Tucked into the folds of the Sierra Foothills, Twisted Twig Winery's winemakers practice the ancient art of handcrafting a selection of California reds. A collaborative process, the team of oneophiles work together in the process of creating their award-winning zinfandels, cabernet sauvignons, and syrahs. Their website features a wealth of information about tastings and pairings, as well as recipes for dishes that make the perfect match for Twisted Twig's wines.
Rising from somewhere below street level, the clink of wine glasses and the crinkle of chocolate wrappers announces the presence of The Underground Wine Tasting Room. A flight of stairs transports visitors back in time to what could be an early 1800's street corner, complete with surrounding brick, street lamps, and a bubbling fountain. Three El Dorado County wineries make their home in this sunken square, located on the original level of the city of Sacramento. Amid bottles emblazoned with the logos of Fenton Herriott Vineyards, Twisted Twig Winery, and Rendez-vous Winery, visitors lounge at bistro-style tables in the courtyard, enjoying an atmosphere reminiscent of quaint rural towns in France. Inside the tasting room proper, visitors sidle up to a long bar for aromatic pours and impromptu glass harp solos. Cheese plates and succulent chocolates complement tall glasses with their flavors.
Located 5 minutes from the Amtrak station and walking distance from more than 1,000 hotel rooms, The Underground Wine Tasting Room makes it easy for out-of-town guests to sample and purchase local wine directly from these unique wineries. Steps away, variety of museums and attractions transport visitors back in time to the days of old Sacramento. Take a break from a tasting to visit the California Railroad Museum across the street, explore Old Sacramento Historic National Park, or take an Underground Tour.
Saskia Darnell, Lavender Screw's head artist, has been showcasing her artwork in galleries and exhibits since she was a child. In 2006, Saskia entered the student art exhibit at the Los Angeles County Fair and took home first place, and was featured in seven other art exhibits while earning her bachelor's in fine art. Students of all levels can enjoy BYOB classes, which feature a variety of paintings for students to emulate through step-by-step instruction. Paint Your Pet nights invite artists to transform a blank canvas into a colorful homage to their dog, cat, or secretly cloned woolly mammoth.
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.
The fact that The Porch Restaurant and Bar uses cast-iron skillets and mason-jar drinking glasses doesn't mean that it's limited to Southern traditions. Sure, shrimp po'boys and buttermilk-fried chicken might share plate space with a stuffed sweet potato overflowing with sweet corn, but the restaurant sources most of its ingredients—including cage-free organic eggs and rice—from local California producers. What results is a gourmet mix that ranges from Tuscaloosa-style fried-green tomatoes to grilled brie with a balsamic-honey reduction.
The restaurant itself also refuses to conform to expectations. Occupying a building that once housed a Cajun restaurant, the eatery, according to Sacramento Magazine's Kira O'Donnell, has made a "stunning transformation of the former space." The airy dining room's wood floors and floral arrangements give way to views of an open kitchen. And, keeping true to its name and guiding theme, a porch surrounded by white columns gives diners an open-air space where they can savor their Southern dishes and banjo-duel over the last piece of cornbread.