Fabulous Wine Cave and the Never Ending Beauty of Harlan and BOND Estates. (Oh, and a rose the color of a Sham-wow!)

Let’s celebrate fine living.  Let’s also celebrate my new favorite rose, one that is a touch overpriced but worth it.  “Combo”, a modestly named hybrid, is the color of a dry Sham-wow and feels like leather.  It lasts forevz,  goes with everything and opens to a heavenly spiral of firm, suede-like petals.


But first, fine living.  I welcome you to go on a walk with me to a tasting area in the caves at the fabled BOND estate in Napa Valley.  Of course you are met with a glass of Krüg as the large and heavy iron doors open to a maze of barrels hung by special mechanical arms created just for the winery by  engineers in Italy.  The caves are perfect in every way.


We stroll through the slightly macabre but nonetheless striking hallways of the caves and come upon a clearing.  Here we are greeted by winery staff, and we sit to taste the wine whose cult following speaks not only of the beauty of the wine, but how difficult it is to get, and how precious the juice.  And yes, the lighting is indeed that low and that sexy.


Now up to dinner in the tastefully appointed living room of the winery.  The solid 27 foot table is perfect for entertaining and here, along with oodles of wine glasses, carefully selected to accompany the outrageous food of Chef Kostow of Meadowood, one finds simple wooden boxes of “Combo” roses designed in a pavé style, (fancy talk for “in a row”) nesting comfortably in wooden boxes adorned with antique brass handles.  The tablecloth is wheat colored linen with a wonderful carbonated metallic underlay.  The linen has been pressed to perfection.


There is something so wild about Napa in the winter.  It is a bit like enjoying a 25th year of Christmas and New Year’s in San Francisco.  What I mean by that is that there is a thinning of the population that seems to correspond with a swelling of the landscape.  The moss on the trees, the green of the grass and the absence of tourists driving way to slow taking photo of themselves next to that silly wooden sign welcoming visitors to the “greatest wine region in the world”.  It gets quiet, it gets local, it gets naughty.  Delicious!


Box:  Container store

Hardware:  Purchased on-line and hot glued to the cylindrical holes cut out on either side of the “IN/OUT Box” box that I bought at the Container Store

Roses:  Any will do, these are “Combo”

Quantity:  Depends on the spread and petal count of the rose or flower you choose to.  I would stay with roses.  These took 20 stems per box as they open to about 4 inches.

MECHANICS:  I placed a double layer of black plastic (UNSCENTED!!!) trash bags, enough to drape over the entire box with excess-one trash bag folded in half should do.  I used 3 blocks of Oasis foam and lightly trimmed the last block with a thin knife to fit snugly into the box.  Trim excess plastic bag and discard.


Now simply push the roses into the foam being careful to check the rim of the box.  You do not want the roses to look smashed and you also do not want to see the green foam between the roses.  This can be tricky and often I will pull out a rose and replace with another.  Think of it as a puzzle of sorts.



Place in a single row along the table and use a measuring tape to be sure the distance between each box is the same.  I start with one in the middle of the table and then I place arrangements at either end.  Measure the remaining space and do all sorts of rudimentary math to figure out how much space you have and then place the remaining boxes.  At this extraordinary dinner there were 7 boxes.

What is so good about this style of modern but traditionally tailored flower arranging is that it is so easy to do.  Once you have all the yummy foam to work with, you just start poking at it with flowers or fruits, vegetables, grasses, whatever your heart desires.  And should you not like the placement of the flowers you can simply pull out the stems and try again.  Do be mindful however, not to poke to hard or often at the foam.  From this foam the flowers get their water.  In short, try not to trash the foam and if you do, simply replace with a new block.

OH!!!! I almost forgot the most important part.  When using Oasis foam, a marvelous invention that gobbles up many more times its mass in water, be sure to have a sink or a bucket larger than the length of the Oasis block filled with water.  Very gently drop the block from about 2″ above the water and let the block slowly drink.  This is essential.  Should you try to push the block into the water or you rush the process in any way, air bubbles with form and your flowers will perish mid meal.  I will often fill my studio sink with dry blocks and then slowly fill the sink with running water that does not make contact the the blocks.  This way I can get many blocks hydrated at one time.

Okay, so here is a piece of an extraordinary life.  Go grab some for yourself.

Have fun!