French Blue has an easy, breezy, summery feel that’s perfectly suited to its Napa Valley location. That’s no revelation when you know who’s behind it—the space was conceived by AD100 architect Howard J.
Backen, who has designed a number of California’s most distinctive wineries, along with his interior designer wife, Lori. Not only did they create the space, they’re also partners in the restaurant, which specializes in dishes based on local seasonal ingredients prepared by chef Philip Wang.
Backen has a reputation for designing buildings that blur the distinction between indoor and outdoor space, and French Blue is no different.
Here, tall windows can be opened to unite the dining room with a generous patio equipped with an outdoor fireplace, while woven dining chairs look like they could be carried outside at a moment’s notice.
No wonder the architect doesn’t want to be far away—his firm, Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects, has moved its St. Helena office into an adjoining building.