Napa Regional Event Includes Fine Wine… and a Touch of Aviation History

By CJP Chief Operating Officer Cheryl Hardy

As CJP members descended upon the Napa County Airport and Napa Jet Center on September 7th they were greeted in CJP style and shuttled to the Westin Verasa Hotel in downtown Napa where they settled in and enjoyed a welcome reception.


Wasting no time getting the weekend started, Friday morning began with breakfast and a presentation by Neil Singer who provided a great presentation of his tips and tricks he has picked up through his career. After the morning program, the group boarded shuttles to Beringer Estates for a wine tasting tour and lunch at the Hudson House. The estate history provides a unique glimpse into Napa Valley’s past.

Graced with stately 19th century architecture and verdant gardens, Beringer is not only one of the most beautiful properties in California’s wine country, but as the longest continuously operating winery in Napa, it’s also one of the most historic. The entire estate was designated a Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Friday evening attendees were greeted by dinner hosts, and CJP Members, Mike and Sandy Davis who treated the group to a wine tasting and tour of their winery and a wonderful dinner on the property. Davis Estates is the culmination of a lifelong dream of It is carved from the historic site as an estate winery focused on wines of the highest pedigree. This family-owned and operated winery is located on the Silverado Trail, just south of Calistoga. Davis Estates was born from the restoration of a 1916 barn, which was originally built on the property using local redwood, making it both functional and finely crafted. Renowned architect Howard Backen paid homage to this heritage building by selecting rich, warm wood and stone materials to construct the winery building and tasting room.

After breakfast on Saturday that included a presentation from Ken Dial on the “Waxing and Waning of Wings: Common Patterns behind Bird and Aircraft Design,” the group boarded shuttles for their journey to Cliff Lede Vineyards. The winery was established in 2002 by Canadian born Bordeaux enthusiast, Cliff Lede, following the acquisition of a sixty-acre estate in the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley.

With a focus on producing wines from estate vineyards, Lede tapped David Abreu, considered the best viticulturist in Napa Valley, to replant the vineyards. In 2005, a state of the art, 25,000 square foot winery and cave system was etched into a hillside overlooking the estate vineyards. In 2015, Cliff Lede Vineyards achieved both Napa Green Land and Napa Green Winery certification. CJP members enjoyed a lunch at Cliff’s house paired with his amazing wines.

After a break to get refreshed for the last evening in Napa, the group headed to the hangar of Merilee and Ed Turley. It was a beautiful evening with a spectacular sunset over the valley. And what an evening it was with entertainment, a wonderful dinner, excellent wines and camaraderie of our wonderful CJP friends.

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In keeping with the tradition of treating CJP members to special surprises at the Regional events, Ed arranged San Francisco aerial tour flights offered in the world’s only airworthy DC-3D, the Esther Mae, that provided spectacular views of the Napa Valley, San Francisco and of course the Golden Gate Bridge. This once in a lifetime opportunity was the gracious gift to CJP from Mr. Jon Phelps and family.

S/N 42961 is the sole airworthy example of the “D” model line produced by Douglas. She is the “youngest” surviving DC-3 and represents the last of the 10,655 examples still flying. All the D model examples were built at the Douglas Plant in Oklahoma City. When military contracts were canceled at the end of World War II, 42961 had been commissioned as a C-117A for the US Army Air Force.

Douglas completed her in April of 1945, then converted her to a DC-3D in April of 1946. She was sold initially to the Swiftlight Aircraft Corporation who operated her in a corporate role until 1966. She then moved to several other corporate operators until being acquired by the current owner in 2002. They invested heavily in the restoration and refitting of the aircraft. The work scope undertaken in 2002/2003 took an already impressive aircraft and raised its standard to a level unique among other examples of this type. She has been used to undertake many remarkable journeys in the last decade; she has regularly visited both coasts of the US, Alaska, Canada and Mexico and made multiple trips to the Caribbean.

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A big “Thank You” to Merilee and Ed Turley for hosting this special event and to Cyrus and Kelly for their great attention to all the details that made this a weekend to remember.

I hope you are all looking forward to CJP 2018 and the special events that are in store for you!