What’s in your Glass? Highlights from Napa Valley: Part 1

When I started my first shift at what used to be Webster’s Restaurant and Library Lounge, the only thing I knew about wine was that I didn’t drink it. I was so intimidated by those around me talking about their favorite “cabs” and “pinots”, and wondered why I couldn’t find this so called “cab” on the list anywhere! It certainly didn’t take me long to fall in love, beginning with sips of exotic, tropical filled New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs and the oaky, buttery Chardonnays of California. From there I found the reds, and never looked back. I couldn’t tell you a favorite, because I love so many for so many different reasons. The earthy, deliciously dirty pinots from Oregon, and the Barolos and Barbarescos that are as rich in history as they are in flavor. It doesn’t matter if I’m enjoying my cheap “go-to” from the local market, or popping open something special from a recent winery visit, I love red wine.

Driving into California wine country, I remember thinking to myself, “I wish I could bottle this smell, and take it home with me”. The air was filled with an aroma that I had only smelled once before, while driving Old Mission and Leelanau’s peninsulas a few summers ago. It’s a smell that can’t be fully described, you just need to visit wine country and take a whiff for yourself, because most will tell you that it smells like wine, and I can promise you, it’s so much more than that.


The first winery we visited, we being – my fiancé, his sister and her husband, was Jarvis Estate, and it was certainly one of my favorites in the valley. The entire winery is actually completely contained within 45,000 square feet of caves. These caves are tunneled into the Vaca mountains, and provide the perfect environment for aging some of California’s best wines. We were able to tour the estate with a small group, the other half of the group hailing from Texas and this clearly was not their first stop of the day, as the mother of the group had many pressing questions in regards to her beloved “boxed” wine. Luckily, we were blessed with an awesome sommelier with a very dry sense of humor, so he was able to poke fun at the group, providing us with some added entertainment.

They make a stellar Chardonnay, but are really known for their elegant, tasty reds. We were able to try many of these in an unbelievable wine tasting included in our tour, and still have a bottle of their 2007 Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon getting more delicious by the day in our wine cooler. Of course, I forgot to bring my camera along for this stop, so I missed out on photographing the beautiful estate and winery, so I highly suggest visiting their website, or the winery if you’re ever in the area.


The grounds surrounding Schramsberg Vineyards are beautiful, and they were working on restoring the original manor house during our visit.


Next stop, America’s House of Sparkling Wine, otherwise known as Schramsberg Vineyards. This is another winery within caves, 34,000 square feet of caves to be exact, but they specialize in sparkling wines. On any given day there can be up to 2.7 million bottles of wine in the Schramsberg caves!

Our guide at Schramsberg was fantastic, and really made booking a private tour worth it. If you look closely you can see the stacks of wine bottles that line all of the walls.  These can be multiple rows deep too!

These wines are aged anywhere from 2 to 10 years before being released. The estate is located on Diamond Mountain, and is rich with history that the current owners are always trying to restore. I loved how passionate the staff was about the history of the winery, and how proudly they held themselves as members of the Schramsberg team. They seem like a tight-knit group, and that’s something I can really respect and understand in the world of food and beverage. The tour was very intimate, and led to a candle-lit wine tasting before being released into the Tasting Room to purchase as much wine as you can ship home. We went with a bottle of their 2009 Brut Rose, which is being kept safe until we say our “I-do’s” in December. Whether you love sparkling wines or not, Schramsberg is definitely a must-see in Napa.


The candle lit wine tasting was definitely a highlight from the Schramsberg visit. The next time we sip this champagne, we’ll be tying the knot at Webster’s.


Another favorite stop was Stags’ Leap, but that will need a blog post of it’s own. The Manor House was out of this world beautiful, the history behind the estate is exciting yet slightly scandalous, the wines were delicious and I finally cleared up the Stags’ Leap/Stag’s Leap/which one had the leaping stag confusion! Maybe I’ll crack open their 2010 Petite Sirah for that adventure.

Until then, drink what you love and share what’s in your glass with our team at Webster’s Prime. Whether your sipping on something new and exciting, visiting your favorite winery or cracking open a bottle of your old go to, we want to know what your drinking … because we might want to drink it too! #whatsinyourglass

Want to get out of the house and sip some vino? Join us every Wednesday for Wine Down Wednesday! ½ off select wines by the glass AND by the bottle, live music with Steve Kamerling , delicious eats and always friendly, welcoming service. Sit back, relax and enjoy yourself, you probably deserve it!

#winedownwednesday #webstersprime



Alexa Tipton

Event Coordinator


Grapes fresh off the vine at Stags’ Leap. More to come on this amazing visit in my next post.

Time to get your Grill on!

It’s that time of year! The time to plant your garden and watch the perennials reappear from under the inches and inches of snow. Get the lawn mower tuned up and blade sharpened to cut the grass for the first time. It is also the time that we get to wear our white shoes with the matching belt. The un-official start of summer has begun! Happy Memorial Day!

My vegetable garden

This is a shot of my outdoor vegetable garden.

This is the weekend to clean off the grill and make sure the gas tank is full or you have a new bag of Kingsford next to the Webber. Cleaning the grill does not mean just the outer shell of leaves, dirt, and spiders, the inside needs to be scraped of charred food from last season (or winter grilling) then rub the grates with a little corn oil (or similar high smoke point oil). This should help the food not to stick plus using a clean surface always makes the food look and taste better.


This holiday weekend is also the time to put the dock in the water so invite friends and family to come over enjoy the sun and watersports. Everyone should bring a dish to pass while you fire up the grill to get ready for some outdoor cooking. The grill is a great addition to the patio for some outdoor cooking that can be done year ‘round (except maybe this winter with the massive amounts of snow covering everything). Everything can be cooked on the grill from meats to veggies to breads. Meats should be cooked before the vegetables and separately from each other if you are cooking chicken with beef just so there is not any cross-contamination of meats. The veggies can either be skewered or cooked in a grill wok which works very well.

Market Drop Off

Crisp Country Acres is one of many local farms we get our fresh veggies from.

What do you cook for a ‘cook-out’ with friends and family? That depends on everyone’s taste and eating habits. Some people bring their own meat/veggies to grill, but my choices are usually burgers with melty cheese, chicken, and a wonderful prime steak. Make sure the grill is hot is one area to achieve those restaurant quality grill marks then move the meat into a ‘cooler’ location to finish cooking to the chosen temperature. How do you know when the meat is done? I found that experience is the main way to know when the meat is cooked to the person’s liking. But there are some simple ways to cook ‘to temp’ meat. The palm of your hand indicates the doneness of the meat or the area between your thumb and index finger when each finger touches the thumb. Please do not cut into your steak or chicken because all those wonderful juices will flow out of the muscle and make the meat tough plus there may be a flare-up and burn the meat.


We here at Webster’s Prime will not be open on Sunday or Monday of Memorial Day weekend. This gives a chance to spend the holiday with our loved ones celebrating our soldiers who have kept this country free and safe. As per Congress, at 3 pm on Memorial Day, all Americans should pause and remember the fallen soldiers. Get those outdoor chores done early so you can relax and spend quality time with the family either at a parade, in the backyard, or by the lake.

Please have a safe and fun holiday weekend from all the staff here at Webster’s Prime!


– Richard J. Steward, Line Cook

Webster’s Prime

Bank St. Farmers’ Market is back!


“Once in your life you need a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman and a preacher, but everyday, three times a day, you need a farmer.”

-Brenda Schoepp


 Michigan has arguably the best Asparagus on the planet.

Michigan has arguably the best Asparagus on the planet.


The Kalamazoo outdoor Farmer’s Market re-opened on Bank Street this past Saturday. I am still ‘green’ to this market, as this is only the third opening that I’ve counted down to diligently. I’ve seen a lot of changes in my short yet growing relationship with this market and the people in it. I think the biggest to note is being purchased by the People’s Food Co-Op, who really made vast improvements for shoppers, vendors and farmers last year; let alone the growth in the amount of all those people.  It makes for a very exciting and anticipating season to follow.  It felt comparable to if ‘Breaking Bad’ was going to air new episodes (I apologize if you’re not a fan of the show, replace with one of your favorite concluded television broadcasts.)


Fresh Michigan Ramps hand picked from Kirklin Gardens in Kalamazoo, MI.

This time of year could be my favorite harvesting of Michigan vegetables. Maybe the winter was so…winter, that anything on the tail end seems to resemble truffles and caviar. Wild ramps, green garlic and the first bits of asparagus are here. Let alone ‘harder to find’ gems, like morels and fiddlehead ferns. The treasures of Michigan’s spring are plentiful, but late summer is unforgettable with its heirloom tomatoes, endings of sweet corn and beginnings of stone fruit. Fall has the promise of squash, stalks of brussel sprouts and the earthiness of root vegetables. Maybe I don’t have a favorite.


Either way, it was a pleasure to meet up with our friends again. Some we haven’t seen since last fall, some we have kept close over the frigid months. Pat Smith from Kirklin Gardens always greets with a smile on her face and a recommendation of her best ‘stuff’. Mitch and Lindsey from Crisp Country love to fill my bag full of produce and are always excited to help fill yours full of anything you need, as well as grow something new you’re interested in. Dave from Young Earth Farms has the best pork I’ve ever had, definitely ask him about his hogs and you will be fascinated in his process. Trent and Ruthie from Green Gardens always have welcoming faces and some of the best greens around. The Otto’s Poultry boys are always good for a solid laugh, and chicken that will make you skip the ‘supermarket’. Jon Templin from Butternut Farms has some of the most beautiful product I’ve ever seen. These are just a few of our friends, and maybe the beauty in it all is that we make more friends every season. I dare say it is not the food they grow, but relationships I’ve made with these farmers that keep me close.

Pat Smith of Kirklin Gardens sorting flowers for our main dining room.

Pat Smith of Kirklin Gardens sorting flowers for our main dining room.


Please stop by the market this summer and make some friends of your own, or come in to Webster’s Prime and see what we do with the jewels from Michigan’s prime.


Follow us on Instagram @websterprime to see what we’re picking up at the market this season!


Fresh daffodils to help brighten up the restaurant.  Visit Kirklin Gardens at the Bank St. Market for some of the most beautiful and unique flowers!

Fresh daffodils to help brighten up the restaurant. Visit Kirklin Gardens at the Bank St. Market for some of the most beautiful and unique flowers!

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