Molly Chappellet and Chappellet Vineyard

When my friend Sharon first told me that her friend Molly Chappellet was the original Martha Stewart, I was more than a little skeptical. Sure, that’s easy to say, but really? I thought. Yet when Sharon told me she was hosting a tea at the Casa del Herrero to honor Molly and her new book, LongHouse, I knew I had to meet her.

I’m so glad I did (and I feel like kind of a jerk about the Martha comment) because Molly is honestly one of the most amazing, impressive, wonderfully talented women I have ever met.  She is smart, organic in style, and humble. If you ask her what she does, she’ll answer, “I’m a farmer and a wife.” If you ask me, she’s a total inspiration.

A Molly-inspired photo I snapped of the garden at the Casa

On top of running Chappelet Vineyards with her husband, Molly has raised six children, published several books, and managed to throw some spectacular events including James Beard’s birthday party and some seriously massive wine dinners.  Yet, with all this, she manages to be a pioneer for down-to-earth, west-coast, elegant style.  In her 1991 book, A Vineyard Garden, she writes, “It’s always nice when you can provoke a laugh or at least a smile from your guests.” This is a philosophy I share as well: have fun, enjoy your time, and above all else, don’t take yourself too seriously.  No joke, if I were a teen (and thank God I’m not), Molly Chappellet would be my teen idol.  She’s seriously that cool. I can’t say it enough, I find myself falling in love with just about everything she’s done.

At the Casa, she talked about LongHouse. The book is a photo journey through Jack Lenor Larson’s unique Long Island property. If you read this book (and I really recommend it), not only will you get a glimpse at an aesthetically incredible house, striking sculptural garden, and artist’s studio, but you’ll also see Molly’s dedication to beauty and finding a fresh perspective in every single photo.  This is particularly impressive to me because she admitted to having never taken a photography class.  Molly ends her introduction to LongHouse with these words: “For Jack, LongHouse gives him a canvas big enough for even his imagination…for me, LongHouse is not only a giant visual tapestry, but a tapestry of life.”

I actually had the opportunity to visit Chappellet Vineyard for a friend’s birthday party a few weeks ago.  The property is breathtaking, in an awe-inspiring location, and kept with such care.

I mean, seriously? I swear this came from my camera and these people aren’t actors.