Elizabeth Spencer Winery
The Kathleen Thompson Hill Kitchen Memories Collection


Published On: February 20, 2023

At the far end of the small parking area next to the Elizabeth Spencer Winery, a sandwich board with the handwritten words “Kitchen Memories Collection” signals visitors to enter. There’s been a lot of excitement at the winery since the Boisset Collection acquired it in 2021. Legendary winemaker Heidi Barrett became Consulting Winemaker alongside long‐time Winemaker Sarah Vandendriessche. And although the winery’s main tasting room is still in the 1872 renovated former post office at the front of the property, a new addition has added an unexpected but delightful twist to winetasting – the Kathleen Thompson Hill Kitchen Memories Collection.

Walk through the Kitchen Memories Collection’s door and be transported to what seems like a vintage objects museum. It is among the largest collections of historical kitchen utensils on exhibit in the United States and the first of its kind at a California winery.

Among the artifacts on display are antique toasters, including a “Toast-O-Lator” from 1948—a vertical-bread holding conveyor‐belt toaster complete with a “Spy‐O‐Lator” window to watch your toasting bread as it passes through. The eclectic collection of kitchen gadgets and paraphernalia includes antique ice cream scoops, mountains of tins splashed with brand logos from days gone by, and glass milk bottles in crates once used by milkmen to deliver milk to homes across America. It’s as if you stumbled into your great-grandma’s secret attic.

But this is just the warm-up. There’s an “I Love Lucy” display based on the chocolate factory episode and an homage to the iconic Julia Child, who brought French cuisine to the American public. All these beckon guests to browse awhile and reminisce with a glass of Elizabeth Spencer wine in hand.

“There will be a culinary element added to the tasting room, eventually,” Anna Miranda of The Boisset Collection shared. That makes perfect sense; the combination of the two (three, if you count the winery) will make this a one-of-a-kind, must-experience stop in Napa Valley.

Kathleen began acquiring culinary tools four decades ago while traveling through California with her husband. She had a $4 allowance, which only recently went up to $8. Over the years, her interest in vintage kitchen gadgets became known, and she began putting on exhibitions of Kitchen Memories. She met Jean-Charles Boisset when he toured her collection at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art in 2013. He is deeply passionate about food, wine, history, and preservation, so he was inspired to preserve and share the collection with others. Nearly a decade later, Jean-Charles bought Kitchen Memories and partnered with Kathleen to open the permanent exhibition of culinary relics at Elizabeth Spencer.

Kathleen expounds on the kitchen theme. “Cooking tools are essential to the kitchen, and the kitchen is not only where we gather to create the food that nourishes our bodies; we also feed our souls through the memories we make when we prepare a meal. Everyone has a kitchen memory.”

The exhibition of antiques is modernized with a fun interactive element—it comes alive by linking kitchen tool displays to video interviews of Kathleen describing each tool’s origin, use, and historical relevance.

She has some words of advice for touring the collection. “Enjoy some giggles and maybe even some nostalgic tears, and have a great time.”