People Saving Places Through Preservation
2020 Award of Merit Recipient
The 1881 Napa Wine History Museum award for Category 2, Rehabilitation/Adaptive Reuse, was presented by Preservation Action (PAC) Committee Member, Vincent Traverso. His remarks, “Many know that the Oakville Grocery is among the oldest operating retail stores in California, founded by P.B. O’Neil at least as early as 1874. It is a Napa County Landmark, if there ever was one, visited by countless tourists and locals alike, taking a taste of our fair valley from its finely stocked shelves.
Stewards of its proud history, include familiar names like Durrant, Guigni, Phelps, Rudd . . . and most recently, Boisset. However, many may not know that the stately Victorian just to the north of the grocery is equally historic, built in the same era by John Garner, who then passed it on to other wheat farmers. Memory of its more recent past, at the turn of this past century, conjure images of worn paint, deteriorating woodwork, and general dilapidation.
Its initial restoration, begun by Leslie Rudd in 2012, brought us the “Durrant & Booth” tasting room, a noteworthy adaptive reuse by architect Howard Backen and builder Guy Bryne. Picking up the torch after Rudd’s unfortunate passing, Jean-Charles Boisset re-adapted its use, preserving its exterior and reworking its interior to establish the Napa Wine History Museum. Part tasting room, part history lesson, the lovingly restored Victorian offers an inception point for visitors to take in both the breadth of Napa Valley’s geography as well as the scope of its history.
Its staircase guides visitors upward through our viticultural heritage, ascending from stories of the Native Americans’ Talahalusi (or beautiful land) to snippets of its later settlers and wine industry pioneers, finishing with fine exhibit of wine-related relics and implements. Downstairs, visitors can scan a horizontal cross-section of soils with paired wines that exhibit the essential typicity of each of Napa’s 16 sub-appellations . . . a multi-sensory taste of terroir.
For not only carrying on with the preservation that Leslie Rudd so diligently started, but also imbuing the historic home with a historic purpose, we are proud to recognize Mr. Boisset for the adaptive reuse of this beautiful Victorian.”