Commerce in the air at Napa County Airport

As part of a longtime partnership agreement between the Napa County Airport and the Napa Chamber of Commerce (NCC), I made a recent visit for the first installment of a fantastic four-part annual Fly-A-Leader program.

Started around 1988 while Jim Ford was chairman of the Aviation Advisory Committee (AAC), the program is informational/educational, and includes an introduction to the AAC (thank you Todd Walker), a behind-the-scenes tour of the various facilities (CHP, Airport Control Tower and Napa Jet Center), and a breathtaking 45-minute aerial tour of Napa County, culminating with a great three-course lunch at Runway by Patrick, where we are joined by Airport Manager Martin Pehl, Assistant Manager Doreen Stockdale, pilots and airport staff.

Pehl and his county staff have worked hard to keep the program relevant and NCC is fortunate to be the beneficiary of their efforts. During the program, Pehl mentioned a huge announcement is forthcoming but was unable to share at the time.

Two days later, Santa Monica-based Surf Air announced plans to provide air service to and from Napa County Airport for its exclusive group of 1,500-plus executive members. Great news after the private airline company originally announced a similar arrangement with Sonoma County Airport. Congratulations … that’s a big steal (I mean deal)!

NCC board member Gary Garaventa, St. Helena Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Pam Simpson, and Calistoga Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chris Canning were all kind enough to clear their busy calendars to join me and were impressed – and complimentary – of the Fly-A-Leader Program. I also took along a videographer and photographer to capture the festivities and hope to have a presentation package at soon. Stay tuned.

Sac’s Tasty Hot Dogs, Dutch Bros. and Heritage Eats

Visited these new local business ventures last week and must say the most impressive thing about them had nothing to do with their menu items.

Ben Koenig, Eddie Ames and Mackenzie Shoemaker are three very bright young entrepreneurs trying to carve out their respective niches in the business ownership landscape here in Napa and I ask that we lend them our local support.

Sac’s owner Eddie tells the story of driving to Vallejo for 10 years before showing many of us why and shortening the commute for others who shared his passion for Sac’s dogs.

While at Heritage, I actually overheard Ben’s business partner, chef Jason Kupper, sharing a story with a patron about taking a leap of faith to join Koenig because he strongly believed in his dedication, commitment, integrity and passion for the concept. Great stuff!

That and the fact that my 8-year old, finicky-eating daughter engulfed her braised pork taco (with rice and corn) before I had a chance to return to my seat from getting condiments and napkins, are enough to keep me coming back.

Dutch Bros. coffee shop owners Mackenzie Shoemaker and her husband, Joey, are just a really nice young couple who are very excited about ingraining themselves in the community and starting and raising a family here in Napa.