The Style Files: Alexis Swanson Traina

alexis headshot

La Dolce Vita is more than just the name of my blog, it is an active pursuit in my daily life. To me, “la dolce vita”, or the sweet life means an appreciation for life’s simple pleasures along with a love and admiration of stylish places and inspiring people. Anyone with an appreciation for living la dolce vita is probably well-acquainted with the Swanson family of Swanson Vineyards. Swanson Vineyards is a personal favorite and is a go-to for me every time I am in Napa. The setting is chic, charming, and whimsical and their wines are outstanding. Alexis Swanson Traina, Creative Director for her family’s eponymous vineyard and the cheeky label she conceptualized, Modern House Wines is the mastermind behind all of the charming nuances which have gone into creating two such special and unique brands.

swanson sip shoppe {The Charming Sip Shoppe at Swanson Vineyards}

We recently had a conversation to discuss how Alexis wound up working for the family business, the people who most inspire her, and what style means to her. The thing I most admire about her is that she is part of an incredibly chic and savvy family, lives an enviable lifestyle, has a rewarding and creative career, yet she is so sweet and has such a down-to-earth sensibility. There is no flash to Alexis, only substance and a heart of gold. Alexis is also the author of Alexis’ Napa a chic blog with whimsical style focusing on the chicest things Napa has to offer. It is a must-read if you’re heading to Napa Valley anytime soon.


Paloma Contreras: As Creative Director of your family’s vineyard, Swanson Vineyards, you’ve been able to create a chic, whimsical, and hip brand unlike anything else I’ve ever seen in Napa Valley. Did you always know that you would eventually work for the family business?

Alexis Swanson Traina: I graduated from college and immediately started working with my dad—and just stayed put. I didn’t go to UC Davis or arrive with any particularly valuable set of skills. I was a very good observer/listener/storyteller. I was fascinated by culture/rituals/ceremonies and the wine industry allowed me to explore and illuminate all of these. I was so lucky my Dad encouraged me to pursue all of my instincts.

swanson vineyards

PC: What do you love most about your role with Swanson Vineyards and Modern House Wines?

AST: I love the creative process and finding the freedom to express myself in a way that is relevant and connects emotionally with others.

modern house wines

{As of last fall, Modern House Wines are now available exclusively at Target for under $13. Alexis created this collection of wines with the wine lover in mind, seeking to capture a cheeky spirit while providing a good, affordable wine.}

PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?

AST: I turn to music, magazines, Instagram, my sisters, my husband—and always keep my ear to the ground.

Snip20140519_54 {A Peek into Alexis’ Chic Living Room via Instagram}

PC: Who are your personal style icons?

AST: My sisters, mother, mother in law, sisters in law, and friends.

Snip20140519_53 {The Beautiful Swanson Sisters via Alexis’ Instagram. This is one seriously talented and gorgeous clan! Alexis is Creative Director for Swanson Vineyards and Modern House Wines, Veronica Swanson Beard is one half of the duo behind the chic fashion label, Veronica Beard (her sister and law and partner is also named Veronica Beard), and Claiborne Swanson Frank, the talented portrait photographer, stylist, and author. }

PC: What is your guilty pleasure?

AST: Hot Glazed Donuts

glazed donuts

PC: Who or what has been your greatest professional influence?

AST:  Those immediately around me—all of whom are pushing themselves daily to create better/differently.

Snip20140519_55 {Beautiful Vineyards in Napa back in March when the Mustard was in Full Bloom}

PC: What is your idea of living “la dolce vita”?

AST: Every morning I wake up to the squeaky voices of our children rooting in bed with us. It is a moment I will cherish forever and won’t last long.




Go-To Outfit: Anything with army green

Style Mantra: Confidence= Sexy

Scent: Fracas

Piece of Jewelry: A ring I wear as my wedding ring given to me by my husband that has a sweet expression we share together.

Color: Raspberry

Flower: Gardenia

Design Element: branches/specimen botanicals

Era: 70s


Hostess Gift: Modern House Wines

Meal: NY Steak at Ruth’s Chris

Drink: Cappuccino

Way to Unwind: With a glass of Swanson wine

Weekend Destination: West Marin

Hotel: Villa Feltrinelli

City: Paris

Museum: The Rodin Museum in Paris

Artist: Photographer, William Eggleston

Song that Always Puts Me in a Good Mood: “Under Pressure”

Actor: Elizabeth Taylor—love her shamelessness!

Risk Worth Taking: LOVE

Greatest Extravagance: Good hair color

Don’t you just love Alexis’ style and sensibility? I adore her! For a tour of her stunning San Francisco home, check out this feature in ELLE DECOR.


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Tell Me What You Think! leave a comment...

  1. I have seen her at the SF opera house.She is so like the queen to be to me CATHERINE.Simple elegant BEAUTY.She does not dress or accessorize like the rest of the social clan of the city.For that reason she stands out to me.I have never had the chance to speak with her but I totally believe what you said here.She seems a real Beauty inside and out!
    Now off to read her blog!

  2. I love Swanson! It’s my favorite winery in Napa, so it was fun to learn more about Alexis.

  3. Wow! That is one beautiful and talented family. I’m so glad to get to know a little more about Alexis!

  4. I have the pleasure of knowing Alexis’ aunt, her mother’s sister, here in New Orleans. The two sisters grew up here. I can say that everyone I have met in the family are lovely, energetic, interesting, bright, and very, very nice. All artistic and creative in their own special ways. Thank you for this feature on Alexis. Great fun to learn more about a special woman from a family of very special women.