Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

Name: Marko Karakasevic

Age: 42 as of April 30th!

Hometown: Saint Helena, Napa Valley, California

Occupation: Distiller, Winemaker, Chief of RnD of Charbay Distillery and Winery

Status: Taken

1. Where do you like to flirt?

Bouchon for Charbay Vodka and the most amazing oysters from the West Coast.

Then Redd Restaurant, down the street for more Charbay Cocktails and that awesome pork belly app! Next would depend on if I was heading north or south. If South, I’d check out Bistro Don Giovanni, the Trifle dessert is amazing. If north, then I would say Auberge du Soleil. The view off their deck is one of the best in the Napa Valley, and they make great cocktails!

2. What are your favorite places to eat and drink?

Right in Saint Helena, Tra Vigne. I’ve been a big fan for, I think, 18 years. Martini House. Down stairs in the bar. Their Kobe Beef burger I think is the best example of what makes Kobe Beef so special. And ask about the mushrooms…

Cook Restaurant on Main Street. Chef Jude’s the man!

Want a wonderful Mai Tai? Go to Cindy’s back street Kitchen and ask for the Charbay Tahitian Vanilla Bean Rum Mai Tai!

Feeling like just hanging out at a brewery? Some of the best brewery food ever at Silverado Brewery just north of Saint Helena. They have a ton of Charbay Vodka there…. I like it a lot!

While still in Saint Helena, we have the best fast food in the world, Taylor’s!

Looking for sushi? Go Fish! Very good sushi. And CC Blue! CC Blue turns into a very nice little club in the 11 o’clock hour. For cocktails in that timeframe, Ana’s Cantina on Main Street across the street from CC Blue is fun for a while.

If were in Calistoga, I’d go to Solage for cocktails and apps. Brannan’s is nice too. Great cocktails, and the ribs app is tasty.

The CIA has a great Pomegranate Cosmo!

Back to Saint Helena. If a picnic is in the agenda, I would get all supplies at Sunshine Market and Dean and Deluca! If you can’t find what you want to picnic with between those two amazing markets, then you should just go home.

And I can’t forget about Hurley’s in Yountville. Great food and plenty of Charbay cocktails.

3. Where should we stay when we visit?

If I had bank, I’d stay at Auberge du Soleil. If you’re looking for something on the south side of the Napa Valley, I’d stay at The Carneros Inn. Out side showers!!! In Saint Helena, I’d say, Meadowood or the Harvest Inn. If you’re looking for a house to rent out, call Larrs. 415.309.9938. He’s super nice and his house is walking distance from downtown Saint Helena! The kitchen is great for entertaining at home too.

4. What qualities do you find irresistible in a woman?

Red hair.

5. Where can we find you on a free Sunday afternoon?

Fishing off shore for King Salmon, or maybe Albacore. We’ve got 750cc stand up old school jet ski’s too!

6. What do you love most about your hometown (besides our arrival)?

It is so wonderful living in Saint Helena. I love the weather. We have 4 seasons. I’d say it’s a Mediterranean climate of sorts. In the winter, it’s pretty cold (well it snows at my house on top of Spring Mountain, and then it melts away in a day or two). It’s Perfect! In the Spring, the entire Napa Valley is GREEN! Buds are popping, the vineyards are starting to push, all the wild mustard is out. In the Spring and Summer, the sunsets are amazing. And then the Fall, it gets crazy here in the Napa Valley. It’s harvest time. Truckloads of grapes are getting delivered fresh to the wineries. The smell of the entire Napa Valley when it’s ripe is something that I look forward to every year.

7. What should we bring when we visit? What should we leave with?

Bring a fresh liver. Eat, drink, hang out, and relax. Take back fresh ideas from cocktail ideas to amazing dishes. The free style creativity in the Napa Valley, backed with the freshest produce year around, the most incredible range of wines and Charbay Spirits, and the laid back attitude, makes for the term, Napa Style.

8. What do we absolutely have to see while we’re there?

Charbay Distillery and Winery. It’s up on top of Spring Mountain in Saint Helena. We are open by appointment only. I’m the tasting room manager right now. We make our own brandy and our own port with that double distilled brandy. We also have just released two new Aperitifs! Green Tea, Papaya & Lemon, and the Pomegranate Aperitif. We can taste them right in the winery! All you have to do is pour them on the rocks. It’s very exciting. And if you love great Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, we have a little of our 300 case production of ’03 Oakville left and we just released our 05 Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon.

Put it this way, there is no other Family Owned and Operated Winery and Distillery in the world making wines ranging from Napa Valley Cab to a Distillers Port with 5 different brandies that my dad and I have distilled in the past 25 years, to the crazy and super easy to drink aperitifs, to the NEWEST Product: Pomegranate Dessert Wine! It rocks, we’re very laid back, I don’t push a wine sale on my guest, I just want to show them what’s going on.

All in all, we make about 25 different products between the winery and our distillery. It’s a trip.

9. Any areas of town we should avoid?

We do have a little traffic at the 4pm or so time of day. That just means it’ll take 20 minutes more to get from the top to bottom of the Napa Valley. It’s so pretty, it doesn’t really matter.

10. Any local secrets you want to share?

I really hope that Charbay makes it to the top of the list of things to see in Napa Valley. St. Helena Wine Center on Main Street has all the trophy wines you would want. And they carry all our Charbay Vodka’s, the crazy Whiskey that we make, the rums, the ports. Since we can’t sell our spirits direct, we send everyone down there.

There are so many amazing wineries to see: Kuleto Estate, Brown Estate, Pride, the new Castle de Amore, Monticello. I you wanna check out a wine shop that some people would say: “that boy ain’t right” please go to Groezingers in Yountville. Good times. Say hey to Rick for me.

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