Thursday, September 30, 2021

Wine Travels in the Napa Valley: A New Winery Crush — Faust Haus — Exciting, Elegant and Rebellious Wine Tasting

A dynamic team of designers, architects, landscape designers and winemakers bring to vivid life the dramatic new Faust Haus wine tasting center north of St. Helena.

Elegantly sited on a redwood-shaded hillside high above the legendary Napa Valley, the new Faust Haus is creating a buzz among wine connoisseurs for its trend-setting portfolio of cabernet sauvignon varietals. It is all showcased in the lush romanticism and vibrant modernity of its new Faust Haus hospitality headquarters.

Faust Haus is the elegantly frisky and fun creation of Huneeus Vintners, which in 2016 acquired the landmark St. Helena property, complete with a handsome 1878 Eastlake Victorian residence.

Surrounding the austere turreted building are century-old fieldstone walls, diaphanous Chinese pistache trees, and noble ancient oaks. Private terraces shaded by century-old olive trees provide shaded settings for wine enthusiasts as they taste the complex and expressive wines, The Pact, The Hour, and Faust, all limited editions.

The signature cabernet sauvignon wines, vintages 2007 through 2018, are velvety and superbly balanced with a voluptuous fruit profile and silky tannins. In the glass Faust wines offer the discovery of the terroir of Coombsville, the newest Napa Valley AVA where the grapes are grown organically. There’s also a delightfully fruit-forward Faust Sauvignon blanc and The House merlot blend.

The Huneeus family (noted for their Quintessa wines) acquired 112 acres in Coombsville, in the less-known southern reaches of the Napa Valley in 1998. Presciently they knew the potential of the rocky volcanic soil and planted cabernet sauvignon grapes. Vibrant, sexy Faust vintages display the minerality and complexity of this newly recognized growing region. David Jelinek is the inspired winemaker. Estate director is Jen Beloz.

With views across the valley to the grand Palisades, landmark Faust Haus, a dramatic reinvention of the storied Victorian mansion, also speaks of re-invention and discovery, a new inspiration for the Napa Valley.

After the recently completed meticulous architectural restoration by Aidlin Darling Design architects, Faust Haus was launched last fall. The black-painted classical architecture, complete with a romantic shaded Victorian verandah, has the surprise counterpoint of provocative and edgy sixties-style interiors. Faust Haus has confidently chic mood of a chic insider club, like the ultra-private home of a stylish and well-traveled wine connoisseur.

“My concept from the start was to showcase our wines and maverick philosophy of wine-making within architecture and art-filled rooms that honor the history of the Napa Valley,” said designer Maca Huneeus, who spearheaded the project. 

Architect David Darling of Aidlin Darling Design, with project leader Ben Damron, undertook the crucial task of shaping a personal wine tasting experience, while respecting and amplifying the beauty and symmetry of the residence.

“My partner, Joshua Aidlin, and I have a closely held conviction that design and architecture can enlighten the human spirit by engaging all of the senses,” said Darling.

His master plan was a historically correct restoration, a commitment to authenticity. 

Maca Huneeus brought her world of European design into the interiors. On a recent design trip to Paris, she found sculptural sixties chairs covered in electric blue velvet that add a jolt of color to the grey-walled library.

Designer Ona LeSassier further blurred the eras with vintage wine books, a sixties French tapestry, and a vintage glass cabinet of curiosities, filled with rock and soil samples and historic artifacts from the Coombsville property, along with noble sepia portraits of vineyard workers.

For the library wine-tasting tables, local artisans John Lovell of Lovell Design and Jules Henry of FreeForm brought grain-matched elm wood and metal together in a joint mastery of their crafts.

Faust was named for the 16th-century German legend, which tells of a scholar who goes in search of unlimited pleasure, knowledge, enlightenment, and love of craft.

Influenced by this folklore, the first-floor tasting rooms and library are calm and tranquil, with charcoal-colored walls and vintage photography. A graphic black and white mural by Paris artist Roberto Ruspoli curves up the central stairway.

“The experience of quiet opulence downstairs turns to one of bright simplicity upstairs, analogous to pursuing a state of Faustian enlightenment,” said Darling. 

Roderick Wylie of Surfacedesign created an artful hillside landscape of year-round beauty, with plants arranged for a painterly ombré effect, deep green to white, a frame for the black-painted structure at its center. 

Faust Haus quickly attracted a fast-growing group of club members and devotees. Maca Huneeus has set in motion a roster of cultural events, including musical performances, ‘meet the artist’ evenings, and special festive tastings.

The Faust Haus is indeed cause for celebration. A dash bohemian, and classic in its history, it’s an estate of soul and spirit for the next generation.


Faust and Faust Haus are owned by Huneeus Vintners

Project director: 
Maca Huneeus Design 
Maca Huneeus

Also Ona LeSassier, designer

Landscape architects:
Surfacedesign, Inc. 
Roderick Wylie

Aidlin Darling DESIGN,
Architect David Darling with project leader Ben Damron

Winery director/estate/vineyard director:
Jen Beloz

Faust released a limited edition 1.5L magnum of 2018 Faust Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($125) on September 15 which will feature exclusive artwork from Italian-born/Parisian-based artist and muralist, Roberto Ruspoli.

Ruspoli was the creator behind the freehand wall mural which debuted at the opening of the Faust Haus in St. Helena last fall. The mural and forthcoming wine label designs transform darkness into light and are inspired by ‘Faust,’ a tragic play by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Roberto’s designs evoke sensual experiences through abstract figures and a rhythm of shapes and lines. Only 1,000 cases made, available at on September 15.

The tasting experiences at the Faust Haus remain the same, however Faust is now also welcoming guests indoors for tastings ($75pp). Faust will be hosting several events + special guests/creatives through the end of the year.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Delicious News from Paris: My Newest Style Discovery, Made on Working Trips to Paris This Summer. Sweet!

The Ritz Paris hotel has opened the Ritz Paris Le Comptoir on rue Cambon. It’s a fantastic new take-out or dine-in café and boutique by François Perret, the super-talented pastry chef at the Ritz. A sweet guy on a sugar high. 

“I wanted to give Parisians the chance to eat here, or to take away pastries and enjoy a taste of the Ritz Paris legend at home. I love the spontaneity and sharing of takeaway — it fits perfectly with a spur-of-the-moment desire to treat those you love,” says Chef Perret. It’s informal.  Perfect for today.



The cream-on-cream décor is chic, and the pastries and sandwiches are glamorous and highly original. I discovered that Perret’s sandwiches, like a mini baguette, are the lunch-time favorite of all the chicster Chanel girls who work in the Chanel offices and boutiques across rue Cambon.  Come and see what’s on the menu. I have tried them all.

From Monday to Saturday, 8am to 7pm, Ritz Paris Le Comptoir keeps time with the Parisian lifestyle. 

First, with a short menu of breakfast pastries, designed for informal eating, so that they may be enjoyed on the run, at the office, or in meetings. François Perret’s puff pastry remains crisp as ever, but now croissants, pains au chocolat and pastries of the day. The menu changes weekly.


The lunchtime sandwich is available in three elongated variations: the César – inspired by the salad, Perret-style; the Salmon, in a more traditional version with fluffy sliced bread, and the Vegan, a focaccia sandwich with character.


There follow François Perret’s iconic treats: madeleines in multiple variations with fruit confit  (raspberries, passion fruit, etc...) to take away or offer in pretty boxes illustrated with the likeness of César Ritz and Auguste Escoffier; marble cake, tartlets, the Ritz au lait, the chocolate bar.


Pâtisserie beverages … witty, take pride of place, with a haute cookies-in-milk consistency and a light-as-air touch. Delicate mousses and creams with gastronomic toppings may be sipped through a straw, and vary according to the Head Pastry Chef’s inspirations.

My favorites from the Ritz Paris Le Comptoir, available on a rotating basis and according to the day: éclairs, babas au rhum, millefeuilles, cheesecakes, Mont-Blancs and seasonal tarts for sharing. 


I loved the gift selection of refined offerings that make ideal gifts to take home on the plane. Candles with pastry scents keep company with sets inspired by the Ecole Ritz Escoffier (apron and spatula), and champagne and dessert wines carefully selected by the cellar masters.

Conceived as a welcoming, lively place that’s rooted in everyday Parisian life, Ritz Paris Le  Comptoir is nonetheless refined and true to the chic style of the hotel. At once functional and elegant, this showcase brims with clean-lined materials, made-to-measure furnishings, and plays on texture that echo its refined pastries and create a fresh sense of conviviality.


China cabinets, Art Deco dessert trolleys, and pastry counters recall the pedestal tables of tradition, while behind a window, one spies the bustling ambiance of a “pastry lab.”


Subtle lighting from a spectacular chandelier recalls the generous curves of a madeleine, while sinuous alcoves are clad in gold, and a display has been hewn from a single block.


On packaging, there are naïve, almost childlike, illustrations and a large, vivid portrait of François Perret. 


For those wishing to snack on the spot, an enveloping banquette awaits, with the added comfort of being tucked behind beautifully worked screens, out of sight of onlookers in the street.


“The opening of the Ritz Paris Le Comptoir is the first step in a dynamic new phase for the Cambon wing of the hotel. It’s also a more spontaneous, accessible alternative designed with Parisians and Francophile visitors in mind,” commented Marc Raffray, General Manager of the Ritz Paris.



Where: 38 rue Cambon (at the ‘back’ of the Ritz.)

Opposite the original Chanel boutique and the new Chanel executive headquarters.

Note that Chanel has now ‘colonized’ the whole street, and Chanel boutiques now wrap around to the Faubourg St. Honoré. Dine first, shop or window-shop later.


Open: 8am—7pm


Enjoy! It’s a marvelous new take on French cuisine and take-out. You can order online…and drop by to pick up a sweet package on your way to the airport. The new taste of Paris.

And watch for new Ritz Paris Le Comptoir popups and cafes appearing in other locations in Paris very soon.