Napa National Study Club with Ken Runkle

We heard Paragon is going back to Napa this fall. 

Ken: We sure are. When we learned that we couldn’t go to Budapest, Hungary for a couple of years because of COVID travel restrictions and then the war in Ukraine –we will make that trip in the future – we decided that we should stay close for a couple of years. In fact, when we first reached out to Napa, the hotels and meeting spaces would make room for us, but the wineries would not.

Now we are finally going back!

How many times has Paragon been to Napa and Sonoma so far? 

Ken: This will be our fourth trip to the region. The first time we went out there we stayed in Sonoma, and we did most of our tours in the Sonoma Valley. Of course, we fell in love with the Sonoma Plaza in the middle of Sonoma. We truly have fond memories of that trip.

Then we went to Napa for two different trips. We made the Napa Westin our home hotel and used it as our jumping off spot for any tours. Over the last three trips, we have had some great speakers, great discussion points and of course, some outstanding lunches and tours of wineries.

Do any of the tours stand out more than the others?

Ken: All the lunches and tours have always been amazing. I don’t think we ever had a lunch at a winery or a winery tour that we thought was a bad one. I think Kay and I each have different favorites. Kay’s favorite tour from last Napa’s trip was the lunch at the Kelham Vineyard.

And the speakers? 

Ken: We have brought in different speakers from around the United States and Paragon speakers. In addition, we always have the traditional discussions in the meetings.

Can you give us an idea of a typical schedule? 

Ken: Breakfast will be loosely at 7:00 AM and then the meeting from 8:00 AM – 12:00 Noon. We usually start out with introductions and pearls the first one or two days. We often take a day off in the middle of the week.

This year our discussion topics will be focused on increased net profitability, financial planning and financial independence.

Of all the years, are there any memories that stand out more than others?

Ken: The first year we went out there, I learned the difference between the Sonoma Valley and Napa Valley. Sonoma Valley has a very laid-back vibe while Napa Valley has more of a “dress up” vibe. One is not better than the other. They are just different. I like to visit antique bookstores whenever I visit a town. I made an appointment to visit one of the bookstores in the Napa/Sonoma Valley region I arrived to find a very friendly owner and got some great “old” books from his bookstore. I will always remember that day.

On another occasion, we had Dr. Roger Sanger, a retired pediatric dentist from Monterey, California, speak for us on organization and profitability.  Roger was one of our steady speakers when we first started Paragon – that was 37 years ago! – so it was nice to have him and Kathy come share with the Paragon client base again.

A few years back, Kay and I decided to really go for it. One of the days, we got up very early for the hot air balloon tour.
The hot air balloon tour took off at 6:00 AM. We toured things in the Valley and then we went to breakfast together
as a group. We went back to our hotel for a few minutes and then we went on a winery tour. The tour was amazing, the wine was amazing, and the lunch was delightful. After that, we went back to our hotel for an hour or so nap, and we went to dinner with several friends.

Any final thoughts for our readers? 

Ken: I hope that you will join us the first full week of September beginning with Labor Day weekend in Napa. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

Go for it!