A local’s guide to Napa Valley

Bottle Rock is this week already! Here are some of our insider tips so you can have a fun and unique trip! image

-Let’s start with breakfast! My personal favorite is the english muffins from Model Bakery (in St. Helena and Oxbow in Napa). You can even get a breakfast sandwich made with one! Seriously insanely good. I’d also recommend the charming and recently re-opened Oakville Grocery. For a sit-down experience go to The Thomas or Solage for brunch!

-Shopping is always on the to-do list and Napa Valley has some amazing finds. If you’re in the mood to splurge on some bling, go to Palladium or Patina! Owned by the adorable Marcus and Wayne, these jewelry stores are world class and right across the street from each other in St. Helena. Martin Design is always full of incredible interior inspiration. A new addition, off the beaten path is Steed! Flats has some of the best (you guessed it) flats around! I’ve been wearing their ballerina slippers for over 10 years. You can’t leave Napa Valley without buying some fabulous wine to take home. The divine 750 Wines has you covered! Head up to Calistoga to the Man’s Store for authentic workwear. Oxbow Market in Napa combines shopping with dining and drinking so make sure to check it out!

-Now what else to do?? I love hiking the Oat Hill Mine Trail in Calistoga. Afterwards relax with a spa treatment from Indian Springs or Solage! Feel like wine tasting in a gorgeous setting? Frog’s Leap! Why not pick up the cult favorite fried chicken from Thomas Keller’s Addendum at Ad Hoc and sit in the sun for a picnic? Have a glass of Lorenza Rosé while you’re there. 

-Okay finally now… Dining! Napa is home to some of the best food EVER so have fun exploring and trying new things! I suggest a pizza face off between Ciccio and Redd Wood! Two great pizza spots and conveniently located across the street from each other! Gott’s Roadside (formerly known as Taylor’s Refresher) is a classic and a MUST. The ahi poke tacos are to die for. Visit the original in St. Helena or the Oxbow Market outpost in Napa. Stop by La Luna for the best burritos in town and possibly your life. Mustards Grill is a local institution. I literally grew up there and those onion rings just speak to my soul! Cindy Pawlcyn’s other restaurants Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen and Cindy’s Wood Grill are fantastic as well. Waterfront dining at the charming Angele in downtown Napa is pure magic! Cook in St. Helena is the go-to for locals lunch and dinner. I love their minestrone soup! The Thomas is also fabulous for drinks on the roof or for dinner! 

Now, make sure you come hang out at the Lorenza RoséFree People tent on the Citi Stage at the festival! Its going to be the hottest spot in town! Follow us @lorenzarose  @kissser @freepeople @bottlerocknapa on instagram and twitter for live updates. Much love and see you this week!!

xo Michele

C Magazine

We are thrilled to be featured in the Summer issue of C Magazine! Thank you to photographer Rachel Roberts and the entire C crew for being so wonderful.
We love this Prada outfit!!
Pick up the Summer issue of C Magazine for the entire story!

napa valley through michele’s eyes!

thank you to katie hintz-zambrano, michelle drewes and the whole team at refinery 29 for the fun day!

Michele in one of her signature J.Crew button-ups and Ksubi cut-off shorts out in the vineyard.

It’s hard to think of a cooler life than that of St. Helena resident Michele Ouellet. The 23-year-old stunner not only circles the globe modeling, but when she’s back home in Napa Valley, the super-down-to-earth gal is out in the vines, playing vintner at Lorenza Rosé, the wine company Ouellet and her mother own. To find out what a Day in the Bay with Ouellet looks like, we caught up with the local lady and had her play tour-guide around her St. Helena home and ‘hood. Naturally, a little dress-up ensued, as well. Take a look at the gorgeous results below, and get ready to schedule a trip up north, pronto.

“This is one of my first ‘girly’ purchases,” says Michele of the itsy-bitsy Prada frock she dons in her backyard. “I’ve been dressing a bit more feminine after being a tomboy all my life!”

Tell us a little bit about your job and why you love it.
“I am a model and a vintner. My mom and I have a wine brand called Lorenza Rosé. My two careers are complimentary and both benefit from each other. There’s a great balance between fashion and city life and a slower pace back in Napa making wine.“

You and your mother are involved in an organization to help promote women in wine. Tell us about it.

“Wine Entre Femmes is a non-competitive group of women in the wine business. We share information, education, and experiences, and on occasion, we get together and pour all of our wines for marketing and educational events. It’s a really fun, beautiful thing to be a part of.”

Michele kicks back in her stand-by, in-the-vineyard Frye boots.

How much are you involved in the wine-making?

“We produce the wine in Lodi, which is also where we source our grapes, and I’m involved every step of the way! During the summer, I go out to the vineyards to check for ripeness and make sure everything is looking good. I’m there from harvest to fermentation, from blending to bottling, and to selling!”

A picture of Michele as a child and one of her modeling shots hang on the fridge.

Michele in her backyard in an Equipment shirt, a vintage hat scored in Paris, ballet flats from the Flats shop in St. Helena, shorts stolen from one of her best friends, holding a glass of Lorenza Rosé.

You’re on the front of your own wine bottle! How would you describe the product?
“Lorenza Rosé is a true rosé. We love the dry, pink wine of Southern France and model our rosé after it. It’s low in alcohol, light in color, and made with old-vine Rhone varietals. It’s fun wine for all-the-time!”

You’re constantly on the road. Can you share any packing tips?

“Bring nothing! I can be ruthless when it comes to packing. I stick to a uniform and never feel like I wish I had brought more clothes. I always bring a cashmere wrap for the plane and a bikini, just in case I end up somewhere tropical!”

"This is my standard summer outfit!” says Michele. “All stripes, all the time!”

What are three pieces you find yourself wearing constantly?

“I always wear St. James striped T-shirts, black April 77 jeans, and chambray shirts from J.Crew.”

What would you never be caught dead wearing?

“I’ve worn probably everything imaginable on photo-shoots, so not wearing something is an option I’ve given up! Overall, though, I’m pretty open-minded and love all kinds of style.”

Michele chills at the St. Helena skatepark while her brother shreds. “I love this Libertine dress. People always comment on it,” she says of her philosophy-themed frock. “The shoes were customized by my boyfriend and are the coolest!”

What’s the most treasured piece of clothing in your closet?

“My custom Vans made by my boyfriend Van Alpert.”

You’ve worn all kind of designer brands. Who are your favorite designers and why?

“I love fun clothing that make me smile and laugh! My friend Johnson Hartig’s line Libertine always makes me smile! I’m also into Balenciaga, Prada, Miu Miu, Proenza Schouler, Chanel, Givenchy, Alexander McQueen…on and on! I love beautiful clothes!”

Michele and her brother pause for a family picture.

What trends are you digging right now?
“Denim and stripes! I love all shiny things, as well!”

What’s in your closet that you’ve never worn?

“A vintage velvet Chanel suit. It doesn’t fit, but the price was right and I couldn’t pass it up!”

“This is a rubber neoprene bikini by Lisa Marie Fernandez,” says Michele of her super-hot bathing suit. “She gave it to me after working together.”

What do you love most about your Napa Valley-St. Helena ‘hood?

“St. Helena is where I’m from and I have so much love for Napa Valley! I love everything about it: The food, the wine, and the surroundings are unbeatable. The people in Napa Valley make it my favorite place in the world. I’m so lucky to be from such a beautiful place.”

Kickin’ it.

What would you miss most if you left the Bay Area?

“Everything. I leave quite often and am always so happy to come back! It’s paradise. Northern California has such a great vibe, just super chill and natural.”

Michele at two of her top St. Helena haunts, Ana’s Cantina (left) and Sogni di Dolci coffee shop (right), wearing her mother’s vintage YSL shirt, cut-offs, and shoes from Flats.

What are you top five favorite spots in Napa?

“Solage in Calistoga, and in St. Helena: Ana’s Cantina on karaoke night, Sogni di Dolci coffee shop, Sunshine Market, and just hangin’ with my friends eating and drinking and swimming!”

What’s a secret store you love that you’re willing to let our readers in on?

“My local secret is Flats shoe store. I always wear their ballet slippers. They last forever! 10 years and counting for me! The quality is tip-top!”

Checking out the long-lasting “tip-top” quality shoes at Flats in St. Helena.

Best cheap score of late?

“I buy lots of men’s shirts at the J.Crew outlet in Napa!”

What are some of your favorite beauty products?
“I use Kevin Murphy hair products. They smell soooo good. And my facialist Toni Rigdon turned me onto an organic line called Pevonia. It’s very soothing! I have also just recently got into lipstick! It’s so fun! I have a red one from YSL and a berry color from Boots.”

Ballet flats, Vans, and Prada pumps…a pretty good summary of Michele’s overall style.

What are your favorite spots to visit abroad and what is the coolest hotel you’ve stayed in?

“Brazil and Japan are both soooo cool. So different from where I’m from. And I usually stay with friends when I travel, but I like the Bowery Hotel in NYC and Solage in Calistoga for a staycation!”

What’s up next for you: In both wine and modeling?

“I’ll be harvesting my 2011 vintage and as far as modeling goes there are some surprises coming up! You’ll have to wait and see.”

pink + white

we had a great time pouring lorenza rosé tonight at the pink + white party at 750 wines! david and monica put on a fabulous event as usual! here is michele working some pink and white looks!



good news

Photo by Viktor Vauthier

Article by David Stoneberg


Michele Ouellet and her mother, Mindy Kearney, who is a wine marketing consultant, have been partners in making Lorenza Rose wine since its first vintage, 2008. On April Fools Day, they will release their third vintage.

Ouellet’s father, Michael Ouellette, got the two started by introducing them to growers and the logistics of winemaking. Today, his daughter said, “His love of rosé and great palate has been inspiring.” Michael is in the wine-by-the-keg business (VinTap). The family has been in St. Helena since 1993, and before that was in Yountville shortly before Michele was born in 1988.

The partnership between mother and daughter is likely to be long-distance, since the 22-year-old Ouellet has been an international model since she was 15. In January, she was in town joining four other next-generation winemakers at a tasting and conversation at St. Helena’s 750 Wines. The stories of the other winemakers, Rob and Angelina Mondavi and Tony Leonardini, will be printed in future editions of the St. Helena Star.

Days after the interview, Ouellet — she changed her father’s name slightly for her modeling career — was in Bahia, Brazil, for a photo shoot for one of her favorite clients: French Cosmopolitan. By email, she said, “It’s incredible here!” She models everything from clothes to swimwear, jewelry and beauty products in magazines and for advertising campaigns as well as some runway work. She said, “So much of my work comes out in Europe, so I am really excited to be on the cover of Travel & Leisure’s February issue.”

Ouellet and Kearney will release 943 cases of their 2010 vintage on April 1. The wine was produced from mourvedre, cinsault, Grenache and carignan grapes grown in Lodi. The vines are between 60 and 113 years old. The wine is produced in Lodi.

Ouellet talks about her role in Lorenza wine: “I am in the vineyard before harvest, tasting the grapes for ripeness and then all the way through harvest checking on everything. I make it a priority to be as hands-on as possible during the blending process.” This year, too, she had returned from Brazil to be involved in the bottling. She is also involved in the label design and “other collaborations, including our upcoming T-shirts.”

“I handle our social media from wherever I may be working out of town,” she said. “When I’m in the valley, I make deliveries, organize our parties and visit our restaurant and hotel clients. It’s been a lot of fun to host parties supporting my friends in the fashion and art businesses in New York and Los Angeles.” She said she loves bringing her two worlds, modeling and wine, together.

“I have found that the wine business and the modeling world are very complementary and am so pleased with the balance it provides me,” she said. “Even though I travel the world modeling, I cannot express how happy I am to call St. Helena home.”

The back story of Lorenza — that one of its partners is a world-hopping model — is appealing. “On the other side, more and more clients are interested in working with me because I have an interesting business outside modeling,” Ouellet said.