WineCountry Staff: December 2010 Archives

Trail Blazer

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biketrail.jpgChuck McMinn's latest endeavor is building a bike path from Vallejo to Calistoga.

by LeeAnne Jones

For more than 30 years, Chuck McMinn created and financed start-up high-tech companies, and in 2000, he and his wife, Anne, purchased Vineyard 29, a winery just north of St. Helena that produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Cabernet Franc. All well and good, and even delicious, but McMinn, who is a confessed "start-up junkie," couldn't sit still for long. His latest endeavor is spearheading a massive Wine Country trail project.

"What we're doing here is a start-up," McMinn says of the 44-mile multiuse trail that will run from Vallejo to Calistoga. "You start with a blank sheet of paper, and the end result is constructing and operating a trail system."

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New Year's Festivities in Sonoma

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champagneBottles.jpgDon't spend another New Year's Eve at home. Sonoma Wine Country offers a host of places to ring in the new year in style! Check a few of the places we've spotted that are sure to host a great New Year's celebration. Join the fun! CLICK HERE for more party hot spots.

Romp with the Beasts @ Safari West
Go wild this New Year's and Romp with the Beasts at Safari West. Brent Farris of KZST will be providing music all night long. Enjoy great food, music and dancing. Want to enjoy Safari West past midnight? Make sure to book overnight accommodations in their luxury safari tents and enjoy breakfast with mimosas on New Years Day. This ferociously fun event is always a sell-out, so purchase your ticket today!
CLICK HERE for more details!


New Year's Eve Countdown Ball at Doubletree Hotel

This year the entire hotel will be dedicated to making your New Year's Eve one for the record books! Antix Events is ramping up the plans for their annual Countdown Ball. With over 22,000 square feet of event space, 4 areas of music, 10 DJ's, and 245 rooms this is one party you won't want to miss. Dressy attire is a must and dress code will be strictly enforced. CLICK HERE for more details.


New Year's Eve Flamingo Lounge Party

Join us in the retro-modern Flamingo Lounge this New Year's Eve! There will be New Year's Eve decorations, a balloon drop, party favors & noise makers, champagne toast, live music and dancing. Please note, this is a 21 and older event.
CLICK HERE for more details.


New Year's Eve Dinner and Dancing @ the Inn at the Tides

Celebrate the beginning of 2013 with a fun and festive New Year's Eve party with a delicious 5-course menu including wine, dancing, party favors, midnight toast and balloon drop.  This very popular event sells out each year so make your reservations early. CLICK HERE for more details!

New Years Eve Celebration @ Hilton Sonoma Wine Country
Join the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country for their Annual New Years Eve Celebration. Fee includes a 1 night stay for two in a standard room with chocolate amenity upon arrival. A five course dinner for two in Nectar Restaurant and entry to the Dance Party in the Sonoma Ballroom. Please note, the event takes place all day and the dance party starts at 8pm. CLICK HERE for more details.
 

>> See Sonoma Events Calendar for more New Year's Eve festivities.

New Year's Eve Parties in Napa Valley!

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Rock the night away and into the New Year!  Parties are happening all around Napa Valley. Grab some friends and join the festivities. Below are just a few of the parties that caught our eye, but check out the full events calendar HERE!

winetrain_Champagne.jpgNew Years Crystal Ball @ Napa Valley Wine Train
The Crystal Ball will begin with an hors d'oeuvre reception in the station. Guests will board the Train and relax with a New Year's Eve themed beverage and a fresh, multiple course gourmet meal. Upon returning to Napa the party will be transported back into the station, where guests can socialize, and dance away the rest of 2012.

If you already have dinner plans, but don't want to miss the celebration, join the After Party. Dancing and entertainment will start in the station at 10pm. At midnight, toast to 2013 with a glass of sparkling wine. Then finish your evening with music and dancing until 1am.

CLICK HERE for more details

Prohibition Style Speakeasy New Year's Bash!

Enjoy a glorious Prohibition Era flashback celebration to ring in 2013! Harvest Inn (located in St. Helena) has a magical two night package that includes a New Year's Bash at restaurant Goose & Gander. The party is a glamorous evening of dining, libations, live jazz and fun, flapper-style surprises.
CLICK HERE for more details!


New Year's Eve Dinner at Siena Restaurant & Ballroom
Kick off 2013 with a wonderful prix fix five-course dinner at Siena Restaurant in Napa Valley. Savor a special menu prepared by Executive Chef Mike before dancing the night away! Already have dinner plans on New Year's Eve? Keep the celebration going at The Meritage Resort with our "Napa Style" New Year's Eve Celebration. Located in our brand new Carneros Ballroom, enjoy dancing, dessert, party favors, and good times as you welcome 2013.
CLICK HERE for more details!

New Years Eve @ Silo's w/ Briefcase Full of Blues

Silo's invites you to see Briefcase Full of Blues Band live! There will be two shows this evening. The early show includes Glass of Mumm Champagne with Chocolates upon arrival, & Party Favors. The late show includes Glass of Mumm Champagne with Chocolates upon arrival, Party Favors, Midnight Countdown with Champagne Toast.
CLICK HERE for more details!


>> SEE MORE New Year's Eve events in the Napa Valley Calendar.


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.  

Where to Eat Breakfast in Napa & Sonoma

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Where to enjoy the best breakfasts in Wine Country.

by Jill Silverman Hough

There's nothing like waking up in Wine Country, with the promise of a perfect day ahead. So, why not indulge in an amazing breakfast? Whether you like to ease into the day with coffee and a fresh-baked scone, or you're up for a three-course brunch, here are the spots to start your day off right.

Cantinetta Piero
The venue: A hotel restaurant, but the hotel feels like a bit of Tuscany.
The food: The two-course prix fixe breakfast starts with fresh-squeezed orange juice, coffee, a small pastry, and yogurt with fruit and house-made granola. Then, it moves to your choice of three egg dishes. Go for the side of artisan-smoked bacon, and linger over every bite.
The prices: $18 (30 percent off for locals).
The details: Breakfast Mon.-Sun. 7:30-10 a.m. 6774 Washington St., Yountville, (707) 299-5015, cantinettapiero.com.

Solbar
The venue: Michelin star-rated hotel restaurant, with a hip yet casual vibe.
The food: The on-premise garden influences the menu, and everything is expertly prepared. Lemon ricotta pancakes are crisp around the edges but light inside, thanks to whipped egg whites. Beef for the hash is house corned. Juices aren't just fresh squeezed, they're squeezed to order. And coffee comes in a personal French press.
The prices (entrées): $11-$17.
The details: Breakfast Mon.-Sun. 7-11 a.m., brunch Sun. 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. 755 Silverado Trail, Calistoga, (707) 226-0800, solbarnv.com.

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Uptown Rises

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uptown-theater.jpgNapa's art deco theater reopens as Wine Country's coolest music venue.

by Peter Crooks

Longtime Napa residents remember Napa's Uptown Theatre as a neighborhood cinema that screened everything from Casablanca to Ben-Hur to Sling Blade. Hollywood legends Clark Gable and Carole Lombard even visited this art deco jewel while passing through Northern California. Alas, by the 1990s, the theater had been split into four tiny screening rooms and slid into disrepair. It went dark in 1999.

But like a feel-good Hollywood tale, this story has a hero. Napa businessman George Altamura purchased the building and spent five years restoring it to its original glory. Early in the process, construction workers peeled back paint and were astonished to find original art deco murals--still in very good shape--on the ceiling and walls.

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See Napa Events Calendar

Read More on Uptown Theatre

More Articles on Uptown Theatre

The Mushrooms of Mendocino

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paulKozal_mushroom.jpgMendocino, CA has a flourishing arts community with several galleries and art studios showcasing beautiful work. No exception is Boletus Edulis, a special photography exhibition by Paul Kozal, featuring images of California King Boletus mushrooms. It started out as a temporary photography exhibition just for the Mendocino County Wine and Mushroom Festival held earlier this year, but will now remain on view at Studio 391 through December.

The California King Bolete (boletus edulis) is commonly known as penny bun, porcini or cep. It is highly prized as an ingredient in various recipes and is considered one of the safest wild mushrooms to pick for the table, as there are no poisonous species that closely resemble it. Images were created using a flatbed scanner as camera. and then infused onto a sheer aluminum surface allowing the image to take on an almost magical luminescence.

About the Gallery:
Studio 391 is a fine art gallery specializing in photography, paintings, sculpture, glass, ceramics and mixed media by local, regional and nationally established artists. The gallery is located on Mendocino County's South Coast in Gualala's Cypress Village Gallery District. Gallery hours are Friday through Monday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Visit Mendocino Wine Country for suggestions on where to stay, dine, and taste wine! Or be adventurous and Go Mushroom Hunting!

Dinner Is On Us!

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napaRiverInn3.jpgActually, dinner is on Napa River Inn. They are offering a pretty sweet deal now through March 31st of next year. Every night of your stay booked with this Napa hotel results in a $100 dining credit to some of the newest and hottest restaurants in downtown Napa right now including:

  • Food Network celeb Chef Tyler Florence restaurant, Rotisserie and Wine
  • Iron Chef America Masaharu Morimoto of Morimoto Napa (see review)
  • Fish Story offering sustainable fish and newest venture of Lark Creek Restaurant Group (see review)
  • Not new, but still good - Angele serving French-country cuisine
If the dining credit is not enough, your stay with Napa River Inn also includes complimentary breakfast-in-bed from Sweetie Pie's Bakery. Wondering about what the rest of your stay will be like? See more details about Napa River Inn and the special offer HERE

Our suggestion - book four nights and try out all four restaurants! Be sure to post your dining experience back here on our Food Blog.

Lift Your Spirits At Jacuzzi's Holiday Comedy Festival

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comedyfestlogo.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

'Tis the season to be jolly, and this December 11th, Jacuzzi Family Vineyards is teaming up with Mutineer Magazine to bring even more laughter to wine country.  An all-star lineup of standup comedians and special guests are flying into Sonoma for the red carpet-style Holiday Comedy Festival at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards.  In keeping with Mutineer's aim of bringing fine beverage culture to the mainstream, this event will feature spectacular cocktails from co-sponsor Don Roberto Tequila, nibbles by three of wine country's finest food trucks, and bass-thumping holiday beats to keep your spirits bright.  

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

WinterScape Celebration in Yountville

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holidayStar.jpgThe town of Yountville is full of holiday surprises. This year the town launches their first month-long winter wonderland featuring a host of activities, attractions, and special hotel deals. Bring the whole family, make a romantic couple's escape, or just getaway with friends. See what's on the town's Holiday Hot List this winter season:

Vintage Winter Pavilion - Spin into the season skating under the stars in a clear-top tent infused with holiday music, festive trees and elaborate décor at V Marketplace.   This new attraction is certain to spark holiday cheer with a lively sidekick of food and drink venues.  After 6 p.m., the Hot Toddy & Holiday Cocktail menu debuts. 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. daily, December 11 - January 2nd.  $12/adults; $8/children 8 & under. Yountville Chamber/707.944.8008.
 
Carriage Rides - Saddle up this season with a team of stout Percheron and Shire horses leading a holiday-decorated carriage through Yountville's main artery - Washington Street - on weekends throughout December.  (Nov. 27; Dec 4, 11, 18, 31). Complimentary.
 
North Pole "Drink & Clink" - Weekends around the rink will include select Yountville AVA wine tasting (Fri./Sat.) showcasing the area's top producers and a Santa sommelier to keep the cheer flowing.  A seasonal grazing menu will showcase heady roasted chestnuts, dim sum and pulled pork sliders - a perfect complement to the region's cabernets.

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