Swirl Guide Napa Valley – Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

ChuckEats owes its existence to start-ups and the entrepreneurial spirit – and now it’s re-visiting those roots. The trick was finding a way to turn the passion of ChuckEats into a viable business, without compromising the content.

I have found a way 1 – and (hopefully) it will be of great interest to most readers of this blog.2 All will be revealed soon – and some will receive an invitation to participate in the upcoming alpha version.

Meanwhile, to get my hands dirty again with product design and engineering…

I’ve developed the Swirl Guide Napa Valley iPhone app. It is a comprehensive guide to over 240 wineries that can be sliced and diced by

  • 30+ characteristics (dog friendly, architectural significance, etc)
  • 40+ varietals (pinot, rhone blends, etc)
  • all 15 AVA districts (Yountville, Calistoga, etc)
  • and 7 different major routes

Full winery details (hours, fees, etc) are included for planning purposes. Find the right batch of wineries and create an itinerary. Get on the road, go, map your route, and take notes. And finally, being 2010, there’s Twitter and Facebook integration for sharing, or bragging, with your friends.

You can buy it directly here ($3.99) by clicking on the Apple button below – or read more at the Swirl Guide web site. Some sample screen shots:

If you buy the app, and like it, it would be most appreciated if you could write a review for Apple’s iTunes Store.

If you just like the idea, please pass it along via Facebook and Twitter to your wine-loving friends – thanks!

- chuck

1 – Don’t worry – this blog will remain this blog – covering future (Paris? Tokyo?) and past (ahem, Japan, Elements, Saison, & more) meals.

2 – What do you think of the re-design? And my new friend? Apologies to Windows users as I’m still trying to figure out the right font to use that maintains readability without distorting. If you know of a good serif font that maintains its character across OS/browser/font-size tuples, please email me.

  • http://www.eatfoo.com Barzelay

    As I mentioned on Twitter, I love the Octopus. It makes your blog so much less serious and haughty. Your reviews will instantly come across as more kind, and less idiosyncratic.

    The iPhone app is a fantastic idea, and I will definitely be buying it. Two questions, though: from what resources did you compile the info about tasting room hours and fees and such, and is that information stored in a centralized database so that you can easily change it without having to push an app update to your users? In the past I’ve run into a lot of problems with winery info in all available media (especially the websites of the wineries themselves!) being out of date. I’m looking forward to this app as a possible fix.

    Finally, I ate at Saison last Friday, and we had a terrible experience. The food showed promise in its conception, but execution was abysmal, with waits of up to an hour between courses, and ideas were repeated too often. Most of the courses could have easily been Manresa rejects: outstanding produce in a large bowl, with some kind of broth poured in. I even felt compelled to review it on Yelp, just to have some outlet to talk about it, hopefully in a productive way for the kitchen. http://www.yelp.com/biz/saison-san-francisco#hrid:S-rqgjElTLJ-PKk5fJckZw.

  • chuckeats

    Barzelay – information was compiled by us for the app from many sources. W/r/t updates – excellent question – that is built into the app. When there are data updates to push, an “Update” button will appear on the homepage, and the new content will be pushed to the iphone database when you press it.

    Saison – i loved the space (easily the best in SF & one of the best in the US) and i thought the food was good, not great. It definitely shares an affinity w/ Manresa (and L’Arpege) – I enjoyed my meal but I do think it’s a bit expensive.

  • Maree

    Love the new epicurean octopus! And LOVE the swirl guide Napa App.

  • Henry

    Never lose your passion for ChuckEats as it’s one of my favorite food blogs. Does your octopus have a name?

    Timing is everything…I’m actually going up to Napa for the 3 day weekend so your Swirl Guide will come in handy for planning my winery trail and tasting notes. I’ll make sure to post a review on the iTunes store for you.

  • Ari

    Looks great, congratulations!

  • http://theindustrymademedoit.blogspot.com/ Weston

    Shocked me when I saw the all white. Looks cool, Need some more food articles I love reading yours espc those pics~

  • http://www.consumableJoy.com consumable Joy

    Chuck, awesome… I’ll check out the app. And thanks for stopping by the blog and leaving a comment! If you want to go to Commis for the tasting menu just let me know! Or any other time you want to catch a good meal. ;-)

  • Whitlock

    Loving the new look of the blog and congrats on the launch of your app. I’m even more tempted to get an iphone now, been drinking the apple kool-aid this past month. -Cheers

  • http://upescalator.wordpress.com/ JC

    The new site design is a bit more diffcult to read IMHO, since the body is now the same color as the rest of the page, and the title banner is primarily black and white, just like the body. My eyes get drawn to the octopus (who needs a name, BTW) when I want to read the title of your latest blog entry, and vice-versa.

    The site looks more casual and fun, which is a little weird given your focus on high-end restaurants. Not that high-end restaurants aren’t fun, but they’re rarely casual, and especially with your frequent trips to Japan, and their restaurants’ tendency toward austerity. I don’t mean to sound like a food snob, but basically the design doesn’t fit with the content IMHO. But perhaps that’s part of the plan, to make the site, and therefore haute cuisine in general, seem more accessible.

    I am admittedly super-picky when it comes to aesthetics and design, so maybe my opinion is too narrow. (FWIW, I don’t like mine either, but I’m not willing to pay to be able to customize it. ;) )