Entries in ‘Wine Country’ Journal

Napa Valley Festival del Sole

Thursday July 3, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 1 Comment

"Jamieson Ranch" horse

Jamieson Ranch hosts Napa Valley Festival del Sole

As I have stated many times on this luxury travel blog, I feel blessed to live in Northern California with its endless possibilities of beauty, musical talent, fantastic food and wine, creative artists and wellness practitioners. A wonderful example of these opportunities coming together in one location is Napa Valley Festival del Sole. This annual 10 day summer celebration takes place in numerous venues throughout Napa Valley, California with over 100 wineries participating in this July event.

 

"Cici's Italian Butterhorns" "Taste of Napa"

Cici’s Italian Butterhorns participate at Festival del Sole: A Taste of Napa

 
Festival del Sole Taste of Napa

I had the pleasure of attending A Taste of Napa last July. Festival del Sole guests are treated to nibbles, bites and sips from Napa Valley wineries and culinary creators from Northern California. One of my favorite finds from A Taste of Napa was Lafayette, California-based Cici’s Italian Butterhorns. This mother-daughter duo makes delicious handmade Italian treats.
 

 
Festival del Sole concerts

Concert goers will appreciate the high caliber of musicians and singers drawn to Napa Valley for the opportunity to perform at Festival del Sole. With concerts ranging from Joshua Bell, to the Russian National Orchestra performing in 2013 and a series of young artist concerts sponsored by Bouchaine Vineyards, chamber music afficionados to opera lovers will leave on a satisfied note.
 

"Russian National Orchestra" "Lincoln Theater" "Festival del Sole"

Russian National Orchestra takes stage at Napa Valley Festival del Sole’s Lincoln Theater


Festival del Sole Gala

The annual Festival del Sole Gala at Meadowood Napa Valley is an elegant enchanted garden affair. I have yet to attend this swank gala, as it is a hot ticket at Festival del Sole with a live auction at the end of the evening to benefit Festival del Sole and various local arts education programs. The sold-out gala requests ladies dress in white attire, while gentlemen are required to wear summer dinner jackets.

Festival del Sole lodging

As mentioned above, Napa Valley Festival del Sole is a much anticipated summer event in Northern California. You’ll want to make your Napa Valley hotel reservations in advance, as this is not the festival to drink and drive. I stayed at Napa River Inn when I attended Napa Valley Festival del Sole. Additional hotel partners include properties in Calistoga, Napa, Rutherford, St. Helena and Yountville.
 

"Grape Crusher" sculpture

Napa Valley Festival Sole blends wine, food, music & arts

 
Insider Tip:
While Napa Valley Festival del Sole is not an inexpensive affair, there are several free concerts and events open to the general public – reservations recommended. For additional insider tips follow Northern California Travel Writer @Nancydbrown on Twitter and Festival del Sole @Napafest.

If You Go:
Napa Valley Festival del Sole (888) 337-6272
www.festivaldelsole.org

Article, photos and video courtesy of Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. Cici’s Italian Butterhorns photo provided. I was a guest of Festival del Sole’s Taste of Napa Valley, the Russian National Orchestra performance at Lincoln Center and Jamieson Ranch dinner. All opinions are my own.

Pat Benatar Neil Giraldo Rock Uptown Theatre Napa

Friday May 30, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 0 Comments

"Benatar Giraldo" "Uptown Theatre"

Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo 35th Anniversary Tour at Uptown Theatre, Napa

Rock and roll is alive and well at the Uptown Theatre in downtown Napa. Musicians Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo rocked Uptown Theatre taking listeners on a musical journey that launched in 1979 (the year my husband and I graduated high school) and continues today. The hipster baby boomers have traveled together on the road for 35 years and celebrate this June with their 35 year anniversary tour.

Baby Boomers Travel

The married musicians poked fun at themselves throughout the performance, noting that they were “old and married” but they could still rock the house at Uptown Theatre in downtown Napa.
 
In a previous interview the couple said they never get tired of performing live in concert, “it’s the travel that gets us tired,” noted Benatar.
 
Guitarist Neil Giraldo sipped on water, from a red plastic solo cup, between music sets of “Promises in the Dark” “Hell is for Children” a powerful song about child abuse, “Love is a Battlefield” and “We Belong,” among other classic music hits.
 

"Pat Benatar" "Neil Giraldo"

Baby boomers Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo rock Uptown Theatre

Baby Boomers Rock

As Pat Benatar belted out “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” the baby boomer audience sang and swayed along from their plush seats at Uptown Theatre. I had heard that “there isn’t a bad seat in the house” from Marketing Manager Shelby French, but I had to see it for myself to believe it. The historic Uptown Theatre is a lovely theater for musicians to perform in, with an intimate 800 seats and fantastic acoustics, as well as the beautiful, hand-painted art-deco style ceiling.
 

"Uptown Theatre"

Discovering downtown Napa at Uptown Theatre

Discovering downtown Napa

Before the 8:00 p.m. show, my husband and I decided to drive up from the East Bay and do Napa like a local. We picked up the downtown Napa wine tasting card from the Napa Valley Welcome Center on Main Street and proceeded to sip our way through downtown Napa.
 

With over 24 wine tasting rooms to choose from and 65 restaurants, downtown Napa is a very walkable city. We sampled wine from many places and then moved onto the Oxbow Public Market for a light dinner at Kitchen Door. I love their deviled egg salad and mushroom soup! All in all, a very enjoyable evening was had in downtown Napa. Rock on Pat Benatar!
 

"Neil Giraldo" "Pat Benatar"

Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo


 
Insider Tip
The warm up act was a talented young bay area musician named Roem Baur. His band that night was his electric guitar and a tambourine strapped around his ankle. This guy has quite the set of pipes and got the crowd fired up. My personal favorite, “Natural Disaster.” Expect to hear more good things from Roem Baur. For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter @nancydbrown and @TheUptownNapa on Twitter for upcoming concert information.
 
If You Go:
Uptown Theatre (707) 259-0123
1350 Third St.
Napa, California 94559

Article and photos by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. Publicity photo of Neil Giraldo and Pat Benatar supplied. I was a guest of Uptown Theatre for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

Do Napa Like a Local

Friday May 23, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 14 Comments

"Silos"

Silo’s for live music in Napa

A lot has changed over the years in the world famous Napa Valley wine country. My husband and I lived in downtown Napa in the early 1980′s. While there were plenty of things to see and do in Napa in the day time, the night life was like a vintage California wine in an underground cellar – cold, dusty and waiting to be uncorked. We’ve since moved to the East Bay, but when we visit Northern California wine country I still like to do Napa like a local.
 
 

 

"Luna Vineyards"

Wine tasting at Luna Vineyards in Napa, California

Napa wine tasting like a local
 

With over 400 wineries in the Napa Valley, it’s easy to become overwhelmed when wine tasting. To do Napa like a local, pick up the downtown Napa Wine Tasting Card. This ($30.) wine tasting card offers access to 12 downtown Napa tasting rooms all within walking distance. On my latest visit to downtown Napa I visited Bounty Hunter Bar, Capp Heritage, NakedWines.Com (yep, the online retailer has a tasting room in downtown Napa), Napa General Store and Trahan Winery. Dog lovers, taste Sadie’s Red Wine, an adorable wine label with the winery mascot, Sadie, who is now in doggie heaven.
 

"deviled eggs" "Kitchen Door" napa

Dining like a local at Kitchen Door


Napa dining like a local

For the foodies visiting Napa, there are currently 65 restaurants in downtown Napa within a 20 block radius. I noshed my way through Napa with dinners at Carpe Diem and City Winery, breakfasts at Napa General Store and C Casa (inside Oxbow Public Market), followed with lunches at Oenotri, Bounty Hunter and Kitchen Door (also inside Oxbow Market.) Napa locals know to order the house made pasta and charcuterie plate at Oenotri, the beer can chicken at Bounty Hunter, the deviled eggs and mushroom soup at Kitchen Door, huevos rancheros at C Casa and olive oil cake with caramel gelato at City Winery. I may not be a local any more, but I can personally recommend all of these local favorites.
 

"City Winery" cake

Locals know to order City Winery’s Olive Oil Cake with Caramel Gelato


 
I was also impressed that sophisticated City Winery, with locations in Chicago, New York and Nashville, chose to open a joint in downtown Napa – inside the historic Napa Valley Opera House! Not only do they serve good food paired with live music, locals know that City Winery offers 35 local wines on tap.

 

"Alan Shepp" mosaic

Alan Shepp mosaic fountain tells the story of Napa Valley


 
Napa culture

If you think Napa only offers a food and wine scene you’d be wrong. Explore the ARTWalk in downtown Napa, with outdoor sculpture exhibitions – you can even learn the dance moves to the Cha, Cha, Cha! Or wonder over to the Veterans Memorial Park Amphitheater by the Napa River Walk for free Friday night concerts in the summer.

Looking for big name entertainment? The Uptown Theatre, with its restored 1937 art deco interior, has hosted Boz Scaggs, Willie Nelson, Chris Isaak, Pat Benatar and even Snoop Dogg. Silo’s, a wine bar and jazz club located in the Historic Napa Mill, is also an evening option with blues, rock, jazz, pop and country music. The Napa River Inn is also part of the Historic Napa Mill and has a sweet waterfront location.
 

"Nancy Brown" bike

Nancy Brown explores Napa like a local at Luna Winery


 
Explore Napa outdoors like a local

Napa locals love their outdoor adventures and are generally fitness-minded. When I stayed downtown, I noticed visitors and locals alike walking and jogging on the river front promenade. The Vine Trail is currently under construction with eight walkable miles in downtown Napa. It used to be that horseback riding was open to the public in Napa, but horse lovers have to head to Sonoma for wine country horseback riding. Kayaking is popular on the Napa River and, my personal favorite, bike riding on the Silverado Trail. Our group used Getaway Adventures and they set us up with new Specialized bikes & helmets for a leisurely ride from Oxbow Public Market to Luna Vineyards – one of the first wineries on the Silverado Trail – so an easy bike ride.

 

"Trahan Winery" "sadie"

Do Napa like a local at Trahan Winery


Insider Tip:
The Spa at Napa River Inn is new since my last visit to downtown Napa. Tell me what you think?
 
How do you do Napa like a local?

Article, photos and YouTube video by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. Thanks to the folks at Downtown Napa Association and the Napa Tourism Improvement District for inviting me to Do Napa like a local.

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