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).
Pyramid Alehouse pours a flavorful cascade of handcrafted draft beers, passing straight to the mug from the on-site brewery. Whether guests prefer a malty amber ale or a hoppy, Thunderhead IPA, Pyramid Alehouse’s vast menu of succulent cuisine and beer-infused bites are specially designed to complement every frothy glass. Pair down the sweetness of fruity apricot ale with a spicy platter of wheat-battered chicken wings served with louisiana hot sauce and blue cheese ($11). Or, absorb a double dose of unfiltered bavarian ale by pairing the Haywire Hefeweizen with a hearty helping of shepherd’s pie, featuring Haywire braised lamb stew, slathered over a pile of garlicy mashed potatoes, and topped with a puff pastry ($12). Though football and cheese-rolling season have almost finished, Pyramid Alehouse boasts a daily rotating lineup of food and drink specials to keep sports fans well fueled until the championship line-dancing semi-finals makes its triumphant return to prime time.
Sudwerk Brewing Co. is passionate about its pours. The craft brewery has been making award-winning, German-style lagers for more than 21 years. To sample the brewers' spectrum of libations, visitors head to the tasting room, a simple setup right on the brewery's loading dock. Its menu of four brews rotates regularly, rewarding frequent visitors with seasonal beers. Meanwhile, tours of the whole facility teach visitors how beer is made, packaged, and distributed. After visiting the facility, patrons can fill up a growler with their favorite beer to take home, drink, and bring back to Sudwerk Brewing Co. for refills.
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.
Wind tousles the broad leaves of vines above clusters of grapes the off-black blue of the dusk sky. Frank and Liz Vezér, owners of Vezér Family Vineyard, originally began growing the fruit to help fill the needs of wine producers including Ravenswood and Sin Zin. More than a decade ago, they also began producing their own wines. “One could call it beginner’s luck,” says Touring and Tasting Magazine, “but their award-winning streak has yet to be broken. Every single wine Vezér has produced has won a top award or superior rating. Of most recent note, the 2007 Vezér Cabernet Sauvignon won double gold at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition and a whopping 97 points at a blind tasting at Napa’s Bay Leaf Restaurant.”
The winery adjoins the original Pony Express offices, and one can still almost hear the sound of plodding hooves and hooves frustratedly trying to apply stamps. On a copper-roofed cupola, an equine weathervane twists to face the winds above a sweeping swath of grass that fills with chatter during weddings and other events.
Vezer Stock, the Vezér Family Vineyard's version of Woodstock, will be held at the Blue Victorian Winery on July 13th from 4p.m. to 10 p.m. Attendants are encourage to dress up in their most far out 1969 outfits while they enjoy tunes from the Used Blues Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd Tribute Band, and Rick Harris & Silverado.
Now that eating on an ordinary table or atop a stack of Chinese acrobats seem horribly passé, adventurous foodies are seeking the next unconventional dining experience. Today's Groupon puts a little motion under your meal with two gourmet dinners on the Napa Valley Wine Train for $99 (a $198 value for dinner, $188 value for lunch). Treat yourself and a loved one to a three-hour ride through Napa Valley on an antique locomotive engine, accompanied by a delicious gourmet meal in lieu of the traditional mysterious murder.
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.