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.
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.
The cooks at Sips Bistro and Wine Shop use locally acquired and organic ingredients where possible in their classic menu of small plates, varietals, and espresso drinks. The intimate bistro setting—rendered warm by colorful murals of pastoral settings and elegant wood wine racks—hosts guests as they try refined eats such as a chicken, brie, and caramelized onion quesadilla, or a brined and herb-crusted bone-in pork chop. During wine flights, vino sippers may choose their own drinks from a temperature-controlled wine bar or the frigid palms of a grape-eating sprite. The company also occasionally hosts events such as champagne Sundays and special tastings.
When wine is produced, it takes on the characteristics of the soil it’s grown in, the culture it’s surrounded by, and the people who skillfully craft it. Which is why wine tasting is one of the best ways to get to know a new region or even your own local area. Sip California’s wine tasting cards offer pairs a chance to get to know regions such as Lodi, the Sacramento Valley, and the Sierra Foothills by sipping their way through more than three-dozen wineries. Their cards also motivate holders to get out, explore, and try something new. In addition to complimentary tastings at each winery, visitors can also take advantage of tours, discounts on purchases, and unlimited gulps of fresh air.
Cuisine Type: Winery
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Parking: Parking lot
Most popular offering: Wines and a rustic event venue
Alcohol: Wine only
Outdoor Seating: Yes
The Carvalho family's history in the winemaking industry began in the vineyards of Portugal more than 100 years ago, right after drinking wine for pleasure was invented. Although the family has since immigrated to the rolling fields of Clarksburg Wine Country, the new generation of Carvalhos still hand-crafts small batches of wine with the same dedication as their ancestors. They source their grapes from local vineyards in the surrounding area to concoct a variety of California wines, including their crisp sauvignon blanc, creamy chardonnay, smooth pinot noir, and five-barrel tawny port, which can all be sipped in their quaintly appointed tasting room. In addition to tastings, the room hosts regular events including tastings, art openings, and live music.
The family further proves that they know how to entertain in their charming Old Sugar Mill event space, which hosts weddings and special occasions of all kinds beneath it's cathedral ceilings. Owner John Carvalho renovated the space, but preserved its Old World?style brick walls and rustic doors.