Blackjack! 21 Downtown Napa Happy Hour Options

"El Diablo" at Charlie Palmer Steak, a downtown Napa Happy Hour option

“El Diablo” at Charlie Palmer Steak

Are you looking for a good Downtown Napa Happy Hour but aren’t sure where to go?  Well, brace yourself, because downtown Napa has 21 Happy Hour destinations to choose from. All of these are on the western side of the Napa River, between Caymus Street and 5th Street. You may even want to gather some friends and start a Progressive Happy Hour one night. Your group can easily enjoy Pizza, Nachos, and/or Fried Calamari at reduced prices along with great drink discounts. Or, since this is Napa Valley you will also find Dolmas, Lobster Corn Dogs, Chicken Empanadas and Smoked Duck Sliders on those Happy Hour menus.

Guinness at Bounty Hunter, downtown Napa Happy Hour special

Guinness at Bounty Hunter

Looking for drink specials?  Depending on what you’re thirsty for, you’ll find downtown Napa Happy Hour prices starting at $3 for Beer, with discounts on everything from Napa Smith Pilsner (Napa Valley Bistro) to Guinness (Bounty Hunter) to Craft Beers brewed by the house (Napa Palisades Saloon). Prices for selected glasses of Wine start at $5 (Ca’ Momi Osteria), or you can swing by Velo Pizzeria on Tuesdays when all bottles are 40% off.

If you’re in a cocktail mood, Well Drinks start at $5 at Ristorante Alegria or you can explore the standards with a Martini from Torc ($7), a Margarita from Don Perico ($4.50) or a Moscow Mule at either Mercantile Social or Mercantile Terrace at the Andaz Hotel ($7 on Mondays). Other options include Pisco Sours at Napkins ($7), Harvest Punch at Basalt ($9), or an “El Diablo” with Tequila, Mezcal, Crème de Cassis, Ginger, Lime and Spicy Bitters at Charlie Palmer Steak ($7).

Carnitas Tacos at Gran/Eléctrica, a downtown Napa Happy Hour option

Carnitas Tacos at Gran/Eléctrica

To go with your drink, you may want to start with Buffalo Wings at Downtown Joe’s ($8), Carnitas Tacos at Gran/Eléctrica ($7) or Chili and Cheddar Fries at Norman Rose Tavern ($9). Then you can move on to other downtown Napa Happy Hour Appetizers such as Tempura Green Beans at Eiko’s ($5), Macaroni and Cheese at Grace’s Table ($5), Turkish Meatballs at Tarla Mediterranean Grill ($9), Mushroom Flatbread at Carpe Diem ($9) or Short Rib Sliders with Horseradish Cream at Celadon ($10).
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2018 Taste of Howell Mountain: 23rd Time’s The Charm

View from Robert Craig Winery, a 2018 Taste of Howell Mountain participant

View from Robert Craig Winery on Howell Mountain

Celebrate the end of Spring at the 2018 Taste of Howell Mountain, a Wine Tasting and Auction event in upper Napa Valley on Saturday, June 16th. This is one party you should definitely RSVP for because the festivities include premium wines from the Howell Mountain appellation along with delicious food, live entertainment, and both Silent and Live Auctions. We’re talking about wineries such as Arkenstone Vineyards, Black Sears, Davis Estates, Dunn Vineyards, Lamborn Family Vineyards and Robert Craig Winery, all pouring tastes alongside the host winery Charles Krug Winery (2800 Main Street, St. Helena). 

Taco Addiction, a food provider at 2018 Taste of Howell Mountain

Taco Addiction

Between noon and 3 pm at the 2018 Taste of Howell Mountain you’ll enjoy a Walk-Around Wine Tasting, Food Pairings, Prizes, a Silent Auction and Live Music from The Hummingbirdz. Something new for 2018 is that the culinary treats will be courtesy of popular local food trucks Ring of Fire, Taco Addiction and Crossroad Chicken.  Then, from 3 pm to 5 pm you can sit and enjoy even more Howell Mountain wine as you watch (and hopefully participate in) an active and festive Live Auction.

Rosé of Peloursin from Retro Cellars , a 2018 Taste of Howell Mountain participant

Rosé of Peloursin from Retro Cellars

Howell Mountain is well known for its incredible Cabernet Sauvignon and you’ll find many wines crafted from that varietal. But, there’s more to Howell Mountain than just Cabernet and in prior years we’ve particularly enjoyed the Arkenstone Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, Robert Craig Winery Merlot, Bravante Vineyards Cabernet Franc, Black Sears Zinfandel and Retro Cellars Petite Sirah. We’ve also been big fans of Rosés from KrisTodd Vineyards, Lamborn Family Vineyards, Retro Cellars and Robert Craig Winery.

Tickets for the 2018 Taste of Howell Mountain are $150 per person or $1750 for a table for ten. This is the 23rd annual event and once again this year’s proceeds will help benefit the Howell Mountain Education Foundation. Last year, the Howell Mountain Vintners and Growers Association (HMVGA) was able to donate over $61,000 to the Foundation. But, you should move quickly because this event will definitely sell out so just click here.
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A Rosé With Purpose: Helping Wine Country Wildfire Recovery

If you’re looking for an easy way to help the ongoing wine country wildfire recovery in Napa County, Sonoma County, Ventura County and Santa Barbara County, we have the perfect opportunity for you to consider: the 2017 Hi No Tori Rosé.

2017 Hi No Tori Rosé

2017 Hi No Tori Rosé

Kanpai Wines has just released their first wine: the 2017 Hi No Tori Rosé. It is a Rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon crafted by famed winemaker Steve Matthiasson from grapes grown on Meadowbrook Farm in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley. We recently had the opportunity to taste the wine ourselves and found it to be delicious! The wine has strawberry, ripe cherries, juicy watermelon and a slightly tart plum finish on the palate, all structured within vibrant acidity, and bright mixed red berries and a hint of mint on the nose. This is a Rosé made in the Provencal style with an abv (alcohol by volume) of just 12.5%.  Only 600 cases were produced and the wine retails for $25 per bottle.  Given its structure, the Hi No Tori Rosé will pair with a variety of foods – we personally enjoyed it with a Wild Fennel Braised Pork Shoulder. We recommend that you don’t serve this wine too cold as its beautiful aromatics and nuances of flavor will be lost. So, please take this wine out of your wine cooler or refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving.
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V2V Turns XX: 2018 Vineyard to Vintner Weekend

Steltzner 2014 SLD Cabernet SauvignonCabernet Sauvignon fans take heed because the 2018 Vineyard to Vintner (also known as V2V), Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District’s annual celebration, is all set for the last weekend in April.  This is the 20th year for this very popular Food and Wine Weekend and the tickets are selling fast.  Saturday of that weekend offers a passport-style Open House event at wineries throughout the district and on Sunday the wineries all gather at Regusci Winery for a Farm-to-Table lunch which includes a sneak preview of the upcoming 2015 vintage release.

On April 28, from 10 am to 4 pm on April 28, you can enjoy Open House celebrations at any of sixteen Stags Leap District wineries including historic properties such as Chimney Rock WineryClos Du ValPine Ridge VineyardsShafer VineyardsSilverado Vineyards and Stags’ Leap Winery.  This is also a rare chance to visit wineries only open to the public once a year (during V2V) such as Ilsley Vineyards, Lindstrom Wines and Malk Family Vineyards.

Excellent Chardonnay, Rosé and Sauvignon Blanc from Stags Leap District

Excellent Chardonnay, Rosé and Sauvignon Blanc from Stags Leap District

The internationally famous Stags Leap District produces Cabernet Sauvignon wines critically acclaimed for their lush fruit and soft tannins with complex layers of flavor. Although over 80% of the grapevines here are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, we have found plenty of other stellar wines in the area.  Some of our favorites at prior Vineyard to Vintner (v2v) events were the Taylor Family Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, Pine Ridge Vineyards Le Petit Clos Chardonnay, Regusci Winery Mary’s Cuvée Chardonnay, Malk Family Vineyards Rosé of Pinot Noir,  Chimney Rock Winery Cabernet Franc, Clos Du Val Cabernet Franc, Stags’ Leap Winery Twelve Falls Red Wine Blend and Steltzner Vineyards Malbec.

The 2018 Vineyard to Vintner District-wide event will provide everyone a chance to explore winery caves, savor special barrel tastings, and enjoy food and wine pairings not available to the general public.  Keep reading and we’ll give you some more details about this fun and enjoyable weekend.

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bASH 2018: Food and Wine Compete Again

Deconstructed Wellington

Deconstructed Wellington

If you’re a fan of awesome wine and food pairings then you should clear your calendar for this year’s bASH 2018, coming to St. Helena on April 7 between 6 pm and 8:30 pm. This is much more than just a wine tasting event: it’s an annual showcase for this northern Napa Valley community in which over 30 premium wineries that are part of the Appellation St Helena organization join forces with local culinary talent to compete for your favor. That’s right: if you attend the bASH 2018 event, you get to eat, drink AND judge.

Yewell Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Yewell Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

bASH 2018 will feature tastes of wines from wineries such as Anomaly Vineyards, Ballentine Vineyards, Benessere Vineyards, Calafia CellarsDel Dotto Vineyards, Monticello VineyardsParry Cellars, Pellet Estate, St. Helena Winery, Stanton Vineyards, Taplin Cellars and Titus Vineyards served alongside delicious food offerings from participants such as Acacia House, Goose & Gander, Market and PRESS.

However, most of the food pairings at bASH 2018 will actually come from “Rising Star” students at the Culinary Institute of America who will be creating dishes from scratch specifically designed to complement the wine that they have been matched with.  This makes your evening of wine sipping and food tasting a challenge as you keep trying to figure out which combination (and team) deserves your vote(s) the most.

Lemongrass Lamb Kofta

Lemongrass Lamb Kofta

In fact, our favorite combination at last year’s bASH started with a dish prepared by CIA Student Chefs Jessica Haryanto and Chase Evans, a Deconstructed Wellington (Beef Tenderloin, Foie Gras Mousse, Prosciutto di Parma, Duxelles, Crispy Leeks, Perigord Black Truffle on Puff Pastry with a Cabernet Reduction) which was paired with a delightful Pellet Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.  Three other excellent small bites from CIA Student Chefs last year were Coconut Milk Red Snapper Ceviche, Smoked Hanger Steak with a Cabernet Sauvignon Gastrique, and Lemongrass Lamb Kofta.
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Travel Advice: Napa Valley’s St. Helena Appellation

Cabernet Sauvignon St. Helena AppellationAppellation Name: St. Helena Appellation

Where: Napa County in California

Officially Established:  September 11, 1995

Location: In northern Napa Valley, centered around the city of St. Helena, between the Mayacamas Mountans (to the west) and the Vaca Range (to the east). The boundaries are approximately defined by Bale Lane to the north, Zinfandel Lane to the South, along parts of Crystal Springs Road and Conn Valley Road to the east, and the 400 ft. elevation line marking the west. For an exact, 18-step description of the official boundaries, please go here.  To see a map of the area, please go here.

Pellet Estate, winery in St. Helena Appellatiion

Pellet Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Background: St. Helena is considered to be the birthplace of the Napa Valley wine industry. In 1861, Charles Krug established a winery just north of the town of St. Helena and two years later Henry Pellet purchased land and started his own winery just south of town.  By the 1870’s, Napa Valley wine industry challenges included (a) the large presence of French wines in the marketplace due to low tariffs, (b) customer perception that Mission grapes used in winemaking resulted in an inferior product, (c) financial issues related to shipping and storage costs, and (d) the arrival of Phylloxera.

In 1875, Mr. Krug and Mr. Pellet along with Seneca Ewer (former California State Senator now living in Napa Valley) helped form the St. Helena Viticultural Club.  Within two months of its formation, the organization began to take on significant projects such as the need to incorporate, changes in Revenue law, understanding and addressing Phylloxera, the creation of a large local wine cellar, and the value of planting foreign grape varietals instead of Mission grapes.
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2018 World of Pinot Noir: It’s a New Day

2018 World of Pinot Noir GlassIt’s time to indulge and celebrate when Pinot Noir producers and lovers from around the world converge at the 2018 World of Pinot Noir at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara on March 2nd and 3rdAu Bon Climat, Freeman Winery, Maison Louis Latour, Merry Edwards Winery and Stephen Ross Wine Cellars will lead the parade of over 250 wineries participating in expert-led Tasting Seminars, Luncheons, Dinners, Parties and Grand Tastings. Depending on your personal interest, you can purchase tickets for a single event, a day’s worth of events, or a whole weekend of activities.

As you probably know, the Santa Barbara region was challenged recently with natural disasters, including wildfires and mudslides, with some tragic impacts.  However, the fires are out, the roads are clear, the water is safe to drink and the scenery is beautiful.  So please come eat, drink, stay and enjoy yourself as you support local recovery and relief efforts.

Pinot Noir GrapesThe 2018 World of Pinot Noir (WOPN) offers not just one, but two separate Grand Tastings with over 100 different producers at each session. This is a comprehensive chance to “get current” on the latest wines made from Pinot Noir grapes grown in places such as Anderson Valley, Los Carneros, Russian River Valley, Santa Maria, Santa Rita Hills, Santa Ynez, Sonoma Coast, and the Willamette Valley. On the international front, the WOPN Grand Tastings will also include wineries from Austria (Circo Vino) Chile (Matetic Vineyards), Hungary (Nimrod Wines), New Zealand (New Zealand Winegrowers), South Africa (Botanica Wines) and Spain (Alta Pavina).

The Willamette Valley will be well-represented at the 2018 World of Pinot Noir, with wineries Anne AmieArchery Summit, BrooksCoeur de Terre, Erath, Flâneur Wines, Gran Moraine, Montinore Estate, Nicolas-Jay, The Four Graces and Van Duzer Vineyards all attending and pouring their wines.  There will also be a seminar and luncheon exploring the connections between wineries in Oregon and Burgundy, and a special five-course dinner on March 3rd featuring wines from this region.
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