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.
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.
Grapes hang heavy from the vines on trellises scattered across 20 acres of the rolling Lincoln Hills. The fruit, tended by Wise Villa Winery's oenophiles, yield awards, including a prestigious honor from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Owner and winemaker Dr. Grover Lee draws on viticulture training while producing single-variety and blended wines or doing the crossword in the Grapes Aficionado Quarterly. Within the winery, the tasting room fills with the sound of clinking glasses as patrons sample various award winners, such as the Pinot Noir Rose. The winery also arranges frequent events, including live music on Fridays, grape-stomping parties, and reservation-only pairing dinners at its bistro.
Downtown & Vine all but transports its guests to lush, rolling vineyards, stocking the fruits of a dozen wineries from across five regions surrounding Sacramento. The house sommelier, Gregg Lamer, curates the selection of more than 100 bottles that are served by the glass. Gregg regularly changes up the menu, but always highlights wines from local growers that use sustainable farming practices. The list includes Sonoma vintner, Iron Horse Vineyards—whose wines have been served at White House events hosted by the past five presidents; Shadow Ranch in Fairplay who exclusively uses solar power and organic farming methods; and Dillian, an Amador County farm in the Shenandoah Valley that's been handed down through four generations of Dillians.
To give palates something to do between sips, Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef Kate Chomko has built a small, charming menu of farmhouse small plates and artisan grilled cheeses. The latter takes traditional comfort food and drags it into adulthood with inventive flavor combinations such as prosciutto and fig jam. Desserts get a similar upgrade with salted caramel cookies or the Basque cake served with crème fraiche and blood orange syrup. Diners tuck into the gustatory proceedings at intimate tables flanked by cushy chairs support tasting pairs, while the private Vintner's Room features an eye-catching glass table enclosing a riddling rack.