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Top ten things to do in Napa Valley on Labor Day weekend

Two couples enjoy a taste of wine at St. Supery, which is hosting "Cabernet is for Bacon Lovers" this Labor Day.
Photo courtesy of St. Supery Estate, used with permission

Despite Sunday’s earthquake most Napa Valley businesses are open and preparing to welcome visitors for the big Labor Day weekend. One way to support Napa at this time is to continue to visit and enjoy the area as you normally would. Just call ahead to see if there have been any changes to scheduled events.

Based on the premise that humor is often the best tonic in a time of stress—the best tonic, that is, besides wine—here is a special Labor Day edition of the top ten things to do this week (Aug. 25-Sept. 1) in Napa Valley:

1. DRINK WINE, EAT BACON

In celebration of Cabernet Day (Aug. 28) and one of our all-time favorite holidays, International Bacon Day (Aug. 30), St. Supery is hosting a four-day “Cabernet is for Bacon Lovers” extravaganza. Drink King Cab while sampling bite-sized nuggets of bacon goodness. Enjoy the wine and bacon but please, don’t pig out. Thurs.-Sun., Aug. 28-31. Seated tastings each day 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. $50. St. Supery Estate, 8440 St. Helena Highway, Rutherford. 707-963-4507.

2. WATCH THE MIDGETS FLY

If you’ve never been to a race at Calistoga Speedway, the only question is: What have you been doing with your life? The 7th annual Louie Vermeil Classic features two entertaining nights of midget, sprint and vintage cars screaming around the half-mile dirt oval with controlled abandon. Sat.-Sun., Aug. 30-31. Qualifying begins 6 p.m., racing ends 10-11 p.m. $30-$35. Wine tasting Sat., beer tasting Sun. Calistoga Hall of Fame dinner Fri., Aug. 29. $30. Calistoga Speedway, 1435 N. Oak Street, Calistoga. 916-773-7223.

3. HEAR AN OLD DAWG PERFORM NEW TRICKS

We saw a David Grisman show some years ago and we still remember it; it was that good. The Dawg’s hair is grayer now but the man can still crank that mandolin. David Grisman Bluegrass Experience, $35-$45. Thurs., Aug. 28, at the City Winery. Also on tap at CW: Marshall Crenshaw and the Bottle Rockets, Sat., Aug. 30. $20-$30. The only piece of Marshall Crenshaw trivia you’ll read all day: He was Buddy Holly to Lou Diamond Phillips’s Ritchie Valens in the movie “La Bamba.” Doors open 6 p.m., concerts 8 p.m. City Winery, 1030 Main St., Napa. 707-260-1600.

4. SEE GWYNETH AT HER BEST

Fans of Gwyneth Paltrow (and we recognize there are many non-fans) can disagree about whether her best work came early in her career, in the 1986 movie “Sliding Doors” or more recently, when she separated from Chris Martin. But for us it’s no contest: She is luminescent and heart-stoppingly perfect as Juliet in “Shakespeare in Love,” for which she won the Best Actress Oscar. See her and a brilliant cast in this ribald romantic comedy in the movie series hosted by Jamieson Ranch. Friday, Aug. 29, 8-10 p.m. Free. Jamieson Ranch Vineyards, 1 Kirkland Ranch Road, American Canyon. 707-254-8673.

5. SEE SHORT FILMS HAVING NOTHING TO DO WITH GWYNETH PALTROW

The Napa Valley Film Festival is coming in November, and you can get a sneak peak at some of the short films it will be showing this Thursday at the Dive Bar at Bardessono in Yountville. Five movies will be shown ranging from two to 16 minutes in length with intriguing titles such as “Teenage Wine Snobs” and “The Gunfighter.” Thurs., Aug. 28. Two screenings 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Free cover. Drink specials 6-8 p.m. Featuring Miner Family Vineyard wines, small bites from Kollar Chocolates and Napa Style. Bardessono Hotel, Restaurant and Spa, 6526 Yount St., Yountville.

6. SIP AND EXPLORE AND SIP AT BERINGER

Four plus four usually makes eight. But at Beringer Vineyards this weekend, four plus four equals a good buzz. Do the math: The historic St. Helena winery will set up four tasting stations at four different locations on its grounds so that people can “sip, savor and explore,” as it puts it. Sat.-Sun., Aug. 30-31. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. $35. Reservations suggested, not required. The reggae band Steel Jam and the Blues Box Bayou Band play Aug. 30 and 31, respectively. Beringer Vineyards, 2000 Main St., St. Helena. 707-302-7592.

7. LEARN ABOUT FINE ART COLLECTING

John Anderson, founder of Woodhouse Chocolate in St. Helena, is an expert not only on chocolate but also on another passion of his: fine art. In this lecture hosted by Nimbus Arts in its “Collector’s Café” series, he talks about art collecting and shows slides of his personal collection acquired over three decades. And maybe, if you twist his arm, he’ll talk a little chocolate too. Thurs., Aug. 28, 6:30-8:30 p.m. $25. Nimbus Arts, 649 Main St., St. Helena. 707-963-5278,

8. DINE WITH PHILIPPE MELKA

If there’s one thing that Napa Valley visitors (and locals) like to do, it’s eat. And drink. Okay, that’s two things. Fortunately you’re covered both ways when you go to a “vintner dinner” at Ma(i)sonry. The evening includes a three-course, wine-paired meal with a local winemaker as special guest. Unfortunately the Aug. 30 event is sold out but we wanted to give you a heads-up now so you can grab a ticket for the Sept. 13 dinner with Bordeaux emigre Philippe Melka, the winemaker from Skipstone Vineyard. Sat., Sept. 13. Reception begins 6:30 p.m. $150 per. Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley, 6711 Washington, Yountville. 707-944-0889.

9. LIVE, FROM YOUNTVILLE, IT'S THURSDAY NIGHT!

If you asked Somerston Estate, any day is a good day to drink its wines and visit its Yountville tasting room. But our favorite day is Thursday when live music is on the bill. This week is Jeff Campbell, Aug. 28. Looking ahead: Maria Bija, Sept. 4; J. Silverheels Band, Sept. 11; Sean Carscadden Trio, Sept. 18; Kenny Crowley, Sept. 25. All shows 6-9 p.m. Free cover. Priest Ranch Wines, 6490 Washington St., Yountville. 707-944-8200.

10. PREPARE FOR THE NEXT ONE

In light of the Aug. 24 Napa earthquake, it is a good time to review with your family what you need to do in the event of a disaster. Stock up on first aid, food, water and other supplies you may need during a crisis. Also consider a donation to your local Red Cross or another relief agency that helps victims of earthquakes and other disasters. American Red Cross of Napa County, 1790 Third St., Napa, Ca 94559. 707-257-2900.