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Eric Sussman

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Babies & Wine & an Antidote to Angst

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For many in Sonoma and Mendocino, and around the world,  2017 will not be remembered with much joy, but if you go with the premise that it's important in life to take the good as an antidote to the bad, we were gratified that along with the challenges Barndiva's year has also been filled with exciting new collaborations with people we admire and projects that pique our curiosity (and hopefully yours).

The drive for our positivism as we look toward 2018 comes from the year just past, which saw the arrival of LouLou, Enzo, Lucie, Birdie and last, but certainly not least, Remy Fancher, the third utterly captivating daughter of Bekah and Chef Ryan. Despite the frustrations of making sustainably farmed food viable in a commercial arena, the arrival of these new little members of our community is inspiring. Their future depends upon healthy food, water and air. Everyone has a role to play, especially as consumers. For your continued support of all things Barndiva this past year, we thank you.  

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the somm's table

Without a doubt the thing that obsessed us the most this year, tailgating the extraordinary food coming out of our kitchens, has been wine. It was our second year earning two glasses from Wine Spectator which we are quite chuffed about, as the list is gorgeous and getting better all the time. But we've long believed that the conversations we could be having around the crop that grows as far as the eye can see in every direction should be about more than points, price, and an often silly nomenclature that keen winedrinkers view with more skepticism than delight. The winemakers we've had the pleasure of befriending over the last decade are super smart and passionate. They are scientists and weathermen, farmers and artists. To dumb down the complexity of what they create from soil to bottle isn't just an insult, it's a lost opportunity. A chance to connect to the landscape which surrounds us, to learn a language that is scent, taste and memory driven. And crucially, to accumulate knowledge about what you personally enjoy most when you lift a glass of wine and sink into its essence. 

Our wine director Alexis Iaconis is a remarkable young woman. In addition to guiding our growing wine programs, she moonlights at Meadowood (though I'm sure they think it's the other way around), is studying to take her Master Sommelier exam, and is a partner to husband Matt's exciting brick &  mortar label. All of that is driven and no doubt sustained by being a great mom. Yet she still managed to find time to help us start The Somm's Table this year. Together we hosted group wine fêtes (all sold out, now annual events) and singular winemaker spotlight dinners. We published wine set notes every month and inaugurated 'Trace' - an interactive scent based wine identification system, er, art piece. The Somm's Table approach to wine is agricultural, sense & scent driven and idiosyncratic - i.e. very Barndiva. Along with a changing wine literacy window and its 'location' in Studio Barndiva, which still displays and sells the work of local artists, the art aspect is not a misnomer. 

For all the work that went into The Somm's Table, the biggest wine news was delivered by our stealthiest player, Lukka Feldman. Under his direction we now have six Barndiva label wines that will be poured in both restaurants in the new year and shortly thereafter sold on a new website, Shopbarndiva. Stay tuned. 

We'd like to use this last post of the year to give heartfelt thanks to all who helped us launch The Somm's Table this year. To Small Vines, Alysian, Leo Steen, DuMol, brick & mortar, Littorai, Black Kite, Radio Coteau and especially to Roederer and Domaine Anderson, who supported our fire relief efforts by turning their spotlight dinner into a fundraiser. Along with the money we raised tableside, by New Year's Eve we will have donated over $20,000 to RCU and Undocufund. Thank you to winemakers Dan Fitzgerald, Eric Sussman and Kai Kliegl for helping us expand the Barndiva label. 

Finally,  we'd be remiss to end the year without thanking our incredible FOH staff, starting with Cathryn, our restaurant manager, who keeps us all marching in the right direction and Paula, Ryan B, Isabel, and Lalo for keeping food, cocktail and wine service humming. Without them we could not concentrate on new projects like The Somm's Table. To Barndiva's Farm Manager Daniel Carlson and sculptor Jordy Morgan for help with Trace. To Bob Signs for help designing our Center Street Somm's Table windows. To Campbell Hay for our incredibly elegant wine labels. Last, but never least, my assistant K2, without whom I could not keep the ideas, images and words flowing in the right direction. 

We have our doubts about our voice on social media platforms, namely how to be heard and still be true to our mission without adding to the cacophony of self aggrandizement which seems to be swallowing the culture whole. But in the new year we hope to make more videos @barndivahealdsburg, so stay in touch. We love to hear from you. 

Happy New Year!

Jil, Geoffrey, Ryan and Lukka.

 

*Barndiva and The Gallery Bar + bistro will be on hiatus from January 1-7. We look forward to cooking for you and filling your glass when we re-open (invigorated!) on Wednesday, January 10. 

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