Summer brings extra bounty to Wine Country farmers' markets, as juicy berries flourish, stone fruits hang like ornaments on the branches, gardens brim with colorful squash, and vines burst with tomatoes in red, purple, and gold.
Remember when filet mignon was considered the meat of kings, and charcuterie was exotic? No, you probably don’t. Today’s Bay Area diners are so schooled in artisan meats that nose-to-tail dining is de rigeur, even in home kitchens. Simply witness the boutique butcheries cropping up around Wine Country, where cold cases brim with unusual cuts like bavette, all kinds of offal, and handcrafted salumi. Heck, even the most basic ground beef is prime stuff.
One of the most exhilarating ways to explore Wine Country is by equine – and these aren’t poor old tired stable plugs (bless their hearts) led in a slow plodding pack, but energetic, well trained mounts ranging from polo ponies to rescued race horses. Parties traverse in intimate groups across gorgeous landscapes, from beaches to mountains to vineyards. Here’s where to giddy-up and go:
While wine will always be king in the North Bay, suddenly, distilleries are popping up all over, crafting artisanal spirits. No, not moonshine, but hand-blended drinkable delicacies with tasting notes to rival the best Napa Valley Cab or Sonoma Pinot Noir.
A memorable Wine101 session isn’t simply sitting in a classroom with some wines to sample and a PowerPoint show. Much better is interacting with the actual winemakers, tasting a rich array of varietals, comparing notes with fellow wine lovers, and enjoying perfect food pairings, too.
Given the abundance of herbs, spices, and produce grown in Wine Country, paired with a trend toward locally produced spirits, it's no wonder that creative cocktails are increasingly popular here. Bonus: with farm-to-bar cocktails taking center stage, you can enjoy a few and pretend you’re getting your daily serving of fruit and veggies, too.
There was a time when women winemakers were few and far between. Lucky for us, that time is long gone. Sonoma County gals who grow grapes are taking the Bay Area by storm and giving wine lovers delicious reasons to raise a glass.
When it comes to philanthropy, we love the idea of sipping some of the best vino our Northern neighbors have to offer while making dreams come true for children facing the most important battles of their lives. Assuming most of our readers feel the same, we want to throw out a feel-good weekend activity recommendation, Wishes in Wine Country on May 17.