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New Winery Hopes to Make Old School Wine Cool Again With a Modern Tasting Room

Ashes & Diamonds opens next month with a distinctly Millennial vibe

Bestor Architecture

A new Napa winery called Ashes & Diamonds hopes a younger generation of wine drinkers will take a shine to an older generation of Napa wines, and to provide a sample, will open its new-school tasting room next month. Located off Highway 29, Ashes & Diamonds will be the first Oak Knoll winery that visitors pass as they drive north from downtown Napa, nestled next to iconic Bistro Don Giovanni.

Ashes & Diamonds proprietor Kashy Khaledi, a former advertising and record executive who worked at MTV, calls his label “rooted in the history of this valley,” with wines inspired by the Napa cabernet sauvignons of the ‘60s and ‘70s — more age-able and often lower in alcohol. To recapture their all-but-lost luster, he’s hired winemakers Steve Matthiasson, a Food & Wine and SF Chronicle winemaker of the year, and Diana Snowden Seysses of Snowden Vineyard and Burgundy’s Domaine Dujac.

The Ashes & Diamonds tasting room will feature communal and small group tables as well as lounge-y, living room-inspired spaces. Architecturally, it’s another throwback to mid-century modernism in California, as designed by LA architect Barbara Bestor (also behind the minimalist-cool Beats by Dre headquarters and Palm Springs Hotel). Khaledi describes it as a “postcard fantasy” of the architect Albert Frey’s modernist buildings in Palm Springs.

Bestor Architecture

Food pairings will also be an important component: Ashes & Diamonds resident chef Emma Sears, who formerly ran events at the millennial-chic Scribe Winery, is in charge there. Her menu will be “veg-heavy,” and will use a wood-burning oven “as our bridge into red wine pairing territory.” For bookings, the tasting room has partnered with reservations system Tock.

As a second-generation winery owner — his father owns Darioush Khaledi Winery — Khaledi also hopes to cultivate a new cohort of wine drinkers. That’s evident in the look of Ashes & Diamonds, a far cry from the palatial Darioush estate and its colonnades.

“We think it’s high time that we bring some racial diversity and cultural diversity to the Napa Valley,” Khaledi says, referencing “young, left-of-center wine drinkers.” To achieve that, Khaledi’s previous experience in the music industry may help him win over a broader, younger demographic. Ashes & Diamonds’ enticing labels, for example, are designed by the artist behind album covers like Jay Z’s  Magna Carta Holy Grail.

Khaledi is also inspired by the film world — the winery’s name comes from a classic 1958 Polish movie — and he plans to use the winery space for film screenings and educational events. Those will include an upcoming series of “A&D Q&A” talks with speakers like Matthiasson, Snowden Seysses, and other well-known winemakers like Cathy Corison and Tim Mondavi.

The talks will begin around September 8, a week after the winery softly opens on September 1. A grand opening has been scheduled for October 31.