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Nowruz with Darioush

The moment when grapevine buds break open is a welcome sign of spring in Napa Valley. But for Darioush Khaledi, his wife Shahpar and other natives of Iran, the most exciting part of springtime is Nowruz. Celebrated on March 20 on the Persian calendar, this ancient tradition rooted in Zoroastrian faith celebrates the return of longer days as the triumph of good over evil. “It means joy and celebrating the season with family and friends,” says Shahpar Khaledi.

The celebration is full of symbolism, and the Khaledis adorn their Darioush winery and home with flowers, colors and foods that each carry a special meaning. Eggs symbolize fertility and rebirth; apples signify health and beauty. Purple hyacinth means the revival of nature, while green things like wheatgrass symbolize purity and good fortune.

For her recent Nowruz dinner, Shahpar worked with Meraki Flowers in Napa to design modern floral displays of squares of wheatgrass with a burst of hyacinth in the center. On the dinner table, the traditional Nowruz dishes are whitefish adorned with charred lemon and dill and served with vegetable-infused green Basmati rice, plus a noodle and rice dish called reshteh polo. Although Darioush makes an aromatic Sauvignon Blanc, it wouldn’t be Nowruz without a bottle of his Shiraz or Darius II Cabernet Sauvignon. “In Iran, most of the wines are red wines. I remember that from my childhood,” says Darioush. “We drink red wine with all kinds of food.”