August, bring on the heat! Jeff and I spent the first week in Dallas, Texas, meeting with wine club members, collectors, and travel professionals, and we were hit with a whopping 119º F (48º C for my SI readers). Once again, I was told it’s a “dry heat.” I’m still not buying it.
We met some people old and new, poured and tasted wines, and ate at some pretty cool places.
In this issue, we learn this year’s theme of a Yountville tradition that oddly happens around the time of the founder, George C. Yount’s death.
I recall a day of my brute strength on display, wrestling a hunk of carbon steel with the help of a sledgehammer, belt sander, and 1,800º F forge (982º C for those same readers) into a functional kitchen tool.
We meet a tastemaker you should know, or already do, and discover her links to astrology, crystal healing, and remembering her first sips of wine.
Finally, I introduce what is neither a tamale nor a pie. However, my mom still called it Tamale Pie.
Vintner, Cook, Blacksmith
P.S. If you enjoy this digital sip of the Napa Valley, make it a social affair and bring a plus-one. Share Field Notes with a friend and subscribe below.
I know you have patiently waited for someone to pull the trigger, sound the alarm, or make the call. Well, wait no longer. We have a theme! Yountville Days Parade on October 7 is about “Celebrating Our Roots.”
I noodled on this for a bit. Decorating a float with roots? I was coming up blank until we decided to take it full-on cheer! Let’s “Root, Root, Root, for Yountville, Wine, and the Napa Valley.” If it is not already on your calendar, mark it. Pull out your cheerleading or yell-leading costumes, pom-poms, and megaphones, and prepare to fire it up. We’re here, we cheer, get used to it.
Thanks to wine club member Allison Sands, there will be choreography. Phat Ankle will perform our new cover hit, Madonna’s Holiday, in the spirit of celebration. I might say, “It’s already been broughten…”
By the sweat off my brow, I worked with my friend David Shapiro this past Sunday at Nimbus Arts in St. Helena over a 1,800º F forge for a full day, hammering into submission a chunk of carbon steel into a chef knife. It may have succumbed more to a chef-ish/knife-ish tool. Nonetheless, I banged it into a workable kitchen tool.
Many of you have the pleasure of knowing Danielle Krey. She does much of the heavy lifting that keeps our wines in your hands, at your tables, and in your glasses. Danielle and I have worked side-by-side for the last three years. She is an impressive creative collaborator and a tastemaker you should know. I want to share the other talents of this free-spirit and right-brain thinker.
Jewelry making, crystal healing, astrology readings, Wine and Spirit Education Trust educated, hula-hooper, and backpacker, she is a triple threat (or triple-triple threat?). Enjoy getting to know her better in this interview and @sparkyspirit.life.
Joey Wolosz: What led you to an interest in astrology, spiritual growth, and crystal healing?
Danielle Krey: I’ve honestly always been drawn to the mystical arts and the things we can’t explain. So I would say spiritual curiosity is what ultimately led me to study Astrology and crystal healing on a professional level. At first, I skeptically explored these modalities just to see if there was anything more to them, and to my surprise, there was a lot more to them. I ended up falling in love with how beneficial these practices have become in my own self-development and growth as a person. As someone who has always had diverse interests, my exploration and pursuit of deeper spiritual meaning has added a lot of value in magical ways I never expected.
JW: How do you share this?
DK: I’m super passionate about sharing these topics! I offer a free monthly workshop for those who are interested in learning more about the science, psychology, and spirituality of Astrology. I also do private readings and make crystal healing jewelry. You can also find me as a vendor at the local markets in my hometown of Flagstaff, AZ. There are a few local retail locations that carry my jewelry.
JW: When did you first make a connection with wine and food?
DK: I first made a connection growing up through my mom. We were one of those families that sat down together every night for dinner, and my mom always prepared a full meal for us. Though this definitely wasn’t my favorite tradition as a teenager, looking back, I treasure that my parents provided those memories for us. My mom was a great cook, and now knowing how much energy goes into making a full dinner, I can’t believe she did that for us every night! She made the best brisket I’ve ever had and would enter local Barbeque competitions with that as her prized recipe.
Alongside her cooking, my mom preferred red wines and would typically have a glass every night as she read before bed. It was the first sip of alcohol she let me try! As I got older (and of drinking age), my taste in wine began to expand, and I’ve enjoyed learning about the more complex and technical side of the art of winemaking through working alongside you, Joey! Now, when I pick up a bottle of wine, I’m drawn to an array of different information like the grape varietal, appellation, and vintage. I test my ability to pick out primary, secondary, and tertiary notes. My current relationship with wine has grown immensely, starting from my mother’s introduction.
JW: What are your other creative outlets?
DK: I love dancing, hula hooping, and arts and crafts in general! I’ve done everything from playing the guitar to pottery to quilting. Most crafts I never master, but I love trying new things. If you ask me, to be human is to be creative. You can bet that I’ll be out there with my hula hoop for Yountville Days Parade this year!
JW: What do you have a really good time doing?
DK: Hiking, backpacking, and camping are some of my favorite leisure activities. Nature has always been a place I go to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. There’s something about carrying everything you need in just a backpack, waking up in a tent and then going to sleep in a tent, and having nothing but your feet to carry you forward that really connects you with new parts of yourself. You get to see what you’re made of. Outdoor challenges like this definitely build character, and there’s something about that I really enjoy. Plus, you can’t beat the star-gazing when you’re out in the backcountry!
JW: Friends and family excluded, who are two people you’d like to share a long and lingering meal with? What would you serve?
DK: Joe Dispenza and Nassim Haramein…both these individuals are still alive, so I still have a chance for this dream to become a reality! These two are renowned scientists who have made huge headway in the field of quantum physics. Joe Dispenza is well-known for his work/research with meditation and self-development. Nassim Haramein has been studying the nature of energy at both the quantum (molecular) level and on the cosmic level.
It would be a “nerdy” dinner for sure, but I would love to get a glimpse into their minds over some delicious food and wine. I would definitely outsource the cooking and libations. If I had my pick of places to take them, it would be the Bungalow! Dessert(s) would be a must—something chocolate and something cheesecake.
JW: What is your spirit animal, and why?
DK: A Hummingbird Hawk Moth. We have them here in Flagstaff, and I’ve always been entranced by them. They literally look like hummingbirds, but upon a closer look, you see that they are moths. They are also one of the few kinds of moths, traditionally being nocturnal animals, that are active during the day. The Hummingbird Hawk Moth carries a lot of symbolism across cultures, including grace, gentleness, and prosperity.
JW: What is your motto?
DK: The meaning of life is to give life meaning.
Before I came along, my brother and sister lived in El Paso, Texas, with my mother. Across the border is the Ciudad de Juárez, the most populous city in the Mexican State of Chihuahua (oh, how we miss sweet Stella). My mother loved Tamale Pie. She made it often and told me she learned the recipe while living in this border town. Some food historians believe this casserole originated from this part of Texas.
Corn is hitting the height of its summer season, and this is an excellent way to share the bounty. I give Maxine Wolosz’s version with this link.