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Readers' picks #2: Hitching Post Pinot, bocce, marriage in the olive groves

Except perhaps for the Most Interesting Man in the World, no one appears to enjoy life more than the readers of this column, who continue to send in tips and advice on where to eat, drink, relax and live life large in California’s wine country. Here are the latest recommendations:

A meal from Gott's: burger, fries and a mint chip shake.
Photo by Kevin Nelson

Ron Kern, who knows his wine country stuff, likes what they pour at Andretti Winery, recently spent the weekend at Silverado Resort where he once had drinks in the bar with Vida Blue, had a sumptuous picnic lunch at Cuvaison, and revels in the wine-art thing they’ve got going on at Artesa.

Two more savvy wine country travelers are Harley Arnett and Sue Hutchinson. Inspired by one of our articles, they took in the Baron Wolman Woodstock photography show at Markham Vineyards and declared it “groovy, man” and “psychedelic.” Actually they said nothing of the sort but enjoyed themselves nonetheless. They also enjoy drinking sparkling wine while drinking in the splendid views on the patio of Domaine Carneros.

Speaking of Baron Wolman, whose rock portraits are part of a long-running exhibit at Markham, he’s a fan of Taylor’s Refresher. That’s often where he lunches when he’s visiting the valley from his crib in Santa Fe. And Baron is talking like a local when he refers to the St. Helena drive-in (the first in the Gott’s chain) by its original moniker.

Continuing our musical theme, Santa Barbara homeboy Dean Dinning, bassist for Toad the Wet Sprocket, wants to give a shout-out to the quality wine being made in his part of the state. He loves the Pinot Noir from Hartley-Ostini Hitching Post Winery 2 in Buellton and Isosceles, a red blend made by Justin Winery in Paso Robles—or simply “Paso,” as the locals there refer to it.

Dinning’s comments echo those of many others who are clamoring—well okay, maybe it’s not exactly a clamor, more of a loud whisper—for stories about other places in California’s wine country in addition to Napa Valley. Molly Boggs is a fan of Sonoma’s Cornerstone, which has shops, art galleries, restaurants, tasting rooms and many gardens of earthly delight. Her favorite lunch spot there is Park 121.

After our well-received piece on the Olive Press in Napa and Sonoma, Nancy Sahlin Brunetto said that if olives were our thing, we needed to get to Livermore’s Purple Orchid Resort and Spa, which she says has a number of lovely attributes including lots of olive trees. “It’s where I was married,” reports Nancy. “Surrounded by olive groves!”

Also in Livermore wine country, Linda Conneen Veon recommends Campo di Bocce, an endorsement seconded by Christine Simonson who calls it “super fab. You will love it.” Campo di Bocce is an Italian restaurant where you can eat, drink and play bocce ball on the premises. Global traveler Elizabeth Campbell Boyd, a Livermore resident, promises to clue us in on more hot spots there.

Wherever you live, whatever your pleasure, keep those cards and letters coming, folks. Okay right, nobody writes cards and letters anymore. Keep those posts, messages, tweets and calls coming, then. And tell your friends! This column is growing, both in page views and the territory we cover, and it’s all thanks to you. Groovy, man.

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