Monday, July 1, 2013

7/1-Michael Horn & Nicole Nielsen visit with Bart O'Brien, Norm Yost and Damon Miele

Bart O'Brien - O'Brien Estate Napa Valley
Barb and Bart got married the year after they met, had 2 children (Emily and Mason), and Bart pursued a career starting various companies. He told Barb he was an entrepreneur when they met. Her response was "I am going to have to marry you because all my sisters are married to Irish entrepreneurs". Barb had signed up for quite an adventure. They bought a house together in Piedmont when she became pregnant with Emily, then the house was sold after Emily was born to finance a temporary Halloween theme park venture called Scaregrounds.

After Scaregrounds failed, Bart went back to high tech and joined Bill Paseman to found Calico Commerce, a software company to configure complex products such as computers for the new sales channel called the internet. After seven long years of living in rental property that was constantly being sold from underneath them, Bart's first software startup, RSA Data Security, was acquired by Security Dynamics for $250 million. Bart had sold most of the stock to finance their wedding, honeymoon, and the purchase of their first house, but fortunately just enough stock was left to purchase their second house in Los Altos Hills in 1997. Then Calico Commerce went public in 1999 at a valuation of $1.8 billion (based on closing price day of IPO). Bart only sold a small portion of his stock before the high tech crash of 2000 and subsequent failure of Calico, but this was enough for a down payment to purchase the Costello Vineyard to make Barb's "dream of owning land in Napa Valley" come true. On the property are 33 acres of vineyards, a bonded winery, and their home. When you visit, you will be treated to an intimate experience in their backyard sitting at picnic tables under oak trees.  Make sure you see the Romantic Portfolio and Romantic Trio wine gift sets. Perfect for unique wedding gifts, they tell a wonderful story of romance through wine.
Bart and Barb live on the estate with their two children, Emily (21) who is attending Napa College, their son Mason (19) who is attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and their five cats Motor, Hobbes, ChicharrĂ³n, Malcolm XX, and Gemini. Sasha, our Hungarian Viszhla, who many people met at the winery, recently passed away at the age of 12 from cancer. Sasha, who modeled for the Wine Dogs of Napa Valley book, was the only professional model in the O'Brien family even though everyone agreed she looked like a dog.

Fun Event Highlights:
World of Pinot Noir – of course!
Savor the Central Coast at Hearst Castle
Tons of Hearst corporation/family events at Hearst Castle surrounding properties
Republican National Convention New York City
Pennsylvania Governor Rendell Inauguration
Dick Cheney’s second Inauguration – John Popper from Blues Traveler open the ceremony with a searing harmonica rendition of the Star Spangled Banner
Backstage Catering
-        N’SYNC (definitely the hottest girls on tour were for these guys)
-        Madonna, Cher, Allman Brothers, Black Crowes, Oasis, Bon Jovi, Dylan, Brittany Spears, Rolling Stones etc…Guns n’ Roses with Axl Rose not showing up and the First Union Center in Philly got trashed
-        I have been asked to find just about everything for rock stars, some appropriate and others…well, appropriate if you are a rock star…I guess!

I would put together small dinner parties for Henry Finder the second or assistant editor to David Remnick at the New Yorker magazine – one evening the Pulitzer prize winning writer Toni Morrison attended as a guest. It was an honor to meet her in such an intimate setting I am originally from New Jersey, and grew up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. I worked at a Pennsylvania winery along the Delaware river where they grew cab, pinot noir, and Riesling. Every so often when the stars aligned they would make some great wines. The owners of the winery were from Bratislava, Czechoslovakia of all places.  I moved to California 6 years ago after finishing a masters degree in Mass Communication in Pittsburgh, PA. I arrived in Atascadero and realized not all of California is cosmopolitan. In fact Atascadero (and I do love it up there) was more backwoods than the middle of Pennsylvania. The Central Coast won my heart over and I decided to stay in the area after a stint in the Bay Area teaching 7th grade English for a couple of years.

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