winner of 2017 graphis design competition in book/print design
nominee for 2016 Emerging Wine Writer of the Year Award
LOUIS ROEDERER INTERNATIONAL WINE WRITERS AWARDS (lriwwa)
Winner of 2016 Culinary Classics Book Awards
International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP)
Kelli White didn’t grow up with wine at the table. In fact, she harbored so little curiosity about it that she waited to try her first sip until she was officially 21 — and not a day sooner.
Back then, she’d never imagine she’d go on to write a book on wine.
Not just any book, either. But a doorstopper of a reference at 13 pounds, 1,255 pages and a price tag of $95.
“Napa Valley Then & Now” (Rudd Press) is the first book by White, now a star sommelier who works at Press in St. Helena with her fiance, Scott Brenner, also a sommelier.
Published last year, it traces the growth of the valley, spotlights 200 significant wineries and includes detailed tasting notes on notable older vintages.
—SF GATE, Sommelier's Tome offers a Taste of Napa Valley's History by Carolin Jung
When I reflect on the celebrated place Napa Valley holds in international wine consciousness, it seems puzzling—in fact, downright odd—that the region and its wines have long lacked an up-to-date, in-depth reference guide. To be sure, there have been brilliant narratives of place and people and issues, like James Conaway’s Napa and the Far Side of Eden, as well as detailed histories (Charles Sullivan’s Napa Wine: From Mission Days to Present) and collections of gorgeous photographs with minimal text, designed to sit on your coffee table and provide travel-dream fodder or pleasant reminiscences when the snow piles up outside. (Top example: Charles O’Rear’s The Napa Valley: The Land, The Wine, The People.) But none of these gives a close-up of what made Napa famous: the wines. So, the time was ripe for a serious overview backed up with extensive tasting notes. In many ways, author Kelli White, a sommelier at Press restaurant in St Helena, is ideally equipped for the task. She and Scott Brenner, her husband and co-sommelier, have spent the past six years scouting the valley’s wineries with the goal of building the most comprehensive Napa Valley wine list in the world.
—WORLD OF FINE WINE MAGAZINE, Weighty in More Ways Than One: A Landmark Reference to Napa's Finest Producers by Elin McCoy
Napa Valley, Then & Now (Rudd Press, 2015) is the result of four and a half years of extensive field work, and a lot of wine tasting, by Napa resident and sommelier Kelli White.
Named by Food & Wine magazine as one of the top 10 sommeliers in the country in 2013, White and Scott Brenner, her fiancé and co-sommelier at St. Helena’s PRESS restaurant, have, in the words of PRESS owner Leslie Rudd, transformed the wine list at PRESS from a modest collection of Napa’s best wines to something more closely resembling an archive or a library. White’s extensive notes from their travels up and down the valley talking to winemakers and grape growers have been transformed by her, clearly as gifted a writer as a sommelier, into an intelligent yet approachable reference book, complete with very useful tasting notes and gorgeous images. White, an East Coast transplant and self-proclaimed former Old World wine snob, has fallen in love with her subject matter, and it shows.
You might display Napa Valley, Then & Now on your coffee table, but the pages are sure to be well worn. Click here for the full article »
—EDIBLE MARIN, Vintage Verbiage by Gibson Thomas
"Napa Valley, Then & Now by Kelli A. White is a massive tome that's part history and part review of all that is Napa Valley. The pages are glossy, the design simply organized, and the pictures quietly captivating. The first section of the book has a brief history of Napa Valley and all of its AVAs, complete with detailed black and white historical photos. It also includes instructions for how to read the "wine gauge" which is employed in the latter pages to "communicate where a particular wine is currently at in its flavor evolution."
The majority of the book details the wines of Napa Valley-- sharing their stories and including a "wine gauge" review of each individual winery's vintages. Despite the breadth of knowledge that the book encompasses (and its not unremarkable size) the information itself is concise. It's a beautiful showpiece that deserves a place of honor in every wine lover's collection.
When Kelli A. White arrived in Napa Valley in 2010, fresh from a stint at Veritas restaurant in New York City, she had an admittedly East Coast perspective. "I came here with a lot of bad ideas," she says. "All that I knew, which was largely misinformed, was that Napa was just big oak, monster alcoholic, big money wines."
But Leslie Rudd, the owner of Press restaurant, had hired White and her fiancé Scott Brenner with the vision of creating a cellar that expressed the true character and history of Napa Valley. He gave them a blank check and a simple directive: Build the best Napa wine program in the world. And in just two years-- aided by a bad economy that brought more old bottles to market, and by collectors who did not prize old Napa-- they were able to grow the cellar from 200 selections to 2,500, ranging from rare old bottles from the 1940s to the "alternative, kind of funky" stuff made by Napa's cutting-edge winemakers today. Along the way-- after countless hours of research, long talks with winemakers, and tasting thousands of wines-- White was also in the unique position to write Napa Valley, Then & Now, a 1,258-page tome that landed this fall. It is a definitive portrait of the Valley, presenting its history, in-depth reviews of key wines and wineries, and the nuances that make Napa the most sought-after wine region in the New World. Click here for the full article »
—ROBB REPORT'S COLLECTION, December 2015. Going Native, by Michalene Busico
Kelli White, author of new book Napa Valley, Then & Now, tells F&W's Annie Quigley about four brilliant figures from Napa's past whose influence is still shaping the valley's future. Read the full interview in Food & Wine, January 2016.
—FOOD & WINE, January 2016. Quintessential Napa by Annie Quigley
I promised the author that I would not use the word “tome” to describe this amazing work. Kelli A White, a respected Napa Valley Sommelier (PRESS) and noted wine writer (VINIOUS), is now the unquestioned published authority on America’s most significant wine region, the Napa Valley. But I did not rule out the term “epic.”
Consider that “Napa Valley, Then and Now” clocks in at 1,255 pages, weighs close to 12 pounds and, rather than being a coffee table book, could be an actual coffee table. Its prodigious size has received more publicity at the hands of reviewers — many of whom are wine writers (some of whom have been less than kind in their critiques based on, one can only assume, envy) — than the prodigious amount of effort that went into producing it. Make no mistake, this is an epic undertaking.
—THE ASPEN TIMES, written by Kelly Hayes
Ms. White has done a bang-up job putting together a book that not only includes nitty-gritty on every significant winery, winemaker and vineyard in Napa Valley (plus many so new that they fall under even the geekiest sommelier’s radar), but she does it in a way that is entirely palatable to the most anti-Napa sommelier. There are no presumptuous scores or ratings, for instance, but rather, extremely detailed notes on current releases and past vintages, each with a “wine gauge” that proffers “flavor evolution . . . that may or may not prove to be accurate.”
In other words, like any sensible sommelier, White doesn’t pretend her intellectual and sensory assessments, as deft as they are, have the exactitude of science—half the reason why many of today’s sommeliers cannot abide numerical ratings, which infer a valuation impossible in matters as aesthetically divined as artisanal style wine. Especially top-quality, ultra-premium–priced Napa Valley wines which, as White makes clear in the sheer volume of her explications, are far more contingent upon variables of terroir, individuality, vintages and dynamics of evolving tools and styles than what even the most open-minded sommeliers may suspect.
—THE SOMM JOURNAL, written by Randy Caparoso
Edmund Wilson once said, “No two people ever read the same book.” Certainly that will be the case with Kelli A. White’s “Napa Valley Then and Now,” since it is a book of discovery. In an interview with White, a sommelier at Press in St. Helena, she admits that probably only her mother will read it cover-to-cover, but that doesn’t underlie its merit.
Whether you are a sommelier requiring an excellent reference on the wines of Napa Valley, a history buff wanting to know more about the storied Napa Valley legends and gentlemen like Randy Dunn, or just an oenophile like me who likes wines of all kinds – there is a story in this tome for you. Click here for the full article »
For the seriously obsessed Napa buff who wants the inside scoop of the region on a silver platter. There’s no flowery language, just the truth backed up by historical details and tasting notes that paint a picture of what was good, when, and why. The book came out in November, 2015 independently by the author, Kelli A. White.
Napa Valley Then and Now: At Press Napa Valley, sommelier Kelli A. White sources current and rare bottles from Napa's most iconic producers -- so who better to pen a guide to those wines? At 1,250 pages, "Napa Valley Then and Now" is part historical reference and part profile of about 200 producers past and present. Details: Rudd Press, $95
Epic in size and scope, Kelli A. White’s “Napa Valley Then and Now” (Rudd Press, 1,255 pages, $95, available at napavalleythenandnow.com), neglects no detail relating to the vineyards, wineries, winemakers or bottlings of America’s premier wine region. The author provides thousands of tasting notes from 200 wineries, many from long-ago vintages, affirming that Napa Valley wines, like all wines aspiring to greatness, improve with age. Free of numerical scores and focused on wine character, these notes add up to a profile of a wine region that is nuanced, individualized and intimate. Even a Europhile will find kinship in this watermelon-weight tome to an effort devoted to the glory of the fermented grape. Click here for the full article »
—WALL STREET JOURNAL, written by Peter Hellman
The book's 200 winery profiles and their attendant thousands of tasting notes represent a herculean amount of effort. Simply finding a way to tell the story of 200 different wineries in succession without slipping into a stylistic rut earned White a great deal of my respect as I read through the book. Her prose is clear, eloquent, and quite often charming. Click here for the full article »
Four and a half years later, that book is here. Napa Valley Then & Now provides in-depth profiles of 200 wineries — making it the not only the definitive guide to the region, but also the heaviest. Along with the spectacular writing and research, what sets this book apart is the tasting notes, which delves into many older vintages and is the focus of the misconceptions White wants to dispel. Click here for the full article »
The central character in the book is the wines and wineries. The book is not about the author. Far too many wine books focus on the writer, and not the subject at hand. Stylistically, there is not a lot of fluff here. It gets straight to the point and stays there. "Napa Valley Then & Now" excels at informing readers about the differences in the vineyards, soils, terroirs and cellars. I do not think that type of information has been cobbled together in any one book before, at least not to this extent. For wine geeks, and lovers of Napa Valley wine, this is worth the purchase price alone... Click here for the full article and interview »
When Kelli A. White moved from New York City to take up the position of sommelier at Press restaurant in St. Helena, Calif., she confronted a new challenge. In New York she had managed one of the city’s largest, most diverse wine lists; yet the cellar at Press consists entirely of local wines. “I looked for the book to study up on Napa wines but couldn’t find it,” she recalls. “So I started knocking on doors.” Few tasting notes existed for researching older Napa Valley vintages, and so White decided to write the book she sought herself. The result of her labors, Napa Valley, Then & Now ($95, napavalleythenandnow.com), is a 1,300-page volume (with an introduction by Robert M. Parker Jr.) that not only traces the colorful history of California’s best-loved wine region but also offers collectors an indispensable compendium of detailed, critical notes on historic vintages. Click here to see the report »
We've all dreamed of owning something that doesn't yet exist. I'm still waiting for the hover board I was promised in Back to the Future Part II. But few of us have the courage to create whatever it is we're lacking. Except for Kelli White. When White, one of the nation's most impressive sommeliers, realized that her bookshelf lacked a definitive guide to Napa Valley, she simply wrote one... Click here for the full article »
—GRAPE COLLECTIVE, written by David White
One of the brightest voices of our generation, Kelli White provides a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at Napa Valley and its evolution over the last several decades. The stories behind the valley’s great wines and the people who make them are told with boundless passion and enthusiasm. Napa Valley, Then & Now is a must-have for anyone who loves Napa Valley wines.
—ANTONIO GALLONI, founder of Vinous
Kelli White writes with passion, knowledge, and more than a few deft turns of phrase, making Napa Valley, Then & Now a terrific and wonderfully engaging read. But this book serves up more than just an impressively broad and appealingly presented collection of facts. It also delivers the rarest of the rare in wine writing today: genuine insight. White methodically breaks down her subject, dissects the pieces, and then reassembles them in a way that is both compelling and cogently comprehensible. If you read only one wine book this year, the inspired and lovingly written Napa Valley should be it.
—ALLEN D. MEADOWS, founder of Burghound.com and author of The Pearl of the Côte: The Great Wines of Vosne-Romanée
Kelli White is that rare sommelier as skilled with a pen as with a corkscrew. At the forefront of a new generation of sassy, savvy US sommeliers, she applies heart and head, hands and feet, and finds the words as readily as she does the wines. Based in Napa, and watching over the world’s greatest collection of its wines, she wants others to be as astonished by her adopted home as she was. I can’t imagine a better guide.
—NEIL BECKETT, Editor, World of Fine Wine/Fine Wine Editions
White has pulled off a beautifully written guide—balanced, while clearly having an essential point of view—to the complex region of Napa.
—ALICE FEIRING, founder of The Feiring Line, author of The Battle For Wine and Love and Naked Wine
Kelli White has deftly organized all things great and small within the complex, intensely competitive universe of Napa Valley. She brings us in good, insightful prose everything from colorful history and the sacraments of the priests and priestesses of cult Cabernets to saner recent developments in an ever-fascinating realm. An essential read for amateurs and pros alike.
—JAMES CONAWAY, author of Napa: The Story of an American Eden, and the novel Nose
With one eye to the past and the other on the future, Napa Valley, Then & Now is an indispensable guide to America’s most iconic wine appellation.
—GEOFF KRUTH, MS, President of the Guild of Sommeliers, and co-producer of the documentary Into the Bottle