Diners seated in what used to be the Frasinetti's east cellar sate themselves on handcrafted Italian lunch and dinner dishes, surrounded by huge vats evoking the 112-year-old winery’s storied past. Dinners commence with starters such as crostini slathered in grilled brie and red-pepper chutney ($10) or steamed clams in white-wine sauce ($9). Next, certified non-android servers bring out entrees such as seafood manicotti, a mix of salmon, scallops, and crab packed in pasta ($15). Pine-nut-gorgonzola butter adds a zesty twist to the 12-ounce center-cut prime rib ($25), and the regal Atlantic salmon rests on a bed of mushroom risotto ($19), like an eccentric rice baron.
The atmosphere in which one tastes a wine can be just as important as the wine's actual taste. Knowing this, the owners of Naggiar Vineyards and Winery housed their tasting room inside a picturesque Tuscan-style stucco building on the shores of a small pond, accenting its interiors with heavy wood ceiling beams, polished tile floors, and long tables surrounded by ornately upholstered chairs. Outside on the patio, servers ferry appetizers and tapas between wrought-iron café tables and around a monolithic stone fireplace. In this outdoor space, live bands play every weekend, and warm-weather wine festivals spill out onto the lawn when mom kicks them out of the basement.
With three KCRA-3 A-List Best Winery awards from 2010 to 2012, it's no surprise that Naggiar Vineyards and Winery puts even more care into its wines. Aided by in-house wine consultant and U.C. Davis graduate Derek Irwin, the staff cultivates more than 160 acres of vineyards. They harvest the grapes by hand and only at night, ensuring the fruits are packed when it’s cool, arrive at the cellar for pressing early in the day, and don't fall prey to vegetarian hawks. This painstaking process results in a spectrum of small-batch wines, each made from the estate's best grapes—which include varietals native to Italy, Rhone, and Bordeaux. The winery also hosts an annual winefest.
Renaissance Winery, a picturesque mountain vineyard roughly 2,000 feet into the Sierra Foothills, crafts estate-bottled wines in a traditional European-style focusing on the Bordeaux and Rhone family of varietals. The Wine and Roses Tasting, gives wine enthusiasts the opportunity to sip organically made pours and stroll through two European-style rose gardens fashioned after La Roserie Bagatelle in Paris. The flora-farms are interspersed with fountains, French street lamps, street vendors peddling French street lamps, and the aromatic blossoms of more than 300 types of roses. Renaissance's tasting room is lake-adjacent for serene views of water reflecting clouds that look like Babe Ruth.
Auburn Alehouse's menu features hearty burgers, and crowd-pleasing appetizers alongside award-winning brews handcrafted in small, fresh batches using a traditional 10-barrel system. After savoring a pitcher of American Pale Ale ($15.25), hops-seekers can toast beloved bards with bawdy haikus and pints of Old Town Brown, a complex potion descended from English mild ale and crystal malts ($4.25). Guests may then top off their guzzle tanks with pints of Gold Country pilsner, which took a bronze medal at the 2010 Great American Beer Festival before sweeping the Olympic lager-luge finals ($4.25).
Every year, on the weekend just before Thanksgiving, the Mountain Mandarin Festival unites crowds beneath the Gold Country Fairgrounds' autumn-leaved trees to celebrate fresh crops of mandarin oranges. Throughout the event, family-centered activities keep visitors of all ages entertained, including cooking contests, professional-chef demonstrations, and live musical performances. Also on hand, Placer County growers dole out thousands of pounds of fresh mandarin oranges, and more than 200 vendors showcase gifts ranging from lotions and candles to artist-crafted jewelry.