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Guide to Mother's Day in Wine Country

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There are a host of activities to make Mother's Day a special occasion in Wine Country this year. Treat her to brunch, take her wine tasting, or go to a show!

Travel Tip: If you are planning to spend Mother's Day in Napa Valley, be aware that the town of Napa is host of the Bottle Rock Napa Valley Music Festival (May 9-12th) and is expecting close to 40,000 attendees! Plan on lots of traffic and expect delays. To see street closures, download the WineCountry.com mobile app.


MomDaughter.jpgTake Your Mother to Brunch!

  • etoile Restaurant at Domaine Chandon (Yountville, Napa Valley)
  • Enjoy a splendid five-course menu expertly paired with Chandon sparkling and still wines this Mother's Day. Menu selections include liberty farms duck confit, pan roasted spring lamb loin, roasted beef tenderloin, spiced valrhona chocolate pot de crème, and meyer lemon vacherin. Children's options also available. Reservations Strongly Recommended. (888) 242.6366

  • Lucy's Restaurant at Bardessono (Yountville, Napa Valley)
  • Bring your mom to Lucy's Restaurant & Bar at Bardessono to enjoy a wonderful Mother's Day brunch. The menu will feature delicious dishes, such as Executive Chef Victor Scargle's Duck Confit Hash, brioche french toast, and refreshing cocktails such as the Yountville Spritz. Reservations Recommended. (707) 204.6030

  • Flamingo Resort (Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, CA)
  • Enjoy a Mother's Day Champagne brunch buffet at the Flamingo Resort. This event will feature unlimited complimentary Champagne and mimosas; a feast that includes items like, orange spiced french toast, traditional eggs benedict, buttermilk chicken breast, slow roasted turkey, and much more! Plus, there will be a full dessert table with assorted fruit tarts and mini pastries. Click Here to view full menu. Reservations Recommended. (707) 532.4745
  • Santa Ynez Valley Marriott (Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara, CA)
    Treat your mom to the extravagance she deserves with Santa Ynez Valley Marriott's Mother's Day Buffet featuring a grand selection of dishes at both chilled and hot stations and a decadent dessert bar (Cherries Jubille & Bannanas Foster, Chocolate covered strawberries, assortment of cakes, pies, and petit fours, Champagne, and more!) Reservations recommended. (805.688.100). Click Here to see other memorable ways to celebrate Mother's Day in Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country.
  • Depot Hotel Restaurant (Sonoma, Sonoma County, CA)
  • Join Chefs Antonio and Michael Ghilarducci for Mother's Day Brunch! Enjoy a lavish feast complete with Champagne or mimosas upon arrival and bask in the sun on the patio or in the garden room. Menu will include items such as: grilled prime sirloin steak, poached pacific salmon, porchetta, housemade limoncello cake, and bittersweet chocolate decadence.Reservations Required. (707) 938.2980

  • Nectar Restaurant at Hilton Hotel (Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, CA)
  • Nectar Restaurant, located at the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country Hotel, will offer a Champagne brunch and family portrait with special gifts for all moms and moms-to-be. Reservations Recommended. (707) 569.5525

>> Visit our events calendar to see more Napa Valley and Sonoma restaurants that will be open this Mother's Day. Click date (May 12th), desired region and filter "holiday".

5 Ways to Uncork Fun in Napa Valley

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Wine tasting, incredible food and breathtaking scenery . . . what more can you ask for when you head to Napa Valley? From girlfriend getaways and guy-only vacays to weekend escapes and family retreats, Napa has something for everyone. Read five ways to live it up and enjoy Napa Valley: 

Meghan-Lamb-Napa-Valley-Oakville-DSC_0044.jpgPhotographer Credit: Meghan Lamb
(1) Walk this Way
Whether Napa is a weekend excursion or a vacation you planned six months ago, wine tasting is at the top of everyone's list. To avoid needing a "DD" or renting a party bus for the day, grab a $25 Taste Napa Downtown card to explore 12 different tasting rooms and wine bars within walking distance of each other. Park your car, take your time, and enjoy the vino without worrying about the next stop on your tour.

ladies_iStock_000004513478XSmall.jpg(2) Ladies Night! (and Daytime too)
Napa Valley is one destination that beckons girlfriends who love to gather, celebrate their sisterhood and sample the grape without the shame and guilt of a Vegas girls getaway. By day, indulge in a soothing spa treatment at many of the spas and wellness centers nearby. Spa Terra located at the Meritage Resort is a perfect choice with their 22,000 square foot Estate Cave spa sanctuary. By night, head to Bistro Sabor for Salsa Saturdays co-hosted by Ceja Vineyards where you can shake what your mama gave you--no cover charge and no partner needed. Just show up!

(3) Just for the Bro's
Trust us, it's not always about MMA Fighting or Nascar when the fellas get together for a guys-only vacay. With more men channeling their inner Anthony Bourdain, food has become the focus for "man-scapes" near and far. Napa Valley is home to more Michelin stars per capita than anywhere in the world and the culinary talents of superstars such as Thomas Keller (French Laundry ring a bell, anyone?). To work off the decadent meals and wine-induced calories, head to Napa Golf Course at Kennedy Park for a few rounds of golf. Or paddle your way through the valley by kayaking on the Napa River.

Dinner & Movie Night Series

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What better way to spend a summer night then at the movies!  Flora Springs Winery is hosting "Dinner & Movie Night Series" June - October and it's perfect for date night!

floraSpringsWinery_MovieNightSeries.jpg

Share a delicious Lobster Feed dinner paired with Flora Springs wines in their Vineyard Courtyard. Follow it up sitting fireside, sipping wine and watching a movie on the Rooftop Lounge, overlooking the vineyards and the mountains. Of course, there will also be all your favorite traditional snacks to enjoy during the movie.

Movie nights are open to the public but there is limited availability and and advanced reservations are required. Fees: $99 per person; Wine Club Members, $79.20 per person. See list of films below:

June 30th - A Good Year
(view trailer)
Wine and dinner starts at 6:30pm, movie starts at 8:30 pm.

July 28th - The Ways of Wine
(view trailer)
Wine and dinner starts at 5:50 pm, movie starts at 7:50 pm.

Relax with a Cold Brew . . .

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calistogaInn&Brewery.jpgWhat better way to relax from a day of wine tasting or a day of work than with a cold brew, great food, and live music?! Swing by Calistoga Inn Restaurant & Brewery to hang out with the locals and have a good time.

This coming weekend they celebrate St. Patrick's Day with a traditional Irish Dinner including Corned Beef Brisket, Mashed potatoes & Steamed Cabbage, Chocolate Paddy Cake and much more all while listening to the sounds of Greenhouse who will be playing Irish music. If you can't make it this Saturday, be sure to check out Calistoga Inn Restaurant & Brewery throughout the year for weekly live music sessions and of course, beer tastings.

THE BREWERY

In 1987, the Calistoga Inn gave birth to Calistoga beer and the Napa Valley Brewing Company. The Inn was the first establishment to brew beer commercially in Napa County since the days of prohibition. It brews four principle beers: Calistoga Wheat Ale, Pilsner, Red Ale & Porter. In addition, other seasonal beers are brewed throughout the year, such as the German Kölsch, Blitzen I.P.A., Belgian Pale Ale & Dugan Oatmeal Stout. They have won numerous awards for their beer, including both bronze and gold finishes at the Great American Beer Fest in Denver, Colorado, and blue ribbons at the California State Fair.

Brewery tours are available Monday - Friday with our Brewmaster, Brad Smisloff.
Call in advance for an appointment: 707-942-4101

Click Here to check out the Brewer's Blog!

Healdsburg Epicurean Winter 2012

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Healdsburg's 1st Annual "Epicurean Winter" Features 100+ Events

Sonoma County's gourmand mecca offers epicurean travelers great off-season rates
and can't-miss events, experiences, and eats

healdsburgWinterEpicurean2012.jpgHEALDSBURG - Sonoma, Calif. -- For the first time ever, the charming town of Healdsburg has united its celebrated restaurants, renowned Sonoma County wineries, and illustrious hotels and lodging partners for "Epicurean Winter," a new seasonal program offering unique culinary events and special lodging packages to attract visitors during the mild winter months.

"Winter is a great time to visit," says Mo McElroy, CEO of the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau. "Healdsburg is warm, cozy and delicious - the trifecta of fun during winter months. The Epicurean Winter program gives us a easy way to entice people to experience what sets Healdsburg apart - it's a fantastic culinary mecca that remains true to its agricultural roots."

Epicurean Winter runs now through March 31, and includes gourmet events, family activities, budget-friendly options, outdoor recreation, and romantic escapes for Valentine's celebrations.

Ring in the New Year!

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champagneBottles.jpgBring 2011 to an end with a good ol' fashioned wine country BANG! Napa Valley and Sonoma are hosting several New Year's Eve parties to ring in the new year. Check out the list of places to dine, drink and dance into 2012!

New Year's Festivities in Napa Valley
CLICK HERE



New Year's Parties & Dinners in Sonoma County
CLICK HERE



Grand Opening Nears For Hotel Yountville & Hopper Creek Kitchen

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Photo courtesy of Hotel Yountville
By Deirdre Bourdet

The Altamura family has invested some serious time and energy in coaxing the contemporary Hotel Yountville out of the 50-room, country-chic Yountville Inn.  The construction of several new buildings, conference center, restaurant, spa, swimming pool, and outdoor lounging areas is almost complete, though, and the place has shaped up rather spectacularly into one of Yountville's sexiest resorts.

Designed by the same team that transformed Milliken Creek Inn, the remodeled Hotel Yountville blends sleek modern design with luxurious comfort. Subtle details and rich textures create an inviting environment full of plush seating and contemporary comforts.  When I was invited to tour the property in early February, it was all I could do not to sink into every seat we passed. Fortunately, I had been invited to sit down for breakfast at the guests-only Hopper Creek Kitchen, which has been making waves since the soft opening in December 2010.

Restaurant Month in California

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All around California, restaurants are celebrating the month of January with fabulous dining specials and savings for lunch and/or dinner. Splurge, savor, and save is the name of the game. See if your favorite restaurant or one you always wanted to try is on the list in the regions below.

Gold Country. You may not find gold, but with savings on food like these, you might as well have! Restaurant Week in Gold Country is January 32-30 with a grand finale on January 30th where the area's finest chefs will offer a unique opportunity to be an El Dorado Epicurean in a countywide progressive dinner. More Details

Monterey County. Catch some fresh seafood in Monterey during Restaurant Month. Participating restaurants are offering prix fixe dinner menus for $20.11 all month long. More Details.

Napa Valley - see our Food Writer's top restaurant picks for deals and steals. Or see the full list of Napa Valley restaurants and their specials here.

Santa Barbara Wine Country
  • Santa Barbara -Dubbed "Film Feast", the prix fixe restaurant program coincides with the Santa Barbara International Film Festival all happening January 27-Feb 6, 2011. Film goers and foodies are invited to choose from "Short" (two-course), "Feature" (three-course) and "Epic" (four-course) length seasonal menus at participating restaurants. MORE DETAILS.
  • Santa Ynez Valley - The foodie fun begins January 23rd and ends January 29th. It's this region's first time participating in Restaurant Month and they will be featuring special 3-course tasting menus for $20.11. A list of participating restaurants is listed, but you will need to contact restaurants directly for specific days, dining hours and to make reservations. MORE DETAILS.

Restaurant Week in Tri-Valley/Livermore

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2011RestaurantWeek.jpgEnjoy a true culinary extravaganza-Taste of Tri-Valley Restaurant Week between January 23rd - January 30th!  During this fabulous event ,  food lovers will have the opportunity to enjoy a prix fixe meal, specialty dish or special offer at Tri-Valley restaurants. Some of the finest, most renowned chefs and restaurants in the Tri-Valley will showcase their culinary styles for diners. The event will feature an array of well-known restaurants, casual dining establishments and local purveyors that will provide one of a kind dining experiences offered during this week only.  

Participating Restaurants include Terra Mia, The Peasant and the Pear, The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards, The Farmer Restaurant at the Pleasanton Hotel, Blue Agave Grill, Eddie Papa's American Hangout, Campo Di Bocce, Swirl on the Square, Porters Restaurant at Poppy Ridge.

No tickets or passes are required for Taste of Tri-Valley Restaurant Week. Diners simply dine out at as many participating restaurants as they like all week.

Visit www.trivalleycvb.com/tasteoftrivalley to download and print restaurant coupons for Tri-Valley Restaurant Week!

The Riddling Rack Is A No Brainer

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riddlingrack.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

Cold wet weather makes me want to hole up at home with a bottle of red wine and some truffle mashed potatoes.  Home is easy, it's warm, it's reasonably attractive, and it almost always has some really good wine on hand.  But when I dragged myself out on a random weeknight for pre-dinner drinks at the AVIA Hotel's Riddling Rack, I discovered another comforting nook in town with these same attributes--one that's also way cooler looking, and has vintage Dom Perignon by the glass.  

Upcoming Winter Events in Mendocino

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candlelitour.jpgDECEMBER

December 9 - 12 -- Annual Mendocino Coast Candlelight Inn Tour
Holiday: You are invited to enjoy evening tours of Mendocino area bed and breakfast inns and lodges while you help benefit Mendocino Coast Children through Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Mendocino and Mendocino Unified School Enrichment (MUSE). December 9 Inns of Mendocino, December 10 Inns & Lodges of Fort Bragg, December 11 Inns of Little River and Albion, December 12, Inns of Elk.
Fee: $30 all 4 nightsTime: 4 p.m. - 7 p.m. Phone Number: (707) 964.1228

 
December 25 -- Christmas Dinner at the Mendocino Hotel
Holiday, Dining: Starter:Duck confit strudel, Roasted Pumpkin soup, OR Parsnip,apple and pear salad Entree: Herb roasted cornish hen, certified angus prime rib, OR grilled fresh sea bass Dessert: warm ginger cake, warm apple pudding cake, OR pumpkin mousse. 45080 Main St, Mendocino, CA
Fee: adults $69/child (12&under) $24.00Time: 3 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. Phone Number: (800) 548.0513

Where to Watch the World Series

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By Deirdre Bourdet

giantsBaseball.jpgNAPA VALLEY, CA - The Giants are in the World Series! Join fellow fan-atics at these wine country spots to cheer on San Francisco's own orange and black.


Calistoga Inn & Brewery. Beer and baseball are a classic pairing, and this downtown Calistoga bar/restaurant/inn also boasts an award-winning microbrewery, which sells 100% of its beers on the premises. Crispy calamari and buffalo wings rub shoulders with steamed mussels, oysters, shrimp cocktail and Dungeness crab cakes on the appetizer menu, and bring a taste of the bay to northern Napa Valley.

With a pint of local brew and bowl full of seafood, you will be more than set for game time. 1250 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga.

Yountville, CA: Tomatoville Touches Down

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by Courtney Cochran

With a nod to Jimmy Buffet's catchy vaca anthem, Margaritaville, Yountville's Bardessono and Hill Family Estate will bring Wine Country visitors the three-day Tomatoville celebration September 10, 11 and 12.  Billing the tomato "Mother Nature's finest fruit (since the grape)," the event's sponsors promise a juicy lineup of activities; highlights include:

Visiting Sonoma Valley, CA

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SONOMA VALLEY, CA - Visiting Sonoma Valley wine country has a calming aura in the air that speaks to the senses. The rolling hills, picturesque vineyards, and charming towns invite you to linger and take a casual stroll down the street, dine at a host of eateries including bakeries and cheese shops, wine taste at several wineries or wine bars, or window shop at an array of funky boutiques. These are just a few of the treasures that lie ahead. See what WineCountry.com has unearthed for you and start planning your Sonoma Valley trip now!

Travel, Taste, and Things To Do
The Unexpected on Sonoma Square
Wine Tasting in Kenwood
Romance in Glen Ellen - Where to Stay
Off the Beaten Track in Glen Ellen
Sonoma Valley Summer Events
Best Spots To Eat!
Insider Tip on Where to Golf

Getting Married?

Sonoma Wine Country Wedding Guide
Request Wedding Info



Santa Barbara: Mini Guide to Santa Ynez

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Lincourt Winery - Santa Ynez Valley, CA

Image by dcshoesboy via Flickr

by Robert P. Farmer

Not too long ago, Santa Barbara County was home to a handful of Hollywood celebrities trying to exist outside the limelight, and to a handful of winemakers trying to make their way outside the glare of Napa-Sonoma.The region was also for a time home to a scattering of upstart wineries who each developed their own niche and subsequent cult following.Today, that cult following has developed into full-fledged fame.

Contemporary Santa Barbara County is home to more than 21,000 vineyard-planted acres, grown and tended by dozens of wineries. But happily, the majority of these wineries remain small in stature--family owned-and-operated concerns with small-batch production and a handcrafted aesthetic. The wineries are primarily situated in the Santa Ynez and Santa Maria valleys, about 35 miles north of Santa Barbara. Rich with history and shot-through with breathtaking coastal scenery, the area's AVAs produce remarkable Pinot Noirs (as fans of the movie Sideways will no doubt recall). However the region is also responsible for several excellent Chardonnays and Cabernets. There are more varietals on offer from Santa Barbara in smaller quantities, including Merlots and select Malbecs and Viogniers.

Santa Barbara's Wine Country gained notoriety some years back with the release of the movie Sideways, and the region indeed capitalized on the fame. Thankfully, Santa Barbara has managed to retain its mellow, unpretentious appeal. The relaxed pace and easy-going charm actually translated well on screen, and visitors can easily take advantage of it with a well-planned weekend. The region's four main towns-- Solvang, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez, and Ballard -- each have a distinct character. Also worthy of attention is the town of Buellton to the north. Whether exploring the quaint Danish-transplant town of Solvang or discovering one of the many great restaurants in the valley towns, the intrepid traveler will find Santa Barbara County every bit as appealing as California's more famous wine country to the north.

Here are my recommendations for the town of Santa Ynez:

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Affordable Wine Country Isn't a Myth

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livermorePromotion.jpgThere's more to love than meets the eye, as a trip to Livermore and the Tri-Valley will quickly reveal. Locals adore the area for its authentic, charming and unspoiled terrain and ambiance.

Amidst the rolling hills is a golfer and wine lovers paradise and indulgent spa escapes. This not-to-be- missed region also boasts some of the best hotels and resorts, shopping, and fine and affordable dining available. Thinking of a place to get married? Gorgeous vineyard backdrops and venues to make for a memorable wedding all can be found in Tri-Valley. And of course, a host of activities for guests.

In essence, it's the perfect getaway spot for anyone and everyone. So whether you're seeking a romantic, family, girls getaway or man-cation destination, day or night, look no further than the Tri-Valley. 

And just in case you need one more  reason to visit, the Tri-Valley locals are offering a chance to enter their "Win a Spring Break Getaway to Wine Country" giveaway. Winners will receive a 2 night stay at a local hotel, a $100 gas card, two tickets to Livermore Valley Wine Country's Barrel Tasting Weekend, March 20-21, and a welcome bottle of wine. CLICK HERE for more details and to enter.

 

Top 3 Holiday Places to Eat

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Napa Valley & Sonoma County

by Robert Farmer


FARM.jpg1. Farm at the Carneros Inn
During winter months the grounds of the Carneros Inn resort, situated at the southern end of the Napa Valley, is slower paced, more sparsely populated, and graciously beautiful. It's the kind of place where the family can decamp for a few days and retreat from the hustle and bustle of citified holiday madness. The property's signature restaurant, Farm, is the ideal spot for a festive holiday repast. The expansive dining room and adjacent large covered patio centered by a huge fire pit, are the sort of environments that seem to invite spirited social gathering. The mood is casual, unfussy, but nevertheless very chic. And it doesn't hurt that there are simply no misses on the seasonal farm-driven menu of American Wine Country dishes. Throw in a wine list that solidly reminds one of the location, and the makings of a great winter evening are all in place.

*Open for dinner 5:30-10pm Wed-Sun

FARM at Carneros Inn
4048 Sonoma Highway, Napa
(707) 299.4880
www.thecarnerosinn.com

2. Dry Creek Kitchen at the Hotel Healdsburg
Just because it seems like everybody knows each other at this always-jammed, always buzzing Wine Country outpost from chef Charlie Palmer, doesn't necessarily mean they do. But the neighborhood feel and congeniality of the staff have a tendency to make every guest feel like a regular. My guess is that one visit won't be enough for you anyway. Because this is the place to be in Healdsburg, and its gravitational pull only increases during the holidays. Whether you visit during one of the planned special Winter Winemaker Dinner series in December, or you make your stop a special event of your own, it's hard to beat Palmer's inventiveness and eagerness to please. The dining room offers many large-group options as well as intimate tables for two--all with views to the open kitchen and action at the bar up front. Tables outside are available, too, and the winter chill can be easily offset with the right vintage.

*Open for lunch
Fri-Sun noon-2:30pm;

Dinner
Sun-Thurs 5:30-9:30pm,
Fri-Sat 5:30- 10pm

Hotel Healdsburg

317 Healdsburg Ave., 
Healdsburg
707-431-0330
www.hotelhealdsburg.com

3. EDK at the El Dorado Hotel
Anchoring one corner of Sonoma Plaza, this lively, friendly Sonoma spot quickly became one of my Wine Country favorites after its opening a few years ago. The large sophisticated-looking room is typically buzzing with visitors and locals alike, who stream in for executive chef Justin Everett's "farm driven" menu. My wife and I, however, returned again and again simply for the amazing black truffle-dusted French fries.  There are of course several other tempting treats on the seasonally changing menu. But the food is just part of the story. The dining room--in terms of both location and atmosphere--is the perfect spot for a festive holiday celebration. With indoor and outdoor seating options and an exhibition kitchen, it's the sort of place where there always seems to be some kind of party taking place, no matter the season. And if you and 20 of your best friends can secure the 21-foot-long wood table in the center of the room, yours will no doubt soon be the party everyone wants to join.


EDK at the El Dorado Hotel
405 First Street West, Sonoma
707-996-3030
www.eldoradosonoma.com

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