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.
The atmosphere in which one tastes a wine can be just as important as the wine's actual taste. Knowing this, the owners of Naggiar Vineyards and Winery housed their tasting room inside a picturesque Tuscan-style stucco building on the shores of a small pond, accenting its interiors with heavy wood ceiling beams, polished tile floors, and long tables surrounded by ornately upholstered chairs. Outside on the patio, servers ferry appetizers and tapas between wrought-iron café tables and around a monolithic stone fireplace. In this outdoor space, live bands play every weekend, and warm-weather wine festivals spill out onto the lawn when mom kicks them out of the basement.
With three KCRA-3 A-List Best Winery awards from 2010 to 2012, it's no surprise that Naggiar Vineyards and Winery puts even more care into its wines. Aided by in-house wine consultant and U.C. Davis graduate Derek Irwin, the staff cultivates more than 160 acres of vineyards. They harvest the grapes by hand and only at night, ensuring the fruits are packed when it’s cool, arrive at the cellar for pressing early in the day, and don't fall prey to vegetarian hawks. This painstaking process results in a spectrum of small-batch wines, each made from the estate's best grapes—which include varietals native to Italy, Rhone, and Bordeaux. The winery also hosts an annual winefest.
Against a backdrop of lush trees, paintball players belly-crawl through gigantic concrete pipes, wade waist-high through wetlands, and pop off rounds from behind disabled Army jeeps. The battlegrounds are so elaborate, in fact, the Butte County sheriff's office and SWAT teams train on them, using the wooden huts as cover and the large tin barrels as the rhythm section for their reggae bands. Citizen players 10 and older, however, navigate the obstacles during fast-paced woodsball and speedball matches as referees monitor to ensure fair play. There's even a field specifically for target practice so gamers can knock the rust from their muzzles. Meanwhile, lights emblazon the speedball field during night matches of adrenaline-fueled play.