Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Chatsworth Attic Sale

The Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and their staff have been rummaging through the attics of the greatest English stately home, Chatsworth, and are now offering 1,419 lots of treasures through a Sotheby’s auction, October 1-7.

The Devonshire Borghese table, an Italian carved giltwood console table with a serpentine alabaster veneered top, mid-18th century, est. £40,000-70,000.

Grab some history and fly to Chatsworth now, or simply order the Sotheby’s catalog. Fat and juicy, it is highly collectible. Find this 512-page catalog (one of the most lavish and most elegant of recent decades of important and historic sales) at www.sotheby’s.com.

The Duke of Devonshire, photography by Nigel Hillier.

The sale is taking place at Chatsworth, in Derbyshire, UK. I wish I could attend. It will be a scramble—well, a very civilized and elegant one—of antique dealers, collectors, the curious and the merely acquisitive.

Thirty lots are the property of the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire (the great Deborah Mitford.)

I am a long time fan of Deborah, who reigned supreme as the Duchess of Devonshire for many grand decades. She’s now in her nineties, has recently published her biography, and must be looking at this sale with bemusement.

The following is the announcement from Chatsworth:

A unique three-day auction of rare and rediscovered furnishings and personal artifacts belonging to the Devonshire family is to take place this October at Chatsworth.

Rediscovered beneath layers of dust, these objects were once part of the fabric of the many great houses that have featured in the Devonshire family's history. Chatsworth, Devonshire House (on Piccadilly, London - demolished in the 1920's), Bolton Abbey, Chiswick House, Hardwick Hall, Lismore Castle and Compton Place have all contributed items.

The sale will be on view to the public at Chatsworth from 1st-4th October, prior to the auction from 5th-7th October.

The sale comprises 20,000 objects in over 1,000 lots, ranging in value from £20 to £200,000. Entry to the pre-sale exhibition will be by catalogue, on sale at Chatsworth or Sotheby's from September onwards.

The house and grounds will be open to the public as usual during the period of the sale and view.

The Bachelor Duke’s Russian Sleigh from his days as the Ambassador Extraordinary for the court of St James’ to the Russian Empire, est. £2,000-3,000.

A giltwood centre table from the Ballroom at Devonshire House, est. £4,000-6,000.

Teacups and saucers – some of many to be offered in the sale.

Friday 1st - Monday 4th October
Friday 9:00am - 4:30pm
Saturday 9:00am - 5:30pm
Sunday 9:00am - 5:30pm
Monday 9:00am - 2:00pm
Admission to the view is by catalogue only, which may be purchased at Chatsworth or ordered in advance.

Tuesday 5th - Thursday 7th October, 10:30am onwards

Interior of a cupboard overflowing with ceramics and glass, prices start at £20

The catalog weighs a ton and is crammed with lush images, family trees, portraits, and historical inventories.

Estimated prices seem rather low, considering the rare and historic nature of this sale. My guess is that the bidding will be hot.

There are glass cases of stuffed birds (I love the macaw), along with family silver, art galleries full of English, Italian and French paintings, carved mantels, gilded and mundane furniture, ballroom-sized mirrors, glorious Meissen porcelain, great and ordinary portraits, globes, dusty Louis Vuitton suitcases, silken fabrics, curtains, pelmets, lots of ‘domestic ceramics’, ormolu and oak desks, impressive marble busts, lichen-covered garden ornament, George III chairs, Georgian cabinets, bronze door handles, a fabulous tortoiseshell inlaid commode (chest), silver wick scissors, and lots of great and good, and bit of riff raff, too.

Much to covet.

An impressive Regency gilt-bronze free standing nine light candelabrum, circa 1820, 220cm high, used to illuminate the painted ceiling by Louis Laguerre in the famed Painted Hall of Chatsworth, est. £30,000-50,000.

One of six carved giltwood fauteuils, Louis XV, mid-18th century – covered in original blue and gold silk lampas from the Bachelor Duke’s Crace refurbishment, est. £18,000-25,000

A magnificent George II carved white marble chimneypiece by William Kent, circa 1735, from the Saloon, est. £200,000-300,000

Good luck! I hope you can at least acquire the catalog, with its endless family histories, its fine details and photographs of grand houses past, and all the flotsam and jetsam of stately homes of the Devonshire grandeur.

Textiles some of many examples to be offered in the sale

Images: www.sothebys.com and www.chatsworth.org, where more information is available.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bravo, Gary Friedman

California-based Restoration Hardware’s CEO/Chairman Gary Friedman is known for boldly remaking the company and giving it a distinctive new vibe and look. 

This week Friedman launches his newest concept, a dramatic, sun-lit Restoration Hardware design gallery in a handsome Palladian showroom in San Francisco’s design district. It’s placed beautifully behind a tall wall and a pair of grand portals, with a terrace and sunlight galore, right in the midst of top design showrooms and the finest antiques galleries. 


I have long admired Gary Friedman for his fearless leap into management and ownership of Restoration Hardware. 

The company was founded in 1980 to sell, what else, restoration hardware. 

The original founder opened his first store and launched a quirky catalog because he was restoring a Craftsman house in Marin County in Northern California. He could not find all the authentic lighting, doorknobs, hinges, handles, and flotsam and jetsam of remodeling for a classic and historic residence. Thus the name! 

The company grew, catalogs arrived through the mail, and stores were opened around the country. The design evolved and the company offered a classic range, with beautiful bed linens, good solid furniture, beautifully made basic pieces for any residence, and the kick of quirky gifts and accessories. 

Gary Friedman, formerly with Williams Sonoma, boldly took over the company and has slowly and thoughtfully reshaped it. 

Now he is making an even more ambitious leap—with a glamorous new showroom in a former super-luxe antiques gallery. This gallery opens September 23, with a party for 600 guests, and hundreds of new designs, furniture, lighting, antique reproductions, and singular modern and period pieces. 

The new gallery is at 188 Henry Adams Street, San Francisco, in the former home of Ed Hardy San Francisco Antiques. Ed Hardy, who built this Palladian masterpiece, is knowledgeable and uniquely insightful in matters of antiques and decorative accessories, and he will stay on as a consultant. 

Gary Frieman made a great splash last year by revamping the whole Resto product line. He introduced what many design fans and design bloggers have called ‘the Axel Vervoordt look’ for its insistently beige tones and neutral coloring, heavy linen upholstery, off-beat antiques, industrial findings, rusted metals and use of raw wood. (The brilliant design blogger Joni Webb of Cote de Texas wrote brilliantly and presciently about this new collection.)

In fact, this is not Antwerp-based art and antique dealer Axel Vervoordt’s look at all. Axel's look for interiors (he insists he is not a decorator) is much more rare, more refined, more subtle, more self-aware and knowing. 

Axel's work for a range of international clients is always inflected with art by Lucio Fontana, a sculpture by Anish Kapoor, or Egyptian antiquities, authentic handcrafted pieces, a farm table here, a Roman or Khmer torso there, surprises, and the finest of the fine. It's expensive. You could not build a catalog truly replicating Axel—but you might use his ideas to get your creative juices flowing. He’s an excellent source for inspiration. 

Axel Vervoordt and his son Boris Vervoordt (see my earlier features on the Vervoordts in THE STYLE SALONISTE archive) love and collect and offer fine paintings and beautiful antiques and fine silver and modern sculptures, and very insider collections. They love the imperfect, juxtaposed with the new. Their 'look' (though all interiors are unique) as seen in Axel’s superb books published by Rizzoli, is not loft-like or rough or industrial or even especially overscale, as Restoration Hardware’s new look was shaped. 

The new Restoration Hardware look is what I would call Antwerpian loft (my own coined expression) or Brussels-esque. Maybe it’s actually Gary-esque. Brilliant. 

Restoration Hardware has done a superb job of adapting a dash of Axel’s witty overscale sofas with a typical Belgian understated monochromatic décor with plain linen upholstery. And there’s Belgian flea-market rough-and-tumble antiques thrown in. 

It’s a look originally presented with panache in multitudes of books published by the Beta-Plus Belgian publishing house, and in their tomes, with names like ‘Timeless Living’ and ‘Urban Retreats’ published beautifully and in multitudes. No text to speak of but highly detailed photos. These volumes have been hotly collected in design studios and merchandise design studios for some years. A secret resource. Designers love them because there are lots of easy-to-emulate and client-pleasing ideas and inspiration for product, kitchens, color, bathrooms, and décor. 

But Restoration Hardware—Gary’s talented team—has used these influences and magnified them and given them muscle and character and made it its own. Now the monochromatic overscale sofa is paired with a weird office desk or a strange and fetishistic set of rusted gear objects and chrome counterpoise floor lamp. Style should be a mash-up, not a period fantasy. 

Resto’s greatest new hits now include a mad and wonderful Aviator Chair with shiny riveted metal sides that looks as if it was crafted from aircraft parts and a vintage leather armchair. Love it. 

There are a Royal Master Sealight Floorlamp, rusty looking mid-century Mid-Century Ship Ladder Shelving, an antique lunar map, a friendly wooden glider model, cashmere throws, a French dentist’s chair, a polyhedron model (very Belgian), lots of chairs and sofas rigorously upholstered in Belgian linen, along with a dramatic forties sling iron rocker. No pattern here. No frills. 

Some might find the collection relentlessly beige. The uber-macho industrial carts and muscular rusted industrial chain pulleys and collection of fishing weights might appear a bit lacking in humor. It can get a bit heavy-handed. You can love or reject the bulky authentic ironbound antique cotton mill bins (just 235 remaining), but they are original and will last a life-time. And unquestionably the bed linens are superb (Italian, French, just perfect), and I love the towels and duvets and luxurious goose down pillows. 

It takes fearless leadership and a strong point of view to pull this all together and to achieve such a strong, inviting, versatile, and cohesive look. 

This new Resto offering of furniture and décor would fit right into a Colorado lodge, a Lake Tahoe cottage, a Silver Lake escape, a Rancho Santa Fe equestrian property, an Arizona retreat, or an Adirondacks cottage. Belgian linen, rough and unpretentious and classic, looks great anywhere. 

A careful perusal of the pages of the new catalog (I seem to get at least one a day in my mailbox) digs up a useful French postal desk (terrific for a garage or a studio), and a chic fifties linen-upholstered Copenhagen chair, plus some bombastic beds, fake antlers, whacking big rolls of sisal/linen rugs, and enough silk and linen curtains to cover Antwerp with a Christo-like wrapping, there and back. 

I hear that Restoration Hardware is going to be opening in Los Angeles on or near Melrose Avenue in the heart of the design district around the Pacific Design Center. Decorators might feel it’s a bit too close for comfort, but clients with be happy. 

Light-filled galleries and chock-a-block flagships and entirely new collections are being planned at this moment. I love it. 

The next thing, I think you should see hordes of Restoration Hardware furniture and décor on a TV reality show or in a celebrity house or starring on its own TV show, and its only fitting. It’s time. 

Cue the lights, camera, action. 

Thanks to Gary Friedman, Restoration Hardware is ready for its close-up. 


Year Restoration Hardware was founded: 1980 

Year Gary Friedman took over: 2001 

Number of Restoration Hardware stores: As of September 2010, Restoration Hardware operates 97 retail stores and 11 outlet stores in 30 states, the District of Columbia and Canada. 

Largest Restoration Hardware stores: The Flatiron store in NYC and the original Corte Madera store in the San Francisco Bay Area are the flagships. 

Newest item: The entire Fall 2010 collection, over 500 new pieces.

About Restoration Hardware 
The official—and fascinating—information on the company: 

Restoration Hardware is a leading purveyor of premium home furnishings offered through a multi-channel platform that includes retail stores, catalogs (Restoration Hardware Home, Garden, Outdoor, Baby & Child, and Gift) and on-line at www.restorationhardware.com and www.rhbabyandchild.com

Additionally, the company markets its products to the interior design trade and has a contract division targeting the hotel and hospitality industry. 

The Restoration Hardware merchandise offering for Fall 2010 (and basic to all stores and catalogs) includes meticulously crafted furniture, textiles, lighting, bathware, hardware, and collections of large-scale, inspirational products handmade by an international roster of artisans. The company is owned by an investment group consisting of Catterton Partners, Tower Three Partners, Glenhill Investments, and Gary Friedman. 

All photography courtesy of Restoration Hardware. Published with express permission.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Strong Body, Brilliant Brain

Here’s How: Meet Fitness Trainer David McGuire

For a complete change of pace on THE STYLE SALONISTE, Diane talks with top fitness trainer David McGuire about his healthy (and no-nonsense) approach to exercise, working out, staying motivated, and loving your body. Let’s get started.

Top San Francisco exercise trainer, David McGuire is one of the most beloved trainers in California. He’s highly knowledgeable, articulate, direct, fun, positive, insightful, and creative.

David has been my trainer for over three years. I think he is great. I think you’ll find some excellent and useful tips and information here.

David McGuire and Juno on Crissy Field, with the Golden Gate Bridge as backdrop.

I happily inhabit the design and style world where my vocabulary includes words like gauffrage and Givenchy and Galanos and gilt, gadroon, and gorgeous.

But I also inhabit another world—where my vocabulary includes abs, lats, biceps, deadlifts, Smith Machines, dumbbells, weights, and triceps.

Fitness trainer David McGuire is responsible for my on-going passion for increasing strength, heightening stamina and endurance, and maintaining great health.

I told David that my workout goal is always to continue to be strong enough to run fast through an airport after an 11-hour flight. I always want to have the stamina to walk for miles and to run up and down the Metro steps in Paris. I want to dash up palace stairs in India, and hike the Green Gulch Trail to the Zen Center and back on the Coastal Trail. I work out with David so that I will continue to travel across the world for 29 hours, door to door, and hit the ground running. Those, and more, have been my specific goals.

Come and meet David, and to get inside his mind. Many of my super-successful friends in San Francisco are absolutely devoted to David and his motivational teaching. David is so cheerful and inspiring that they get up in the middle of the night, rain or shine, all year, and drive across San Francisco to meet David at outdoor locations around the bay, to spend an hour working out.

David works with people of many fitness levels at these bayside impromptu ‘gyms’. They exercise at his bootcamp…and then head home, shower, and are at work before 9am.

I am not one of those! Writing and editing until midnight, I’m not leaping out of bed at 5am.

I work out with David at a health club in San Francisco, and find his approach is entirely healthy, engaging, sensible, effective, personal, and lots of fun. He is always cheerful.
Come and meet David and be inspired.

DDS: What’s the first essential concept we should all know about exercise?
DA: The human body is designed to move. Movement keeps the body happy, healthy and functioning properly. Every system we have- from respiratory to circulatory to emotional - smiles when it gets put to use on a regular basis. Our physical and emotional states are more conjoined than we can ever imagine. One feeds the other. When your body is healthy and strong, so are you. So we can handle each day with less stress, more patience, confidence and clarity. 

DDS: A quick and effective exercise those of us sitting at a computer for hours?
DM: Sit down and stand up in your chair 100x every hour. Seriously. Do one set of 25 every fifteen minutes. Move your arms any way you want, but move them. Get as many joints working as possible. Rise up on your toes and test your balance. Lift up one leg behind yourself and feel your glutes in action. Each set will take you less than 60 seconds. That’s 4 minutes of activity each hour. Easy. Done.

DDS: Suggestions on getting motivated? Your bootcamps start at 6am, outdoors in San Francisco, in cold, rain, dark, and even watching the sunrise. I’m so impressed. How do they do it?
DM: They’re such an amazing group of people. I’m always impressed with how determined they are. The beauty of San Francisco all around them is certainly a strong motivator, but I also know they’re driven by the mind/body connection. I’m not talking about having the perfect body at all. I’m talking about being healthy, feeling strong, exuding confidence and getting your body moving. Motivation starts in the brain—and knowing the effect and the result of exercise. You can find an activity you love and exercising with a friend at any time. Nothing is stronger than just finding it within yourself and charging forward. 

DDS: Best way to do effective regular exercise with or without a gym or a trainer?
DM: Schedule an appointment with yourself. Put it on your to-do list and make it non-negotiable. I will spend time on ME today. It’s a habit, a pattern and one very solid reason to feel good about myself. Try new things. Group exercise classes are offered everywhere and cover movements from yoga to belly dancing. I promise there’s an exercise class for anyone. There’s energy in the group dynamic and you’ll meet some great people.

DDS: Some equipment to work with at home?
DM: Your body is a wonderful piece of equipment that needs nothing else to keep it fit, healthy and challenged. You don’t need anything but your legs to get your heart rate high. Run up the stairs in your house or building and you can really get going. There are times when you just have to have some weights in your hands. Anywhere I’ve ever lived I’ve had a couple of sets of dumb-bells with me. Just 5, 10 or 15 pounds. The options with these are endless. Nothing fancy, just some old-school weights to throw around and play with.

DDS: Light equipment to take on travels to continue with effective exercise?
DM: I’m a big fan of therabands. They’re different sizes and colors of rubber tubing with sturdy handles on each end. They are available everywhere and can provide a varied resistance level from any angle for any muscle – push, pull, press, twist, hook them around a door handle and it can all be done.

DDS: Turning a walk into a dynamic exercise?
DM: Walking is wonderful, convenient, and can be done anywhere. I challenge anyone who’s walking as the primary source of aerobic activity to change it up. Throw something completely different at your body and enjoy your heart-rate climb and your muscles respond with new soreness. Don’t make it easy on yourself, but have a good time. Some other ideas:

  • change directions--backwards, side to side, diagonal, whatever you feel like that moves the bones in your legs differently than normal.
  • change your stride length. Jump over pretend streams in front of yourself. Jump sideways over cracks in the sidewalk.
  • change levels as much as possible. There’s no question that this turns your caloric burn way up. Ascend swiftly and descend with complete control. Don’t stop when it gets difficult. Challenge yourself. Stairs, benches, curbs, steep hills and trails all hold countless possibilities.
  • skipping (seriously, do it when no one is looking. You know you want to.)
  • sit down and stand up 10 times at every park bench you walk by. Try to get to 100 times before you end your walk.

DDS: Tips on eating after a vigorous workout?
DM: A pre-workout meal should be something simple, low in fat and fiber and easily digestible (fruit, toast with jelly, handful of raisins, oatmeal, juice). The important thing is to have something in your stomach before you even begin exercising. You can’t run a car on empty.

Post-workout food is equally as crucial. In this meal you should enjoy protein and carbohydrates together. Your muscles are broken down. They need the power from a protein to rebuild and the energy from a carb to caffeinate the body. This should be done within 90 minutes of your workout. Keep it low fat. Fat slows down digestion and that’s the last thing you want for your body. Some of my favorites (turkey sandwich, sushi, any type of wrap, a healthy burrito). Again, what do you like? Of course, drink as much water as possible. Stay hydrated.

DDS: An effective 20-minute daily circuit of exercise to do at home?
DM: Move all major muscles, move in every direction and incorporate important things like balance, endurance and flexibility. You can do any combination of the list below, depending on what your goals are and what you enjoy doing. Your 20 minutes should be non-stop action. No resting for more than a minute and no sitting down. Push yourself and get creative.

Squat. One of the absolute best exercises.

Push-up. Start with a good slant in your body and decrease the angle as you get stronger.

Pull something toward yourself. Kneel on a bench and pull something up toward your body.

Use anything heavy you can find.

Lift a weight above your head. Repeat.

Get your heart rate high. Really high. How long can you keep it there? Jog in place, crank out some easy jumping jacks, dance like Beyonce. Whatever you enjoy, do, but keep your furnace on high for 20 minutes.

Stand on one foot and move your body like crazy - reach, bend, twist, look around. Feel your standing leg rooted and strong let one leg do the work of two for a while. Balance only improves with practice and it usually responds pretty quickly.

Stretch. Reach longer and farther than you think you can.


DDS: Life-long fitness. What is the best mindset?
DM: Do what you love and be proud of yourself. Stare in the mirror and like what you see.

There’s a big difference between challenging yourself and beating yourself up. We’re really good at the latter and I truly believe that way of thinking is counterproductive.

With exercise, attitude is everything. I work out for the mental strength and the peace it provides me. I’m more calm, patient and stress-resistant after a workout.

What changes happen with my body or how it looks are secondary. I know what I’m doing is keeping me healthy, strong and ready for anything. I’ll never stop exercising, moving or trying new things. I love it. You have to realize that your body is an amazing, incredible machine designed to move in millions of ways.

I believe in goal setting. Make these goals as complicated or as simple as you want, but there has to be at least one on the table. How else do we see tangible and real results? Achieving these goals, no matter their size is what will get you back into the gym.

DDS: David, thank you so much. You are a great inspiration and the most cheerful person on the planet. Warmest thanks.

Note: David suggests consulting with your physician before embarking on new exercise. He’s an enthusiastic trainer and motivates people of all exercise levels. He suggests: follow his plans sensibly. Work out with a trainer, or join a group at a gym. Start slowly, perhaps with walks around your neighborhood, and perform these exercises appropriately for your fitness level. Get the basics right, then exercise outdoors, at a gym, with friends, or at home.
Good luck! Let us know how it works and how you feel.

Photo credits:
Photos of David’s popular bootcamp were taken in September 2010 overlooking San Francisco Bay (see the Golden Gate Bridge, St. Francis Yacht Club, and Alcatraz in the background) of this very early morning workout. 
Photos of the crack-of-dawn bootcamp exercise class by Fiona Asple.

Photos of David with his beloved dog, Juno, by David’s partner, Tom Dennis.
With thanks. Photographed, September 2010.

David McGuire is a certified trainer and exercise instructor, and he works with clients at many levels of fitness, including those who may be recovering from a sports injury or illness. He is dedicated to motivating his clients, and focuses on fitness, health, and ‘being there’. David McGuire says he admires every client who ‘turns up and works out at their maximum’.

To contact David: www.dmcguirefitness.com.

David also gives private and group lessons at the Pacific Heights Health Club, in San Francisco, www.phhcsf.com.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Trip to Bountiful

Places of the Heart:  A Weekend Escape to Healdsburg

For me, summer pleasures in Northern California most weekends involve an hour’s drive north, usually to St. Helena in the Napa Valley, where I hide away at Meadowood and visited my friends. Bliss. The Napa Valley is extraordinarily beautiful in summer.

But one weekend recently I wanted different scenery, a sense of country life, new tastes of summer, and fresh ideas.

For my two days of heaven, I headed up Highway 101, 65 miles north of San Francisco, to the town of Healdsburg, in the middle of the northern Sonoma County wine country.

My concept: see some beloved friends, experience new flavors, and breathe in the fragrance of zinfandel grapes ripening, walk around the square in Healdsburg, and let the warmth and generosity of summer take over.

Follow me as I sign in at Les Mars Hotel, head to lunch with Myra Hoefer, and settle in for wine tasting at the brilliant new Boisset Taste of Terroir wine salon. On Sunday we head to Dry Creek peach orchard, and then up into the hills to private Chalk Hill Clematis for the finest olive oil, aceto, and honey.

Come with me for a weekend of inspiration, creativity and friends.

Les Mars Hotel
I selected chic and lovely Les Mars Hotel for my weekend retreat because it is beautifully located off the Plaza, and it’s discreet, quiet, and private. It’s also very under-stated and classic, with no big scene, no bustle, just beautifully maintained suites and a sense of attentive and thoughtful management.

A dear friend of mine, San Francisco design Helga Horner, directed the interior décor. The style is French-accented with beautiful ironwork on the curving stairway, marble floors in the lobby, plaster walls, and elegant light-filled rooms that would look absolutely at home in an historic city in France.

There are just a handful of rooms, and guests come and go (or stay in) without encountering distraction or noise.

It’s eighteenth-century French manor in approach, but with a sunny California spin. Just the ticket.

General manager, Katie Ciocca was waiting for me as I arrived from San Francisco around 11.30am. “We’ll take care of the car and your luggage, so head over to the Farmers’ Market now as they start packing up by noon,” she suggested.

I grabbed my super-eco natural linen market bag and dashed across the street and beneath the shady catalpa trees to the farmer’s market, which features just-picked fruit and produce from nearby farms and orchards.

I was just in time to catch the great Gayle Okumura Sullivan of Dry Creek Peach and Produce orchard, as she was already re-loading her truck.

Gayle’s peaches—she grows ten varieties of white peaches and many types of golden yellow peaches and nectarines- are superb. She picks them only when they are ripe, and delivers them almost daily to Chez Panisse in Berkeley and to Boulette’s Larder, a favorite restaurant of mine, situated beautifully at the Ferry Plaza in San Francisco.

Gayle (and her husband Brian’s) peaches and produce are highly prized for their flavor and quality by many top-rated and highly regarded restaurants in the Bay Area.

Gayle chose for me a selection of her white peaches (sweet as honey, so juicy and peachy and floral), and a bag of her yellow peaches, along with white and yellow nectarines. She invited me to drive out to her orchard in Dry Creek (home of all the top Zinfandels) for lunch on Sunday.

I quickly collected a rainbow of tomatoes from other growers, and a happy mix of fresh-picked yellow and green squash, along with beautiful haricots verts (I don’t cook, but I do love quickly steamed vegetables served hot with unsalted butter and a dash of fresh-ground Telicherry pepper. Divine.)

In another ten minutes, the market was over, so I headed back to the hotel, deposited my farm treasures in the Les Mars hotel cooler.

Les Mars reminds me of hotels I’ve stayed at in the Loire Valley, with its stucco exterior, a pair of sycamores standing guard, and a manager who sends to my room a silver tray of three hand-picked cheeses, accompanied with Spanish almonds and crispbreads.

Beside the four-poster bed were a pretty bowl of fresh peaches (Dry Creek Orchard), and Michael Recchiutti chocolates, and white garden roses in a silver vase.

Beyond the wing chairs and chaise longue, open windows revealed oak trees and the coastal range in the green distance. So uplifting and refreshing.

Myra Hoefer Design
Lunchtime approached, and I headed first to Myra Hoefer Design, on the plaza, to see the latest pieces of Myra's new A La Reine furniture collection.

I love Myra’s shop. It’s always full of designer friends of mine who have houses in Healdsburg. They love Myra’s fresh style.

Then it was a quick detour to the Downtown Bakery and Creamery to pick up some fresh-from-the-oven fresh fruit tarts—peach, nectarine and raspberry, bitter/sweet plum—and I headed to Myra’s Ivy House for a bite of lunch.

I was expecting a lunch a deux with my dear designer friend, but as always, she invited some fascinating guests, and prepared beautiful salmon, asparagus and orzo salad. I chatted with Wade Hoefer about his latest paintings, on view in Myra's shop.

We dined outdoors in the shade of ivy, with rose and oleander fragrances in the air and perfect summer temperature. We loved the fruit tarts so much, I ran back over to the Downtown Bakery for more fresh-baked tarts. Perfection.

Then it was time to walk over to the newly opened fabulous Boisset Taste of Terroir wine tasting bar. I had an appointment at 4.30pm.

Boisset Taste of Terroir wine tasting salon
I recently had the great pleasure to meet Jean-Charles Boisset, the most charming Frenchman on the planet (I am an expert, so trust me on this) and the scion of the Boisset wine clan, major in Burgundy.

It was the brainstorm of Jean-Charles to open a chic wine tasting salon on the Healdsburg square, to taste both Sonoma wines (Boisset recently acquired De Loach), and fine Burgundy creations.

Genius concept.

“I wanted to transcend traditional wine-tasting boundaries, and taste both Old-World French wines, and compare them to the style and terroir and creativity of New-World wines of Sonoma Country,” said Jean-Charles.

The Boisset portfolio in Burgundy includes Louis Bouillot, founded in 1877, that crafts romantic Cremant de Bourgogne, a festive sparkling wine, as well as the more serious Premier and Grand Cru wines like Domaine de la Vougeraie, and Bouchard Aine & Fils, founded in 1750 in Beaune.

And now Jean-Charles has introduced his own label, JCB by Jean-Charles Boisset, a limited edition for a new era, using Burgundian family traditions. A hint: he adores pinot noir!

Jean-Charles Boisset worked closed with architect Howard Backen and with designer Nicole Hollis to realize his dream wine-tasting salon.

Nicole Hollis, who worked closely with her team at San Francisco-based Nicole Hollis Interior Design, told me, “The unique aspect of the room is that it is very glamorous yet still fits in on the square in Healdsburg. I think the square could use a dramatic setting that acts as gathering place before or after dinner, as guests arrive and linger.”

Nicole Hollis explained, “We combined materials in a subtle way, and also a dramatic manner, with concrete floors with darkly painted walls and ceiling (both JC and Howard were concerned about the very dark color I proposed for the room- once they saw the dramatic effect they loved it), a raw steel table base with the white calacutta marble top, and steel tasting bar with leather panels.”

Jean-Charles wanted to feature his JCB logo on the back wall.

Nicole Hollis created a graphic wall design using the words that Jean-Charles (who is passionate and highly articulate about wine) expressed for each of the wines from his JBC collection, such as No. 7 ‘sensual’ and ‘seductive’, and No. 69 ‘graceful’ and ‘romantic’, for example. His wine descriptions were applied to the back wall in gold foil on a black backdrop. The effect is modern, witty and inspiring.

I was so impressed with the menus of wines to compare and savor and enjoy. There is even the divine Grand Cru tasting of all Boisset’s Cote de Nuits vintages, an extraordinary opportunity to taste a thrilling selection of Burgundies.

Bravo, Jean-Charles.

Dry Creek Peach and Produce
Sunday after a lovely breakfast and The New York Times at Les Mars Hotel, I headed west among the vineyards of Dry Creek to Dry Creek Peach and Produce, the home of Brian and Gayle Sullivan.

Workers were on ladders picking ripe peaches as I arrived, and I met Gayle in the farmstand to admire her varieties of white peaches, boxes of yellow peaches, and selections of nectarines, as well as the most beautiful green beans and tomatoes.

No wonder Chez Panisse loves these peaches. They’re picked at perfection, and driven straight to the restaurant. They’re never pinched and bruised, and they have a sunny sweetness that’s only possible with perfect ripeness.

As it happens, Gayle has been experimenting with making white peach puree (colored pink by the pink peach skins), to make Bellinis. Brian popped the cork of chilled Prosecco, and Gayle blended the delicate peach puree into the sparkling wine. (Please check my archive for my earlier feature on ‘The Best Bellinis in Venice.”)

I sipped her magical creations, and toasted Gayle and Brian and their bountiful orchard.

I buy some extra peaches, anticipating peaches for breakfast for the next weeks.

Bravo Gayle and Brian.

Chalk Hill Clematis
My last stop on Sunday afternoon was to the remote (private) Chalk Hill Clematis farm, to visit my longtime friend Kaye Heafey.

Kaye loves flowers and adores clematis.

Every week, she ships precious cut clematis to the New York flower market, where top florists like Zeze and wedding designers buy these rare and lovely clematis varieties for their spoiled and fortunate clients.

Kaye, a perfectionist in all things, worked with chef Paul Bertolli, to create an acetaia, to make her own Chalk Hill Clematis estate Balsamic vinegar. This is a rare and heady brew, just wonderful on strawberries, or in vinaigrette. It’s available through mail order (see below).

Then Kaye set her mind to extra virgin olive oil, using olives from her own trees. The result is fruity and lovely oil, fresh and distinctive and bright. I love it.

Now Kaye has turned her creativity to bee keeping. We visited the beehives, and she spoke so fondly of her little bees, who were busy feasting on her roses, honeysuckle, and wild flowers in the meadow.

We tasted the first of the honey harvest. This syrupy, tangy, richly colored honey tastes of the country, of heritage roses, mossy old oak trees and philadelphus and California country sunshine, the unctuous blend made by very happy bees. Wow. Quite a buzz!

Kaye is just now selecting the ideal glass jars, and will be selling it soon, via email and UPS. This would make the most wonderful and rare gift (this is a very limited edition honey) and Kaye’s labels are highly collectible, too.

Bravo, Kaye. Delicious.

And so my divine escape to the country, with happy encounters and earthy flavors and distinctive scents and tastes, came to an end.

I headed back to the city, my car full of Boisset wines to savor, rare honey and aceto and olive oil, fragrant peaches and tomatoes, chocolates from Les Mars Hotel, as well as bounty from the farmers’ market. Oh, and white peach jam and white nectarine jam, perfect to spread on nine-grain toast with lots of butter, on a winter morning. Memories of summer.

Such good fortune, and such creative and taste-obsessed friends.

Thank you.

For more information:

Les Mars Hotel, 27 North Street, Healdsburg, 707-433-4211, www.lesmarshotel.com.

Myra Hoefer Design, and A La Reine collection, 309 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg, 707-433-2166, www.myrahoeferdesign.com.

Boisset, Taste of Terroir, 320 Center Street, Healdsburg, Wine tasting bar, www.boissettasteofterroir.com. Open daily, and until 9pm Thurs—Sat.

Dry Creek Peach and Produce, Gayle and Brian Sullivan, 2179 Yoakim Bridge Road, Healdsburg, 707-433-8121, www.drycreekpeach.com.

Chalk Hill Clematis, Kaye and Richard Heafey, Chalk Hill Clematis,
PO Box 1847
Healdsburg, CA 95448. Office: 707-433-8416
Fax: 707-433-8963. www.chalkhillclematis.com/index.html.  farmmgr@chalkhillclematis.com. Note that the clematis nursery no longer sells plants, but the farm’s exclusive estate-crafted and bottled superb extra virgin olive oil, vinegar and balsamic vinegar, can be ordered or sent as gifts. Simply superb.

Photo credits:
Photos of Les Mars Hotel: Exclusively for THE STYLE SALONISTE, courtesy of Les Mars Hotel.

Boisset Taste of Terroir photos: Barbara Bourne Photography, Healdsburg.

Dry Creek Peach and Produce: DDS and Gayle Okumura Sullivan.

Chalk Hill Clematis, photographs by Kaye Heafey, with permission.