Wine Country Destination: Lake County

Clear Lake in Lake County with VineyardsHave you been wine tasting in Lake County recently?  The first vineyards here were planted back in the 1870’s and today the County has over 30 wineries.  Many of the area’s winegrowers are generational farmers whose families grew other crops (such as pears and walnuts) before planting vineyards.  We highly recommend this area to others as a wine country travel destination, especially those who enjoy wines crafted from mountain fruit (most of the vineyards here are planted at elevations above 1,500 feet, with some up to 7,000 feet).

Lake County may be most recognized for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc, but we also find outstanding wines here made from Chardonnay, Sangiovese, Malbec, Petite Sirah and Zinfandel grapes.  We have also fallen in love with well-crafted blends from the area such as Chacewater Winery’s Highlander Blend, Rosa d’Oro’s Traigrammaton and Six Sigma Ranch’s Mountain Cuvee.

Lake County Wine Adventure

Lake County Wine Adventure

We recently attended the local wineries’ Lake County Wine Adventure event and we’ll tell you about our favorite wines from that experience.  We strongly suggest you seek out these wines yourself at your local wine store, restaurant, or at the winery itself because this is really a lovely place to visit (and it’s only two hours by car from either the Bay Area or the Sacramento Valley).

After all, if you’re going to go wine tasting this summer, why not do it in a relaxed and breathtaking environment next to Clear Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake in California?  Keep reading and we’ll also tell you about other activities you can do in the area between sips, and some key events coming up this summer that may help you create a fun and diverse Lake County trip itinerary.
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Bottle Shock, Uncorked: Sing Out, Chateau Montelena!

Bottle Shock: The MusicalLooking for a new experience in Napa Valley?  How about a sneak peek into the creation of a world premiere musical opening on stage later this year in San Francisco?  And, what if we told you the show in development was Bottle Shock: The Musical, a musical adaptation of the 2008 movie about the famous “Judgment of Paris” competition?  Yes, that one: the movie starring Alan Rickman, Bill Pullman and Chris Pine about the Paris wine tasting of 1976 where Napa Valley wines outshone French wines, and the event’s impact on winemakers and grapegrowers in the Valley.

Chateau Montelena

Chateau Montelena

On June 18, the Napa Valley Opera House (1030 Main Street, Napa) will be the setting for Bottle Shock, Uncorked, a gala evening which starts with wine tastings from the wineries involved in the “Judgment of Paris”: Chateau Montelena and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars.  Other wineries participating in the gala tasting will include Gustavo Wine, Avinodos and Madonna Estate.  After you’ve had the chance to appreciate these lovely wines, you can savor a stellar three-course meal overseen by Polly Lappetito (Executive Chef of Ciccio in Yountville).

After the Napa Valley wine and cuisine, the Bottle Shock, Uncorked gala includes a concert featuring Broadway star Carrie Manolakos and acclaimed local actress Taylor Bartollucci introducing you to some of the music and lyrics being written for the show.  Drawing on the rock-and-roll sound of the Bay Area in the mid 1970’s, the musical’s original score is inspired by legendary rockers such as Santana, The Doobie Brothers, The Allman Brothers and Janis Joplin.
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TOHM Turns Legal: The 2016 Taste of Howell Mountain

Howell Mountain "Above The Fog"The delightful Taste of Howell Mountain, a Wine Tasting and Auction event in upper Napa Valley, turns 21 this year on Saturday, June 18th. This is one party you should definitely consider RSVPing for: the afternoon’s festivities offer fabulous wines from the Howell Mountain appellation along with gourmet food pairings, live entertainment, and both Silent and Live Auctions at Charles Krug Winery (2800 Main Street, St. Helena).  We’re talking about wineries such as Aloft Wine, CADE Estate, La Jota Vineyard Co., Robert Craig Winery and Rudius Wines all pouring tastes in one location.

At the 2016 Taste of Howell Mountain, between 12:00 and 3:00 you’ll enjoy a Walk-Around Wine Tasting, Food Pairings, Prizes, a Silent Auction and Live Music from The Hummingbirdz.  Then, from 3:00 to 5:00 you can sit with friends (and/or newly discovered friends) and enjoy even more Howell Mountain wine and Strawberry Shortcake as you watch (and hopefully participate in) an active and festive Live Auction.

Robert Craig Winery

Robert Craig Winery

Howell Mountain is well known for its incredible Cabernet Sauvignon and you’ll have many wines to enjoy during the afternoon crafted from that varietal.  But, there’s more to Howell Mountain than just Cabernet and at last year’s event we particularly enjoyed a Red Cap Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, Robert Craig Winery La Fleur (Rosé of Zinfandel), O’Shaughnessy Estate Winery Merlot, Howell Mountain Vineyards Petit Verdot and Arkenstone Vineyards Syrah as well. Tickets for this year’s event are $150 per person and proceeds from the event will help benefit the Howell Mountain Education Foundation. You can also purchase an entire table for 10 if you are so inclined. But, no matter how many tickets you need please move quickly because this event will definitely sell out.
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Anderson Valley: Outstanding Pinot Noirs (and more)

Anderson ValleyCradled in the rolling hills of western Mendocino County, Anderson Valley is one of the smallest and coldest winegrowing regions in California.  It is also the source of excellent Pinot Noirs, crafted from grapes grown here by a talented group of wineries and winegrowers. We had the pleasure of attending the recent Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival and if you keep reading we’ll let you know what some of our favorite Anderson Valley Pinot Noirs are right now. We’ll also tell you about other wines and food purveyors in the area we recommend.

If you are heading this direction for a wine tasting excursion, congratulations!  You’ve selected a delightful destination. Over half of the vineyard plantings in Anderson Valley are Pinot Noir grapes but crisp, aromatic white grapes such as Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Pinot Gris also excel here (and don’t miss out on the delightful sparkling wines made here too).

Piaci Pub & Pizzeria

Piaci Pub & Pizzeria

Did you attend the 2016 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival? The Festival activities ranged from a Technical Conference to Winery Open Houses to a Grand Tasting in the middle of the vineyards at Goldeneye. Over 55 wineries at the Grand Tasting poured wines made from grapes grown in this beautiful appellation as food purveyors offered small bites ranging from Salads to Pizzas to Duck Mole Tostadas.

Regardless of your future personal plans, we suggest Pinot Noir fans seek out the wines below at your local restaurant or wine store, or maybe via some online shopping.
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Stags Leap District: Time to Visit

Stags Leap District, as seen from Taylor Family Vineyards

Stags Leap District, at Taylor Family Vineyards

Have you been to Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District recently? A few weeks ago, we had the pleasure of attending the region’s Vineyard to Vintner event, a weekend of fun opportunities to taste the appellation’s world-class wines while mingling with the winery owners and winemakers in their historic wineries (which in some cases meant we were actually visiting their homes).

Keep reading and we’ll let you know our favorite experiences of the weekend, and which wines (and wineries) we highly encourage you to taste (and visit). We found delicious Stags Leap wines made from Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Malbec and Cabernet Franc grapes.  Of course, we also found some awesome Cabernets.

Known worldwide for its Cabernet Sauvignon, the Stags Leap District produces wines critically acclaimed for their lush fruit and soft tannins with complex layers of flavor.  The appellation is bounded on the east by the towering Stags Leap Palisades, to the west by gently rolling hills and the Napa River, to the north by the Yountville Cross Road, and to the south by low-lying flatlands.

Clos Du Val Open House

Clos Du Val Open House Offerings

The 2016 Vineyard to Vintner offered attendees Winemaker Dinners, Winery Open Houses, and then a Closing Brunch which also offered a sneak peek of the upcoming vintage release of the region’s Appellation Collection.  If you weren’t one of this year’s happy participants, we encourage you to read the below for a detailed insight as to why you should attend next year.
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Mothers Day Brunch in Napa Valley 2016

 

Happy Mother's DayAre you looking to take Mom out for a special Mother’s Day Brunch in Napa Valley this year but aren’t sure where to go?  If so, we’ll tell you what’s going on at some of the best restaurants in Napa Valley on May 8 to help you make a decision (because wow, you’ve got over 30 places to consider). Whether you are looking for a family-style meal, an all-you-can-eat buffet, or if you just prefer to order à la carte, there’s a Mother’s Day Brunch option that’s bound to be perfect.

Many Napa Valley restaurants have wonderful menu options for Sunday Brunch throughout the year, while others are creating a special Mother’s Day Brunch for next weekend.  If you’re looking for typical brunch options such as fruit, pancakes, omelets, biscuits and gravy, corned beef hash, or even chicken and waffles, you’re going to find it.

Breakfast Pizza at Kitchen Door

Breakfast Pizza at Kitchen Door

But, since this is Napa Valley, your menu choices will also include Beignets with Bourbon Caramel Sauce, Bartlett Pear and Strawberry Salad, Green Apple and Wild Berry Pancakes, Croque Monsieur (or Madame), Breakfast Pizza with Chili Sauce and Scrambled Eggs, Petrale Sole Tacos, Achiote Grilled Chicken Sandwich and Cabernet Braised Short Ribs.

Keep reading to learn about your brunch choices this year, and we’re offering links to see the full menus.  We strongly suggest you move quickly to make any reservations, because Mom deserves that little extra piece of effort.

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2016 Chardonnay Symposium: An International Gathering on California’s Central Coast

The Chardonnay Symposium LogoAre you a fan of Chardonnay?   Is your Mom?  Is the mother of your children?  Well, whether you’re looking for a spring getaway for yourself and loved ones, or a unique Mother’s Day gift, you should know that The 2016 International Chardonnay Symposium is heading to Pismo Beach and Avila Beach between May 12 and May 14 with plenty of events open to the public.  Symposium options include guided tasting seminars, a Sparkling Wine and Oysters Gala, Winemaker Dinners and a Chardonnay-focused Grand Tasting featuring over 80 wineries.

Bodega Catena Zapata

Bodega Catena Zapata

The International Chardonnay Symposium’s primary purpose is to educate and inform top industry professionals (as well as devoted consumers) about current events and trends in Chardonnay production and culture around the world.  If you come, you’ll be able to explore and enjoy wines from top producers such as Bodega Catena Zapata, Fog Crest Vineyard, LIOCO Wine, Maison Louis Latour, Mercer EstatesRamey Wine Cellars and Wente Vineyards.

You’ll also be able to enjoy wines from winners of the Sommelier Challenge at last year’s Chardonnay Symposium when a panel of 11 world-class sommeliers handed out these accolades:

Presqu'ile WInery

Presqu’ile WInery

Keep reading and we’ll review some highlights of the 2016 International Chardonnay Symposium. When you are ready to buy tickets, please go here.

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