September Saturdays in the Valley

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chefotooletomates.jpg By Deirdre Bourdet

Napa Valley is known throughout the world for its stunning wines, gorgeous countryside, and world-class cuisine.  Late summer is the perfect time to visit this corner of foodie paradise and taste the good life, and conveniently, tons of September events give visitors and locals the opportunity to experience all three of Napa's greatest attractions in the same sitting.  Here are my top weekend picks for a good time this month
Photo by Ashley Teplin

Build Your Own BLT day at Bardessono Resort. Next Saturday, September 11, from 2pm to 5pm, I will be following my dreams to an embarrassment of deliciousness, courtesy of Bardessono and Hill Family Estates.  On this momentous day, Chef Sean O'Toole will give guests free rein to assemble the greatest BLTs imaginable using the resort's own organically farmed heirloom tomatoes and lettuces, a panoply of housemade aiolis, local breads, and of course a full selection of artisanal bacons.  Will you choose Bardessono's own apple-smoked bacon, with Cajun aioli on slices of rich brioche?  Or will you go with Fatted Calf from Napa, slathered with bacon-sherry aioli on tender pain de mie?  As you ponder these important questions, sip on a selection of lovely Hill Family Estate wines, and nosh on passed hors d'oeuvres like Andalucian gazpacho, sweet tomato cream puffs, or La Quercia prosciutto with crushed tomato crostini.  Round out the tomato-bacon feast with sides like fennel salad with taggiasca olive, preserved lemon, and Regina extra virgin olive oil, or a visit to the decadent burrata bar with its selection of specialty salts.  Cardiologists will be standing by... or so I hope.  For tickets call Bardessono at 707-204-6030.

castelfest.jpgGet Your Stomp On at Castello di AmorosaAttention, I Love Lucy fans.  This is your chance to try your hand (actually, your feet) at traditional wine making.  On September Saturday, 18th, Castello di Amorosa hosts the first annual Festa dell'Uva, featuring grape-stomping competitions, food and wine pairings, tours and tastings, and music performed by the Blakely Italian Trio.  This is a Wine Club Member and their guests only event, so somebody in your circle of friends has to sign up to receive the castle's fabulous wines and get their stomp on.  But it's worth it for this event.  The stomping competition is open to teams of six, each seeking eternal glory (and prizes) for extracting the most juice from their volume of grapes in the time allowed.  Bring a change of clothes so you don't track grapes all over the medieval carpets.  Reservations required: 707-967-6274.

Backstage Pass VI at Hourglass Vineyards Blueline Estate.  This September 25th fundraiser benefiting the St. Helena School District has been called Napa's best party of the year, and this time around I was fortunate enough to get myself invited.  Cult cabernet producer Jeff Smith of Hourglass Vineyards hosts an evening of superlative food, silent and live auctions, rock star wines, and live performance by the Wristrockets at the Hourglass Blueline Estate.  In addition to the Hog Island oyster bar, and sumptuous family-style barbecue by Dean & Deluca, guests will get to enjoy wines from the unbelievable local sponsors... think Beckstoffer Vineyards, Bressler, Crocker & Starr, Fisticuffs, Hourglass, Melka Wines, Merryvale, Rudd, Spottswoode, Switchback Ridge, Trinchero Family, and others.  In keeping with the evening's spectacular beverages, the auction lots will include such things as "David Abreu's Macho Magnums," and a Harlan Estate vertical collection from 1997-2006.  Sure beats a school bake sale.  Tickets are available at the event's website.

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