Most harvest parties in Napa have come to an end, but Sonoma is just kicking into high gear. It’s the liveliest time of year in Wine Country and these down to earth celebrations are a perfect excuse to take a break from the city and check out the fall colors and new winery releases.
In the Napa Valley, crush doesn’t just mean the time of year when grapes are harvested. It often translates to heartbreak—the kind that comes from rolling to a complete stop on Highway 29 in bumper-to-bumper traffic—which, in the popular month of October, is par for the course. So much for your relaxing Wine Country getaway. But there is a solution: Sail by on a bike.
Moving quietly across the valley at a slower speed allows you to experience more of its sights, smells, and sounds. Whether you want to pedal all the way from SF to Napa, drive up with your bike on a rack, or rent a two-wheeler when you arrive in Wine Country, we’ve stitched together a mellow 27-mile cyclist’s loop of leisurely wine tasting. It can easily be trimmed to 20 miles, should you want to veer off and head back to the hotel for an early, guilt-free, and much-earned nap. After all, you’ve got to gear up for dinner.
October is official Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM), which is an annual health campaign to increase awareness of the disease and raise funds for research, prevention, and hopefully one day find a cure. Over the years, Napa Valley wineries and businesses have given a great deal to support the fight against breast cancer and we’d like to honor a few that maintained this tradition in 2011.
If you're heading up to Napa this harvest season, it'll be more obvious than ever that the artistry of the Valley is not limited to what you'll find inside a bottle. Tasting rooms are buzzing, wine is fermenting in the cellar and the Valley's restaurants are exploding with incredible bounty of local harvests...so what else could make your trip to this iconic wine & culinary region even more rewarding?
Throughout October, the Arts Council of Napa Valley presents Napa Valley ARTS '11, a valley-wide, month-long celebration of arts and culture featuring a mind-boggling number of events and activities to showcase the vibrant arts scene in Napa.
St. Helena, known for its charm as much as its wine, is home to the very first winery in Napa Valley. It was established in 1995 as an independent American Viticulture Area (AVA), a designated grape growing region that has specific and identifiable characteristics defined by geography, history, and climate.
It's no big surprise that visitors to the California wine country focus primarily on wine, but we’ve got our share of fantastic breweries up here too. Whether it’s a trip for a beer-loving pal who needs an extra push to get out of the city, or you just want a refreshing way to cleanse your palate between wineries, we've got you covered.
In Napa, there’s a restaurant called Tuscany. Located in the heart of downtown, the 12-year-old establishment is the kind of Italian joint that serves tiramisu and has a cover band at night.
This is Napa’s old idea of Italian. The new one is represented by Oenotri—a restaurant with Neapolitan-style pizza, house-made pastas that are judiciously sauced, roasted meats, and earnest talk of regionality and staying true to Italy’s soul. Opened in 2010 by Curtis Di Fede and Tyler Rodde—two chefs who met while working at Oliveto in Oakland—the restaurant will resonate with anyone eating their way through SF, where places like Flour + Water, Locanda, and Cotogna rule the roost. But in Napa, which is just getting its foodie foothold, Oenotri is a standout.
This is the first installment in a series of blogs that will examine the different AVAs of Napa Valley and what makes them special. We'll highlight one famous winery and one hidden gem in each region.
An American Viticulture Area (AVA) is a designated grape growing region that has specific and identifiable characteristics as defined by geography, history, and climate. The variances between AVAs lead to significantly different flavors in grapes and wine and the exact spot where the grapes are grown plays a significant role in what you like and don’t. We decided to feature Calistoga first as it’s the most recent region to be granted a separate AVA status in Napa Valley (although Coombsville is well on it’s way)
It's harvest in the wine country and for a winemaker that means it's time to start picking grapes (determined primarily based on the sugar content, measured in Brix) but for the rest of is it’s all about picking the right harvest parties to attend. Most wineries have at least one harvest party, starting as early as September and running through November, which range from grape stomps to black tie formals. These are almost always the best parties of the year and usually require reservations. Here are some of our top recommendations this year:
The wine industry is busy with harvest but it’s a three-day weekend for you, so why not a trip to the wine country for a little relaxation and celebration? September has been officially dubbed California Wine Month, so there’s a ton going on in general and many wineries will be having last minute Labor Day specials. Here are some notable deals and special events for those of you who haven’t yet decided how you want to celebrate another year of hard work.