Wine Making

Napa’s New Food and Wine Batch Wants To Be Like BottleRock

“Adult Disneyland. “” Instagrammable moments. ” “Lifestyle Showroom”. These are just a few of the phrases Katie Shaffer uses to describe her new project in downtown Napa called The Yard, a converted parking lot intended to be like a year-round version of the BottleRock Festival.

At the Yard, which opens this weekend, people can sip wine and eat quesabirria from converted shipping containers. They can pose for photos in front of a solid brass photo frame decorated with faux flowers – and a QR code that conveniently goes to the Yard’s Instagram. There’s also live music, ping-pong, and a mural that reminds guests to ‘radiate positivity’.

With gourmet pop-ups, local wineries, and a giant screen for sports games and movie nights, Shaffer hopes the Yard will appeal to millennials, families and older “Silicon Valley philanthropists” alike. It will be open Thursday through Sunday at 728 First St.

“We have this amazing place that has Instagrammable moments everywhere for people to soak up and engage,” she said.

Shaffer is a former semi-professional football player who once recorded a demo album in Nashville and moved to Napa to pursue a career in food and wine. She started Toolbox Wine Company, which was acquired in 2013 by Jell Hill Wine Group, and was also involved in non-profit charities.

Shaffer now runs the Feast It Forward entertainment and lifestyle network. The network’s studio, located across from the Yard, is like “a big Pinterest house,” she says, decorated with wine bottles, patterned pillows, and plants, like a certain style of Pinterest board coming to life. People can buy tickets (with a portion of the proceeds going to charity) to watch live interviews with athletes, musicians and “influencers” or a cooking demonstration with Jacques Pepin. She’s filled the studio, a two-story white farmhouse, with product from sponsors, so if someone likes the leather sofa they sit on while watching the live show, they can just ask the to buy.

The Yard is an extension of that, with a “lifestyle showroom” selling kitchenware and a seating area where you can play a Gibson guitar and then buy one. She dreams of Doritos announcing a new chip inside one of the converted shipping containers (although she hasn’t discussed it with Doritos yet). There is a financial opportunity in running a more permanent festival-esque space, Shaffer said. At the Napa Valley BottleRock Music Festival, for example, there’s a culinary scene sponsored by William Sonoma, and festival-goers drink from signature wine glasses.

“The businesses that go to BottleRock and Coachella and South by Southwest… (pay) high fees to be in front of thousands of people. It’s a year-round opportunity … to engage the customer, ”Shaffer said.

For people who just want to eat and drink outside, with no brand commitment, there will be food trucks and over a dozen local wineries serving wines by the glass and by the bottle. Later this month, Napa’s RaeSet Asian Grill & Craft Brew, which closed in 2017, will return. RaeSet will start serving food two days a week and will eventually be at the job site Thursday through Sunday. Napa’s Trade Brewing will set up a beer garden there later.

At the opening of the Yard this Sunday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., food truck Napa Taco Addiction and local chef Christian Graze will serve food. Musicians Michael White & Friends and Bailey Callahan will perform.

The yard of Feast it Forward. noon to 7 p.m. Thursday, noon to 8 a.m. Friday-Saturday and Sunday noon to 6 p.m. 728 First Street, Napa.

Elena Kadvany is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: Twitter: @ekadvany

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