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Why I love Napa Valley

My mother was a Greek immigrant and I lost her to cancer when I was a teenager, but that didn't stop me from looking for her. Not long after she died, I found her again, when I went back to Greece to visit my cousins. It seems obvious now, that I would feel my mother's presence in her homeland. But all that mattered at the time was that I felt a particular sense of calm, which had eluded me before then. To this day, when I seek solace, I go there.

For me Napa Valley bears a meaningful resemblance to Greece. The first time I came here, I was transported, on a fragrant breeze, back to Greece. It's no surprise. Napa Valley is one of two, true Mediterranean climates, outside of the Mediterranean. And scent is a powerful touchstone. I moved here shortly after that experience and built a whole life around that initial, transformative moment.

Snuggled up around a river that meanders 30 miles through tightly-knit, semi-rural communities and vineyards, Napa Valley is a unique combination of rustic, rural charm and glossy, travel magazine glam. Which might seem like a contradiction. But I don't see it that way. I see an unspoiled, rugged, unruly landscape with fabulous restaurants and world-class wines. Pairing profound natural beauty with the ancient craft of winemaking has yielded results that are well-known to be sublime. Here, hundreds of wineries exist to tempt every level of connoisseur and every taste and preference. I love playing tourist for the day and visiting wineries that have faithfully re-created a Tuscan castle or painstakingly mapped out a Mid-Century Modern veranda to take full advantage of the property's view across the Mayacamas. I love savoring an award-winning Cabernet and the company of those that make it. I've never been to the French Laundry but I'll go there one day. It is wonderful to live in a place that can offer every indulgence.

But what I really adore is the sweetness in the air mid-January when the crocuses are already peaking their caps through the soil. And I love when the air is laced with mist and I can barely see Mount Saint Helena across the valley floor. That's a great time to take a run along a quiet, country road with the dog running loose by my side. And in the evening, I love to look up at a sky filled with stars. And I love the quiet. Except during one of our many parades. The lighted tractor parade in Calistoga every December is my favorite. Along side all of the world-renowned-ness, there is simplicity. The pace here is slow and easy-going. Opportunities to enjoy the luxury of undistracted time are easy to come by. It's this balance of luxury and approachability that makes Napa Valley life so rich and beautiful to me.

It's a lifestyle aesthetic I call, rustic luxe. And I've come to realize that by making my life in this particular place, I've woven that aesthetic into every aspect of it. Including my work and my jewelry. Every piece of jewelry is inspired by and infused with this. It's why I use rustic elements like brass and leather and painstakingly select exceptional gemstones to string, wrap and tie onto my designs. I want to make jewelry that is beautiful and feels special while versatile and wearable. I like the words, sensual, effortless, luxurious, down-to-earth, fresh and individual to describe my jewelry. I want my jewelry to be comfortable and flattering and to impart a feeling of indulgence in an effortless, easy-going way. Which also describes the way I feel about life in Napa Valley and what I love about it.

When I came here twenty-three years ago, I didn't realize how deeply this place would impact my life. How it would literally become the landscape of my story. I realize now that Napa Valley is very different from where my mother came from. But in the ways that make a difference to me, they are exactly the same. 

Cheers to us,


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Julie Ward - April 23, 2020

Wow…beautiful photos and terrific comments on the valley. We do live in a beautiful place.

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