Carpe Diem Wine Bar fastidiously finds the finest vintages of rare, unique wines from around the globe and serves them alongside a menu of small plates that encourage sharing and pairing. When assembling the extensive wine list, Carpe Diem's grape gurus give precedence to pours, such as the L'Objet pinot noir from the Russian River ($13 per glass), that possess interesting flavor profiles. Naturally fermented and aged in French oak, L'Objet exudes the coltish boisterousness of youth and pairs well with Kobe beef corn dogs ($9), which combine the innocence of a boardwalk treat with the futuristic menace of cows raised on classical music. Wines also enhance artisanal cheese and meat plates ($6–$26) or brick-oven grilled flatbreads ($11–$14) piled with toppings that include mushroom, tiger prawn, and pumpkin.
The history of Ceja Vineyards dates back the 1950s, when Pablo Ceja, then working in St. Helena vineyards, dreamed of owning his own land where his ever-expanding family could grow their own grapes and make their own wine. Fueled by this dream for a better life for his children, Pablo moved his family from Mexico to the Napa Valley in 1967. Fortunately, 2 of his 10 children, Pedro and Armando, inherited his passion for wine and belief in hard work. When they were old enough, Pedro and Armando planted their first pinot-noir grapes in 1986 and, 13 years later, officially founded Ceja Vineyards with their wives and children. Today, the Cejas' operation boasts 113 producing acres and a chic wine-tasting salon where guests can enjoy sips of the vineyard’s red and white varietals, artisan cheeses, gourmet food items, and featured works from local artists.
In good Ceja tradition, Pedro and Armando’s kids are now beginning to purple their feet in the family business as well. Pablo’s family has undoubtedly made him proud; they’ve done much since their humble beginnings in St. Helena. The family hopes their story of hope and determination surfaces in every sip of their lovingly cultivated wines.
Chef Greg Johnson transfigures time-tested favorites into creative dishes at the award-winning Zinsvalley Restaurant. Diners can steal away for an exotic midday lunch of coconut yellow curry, which bathes baby bok choy, yams, shitake mushrooms, snow peas, and jasmine rice together in a bath of yellow coconut milk curry ($14), or field imaginary fly balls while noshing on the Wagyu beef hot dog with a piquant kick of jalapeño jam and pico de gallo ($11). At dinner, gourmands can sip local small-production vintages while elegantly slurping shrimp linguini ($16) or the chef's signature steak frittes, which pairs grilled Kobe Bavette with chili-rubbed fries and watercress ($24).
SILO'S fills melodic voids with performances by local and nationally recognized artists and coats throats with bottled bliss from a number of Carneros and Napa Valley wineries. Friday and Saturday nights, live jazz, blues, rock, reggae, and Motown acts inspire involuntary gyrations on the dance floor with a cover charge ($10–$20 per show) to prevent exuberant octopi from clogging dancing lanes. Upcoming acts include the British Invasion tribute act The Who Too on Saturday, April 16, and the classic-rock cover experts of Renegade on Saturday, April 30, playing the songs of Journey, REO Speedwagon, and other '70s and '80s acts.
The oenophiles at Napa Valley Toffee Company satiate cravings for local flavors with tastings of Napa-produced wines and luscious homemade chocolates. Synchronized sippers can indulge in a hodgepodge of five red and white nectars, each harvested from Napa-grown grapes, bottled by local wineries, and approved by the California Raisins. Though wine flights vary by tasting, guests can expect to nourish their palates with gulps from small case lots and nibbles from local vendors, such as Napa Farmhouse 1885, and Verve Coffee of Santa Cruz. Before heading home to wash off purple handlebar mustaches, sippers can treat themselves to $20 worth of goodies from the shop, where bottles of 2009 sauvignon blanc ($20) and Rescue Red ($15) hobnob with eight-ounce boxes of house-made chocolates ($11) and Drink the Leaf loose-leaf tea.
The open wine tasting salon Taste at Oxbow aims to expand palates with an eclectic menu of wines chosen to accompany artisanal cheeses and gourmet food items. Energy-efficient fixtures illuminate the salon's olive and merlot-toned walls, which owe their hues to chemical-free paints.