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The 13th Premiere Napa Valley went off without a hitch this weekend, though the wine fetched lower prices than usual.

The Napa Valley Vintners' annual trade auction, sometimes called a "bake sale" by members, is the association's only fundraiser for its marketing and other programs. At the well-attended auction, retailers bid on barrels of wine donated by these vintners. Each of which gets a number, winery, and retailer on special label - a very value-driven arrangement.

In years past, barrels went for $4500, this year prices hovered around $3500. This shift is a telltale sign of a buyers' market, and a continuing softening of the wine market in general.
Bardessono is slated to debut next week in Yountville. Executive Chef Sean O'Toole has created a menu meant to "read like an encyclopedia of Northern California's natural resources." Thad Vogler is taking reign of the cocktail department.
Gigi is closing after Valentine's day, but the Brown Avenue location won't sit idle for long. A few weeks later is Chef John Marquez and his family will be opening Artisan Bistro there. Marquez is currently the chef at Fringale, so this new venture has big potential.
Just eight months after its debut, La Vinoteca has closed. But owner Luisa Hanson has decided to reopen the place this month as a "gourmet Mexican restaurant" called La Pinata Rica.
Mecca has closed, due to what the owners call a "very challenging business climate." CVP Holdings, Inc. intends to "pursue all opportunities," which include restructuring and reopening, or selling the business.
Sidebar in Oakland, the new project from the the project from the Zax Tavern team, opens February 6th.
Artemis has closed. The owners are hoping to re-open as a bar, but the short notice has put the kitchen staff, along with chef Zachary Millican out of work.
Despite rumors to the contrary, Juno the Arctic Hotel is not closing and will remain open during its "rebranding."
The Lodge Steakhouse, from Adolfo Suaya and Michael Sutton, has closed. A new Japanese restaurant is slated to replace it.
Umami Burger is now open for both for lunch and dinner. Adam Fleischman (of BottleRock and Vinoteque) has created a quirky burger joint to celebrate the "fifth taste." Check out Port & Stilton Sliders, Turkey Confit Burger, Truffle Burger, and of course the eponymous Umami Burger when visiting this new La Brea beast.
Tony's, the new steakhouse concept from Tony Riviera and the Primo Hospitality Group is set to open in the ex-Crudo space on the Sunset Strip early this month.
Il Carpaccio in Pacific Palisades is gone. According to a sign on the door, the next resident will be Taste.
Paul Fleming's newest operation, Paul Martin's American Bistro, has obtained a liquor license and is legally allowed to open in El Segundo. Expect a public opening mid-month.
Le Saint Amour, Bruno and Florence Herve-Commereuc's new brasserie, has been in the works since the fall and is expected to open in late February.
The 4th location of Mulberry Street Pizza in Santa Monica has been sold. The space is now home to an oyster bar, Blue Plate Oysterette.
New York
Hot on the heels of New York fashion week and his TopChef appearance, Giorgio Armani is a restaurant in his Fifth Avenue flagship store. Tuscan chef Lorenzo Viani (owner of Ristorante Lorenzo in Italy) is handling the menu at Armani/Ristorante 5th Avenue.
Bar Q, Anita Lo's year-old West Village restaurant has closed, following the closure of the 8th Street Rickshaw Dumpling Bar. Lo's Michelin-starred restaurant Annisa is reportedly staying put.
Chef-owner Cyril Renaud will close Fleur de Sel after service on February 21st, following dinner service. He plans to focus his energy on his new casual project, Bar Breton.
Chef Kyle Bailey, who honed his skills at Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Cru, is now at Allen and Delancey. The previous A&D chef, Neil Ferguson (NY Rising Star 2008) left in October to run the kitchen of SoHo House.
Butcher Bay, an upscale casual seafood restaurant, is now open in the East Village. The menu includes plenty of fresh raw shellfish, po'boys, seafood pie, and homemade chili dogs.
Delicatessen is revamping their menu and offering 10% off all food until February 13. To achieve the "goal of being a great neighborhood restaurant with enough edge to appeal to destination diners," owner Mark Amadei hired hospitality consultant David Rabin (3Sixty Hospitality). Rabin and his team brought in Chef-Consultant Franklin Becker (New York Rising Star Chef 2006) who has been in collaboration with the new chef, Michael Ferraro to update the menu. The beverage program is being refreshed by Gardner Dunn and Ben Clemons (33 Libations) in collaboration with Delicatessen beverage director Damon Dunay. No word yet where opening chef Doron Wong is going next.
Restaurateur Keith McNally's latest project, Minetta Tavern, is set to open this month. He has preserved much of the original interior without making the space a "museum piece."
Zak Pelaccio's second Fatty Crab is well on the way to hitting its opening mark of February 24th. The 2006 New York Rising Star's new Upper West Side restaurant now has stoves and a gas connection, so cooking won't be far behind.
Chef Vatche Benguian has stepped into a new role as Chef de Cuisine at the Roof Terrace Restaurant. The CIA graduate has over 25 years of professional experience and is constantly researching and testing dishes to add to his new seasonal menu.
Gotham Steak at the Fontainebleau, a high-end steak house, is now open. Expect dishes worth the pre-recession prices from Michelin-starred chef Alfred Portale.
Laurentiu Muras has taken over the former Cafe Habana space on 21st Street. After months of renovation and redesign, He is now ready to open Slate, a new gastropub. Chef Eric Paraskevas, formerly chef de cuisine at Lolita, says they're aiming to be an inviting neighborhood place, with most entrees under $20.
Theo Gilbert, chef-partner of Terragusto, has opened a second outpost on Armitage to handle the overflow of the first Terragusto on Addison.
Rodelio Aglibot, formerly of Koi in Los Angeles, is set to open Sunda, a New Asian spot in River North.
Taurus is now closed. Gary Mennie's first solo venture (after his stint at Canoe) opened in 2005 and enjoyed a long run at the top of the Atlanta dining scene.

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