Five Things to Do in Wine Country in July

La Dolce Vita at Festival del Sol, exciting changes to the Saint Helena food scene and a premier wine festival from a chef’s point of view, these and more to plan for in Wine Country in July.

A Friendly European Style Gastropub Awaits in Saint Helena

Courtesy Cairdean Vineyards

The Farmer & The Fox restaurant welcomes visitors to a European-stylel hamlet at Cairdean Estate which also features a new tasting room, retail shop and bakery-deli. The 100-seat restaurant serves up classic pub food such as game pie, Scotch Eggs and a nightly roast along with select wines and beers on tap and artisanal cocktails. In the spirit of the estate name, Cairdean, which means friends in Scottish Gaelic, there is no corkage fee for guests’ own wines.

Courtesy Cairdean Vineyards

SF designer Nicole Hollis created comfortable yet elegant interiors using deep banquettes of leather and woven Welsh blankets, cool checkered marble floors and warm oak paneled walls all basking under the glow of brass lamps. Vintage silverware completes the authentic look at the table. Open daily from 5-10 p.m. 3111 St. Helena Highway North, Saint Helena

The Essence of La Dolce Vita at Festival del Sole

Opening night at Castello di Amorosa. Photo by Vi Bottaro

Napa Valley’s premier lifestyle event, Festival del Sole, takes place from July 11-20 with over 60 events featuring world-class music, theater, dance, wellness programs and incredible food and wine in the most beautiful Wine Country settings. No one could capture the essence of Festival del Sole’s “art of life” better than the legendary Sophia Loren whose life and career will be feted on Saturday evening July 19 at Far Niente Winery with Bella Italia! an Italian-inspired dinner prepared by Piero Selvaggio and Michael Chiarello, followed by a tribute from stars such as Whoopi Goldberg as emcee and Robert Redford, and a concert by the LA Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra conducted by Ms. Loren’s son Carlo Ponti. The musical selections honor her life’s work including the theme from Two Women the movie for which Ms. Loren earned an Oscar, and a new composition by Daniel Brewbaker, Sinfonietta per Sofia. In the spirit of LA Virtuosi’s advocacy of music education, the orchestra will also perform a free community concert that afternoon at the Lincoln Theater in Yountville at 2 p.m. Highly coveted events such as Bella Italia! are sold out as single event tickets but there is still limited availability under VIP passes so call soon to the Festival Concierge at (707) 346-5052, ext 2.

Another perennial favorite during the festival is A Taste of Napa ($45 pp) taking place on July 12 from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at 500 First Street in Downtown Napa. Over 50 restaurants and wineries will be participating in this walk-around food and wine exploration which this year also includes cooking demos by Top Chef alum and Hungry Investor star Tiffany Derry and wellness expert Dr. Melina Jampolis. For the full schedule of Festival del Sole events, vintner luncheons and dinners and to purchase tickets, check the website. Tickets begin at $45 pp for single events up to $700-$8,500 pp for multi-day VIP passes.

New Chef and New Spaces at PRESS Restaurant in Saint Helena

Photo by Kristen Loken

Taking PRESS Restaurant to the next level is the arrival of executive chef Trevor Kunk, former chef de cuisine at Dan Barber’s Michelin star Blue Hill in NYC, recipient of James Beard outstanding restaurant award in 2013. Chef Kunk’s food philosophy is perfectly aligned with PRESS, both restaurants being acclaimed for sourcing sustainably grown and raised ingredients directly from their own farms, Rudd Farms and Edge Hill Gardens providing an abundance of seasonal produce, free-range eggs, heritage-breed pigs and turkeys and more. Chef Kunk plans to showcase the wealth of fruits, vegetables and herbs even more in the steak-focused restaurant. Complementing the menu’s fresh summer bounty, PRESS completely revamped its 2,100 square foot patio for al fresco lounging and dining, offering both the bar menu and full dining room menu in the casual space. Open Wednesday through Monday, 5-10 p.m. 587 Saint Helena Highway, Saint Helena

A Wine Festival First With Top SF Chefs at the Helm

Courtesy West Sonoma Coast Vintners

A wine festival to definitely plan ahead for, West of West (WOW) takes place August 1-3, at The Barlow in Sebastopol and various locations for select winemaker dinners. In line with the far, far West Sonoma Coast Vintner’s food-friendly, cool climate Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah wines, the festival this year takes on a new dimension with perspectives from top SF chefs and sommeliers from around the country. The opening seminar on Saturday August 2 is “The Evolution of California Cuisine & Wine” featuring panelists Stuart and Nicole Brioza from Statebird Provisions, Sarah and Evan Rich from Rich Table and Nick Batta and Cortney Burns from Bar Tartine. Not only will they discuss how the local food movement has changed the way we cook and eat, they will also prepare bites representing their “modern takes” on food and wine pairing using West Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir wines. The chefs will also headline the Grand Dinner taking place that evening. Tickets range from $125 for grand tasting only to $475 for an all-access pass including the top chef grand dinner; individual winemaker dinners priced separately. For full schedule of dinners, seminars and tastings, check the West Sonoma Coast Vintners website.

New Rotating Art Exhibit at Patz + Hall in Sonoma

Courtesy Reverie Arts

At its new Sonoma House on Eight Street in Sonoma, Patz + Hall premiers “Art Harvest” on July 11 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. featuring the bold works of Spanish painter Adrian Ssegura and hosted by Reverie Arts and Luxe Interiors + Design. This free exhibit coincides with their first Summer Series of music and picnicking that takes place on the second Friday of every month through September. Free admission, wine is available for purchase and food is available for purchase from Southern-inspired food truck Drums & Crumbs. General hours are Thursday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 21200 8th Street East, Sonoma

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Keywords: Wine Country

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