Natalie Coughlin at Michael Chiarello's inaugural Bottega Gran Fondo in Napa
12-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin gives me some training tips at Michael Chiarello’s inaugural Bottega Gran Fondo in Napa.

“We ride to eat!”

If you’re in Northern California this weekend, you’re most likely feeling the bliss that is an action-packed gourmet food and wine lover’s dream. Pebble Beach Food & Wine, one of the world’s most anticipated extravaganzas is well underway, with another grand tasting later today, among many cooking demos, panels, and lunches and dinners. In case you missed it, here’s a photo essay of my experience at Sequoia Grove’s (incredible) “Forage to Feast” Chef’s table lunch.

Chef Michael Chiarello
Chef Michael Chiarello makes a grand entrance at the Bottega Gran Fondo.

As if that’s wasn’t enough to fully satiate us foodie explorers, on Saturday I scooted up to St. Helena in Napa to catch the scene at Michael Chiarello’s inaugural Bottega Gran Fondo. Chef based the event around cycling. On Sunday a group of about 300, including pro riders such as George Hincapie, Christian Vande Velde and Chris Carmichael, ride their way through Napa. Two routes are available: 40 and 75 miles.

Along the way of course, there’s plenty of time to stop for nibbles at wineries throughout the valley.

I caught up with Chef Michael Chiarello to talk Gran Fondo:


Along the way I make some new friends, encounter a “Jam Off” at Cliff Winery on highway 29. And we were even treated to a surprise appearance–and sage training tips–from legendary US Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin. You can see some of the highlights in the video below:

STARK INSIDER TV: Bottega Gran Fondo with Michael Chiarello

Bottega Gran Fondo with Chef Michael Chiarello (Outtakes) from Stark Insider on Vimeo.

Best of all Gran Fondo supports three Napa Valley programs: Napa Bike, the Vine Trail (this is going to be spectacular), and Clinic Ole.

Watch for the full episode coming soon on Stark Insider. The West Coast food, wine and arts adventure continues!

Bottega Gran Fondo Video

Loni Stark
Loni Stark is an artist at Atelier Stark, self-professed foodie, and adventure travel seeker who has a lifelong passion for technology’s impact on business and creativity. She collaborates with Clinton Stark on video projects for Atelier Stark Films. It’s been said her laugh can be heard from San Jose all the way up to the Golden Gate Bridge. She makes no claims to super powers, although sushi is definitely her Kryptonite.