July has summer in full swing, and we have been spending most of it outside, except for a few days at the beginning.
We kicked off this sun-drenched month with a quick trip to Palm Springs. Three scorching days: 114ºF greeted us the first day and escalated to a whopping 119ºF that day we took our wilted-selves home. The locals reminded me that it is a dry heat which apparently is supposed to make it bearable. I wasn’t buying it. These were our designated “inside days” of July, with a big thanks to the hotel’s air conditioning.
In this desert city, we poured at the Equality Wine Fest, organized by Jim Obergefell and Matt Grove of Equality Wines. Jim Obergefell was the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that brought marriage equality to all 50 states. Thanks, Jim.
Bottling took place mid-month with Chardonnay, Red Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir pumped gently into bottles.
In this issue, if you will be in Napa Valley on October 7, we urge you to mark an X on your calendar.
I give an update on the notes of blues at The Bungalow and its progression.
I also chat with the soft jazz artist currently on tour, Dave Koz. Dave was in Napa over a weekend this month and agreed to be this month’s interviewee, it is a good read below.
Now Jeff and I find ourselves driving home from a very cool, semi-foggy Pismo Beach, where we had a few days of R&R before our heavy lifting and travel schedules pick back up.
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Vintner, Cook, Jazz Fan
X marks the spot, that is, if you marked an X for this upcoming October 7 on your calendar. Treasure awaits those who do. It is the Yountville Days Parade, and you know I love a parade. For the last two years, the Gentleman Farmer contingent has been a sprightly crew of wine club members, supporters, imbibers, and friends who secured the “Best Representation of Theme” category for two years running! This year we are pulling out all the stops for the float, the band number, choreography, and more.
We mosey down the parade route and end up in our back garden, where the band will set up and play our greatest hits, accompanied by tasty treats and something to whet your whistle.
The prerequisites include a fondness for tomfoolery, a penchant for playful costumes, and a winning spirit. Extra kudos for those daring enough to dance along with our choreography. Ah, the sheer joy of this grand old tradition! Brace yourself; more juicy details are on the way.
The Bungalow, a project of whimsy rather than meticulous blueprints, takes shape under the guiding principle I term “design-build,” …meaning I prefer to pick things out with Jeff as the project progresses; some tile decisions one day, sinks the next, fixtures to follow, etc. Jeff calls this, “You have no f***ing budget.” Tomayto, tomahto.
Our circuitous adventure has, rather unexpectedly, birthed a consistent theme – blue. The interior has been painted a robin’s egg tone, the bar tiles are this striking geometrical shape, and the kitchen walls are a brick pattern with a wavy texture, both in a deep royal blue.
Even the exterior has been painted a heavy blue with darker trim.
Things will brighten up as we add accent lighting, chandeliers, pendants, and sconces. The final act is the furnishing. Cue shopping, selection, and an encore of creative feuds.
This project has taken on a life of its own, and I have ne’er been happier. I remind myself of something someone once told me, “every day, bite more than you can chew, and chew.”
I met jazz saxophonist Dave Koz sometime pre-pandemic, maybe summer of 2017 or 2018. He was performing at The Uptown in Downton Napa. My friend and Dave’s, Karyn Kane Williams, invited us to that concert. She took us backstage after, and that is how I met the guy.
The day after, we hosted them and some wine club friends in our back garden for paella and wine. Jeff even busted out his clarinet and played scales. It was an afternoon to be long remembered, and in the wine-soaked merriment, Dave graciously conceded to an interview.
I found it difficult to write a concise introduction to this man; his Wikipedia page is impressive. It starts with, “David Stephen Koz… is an American saxophonist, composer, record producer, and radio personality…” He has worked with television series, soap operas, sat as band leader for late-night talk shows, and is involved in restaurant lounges, cruise ships, and more. Whew, lots of ground covered. I feel like a slacker just writing this.
With 21 solo studio albums and one collaboration with Cory Wong, he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
His life so far is like a collection of curious treasures. Enjoy getting to know him. You can follow him @davidstephenkoz.
Joey Wolosz: As an artist, you have so many facets to your story, Grammy Awards, restaurants, Arsenio Hall, General Hospital, 94.7 The Wave (which I listened to non-stop in the late 80s while living in LA), Sirius-XM Watercolors, and more. What does the future hold?
David Koz: Hah, good question! Strange, but I’ve never really had a 5-year or 10-year plan for my career…it’s always just been a sort of ‘work in progress’–seeing what comes my way and trying to foster a sense of creativity and spontaneity to keep things fresh. I get bored easily, so I think that having a lot of creative variety in my life has helped to forge a long trajectory in my career. And I am so grateful for that. That openness has also allowed me to experience a lot of things I never thought possible with collaborators and the intensely unique and unforgettable moments that often follow. My mind is still quite curious, and my musical spirit continues to be very open to experimentation.
JW: When did you first make a connection to wine and food?
DK: I think it’s always been there because of my very Jewish mom! 🙂 She showed her love through food, and she was an amazing cook…she was a master at all the typical Jewish mother recipes. And she loved to entertain. My dad was probably the first person to introduce wine to me, even before turning drinking age. He wasn’t super knowledgeable, but he had a passion for it and loved to learn about varietals. But I think my real aha-moment with culinary and the role wine can play in the enjoyment of one’s life came from visiting Napa Valley early on. It blew my mind. Then, years later, getting invited to play Mondavi Winery for their Summer Concert series over the course of many years sealed it into place. I remember having lunch at Mrs. Mondavi’s home not long before she passed. This is a woman who knew how to entertain…and witnessing first-hand her joy at doing so was truly an out-of-body experience for me.
JW: Aside from music, what are your creative outlets?
DK: I love writing, and one day I do hope to write a book, synthesizing my experience with the saxophone and music into a story that might inspire others in their creative pursuits. In the meantime, though, I enjoy entrepreneurship and the marketing side of my career, coming up with new creative concepts. I also love working on video projects and am even working on a musical cartoon series with an animator in Finland at the moment!
JW: What do you have a really good time doing?
DK: My life is like a magic carpet ride…I’ve been moving in the fast lane for almost four decades now, and I truly love and appreciate that so much. But when it’s time for me to relax, it’s always the simplest things that make me the happiest. Sitting in a movie theater with a big tub of popcorn, chilling at my hideaway home in Sausalito, just staring out at the bay…doing the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle (in ink!), spending time with my family…I have four incredible nieces, 2 Goddaughters, and one Godson who add so much texture to my life.
JW: Friends and family excluded, who are two people you’d like to share a long and lingering meal with?
DK: Tough to pick just two…but if I must, Stevie Wonder and Sting. I’ve had the incredible opportunity to know Stevie and to even collaborate with him… though we’ve never shared a meal together. And I have yet to meet Sting. Both of these artists have had such amazing music careers…but they stand for so much more. They’ve given all of us so much with their humanity and have contributed so much positivity and healing–and continue to do so rather selflessly, something this planet needs badly. Plus, I think the conversation at the table would be EPIC with both of them. Together, even better!
JW: What would you serve?
DK: I’d hire YOU to design the menu, Joey! Haha. While I appreciate the art of cooking and entertaining so much, I understand my limitations! 🙂 But I’d keep it simple…super fresh ingredients, but with a lot of soul and a lot of flavor to match the guests of honor. And there would have to be one main ingredient: Gratitude.
JW: What is your spirit animal?
DK: Sometimes if I look in the mirror long enough, I can see my face morph into that of a lion. Of course, being high on weed helps in this pursuit! But I’d have to say that is my spirit animal. I’m as self-doubting as the next guy, but in my rare moments of clarity, I like to think I can be as fearless as a lion. Sometimes it works. 🙂
JW: What is your motto?
DK: Need Nothing. Want everything. And choose what comes your way. (Saw this scrawled on the closet of a backstage dressing room in London years and years ago. It always stuck.)
July is National Picnic Month which makes me think of the perfect picnic salad. This is a mashup of a French-German vinegar-based potato salad and an American creamy potato salad, hitting my tastebuds from all angles and satisfying my inability to make up my mind. With this, you can have your cake and eat it too.
You were the sweetest of chickens, you will be missed.
June 2021 – July 2023