On April 9, 2013Marcy Gordon answered the question:Almost every month of the year has a festival celebrating wine, food, art, music, and film in both Napa and Sonoma. Two of the top festivals coming up include:
16th ANNUAL SONOMA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL – April 10-14, 2013
Celebrating it’s 16th year the Sonoma International Film Festival showcases both established and up-and coming filmmakers screening over 100 films all within a short walk of the square in downtown Sonoma.
BOTTLE ROCK NAPA VALLEY— May 9-21, 2013
A five-day extravaganza of music, wine, food, comedy, beer and late night parties in downtown Napa. The eclectic music lineup features over 60 acts including The Black Keys, Flaming Lips, The Shins, Jackson Brown, Dwight Yoakam, Cake, Primus, Violent Femmes, Andrew Bird, and Mavis Staples. The comedy stage will be busy with Jim Gaffigan, Tig Nataro, Kristen Schall and many more performers.
On April 9, 2013Marcy Gordon answered the question:One thing confusing to many visitors is that both Napa and Sonoma are the names of the city and the county. So it’s good to know the specifics and qualify locations by asking if a certain location is in the city proper, or the county at large. It’s also good to know that Napa and Sonoma look very close together on a map, but a mountain range runs between the two valleys and it is not a quick hop to get from one valley to the other, so plan accordingly. And lastly, it’s good to know that Napa and Sonoma are filled with activities and attractions that are not solely about wine! Yes, come for the wine, but stay for the great outdoor activities like hiking, biking and kayaking too.
On March 28, 2013Marcy Gordon answered the question:Napa—
Uptown Theater --This historic art deco showplace is the top destination for major acts and emerging stars in the West End district of Napa. Completely renovated and restored, the former movie theater now seats 865 for an up-close concert experience.
Hopmonk (Sonoma and Sebastopol)
The Hopmonk is one of the best venues for top name entertainment and local favorites with a full line up of diverse acts and events every night of the week. The stage area in The Abbey at the Sebastopol location is small allowing for a truly intimate exchange with the performers.
McNear's Mystic Theatre (Petaluma) One of the oldest music venues in the North Bay, McNear’s features headliners like Cowboy Junkies, Emmylou Harris, and Leon Redbone on the stage of the building constructed in 1911. Originally a host to vaudeville acts, the renovated theater now accommodates up to 550 guests and seating arrangements vary from standing to table and chair depending on the type act and size of the audience.
On March 28, 2013Marcy Gordon answered the question:Napa—
Luxe and laid back with an astounding selection of over 1,300 rotating wines by the taste, glass, flight or bottle. 1313 Main is a showcase of great wine complemented by a thoughtful small plate menu for creating perfect pairings.
Carpe Diem Wine Bar
Small and large plates to share and over 250 wine selections (plus 35 beers!) will keep your tastebuds happy at this wine bar/restaurant hybrid in downtown Napa.
Cellars of Sonoma (Santa Rosa) Located in historic Railroad Square Cellars of Sonoma offers wines from small lot boutique producers such as Dunah featuring winemaker Greg La Follette and Amorosa Bella from the nearby Russian River Valley. In the evenings the wine bar transforms into a wine lounge and features live music Thursday-Saturday.
Willi’s Wine Bar
Out of the way but worth the effort, Willi’s Wine Bar tops the list for a great wine bar/resturant combination. The hideaway feel makes it seem like you just stumbled upon the best kept secret in town, but locals know Willi’s is the place for excellent wines by the glass, bottle, or in flights and distinctive small plates such as Black Truffle Risotto and Roasted Bone Marrow with Toasted Brioche & Red Onion Marmalade.
On March 28, 2013Marcy Gordon answered the question:The nightlife in Napa and Sonoma is not exactly Night Life with a capital N and L as found in most large cities. Both Napa and Sonoma are fairly quiet after 2am and the club scene here is limited. There is a robust bar scene and many spots feature music and dancing, but for the most part it’s relatively tame. Then again I may be going to the wrong places! Suffice to say you can find something to suit your particular bent be it downing shots or quaffing cognac with a fine cigar.
But if you are a foodie, the nightlife may very well entail cruising from place to place for wine flights and small bites where you can discuss the merits of molecular gastronomy and debate the texture of bread puddings made from ancient grains like amaranth and faro well into the wee hours.
On March 28, 2013Marcy Gordon answered the question:Sonoma--
Screamin’ Mimi’s –Voted the Best in Sonoma County, this small corner shop in Sebastopol dishes up big flavor with delicious but quirky ingredients like lavender and chai all made in house daily and sold by weight. Try the duluxe waffle cone and be sure to check out the world map where visitors from around the world place a pin to mark their hometown.
Three Twins (Oxbow Market) This growing chain with several locations and a factory in Petaluma has a devoted following for the their organic ingredient ice cream.
Frati Gelato Café (Napa Riverfront) Serving authentic hand crafted gelato made daily by their master gelato maker. Also serving cappuccino and espresso in a great location right on the riverfront.
On March 28, 2013Marcy Gordon answered the question:Sonoma-
Wild Flour Bread (Freestone) It’s all happening at Wild Flour. The phenomenal brick oven baked breads feature hard crusts and chewy interiors. Standard selections include the cheese fougasse, and Bohemian (apricot, orange and pecan) while the Super Seeded and other tasty varieties depend on the day. But it’s the scones that are the real draw. Intriguing combinations of pure yum in sweet and savory styles with vegan selections too. Try the asiago and green onion; apricot, white chocolate, ginger; or double chocolate, espresso Or my favorite, the dark chocolate, pear, marzipan. And if that’s not enough they have super crunchy biscotti and a sticky bun the size of a hubcap that is pure cinnamon glazed nirvana. Note: Wild Flour Bread is only four days a week Friday-Monday.
Model Bakery -- The Model Bakery has been a fixture in the Napa baking community for almost a century. This popular spot is a local favorite for a morning cup of coffee and the local news. But most of all it’s the incredible array of pastries that keep the peeps coming back.
Bouchon – An off-shoot of the Thomas Keller empire in Yountville, Bouchon is little jewel box of fine pastry delights such as macarons and croissants inspired by the traditional boulangeries of Paris.
On March 28, 2013Marcy Gordon answered the question:You can buy wine practically everywhere in wine country and even grocery stores have impressive selections, but the best wine shops offer knowledgeable staff, interesting surroundings, and a great selection of fine wines for purchase.
V Wine Cellar (Yountville) V Wine Cellar is more than just a wine shop it’s a place to taste and discover in a clubby relaxed living room atmosphere. There’s also a patio where you can enjoy small plates with wine by the glass.
Taylor & Norton Wine Merchants – (Sonoma) An old school style wine merchant, Taylor and Norton Features a large selection of California vintages and rare wines from around the world.
Sonoma Wine Shop – Located on the plaza in the town of Sonoma, the Sonoma Wine Shop started as a La Bodega, a cheese and pasta shop and developed into a full service wine shop with an extensive selection.
Enoteca Wine Shop –(Calistoga) Specializing in small producers, the Enoteca Wine Shop selections include a range from affordable everyday wines to highly sought-after labels for the serious collector. In addition to the notable collection of wines the Enoteca was a featured location in the Japanese film version of Sideways. Yes, that’s correct-- there is a Japanese vision of Sideways. Domo arigato!
On March 27, 2013Marcy Gordon answered the question:Considering much of wine country was settled by Italian immigrants, it’s only natural to find so many great Italian restaurants here.
Oenotri -Consistently voted one of the Best Italian restaurants by locals and visitors alike, Oneotri raises the high bar on Italian cuisine with a daily changing menu featuring the specialties of Sicily, Campania, Calabria, Basilicata and Puglia.
Bottega- Yountville’s Star Chef and NapaStyle entrepreneur, Michael Chiarello, showcases his passion and dedication to fresh and inventive cuisine that is deeply rooted in Italian tradition. House made pastas, meats, cured olives, and fresh cheeses anchor the menu from the Antipasti to the Contorni. The Ricotta Gnocchi here is a dream and a must try dish is the Goat Milk Braised Pork Orecchiette.
Rosso – There may be fancier places but nothing can beat the consistent high quality and “everything on the menu is good” appeal of Rosso. From the wood-fired pizzas to the fold-and-eat Piadines, and the Rosso daily specials--this is the place for a pure hit of Italy focused through the slow food lens of fresh and local. Added bonus is the thoughtful wine list—a mix of “there” and here.
On March 27, 2013Marcy Gordon answered the question:Fine jewelry in wine country emphasizes craftsmanship, not cookie cutter designs found at chain store brands. Here you’ll find exclusive designs from local artisans that interpret the organic forms of the land into to stunning pieces of personal adornment.
Artisana From traditional to exotic, every piece of jewelry here is like tiny fantasy world fashioned out of fine gems and precious metals. The one-of-a-kind creations here will capture your eye and then your heart, swiftly followed by your wallet. But the return on investment will be ten-fold in the compliments you’ll receive from others about your exquisite taste in jewelry.
Palladium Fine Jewelry on Main Street in St. Helena has enough shimmer and shine to make sunglasses a requirement as you browse the classic creations in platinum, gold, and sliver and a sparkling assortment of engagement rings.
Silver Sensations a local favorite for original designs in earrings, pendants, and bracelets made from silver and assorted gemstones.
On March 26, 2013Marcy Gordon answered the question:Sonoma—
Gravenstein Highway in West Sonoma County is an antique lovers version of the Yellow Brick Road studded with vintage stores and antique shops. If you are seeking the picker jackpot, The Antique Society is a must stop for collectors and antique hunters. The Antique Society hosts over 125 dealers all under one roof and has an on-site café, The Snapdragon Bakery, serving light breakfasts, tasty baked goods, lunch and strong coffee. Trust me you’ll need a quick boost of energy from the café to restore your strength after hours of browsing this fascinating collection. The Antique Society is perfect place to find exactly the thing you had no idea you were looking for.
Alice’s Vintage and Antique Shop is a mid-century consignment shop featuring the best selection of Vintage and Antique items from the past and was recently voted favorite Antique shop by Napa locals.
On March 26, 2013Marcy Gordon answered the question:The natural beauty, soft light and laidback lifestyle of Napa and Sonoma provide inspiration to hundreds of artists working in all mediums such as glass, fine woodworking, and sculpture. Paintings featuring vineyard landscapes in watercolor and oil are among the most popular work. The many art galleries in Napa and Sonoma are great for leisurely browsing and offer art lovers a special way to capture the perfect memory of wine country.
di Rosa Gallery is more than a mere gallery it’s a tribute to Northern California artists displayed in the permanent collection of art along with monthly exhibitions of emerging artists and MFA candidates. Set on 200 acres in the Carneros region of Napa, the site features a spectatular sculpture meadow of large-scale works and two galleries. The Gatehouse Gallery is open for drop in visits and the Main Gallery, is by appointment for private tours.
Quent Cordair Fine Art specializes in “romantic realism” and figurative art by a large roster of artists displayed at the downtown Napa location. If you fancy something beyond the traditional paintings of vineyard landscapes this is the place.
Sebastopol Gallery offers an eclectic and diverse collection of local artists working in all mediums and features the best window displays in town.
On March 26, 2013Marcy Gordon answered the question:Located directly on the waterfront, the Napa River Inn offers luxury with a historic past. The property was originally developed in 1897 by Captain Albert E. Hatt as part of his steamship business. The 66 rooms offer modern amenities and several Historic Deluxe rooms feature original flooring, clay brick walls and restored architectural details. Today the hotel is part of a thriving complex of shops, restaurants and bars overlooking the Napa river.
In Sonoma Hotel La Rose, in Santa Rosa, is the centerpiece of Historic Railroad Square. Opened in 1907, the hotel has a storied past and housed a secret pub during prohibition times. Outside, the Hotel La Rose is noted for its elegant facade built by Italian masons with locally quarried stones. While inside, the interior corridors feature the original wainscoting and lead to the 47 guest rooms appointed with marble and brass baths and modern comforts.
On March 26, 2013Marcy Gordon answered the question:Best food gifts? Locally made Chocolates, Honey, Cheese, Olive Oil, and Wine of course. Wine is a food too right? Here are my top selections for best food gifts to buy in Napa and Sonoma.
Woodhouse, in Napa, is like the Tiffany’s of chocolate in design and with their signature blue box. In Sonoma, Sonoma Chocolatiers will satisfy those with a taste for the dark side with their hand dipped and hand decorated edible art works.
Sola Bee Farms Honey –Raw, local and sustainable products with diverse varieties like Black Button Sage and Wine Country Wildflower.
Some of the best cheese in the world is made right in Sonoma County. Local favorites include the extraordinary sheep milk cheese from Bellwether Farms and the Italian Farmstead style cheese from Valley Ford Cheese Company.
McEvoy Ranch olive oil and body products are the kind of gifts you end up keeping for your self. In Napa Round Pond Estate olive oils are the perfect gift for your very best of friends.
With thousands of choices available I leave this selection up to you. But whatever you choose be sure to double down and bring home extra bottles of everything. You’ll be glad you did and so will your friends.