The Farmer & The Fox Opens in St. Helena

The Farmer & The Fox opens in St. Helena

Stylishly tucked into a food and wine ‘village’ in St. Helena at Cairdean Estate, The Farmer and The Fox opened on June 5 for dinner. Executive Chef Joseph Humphrey, GM Darrin Sander, Chef de Cuisine Jason LaBue, Beverage Director James Kendall and Proprietors Stacia Williams and Edwin Williams have created a modern gastropub with unique touches. Specialties include The Scotch Egg, freshly baked popovers, game pie, and a nightly roast from the rotisserie. Prices range from $6 to $17 for starters, $16 to $25 for main courses, and $7 to $8 for desserts.

The bar features 8 wines on tap, 8 beers on tap, and imaginatively crafted artisanal cocktails. “We will focus on the Scottish gastropub theme while enjoying the bountiful advantage of our home,” explains James Kendall, Beverage Program Director. “The wine list will be approachable and interesting; our cocktails are rooted in the classics with some twists, including, for example, a sour made with Aquavit and beet juice which we call the Countess of Carrack. Our beers will include greats such as Bruery’s Mischief and local favorites too,” he adds.

A distinctive touch—in today’s competitive restaurant world– is that there is no corkage fee. “We want our world of wine and food to be as welcoming as possible,” explains Proprietor Stacia Williams, who is also Cairdean Vineyards’ Winemaker, “so we welcome guests to bring their own wines. Being in Napa Valley, we want our restaurant to be a hub for our neighboring winemakers and vintners. I often have bottles from our winery or from friends which I want to try along with dinner myself, so I wanted to make sure I extended that hospitality to others. We have built a strong wine list offering not only wine from our friends and neighbors but also from outside Napa Valley,” she adds.

The restaurant’s name comes from one of the most well-known of Aesop’s fables. Interiors were designed by San Francisco-based Nicole Hollis. A modern take on the European gastropub, the space is elegant and approachable with oak paneled walls, leather banquettes and black-and-white checkered marble floors. A brass bar illuminated with bankers’ lamps, customized brass sconces and oversized bell-shape light fixtures cast an inviting glow. Banquette seating upholstered in traditional woven Welsh blankets provides color and coziness; vintage silverware is part of each table’s setting.

The restaurant seats 100 guests, including indoors in the restaurant and bar and outside on the patio which overlooks the courtyard of the Cairdean Estate ‘village’ with the bakery-deli Butterscots, a wood-fired-oven, a three-tiered fountain, the winery’s tasting rooms, the retail shop Rosgal Mercantile and the Redolent Sensory Experience. “It is a friendly, fun village focusing on the good life,” explains proprietor Edwin Williams.

The winery can be seen through the restaurant’s bar windows: under construction now, the winery was designed by Juancarlos Fernandez of Signum Architecture and features a green roof and a myriad of state-of-the-art winemaking features, including 17,369 square feet of intricately designed caves which open into the winery building.

Joseph Humphrey started his career in New Orleans where he learned contemporary Creole cuisine at the Palace Café, a French Quarter restaurant recognized as a “Best New Restaurant” by USA Today. Humphrey further honed his skills as a cook with other luminaries including Michael Mina, George Morrone, Bradley Ogden and Julian Serrano. A familiar face in the Napa Valley, Humphrey served as Executive Chef at Auberge du Soleil, and then as Chef of The Restaurant at Meadowood, where he was awarded two Michelin stars. Humphrey then went on to open Murray Circle Restaurant at Cavallo Point in Sausalito, which received one Michelin star each year of his three year tenure, as well as being named one of the Top Bay Area Restaurants in the San Francisco Chronicle and receiving an Award of Excellence from The Wine Spectator twice. “At The Farmer and The Fox we will be celebrating our area’s farms, ranches and food artisans,” Humphrey explains, “adding a distinctively delicious and modern Napa Valley touch to classic European gastropub cuisine.”

Darrin Sander comes to Cairdean Estate after five years as GM at Sushi Ran in Sausalito. His career includes lengthy stints at Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine and the Hard Rock Café not only in San Francisco but also in Key West, Denver, Honolulu, Dallas and Atlanta. Sander started out as a dishwasher at 15 years of age. Under his management, the restaurants he has managed have placed in the San Francisco Chronicle’s Top 100 for years and have been awarded Michelin stars. “I arrived in northern California fourteen years ago and am proud to call it home,” Sander says. “Our artisanal culture of food and drink fuels my passion for creativity and hospitality,” he adds.

Cairdean Vineyards’ tasting room hours are seven days a week from 11:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Cairdean produces approximately 5,000 cases a year. The winery sources fruit from its own estate vineyards in the Coombsville and Russian River Valley appellations and contracts for fruit from distinguished vineyards in the North Coast. Current releases include Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Fumé Blanc, Chardonnay and Unoaked Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Zinfandel as well as proprietary wines—Leannan Riesling, Haley Margaret (a white blend) and Zinfandel Dessert Wine.

Cairdean (“care-deen”) is the Scottish Gaelic word for friends. The interlocking knot symbol is reminiscent of Celtic knots and includes four hearts, one for each member of the Williams family. Cairdean Estate encompasses 57 acres in the St. Helena appellation at the base of Spring Mountain.

Cairdean Estate is the vision of husband and wife Edwin and Stacia Williams. While working in the software industry in Massachusetts, Stacia developed a strong passion for wine. She made her first vintage in harvest of 2000 in her garage. She and her family moved to Fresno so that Stacia could enroll in the Enology and Viticulture program at Fresno State. Upon graduation, the family decided to start a business in Napa Valley, encompassing a restaurant as well as a winery.

Located at 3111 St. Helena Highway North, just two miles north of downtown St. Helena, the restaurant will be open seven days a week from 5:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 707/302-5101 or at www.farmerandfox.com.