Mother’s Day Brunch in Napa Valley 2014

Mother's DayDo you need to take Mom out for a special Mother’s Day Brunch on May 11 but aren’t sure where to go?  If so, we’ll tell you what is going on at some of the best restaurants in Napa Valley.   Many of them offer a Mother’s Day Brunch to help celebrate the special occasion and a few places that aren’t even normally open for brunch are making an exception for Mom.

Keep reading to see what some of your best choices for brunch destinations are this year, and you can follow the links below to see the full menus being offered this Mother’s Day.  We strongly suggest you make reservations, because Mom deserves that little extra piece of effort.

Buffet Brunch for Mother’s Day in Napa Valley

If you are looking for a Buffet-style Brunch to celebrate Mother’s Day 2014 in Napa Valley, three options come to mind:
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Pinot Classic: Celebrating Pinot Noir in the Russian River Valley

Pinot Classic LogoPinot Noir fans should take notice of the Pinot Classic, a multi-day celebration of Russian River Valley’s internationally acclaimed Pinot Noir taking place during the 2014 Memorial Day weekend.  The Classic’s events showcase the rugged beauty of this lovely destination and its hidden gems of world-class wines, local food and unmatched hospitality. Celebrating the Russian River Valley AVA, this exciting new event includes seminars, Passport to Pinot, and the highly anticipated Paulée Dinner.

The Russian River Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) is located in the heart of Sonoma County, just fifty-five miles north of San Francisco and is the home of wineries renowned for their Pinot Noirs such as Benovia Winery, Dutton-Goldfield, Kosta Browne Winery, Merry Edwards Winery, and Williams Selyem

Grapevines at Benovia Winery

Grapevines at Benovia Winery

So whether you’re interested in an educational seminar which includes a guided tasting, a two-day passport event where you will be welcomed at over 40 wineries as you drive throughout the region, or a special dinner paired with exquisite Pinot Noirs brought by winemakers and guests, this weekend can meet your needs (and in all three ways, if that’s the way you want to go).
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Current Favorites For Wine Tasting in the East Bay

Campovida Winery

Campovida Winery Tasting Room in Oakland

San Francisco residents and visitors should realize that there is a wonderful destination for wine tasting just past the eastern end of the Bay Bridge.  More than 20 enthusiastic, knowledgeable and skilled urban winemakers live and work in family-owned wineries in Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda and Emeryville.  Wine tasting here is easier than you may expect, as over fifteen wineries have regular tasting room hours.  Although most of the tasting rooms are open on weekends, you can also find some open during the week (and even after 5 pm) if that works better for your schedule.

So, swing on over to visit the East Bay’s Urban Wine Country and you will find dozens of wines made from varietals such as Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and even Mead (wine made from honey).  The surroundings may have more asphalt and freeway sounds than a rural wine country experience, but you’ll still find fermentation tanks, oak barrels, and skilled winemakers eager to share their products.

EBVA glass at Urban Legend Cellars

At Urban Legend Cellars during the East Bay Vintners Alliance Passport event

Last month, we were able to revisit many of these wineries ourselves during the East Bay Vintner Alliance’s annual Passport event where 21 wineries, 2 days, and hors d’oeuvres at each stop added up to a pleasant weekend in this under-appreciated region.

Keep reading and we’ll tell you which wines (and wineries) we enjoyed the most.  We encourage you to do some Urban Wine Country exploration and sampling on your own, and/or seek these wines and wineries out at your local wine stores and/or restaurants.

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bASH: basking in Appellation St. Helena’s bounty

Reconstituted Cherries on Whipped Goat Cheese Tart

Reconstituted Cherries on Whipped Goat Cheese Tart

If you don’t have anything planned yet for Saturday, April 19, you should go here now to purchase tickets for bASH, an annual food and wine event from Appellation St. Helena showcasing this northern Napa Valley community. What is the 2014 bASH?  Well, it’s basically a festive “bash” from 6:00 to 8:30 pm with over 30 premium wineries joining forces with local culinary talent.  But it’s more than just a wine tasting event: it’s a food and wine pairing competition where your votes help select the winners (and believe us, the competition is fierce).

In addition to being able to taste up to 50 wines that night, attendees can sample food offerings from local professionals as well as chef teams from the Culinary Institute of America made up of “Rising Star” students selected by the teaching staff.  The students design and develop customized dishes for the event only after tasting and analyzing the wine that they will be paired with.  This helps make the wine sipping and food tasting more fun, as you keep trying to figure out which dish (and team) deserves your vote.

Moroccan Spiced Waffle Cones

Moroccan Spiced Waffle Cones

We’ve been to a lot of food and wine events and bASH is phenomenal with respect to the pairing of food and wine and it is clear a LOT of thought goes into the chefs’ dishes. In the past, we’ve had Sliders, Tostadas, Cones, Crostatas, Ravioli, Croquettes, Lettuce Wraps, and even Breadsticks used as delivery methods for tasty dishes based on Beef, Pork, Lamb, Duck, Boar and a variety of vegetables.

Tickets for bASH are $90 each and that’s a pretty good price for what is basically a 30-course Chef’s Tasting Menu with wine pairings for each course. But you should move quickly before the tickets sell out. So, purchase your ticket(s) now – you won’t regret it.

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Top of the Valley: The Calistoga Food & Wine Event

Calistoga Food_Wine_LogoCome enhance your familiarity with northern Napa Valley wines at the Calistoga Food & Wine Event on April 11, 2014.  Solage Calistoga (755 North Silverado Trail, Calistoga, 707-226-0800) provides an elegant backdrop to showcase the world class wines from 30 of Calistoga’s premier wineries and the incredible food from Solbar Executive Chef Brandon Sharp, all accompanied by live music.  The event runs between 6 pm and 9 pm on the evening of the 11th and tickets are $75 per person.

This is a rare chance to enjoy many of Calistoga’s wines as you meet the families who built the foundation of the Calistoga AVA (established in January 2010) and the winemakers who make Calistoga unique.  The weather is expected to support the celebration in its inaugural year (as the high is usually around 70 degrees on this date).

Chef Brandon Sharp

Solbar Executive Chef Brandon Sharp

Chef Brandon Sharp, recipient of a coveted Michelin Star for five consecutive years at Solbar at Solage Calistoga, will host the program’s inaugural Grand Tasting event with savory small bites and live cooking stations featuring locally-grown seasonal ingredients. Chef Sharp’s signature dishes will include Grilled Pork Tenderloin al Pastor, Bruschetta of Homemade Ricotta and Delta Asparagus, and House-Cured Ham and Raclette en Presse.
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Spring Comes to Sonoma: The Sonoma International Film Festival

SIFF Rectangular LogoCome celebrate Spring by treating yourself to wine, food and a film festival in the heart of Northern California’s Wine Country.  Now in its 17th year, the Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF) takes place April 2-6, 2014 and will feature over 100 hand-selected films including independent features, documentaries, world cinema, shorts and a showcase of Spanish language films.  You’ll find everything on the schedule here: comedy, tragedy, drama, and even an animated macaw bird last seen in Brazil.

La Grande Bellezza posterSome of the highlights at this year’s SIFF are the opening night film Dom Hemingway (a notorious safe-cracker is back on the streets of London after 12 years in prison and tries to reconnect with his daughter), closing night film Belle (a mixed-race daughter of a British Naval officer and an African woman is taken to England to be raised as an aristocratic lady), the animated sequel Rio 2 (featuring the return of Blu and Jewel), and recent Academy Award® Winner for Best Foreign Language Film, La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty) (after a man’s 65th birthday, he looks past the nightclubs and parties in Rome to find a timeless landscape of exquisite beauty).

This 5-day festival offers unforgettable cinema, world-class cuisine from local artisans and exceptional wine from local vintners in downtown Sonoma.  The SIFF’s films are shown at intimate venues all within walking distance of Sonoma’s historic plaza and attendees from San Francisco can even take advantage of a free shuttle during the weekend.

Keep reading and we’ll tell you more about the films, parties, and passes at the 2014 Sonoma International Film Festival.
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Carmel Beckons: The Relais & Châteaux GourmetFest

Relais & Chateaux GourmetFest LogoWhen was the last time you were in the quaint coastal village of Carmel?   Given its charm, you probably don’t need another reason to travel (or return) here but Lufthansa First Class has decided to give you one anyway with GourmetFest 2014, an international food and wine festival featuring the talents of Relais & Châteaux Chefs from around the world.  It’s just a few weeks away, but luckily there are still tickets available.

Relais & Châteaux GourmetFest takes place March 27-30, 2014 and festival activities center around L’Auberge Carmel, La Playa Carmel, and the Sunset Center in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.  Attendees can choose between cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, off-site tour and lunch excursions, a wild mushroom hunt, a caviar seminar, and world-class dinners.  Celebrating the 60th anniversary of Relais & Châteaux, GourmetFest also offers an Opening Night Party, a Bordeaux-centric Dinner and a Seafood Grill with Champagne Tasting.

Justin Cogley

Justin Cogley, Grand Chef at L’Auberge Carmel

This inaugural event will feature 50 Chefs and Winemakers from around the world including Kale Anderson (Pahlmeyer), William Bradley (Addison), Véronique Drouhin (Maison Joseph Drouhin), Christopher Kostow (The Restaurant at Meadowood), Jean Michel Lorain (La Côte Saint Jacques), Patrick O’Connell (The Inn at Little Washington), Rajat Parr (Sandhi), Gary Pisoni (Pisoni Vineyards), Joachim Splichal (Patina), and Michael Tusk (Quince).

Keep reading for more information on festival activities, ticket prices, and auction items up for bid as a fundraiser for valuable non-profit organizations.
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