Palm Beach Gardens resident Ted Mandes first visited Napa Valley in the early 1970s, and for the past 12 years it’s been a regular sojourn for him and his wife, Cindy, for charity and pleasure: Every September, they visit Napa to taste and acquire California vintages that will be served and auctioned at the Palm Beach Wine Auction, which Ted founded in 2008. Since its inception, the January event has raised more than $2 million for children’s art education programs at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach.
Best time to go: Spring because the wineries are less busy and the winemakers have more time to spend with you.
Day Fashion: Blue jeans; it’s a wonderfully casual place.
Vibe: Napa is about hardworking people who are dedicated to the wine industry. They eat, sleep and—no pun intended—drink it 24 hours a day. You really feel that passion and dedication to their craft.
Favorite winery: Antica, at the top of Soda Canyon Road, which is owned by the Antinori family and has a 40-mile view—one of the most spectacular settings.
Best seat in town: Dinner at Press, owned by Leslie Rudd of Rudd wineries. Chef Trevor Kunk does farm-to-table so well.
Photo by Morgan Bellinger
A must-do experience not in the guide books: Healdsburg is worth the drive for a beautiful, peaceful town square that’s often overlooked.
Guilty pleasure: Hire a driver when you’re tasting in Napa. It allows you to relax, take in the scenery and enjoy the wine.
Unwritten rule the locals live by: If you want to know something about wines and what’s going on, talk to the locals. They enjoy the wines from not only their own wineries but from others as well.
Hometwon goods to sample and stockpile: Wines you can’t get at home.
Favorite shop: NapaStyle in downtown Napa has a fun selection of kitchenware.
Signature drink: Whatever wine you’re enjoying at the moment.