering finish– all the attributes my super American wine palate craves! TAKEN is produced by 2 boyhood friends, Josh and Carlo Trinchero– boys who grew up with intuition/ talent in their DNA– and this wine truly illuminates THAT in a huge way.

taken wine, josh phelps, cabernet sauvignonTAKEN is a total crowd pleaser, and at $30, it is doubly so!

Mark my words, I am seeing this as the next Prisoner… R-U-N, don’t walk to get it at ACME wines.

Share via email
Posted in peeps + players | Leave a comment

tastemaker: heidi baron godoff

Heidi Baron Godoff is New Yorker through and through, there are no bones about it!!  She is a good friend and dear collaborator, working with us for 2 years to rock out the Sip Shoppe/ website/ blog/ Modern House Wines— and all other coloful ridiculousness that comes with being in the Swanson fold.  Working in the wine industry was a huge leap of faith for Heidi as she has spent much of her life working for some of the fashion cognoscenti’s most beloved institutions:  Kirna Zabete in NYC,  Calypso, and the now defunct Mirabella magazine.  It made sense that she would survey the land and find her niche quickly.
Last week she launched a line of stunning and extra- bohemian bags/ purses called the BFF bags, as each bag is named for good friends. I am obsessed with these hand-knitted + felted bags:  they are warm + tactile + a modern woman’s security blanket. Even better…they look like a treasure you would find in the most amazing vintage store in New York’s West Village; a signature relic, previously owned by a fascinating woman of richness + texture.  These bags are the perfect holiday gift for your wife/ girlfriend/ daughter/ friend. And if that doesn’t leave you salivating… check out her HBG blog on the site, for spot-on fashion musings, tips and general coolness.
Word to the wise:  order ASAP, these heirlooms are made-to-order, taking up to 50 hours to produce each bag. My favorite bag, other than the Alexis: the Heidi messenger bag
Share via email
Posted in peeps + players | Leave a comment

jean-philippe delhomme, world famous illustrator

Famed Parisian illustrator/ artist Jean-Philippe Delhomme is known for his satirical + social commentary. He works with such clients as Barney’s of New York, Departures magazine and other various, well-known curators of lifestyle, including Napa Valley’s Swanson Vineyards.

I met Jean-Philippe Delhomme through my good friend Andy Spade, one of the great creative geniuses of America.  Andy and I were working together to find the right partner-in-crime for Swanson Vineyards, to convey all the things I wanted to say about wine/ the ceremonies + rituals of wine/ and more importantly, how we see, experience, and live in the Napa Valley. Jean-Philippe is a Frenchman through-and-through, he is chic to the bone, yet totally + brutally honest with his observations; which always thrills + delights the unsuspecting eye.  Qualities we all love.

Jean-Philippe arrived late, one night in January and stayed 72 hours– absorbing, meeting, tasting, looking, photographing, recording life at Swanson Vineyards in the Salon, Sip Shoppe, our houses, our whole beat.  In an hilarious irony, he turned to us early in the visit, and marveled how much we reminded him of his neighbors in the apartment above him, in New York’s Greenwich Village.  Amazingly, we soon realized that the apartment in question belonged to my sister + her husband!

After 3 days, JP was gone– and little by little, amazing illustrations would appear… Images that captured the great humor, sophistication, naughtiness, deliciousness of the very nuanced life of our colorful world in the Napa Valley.  Images that tell their own tale.

It is with great pride, that we introduce Jean-Philippe.

Our favorite quote: “No, no junk food. Really”

Share via email
Posted in peeps + players | Leave a comment

joel gott answers our questions..


joel gottJoel Gott is one of the coolest men in Napa Valley.  Period.  He + his brother Duncan brought to us the infamous Gott’s Roadside nee Taylor’s Refresher, a modern-day institution that has inspired countless of America’s best restaurateurs.  The Gott brothers’ burger joint is INSTANT NAPA to me—and a slice of AMERICANA, that makes everyday of summer feel like the 4th of July!  Gott’s is a TOP priority every weekend!!


Share via email
Posted in peeps + players | Leave a comment

james freeman… the coffee king

Jim Freeman is the king of coffee and owner of the Bay Area’s venerable Blue Bottle – the most exquisite coffee purveyor AROUND.

Jim single handedly reinvented the ritual, pleasure, standards + quality of coffee in America – in the way that the word “heirloom” reinvented the tomato industry.

From there, he hired a super tight army of people who were not serving coffee as a temp job till the next big gig happened…. No way, Jim’s crew give all the great sommeliers a major run for their money–  these people were dead serious about making you the best coffee drink of your life.  And they always deliver!

Check out an earlier post about Jim, called “how do you take your coffee“– loaded with crazy, mad-scientist talk. A favorite of mine!


Share via email
Posted in coffee talk, peeps + players | 4 Comments

tucker taylor, french laundry’s head gardener

Tucker Taylor French Laundry Gardener
Not even Hollywood’s most talented casting agents could have dreamt up a more perfect head gardener to run Thomas Keller’s meticulous garden than Tucker Taylor—a darkly tanned horticulturist, rocking a serious Brian Wilson beard, while waxing poetically about lettuce leaves + hydroponic  growing.  Check him out:


Share via email
Posted in peeps + players | Comments Off on tucker taylor, french laundry’s head gardener