Wine Country Inn Blog - February 2012

New Chef Joins Wine Country Inn

ST. HELENA, Calif. March 1, 2012 – The Wine Country Inn ─ known for its central Napa Valley location, romantic atmosphere, and stunning vineyard views ─ has a new chef: Ryan Geoghegan. The Napa native replaces the Innʼs former chef, Guy Aaronson, who retired in January.

Wine Country Inn innkeeper Jim Smith said that while it is difficult to say goodbye to Aaronson, who was a guest favorite during his 10 years at the Inn, the change will be beneficial to guests. “We get many, many repeat guests, and they are always looking for something new,” Smith explains. “While Chef Ryan will keep our tried-and-true recipes, Iʼm also asking him to ‛wowʼ us with new dishes for both breakfast and our afternoon wine social.”

Geoghegan, 32, has lived his entire life in Napa. He extensive cooking experience includes a four-year stint at a Napa B&B where he elevated the food offerings. “Iʼm an ambassador for Napa Valley,” Geoghegan states. “Iʼm excited to share with guests not only some new and creative dishes, but also my suggestions for the Valleyʼs best places to eat and drink.”

In addition to a love of cooking, Geogheganʼs hobbies include barbecuing/smoking meats, making homemade sausage, gardening, traveling, and music. He and the special lady in his life, Kelli, have a two-year-old, with a second child due in late March.

About The Wine Country Inn: Celebrating 35+ years of romance

Built and operated by the Smith family since 1975, The Wine Country Inn has been transformed from the Napa Valley’s first bed and breakfast inn into a magnificent Boutique Hotel. The Inn contains 24 distinctive rooms and five luxury cottages. Each guest stay includes a full gourmet breakfast and afternoon wine tasting. Guests also can avail themselves to spa services, local winery tours (50 wineries within five miles!), and a complimentary evening shuttle service to nearby restaurants (15 within five miles!). 

La Condesa

2012 has brought several new or revamped Napa Valley restaurants. With this in mind, Wine Country Inn Innkeeper Jim and Markering Director Tim have taken it upon themselves to visit these “new” places and report back our findings to our guests. Today we begin with La Condensa, open since December 2011 at 1320 Main Street in downtown St. Helen (home to the former AKA Bistro).

La Condesa (The Countess) is the brainchild of Jesse Herman and Delfo Trombetta, who opened a La Condesa several years ago in Austin, Texas. The food is fantastic: fresh, colorful, and full of flavor. Among the many things we have tried, we are particularly impressed with:

~ the Chifa Ceviche, with yellowtail Kingfish, thai chile, apple, orange, avocado, and a yuzu-lime dressing. While more sweet than tangy, the fish is startling fresh and the textures among the apple, orange, etc. fun. (Jim wouldn’t let them take the bowl away; he wanted to sop up the dressing with his tacos. To our waitress: we’re sorry about the stab marks he left in your hand with his fork.)

~ the Pescado (fish) tacos (pictured), with cabbage, salsa rojo, pico de gallo, and a wonderful chipolte mayo.

La Condesa offers a fun tasting experience, with four seasonal salsas, four different types of guacomole, and a large menu selection of soups, tortas (sandwiches) and main dishes. It has a full bar complete with many local wines and a selection of 2-3 dozen tequilas. It also has red or white sangrias available by the glass or pitcher.

Main dishes range in price from $12-$32. To check out their web site, visit

La Condensa is serviced by the Wine Country Inn’s evening restaurant shuttle, available free of charge to our Inn guests so that you can “leave the driving to us.”

Karen Brown’s World of Travel

The Wine Country Inn is proud to be listed on this international travel web site: Karen Brown’s World of Travel.

Tater Babies

Here is a recipe for the Wine Country Inn “Tater Babies”, as developed by our Manager, Deniese.

By Deniese

5 lbs Red Creamers (walnut size)
1½ cups shredded jack cheese
1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
1½ cups crispy bacon crumbled
½ cup chives
3 Tbsp melted butter
2 Tbsp garlic olive oil
¼ cup dark stoneground mustard.
1 tsp Worchester sauce

Prep potatoes by cutting in half and hollowing out centers.

In bowl, mix melted butter, oil and mustard. Put all potato skins in bowl and toss in mustard mixture making sure they are well coated.

Next, place cut-side down on a baking sheet and bake 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees, until edges are crisp. Remove from oven and cool.

In a food processor, grind cheese small, then toss with bacon bits and chives. Stuff skins with generous amount of filling and place back onto cookie sheet. Bake for 5 minutes until cheese is well melted. Serve hot with sour cream.