This Weekend In Wine Country: Three Signature Outdoor Food And Wine Events To Relish

Escape to the Napa Valley this weekend where great chefs and great wineries will be serving exciting pairings amidst the fresh air, beautiful views, and festive music.

Calistoga Food & Wine Festival at Solage 

Photo courtesy of Solage Calistoga

Executive Chef Brandon Sharp of Michelin star Solbar welcomes chefs Reylon Agustin of Traci Des Jardins' The Commissary and Bradley Borchardt of Expanding Palates at the 2nd annual Calistoga Food & Wine Fest ($95/per personp) on Friday, April 24 from 6pm-9pm. Stroll the lush lawns of Solage while exploring the wines of 30 Calistoga wineries, sampling delicious passed canapes and small plates prepared a la minute at live cooking stations. Bluegrass music by Ed & Friends sets the down-home, yet very hip, vibe of the new Calistoga.

Photo courtesy of Sam's Social Club

The Fest continues on Saturday with select winemaker dinners ($145-$195/per person) at wineries or Downtown Calistoga venues such as Jole, and the new Evangeline bistro and Sam’s Social Club. Check the website for details and to make advance reservations.

Stag's Leap District Vineyards To Vintners Weekend

Stag's Leap Wine Cellars' new Visitor Center. Photo courtesy of Javier Barba

19 Stag's Leap District vintners offer exclusive access to their homes and wineries during the V2V Open Houses on Saturday, April 25 from 10am-4pm. Vintners will offer special activities plus food and wine pairings featuring limited release wines and barrel samples. On Sunday, April 26 from 10:30am-1pm, preview the 2012 vintage collection during a vintner-hosted brunch on the patio at Silverado Vineyards with food catered by Meadowood Resort. Here are just some of the reasons to visit the vintner Open Houses:

-Meet icons and legends: Stag's Leap quality pioneers such as John Shafer will be on hand to welcome visitors. At Shafer Vineyards, guests will have the special opportunity to taste the 2006 Hillside Select, so limited in quantities it won’t be available for sale.

-See the Future of Stag's Leap: The latest member of the district, Odette Estate, will give tours of its green winery, designed to LEED Gold standards by Signum Architecture, featuring a living roof and repurposed shipping containers as well as educate visitors about its organic farming practices.

-Exclusive access: Visit wineries not normally open to the public like Lindstrom Wines or head to Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, whose “BBQ and Blues” event takes place on the patio of Nathan Fay’s former residence in a secluded spot on the property. It was Fay who first planted Cabernet in Stag's Leap and inspired vintners like Shafer and Warren Winiarski to invest in the District.

-Great food, wine and music abound on this day, starting with the very popular “Bienvenue Brunch” in the Olive Grove of Clos du Val where they’ll be serving chilled Sauvignon Blanc with savory crepes until noon, switching over to Cab and more pairings with the sounds of various French jazz artists wafting in the background.

Tickets are $175/per person for Saturday’s Open House pass or $300/per person for a 2-day pass including the vintner-hosted brunch and 2012 vintage preview. For more information, locations and to book, visit the website.

A Cabernet Cookoff Like No Other At HALL Wines In St. Helena

Photo courtesy of HALL Wines

Cooking competitions always raise the stake and guests and charities are the beneficiaries in the 6th annual Cab Cookoff at HALL Wines on Saturday, April 25 from 11am-2pm on the art-filled Great Lawn. Over a dozen Napa Valley and SF chefs vie for the best pairing with the HALL 2012 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Entire ticket proceeds go towards the winning chefs’ designated local charities. More than 600+ food and wine lovers attended last year’s fest, raising $66,000 in donations.

Photo courtesy of HALL Wines

Tickets are $80/per person general admission or $125/per person for access to the VIP Sky Loft and its bird’s-eye view of the activities from the historic Bergfeld building. VIP tickets include limited release Bergfeld wines and specially prepared food. For more information and to book, check the website

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