isn't only about reveling in the finer things, Wichita businessman and Napa Valley vintner Leslie Rudd would tell you. It's about enjoying the simple pleasures. A picnic lunch in the California sunshine with a nice bottle in the basket. Touring an estate or two, but leaving time for a nap before dinner. Walking out of the quaint Oakville Grocery with fresh bread and plum jam in your tote just as the sun sets over the valley. It's not all about sipping some of the best wines in the world. It's about breathing, relaxing, being present in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. For Rudd, that starts with an appreciation of the past.
Rudd is a Wichita native. If you don't know him by name you may know him by his work, including the founding of the gourmet grocery chain Dean & Deluca and his ownership of the alcoholic beverage wholesale distributor Standard Beverage. Those are only a few of the restless businessman's brands. In 1996, he ventured west and purchased 55 acres in Oakville, Calif., and started a winery, Rudd Oakville Estate. He's kind of a big deal around there now, too. Dedicated to preserving the area's history and tradition, Rudd is putting more than his name on the bottles in Napa Valley. He's putting his stamp on the place.
"He has a passion for preserving history, for preserving buildings, for giving things a modern twist and making sure that they'll be there for the next 100 years," said Wendi Green, who is Rudd's executive assistant. She was speaking, specifically, of a couple of Rudd's more recent ventures, the opening of Durant & Booth, a tasting salon, and the preservation of Oakville Grocery. He also owns Rudd Farms, which supplies his restaurant, Press, with local meat and produce.
If you've been to Napa Valley, you've been to Oakville Grocery. It's been there since 1881, serving the earliest settlers to the valley.
But by 2012, it had fallen into disrepair and was in danger of closing. Rudd bought the place and went a step further; he renovated it with the aiming of preserving it for generations to come. It was no easy task, as he discovered. "It was basically being held up by the shelves," Rudd said in a video about the renovation. But today it stands just as it ever did. Only better. "When you see it, you can really see Napa Valley as it was in the early part of the last century," Rudd says.
Next door, he opened Durant & Booth, a tasting salon with the look and feel of a library, in the old Victorian house where the early storekeepers lived. He named it after them.
The salon is described as a place for the "curious and adventurous wine drinker" and offers creative blends and uncommon varietals. It is also remarkable for its sense of history and whimsy, informed by the findings unearthed during the store and home renovations. Victorian curiosities line the walls and cabinets. Meanwhile, in another nod to the past, Durant & Booth's wine labels are works of art. The color schemes are inspired by the wine's tasting notes, and the water marbling technique used on the labels evokes those on the covers of books from the 18th and 19th centuries.
"It's really meant to be a place for people to come and enjoy and not be intimidated by wine," Green said of the salon. But she could also be speaking of Napa Valley itself.
At bottom, the valley is an agricultural area where the product is world-class and the some of the names on the labels sound fancy, but the people are down-to-earth. Vineyards are farms. A vacation there is an invitation to enjoy good country and good country living. You don't have to be from Kansas to see the beauty in that. But it helps.
Wine is meant for drinking and enjoying with friends, not stowed away in a closet saving for a day that may never come.
Napa Valley is plentiful — and popular. Here are a few places to go that are off the beaten path. Keep in mind, most tours are by appointment only. So call ahead. And eat a big breakfast. The best view of the valley is over eggs and coffee on the veranda at Auberge du Soleil.
Schramsberg stands out in the valley because they create sparkling wine. It's a different experience and their caves are unique.
Sinegal is new on the landscape and worth checking out for their timeless cabernet sauvignon. You might also look into signing up for their newsletter as they've been known to offer stays on the property.
Quiet and quaint, Swanson is the kind of place you go if you don't want to belly up to the bar with 10 other people beside you. It's a smaller vineyard offering a more personal experience.
Recently renovated, Robert Sinskey Vineyards is a good choice for first-timers or return visitors. And they offer food pairings.
Where the locals go for lunch. It's casual but gourmet. And fresh, of course.
Wine Country is a vast, verdant region that stretches from California to Washington. You can't go wrong at any vineyard along the way. But you can go easily. Alaska Airlines partners with several destinations to offer great deals on wine adventures, including free tastings, waived rental car drop-off fees and, maybe sweetest of all, you can fly a case of wine back home with you for free from some locations. Here's a look at where to go to take advantage of Alaska Airlines' deals.
Just show them your Alaska Airlines boarding pass and you can sample the bounty in Oregon Wine County for free at more than 300 participating tasting rooms.
You can check your first case of wine for free at Yakima, Tri-Cities/Pasco or Walla Walla airports on Alaska Airlines. The hard part will be deciding what to buy, as your boarding pass buys you free tastings at nearly 200 wineries.
There's quite a view in Sonoma, not far from the Golden Gate Bridge, along the rugged Pacific Coast and home to more than 400 wineries. It'll look just as good from the plane, where your wine always flies free when it's packed for shipping at the Santa Rosa/Sonoma County Airport.
It's precious cargo, so wrap each bottle carefully in a cloth or bubble wrap — or Wine Skins specifically designed for the task — before packing. If you're traveling with a case of wine, leave it unsealed until after it has passed through TSA inspection. They'll want to have a look inside.
Many mission trips around the world start at Eisenhower Airport. We couldn't stop everybody passing through on their way to do good work, but we were lucky enough to catch up with Wichita orthodontist Brian Smith between trips.
It takes a special kind of person, and packing, to undertake a mission trip to the Third World and other sometimes exotic but mostly sweltering places where people are in need. You need a servant's heart for starters, a strong stomach, the willingness to rough it with little more than what you can cram in your carry-on, and a good deal of spine.
Dr. Brian Smith with Wichita's Smith Orthodontics has those things, and more. In fact, he has the most important thing, a gift that he is willing to share. He's made several mission trips over the years to share that gift — beginning when he was just a kid following his dentist father around. Smith helps repair and restore the teeth of needy children and adults throughout the world.
"Being able to use God-given gifts to serve and love other people is a beautiful thing," Smith said. "Not everyone's profession delivers the same, easily visible rewards. But giving is an option for all of us."
Smith has made mission trips to offer free dental care to poverty-stricken patients in Honduras, Ethiopia, Venezuela and Russia. He's learned a few things along the way.
"Getting any sort of dental supplies through customs always has its challenges," Smith said. He packs his in a few waterproof duffel bags, as nondescript as possible, and tries to keep a low profile. In Ethiopia, he knows that government officials are always on the lookout for items to confiscate. "And the reason for confiscating might not be safety concerns," he started. "Well, they might not have good intentions."
Once in Venezuela, back when Chavez was running the country, Smith's bus was pulled over by the military and his bags were inspected. He credits his sharp-witted interpreter for saving the day. "In a situation like that, what they're really after is money," Smith learned. "Figuring out how to navigate that and not end up in a place that you don't want to be is kind of fun. It has its moments."
But mostly Smith has been met by overwhelming need from patients who come from miles around. "Experiencing people's warmth, gratitude and hospitality has been an eye-opening experience."
In Ethiopia, he treated patients at an HIV clinic, at several orphanages, and at a leper colony. In Honduras, where he's made two trips over the years, he set up shop in rural areas where the residents had never had access to dental care.
"We had people who walked from villages away," he said. Smith remembers one patient in particular, a young boy who had been severely injured in a car accident and had difficulty walking. He was also missing parts of his front teeth. "His parents brought him to our clinic and they waited all day, as we had a pretty significant line. I was able to restore his teeth, and his parents were just overjoyed."
Being able to use God-given gifts to serve and love other people is a beautiful thing. Not everyone's profession delivers the same, easily visible rewards. But giving is an option for all of us.
Smith credits his own parents, Robert and Roxie Smith, who instilled in him the importance of sharing his gift. His late father — "Dr. Bob" who established Smith Orthodontics — founded the World Impact Dental Clinic, a mobile clinic to help serve dental patients in need, both at home and abroad. The younger Smith was often at his father's knee, and once even made a mission trip with him to Moscow.
Smith has his own young family now and plans to include them in upcoming mission trips.
"My wife and I have a heart and a desire
to do this," he said. "It's not limited to overseas. There is need in our city. But we'd like to get our kiddos overseas at an early age just to experience other cultures and give them a little of what my parents did for me," he said.
of heartbreak and honky-tonks come out of Nashville; you can probably even hum a few bars. But there's more to this great American city than great country music. It's a quick flight away from Wichita and worth the trip for a long weekend or 10-day family vacation. There's that much to do.
You don't need to be a fan of the Nashville sound to enjoy the sights in Music City. Ryman Auditorium, the longtime home of the Grand Ole Opry, for instance, is the "home of American music" and is a must-see for fans of any genre. Even Elvis, "the king of rock 'n' roll," paid his respects and played the Opry. Then there's the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum where you can go as deep as you like in tracing the roots of "hillbilly music," or just take a gander at Hank Williams' western-cut suits. And you simply must get a drink at the world-famous honky-tonk Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. The music is live, there are famous faces on the wall and the barmaids have been known to dance on the tables.
The city is musical and historical, but it's not a broken record. There's a youthful energy to the place as more and more aspiring talents move in, bringing with them new ideas about walkable city life. You'll find plenty of funky coffee shops, fun and fine dining choices and a vibrant local art scene. There's a ton of timeless and free rural stuff to do, too. Tour a Civil War battlefield. See the Trail of Tears. Hike a forested park. Tennessee is as lovely as you think. Nashville is way more fun than it sounds. You should go see for yourself.
The stars align and descend upon Nashville June 8-11. Feel free to swoon as heavy-hitters take center stage during nightly concerts at Nissan Stadium and daily performances at Riverfront Stage.
Toe tapping required, boots optional. Bluegrass musicians jam under the canopy of trees on the Warner Park grounds. Fridays closest to the full moon – June 9, July 7, Aug. 4, Sept. 8 and Oct. 13.
Smaller stages, sure. But legends have been known to pick up a six-string or command a mic in the rustic clubs that stand in the shadows of the hallowed Ryman Auditorium. Sip a cold longneck and savor the scene at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, Legends Corner, The Second Fiddle, The Stage, Layla's Bluegrass Inn and Robert's Western World.
Hop on board and take in the sights with a Nashville songwriter doubling as tour guide.
Hit the trails along some of the Volunteer State's most scenic hikes. Nashville parks include Percy Warner, Edwin Warner, Radnor Lake and Shelby Bottoms.
It's not all about the ears. A feast for the eyes awaits with a menu of traveling exhibits situated in this former art deco post office turned museum.
All the charm of Small Town USA hails from a short 30-minute drive down I-65 South to Franklin. Park the car and stroll along the charming shops and restaurants to make a memorable day trip.
We recently celebrated a new arrival here at Eisenhower Airport. Alaska Airlines began nonstop service to Seattle on April 13. That's a pretty big deal, and we were in the mood to celebrate. There was cake, punch, party horns and a lot of smiling faces. Out of all the destinations we serve, Seattle is the tenth most popular. It was nice to see but no real surprise that the day's first departure to Seattle was nearly as full as the first arrival.
Alaska Airlines is a low-fare carrier and is the fifth largest airline in the U.S. Not only will you save money, but you'll save over three hours in travel time on a round trip. Once in Seattle, you can catch 19 same-day connections to cities like Portland, Anchorage, San Francisco, San Jose, Vancouver and more.
Alaska Airlines has won many awards, but I'll point out just a few: No. 1 in customer satisfaction by J.D. Power for ten years running, first in on-time performance by FlightStats, and tops in the Airline Quality Ranking this year.
The addition of Alaska Airlines service to Seattle gives ICT six airlines and 12 nonstop destinations. So, yes, we were very happy to welcome them to Wichita. You should be, too.
Victor White, director of airports, Wichita Airport Authority
|Editor||Valerie Wise, Wichita Airport Authority|
|Creative Agency||Greteman Group|
|Creative Director||Sonia Greteman|
|Art Director||Meghan Smith|
|Contributing Writer||Barry Owens|
|Photography||Durant & Booth, Oakville Grocery,Dr. Brian Smith, Visit Music City, Michael Brown|
Eisenhower Air is published for the traveling public by the Wichita Airport Authority. We welcome your comments and suggestions. Please direct them to Valerie Wise at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also encourage you to share articles through social media and email. Help us spread the word about the good things happening at our airport.
2277 Eisenhower Airport Parkway,
Wichita, KS 67209
© 2017 Wichita Airport Authority
An Enterprise Fund of the City of Wichita