Three Things to Do in Wine Country in August


A cultural exploration of BBQ, the grand opening of Orin Swift’s new tasting room in St. Helena and a dressy little exhibit in Downtown Napa, all happening in August in Wine Country.


Bruce Jones and a Customer at Skylight Inn. Photo Denny Culbert

Chew on Southern barbeculture with top local chefs at Whetstone Wine Cellars in Napa

Since 1999, the Southern Foodways Alliance of the University of Mississippi has recorded more than 800 oral histories and nearly 40 films about the people, places and deep culture of Southern food.  On Sunday August 18 from 4 – 8 p.m., the Alliance will debut an exhibit based on this collection at Potlikker Napa, where guests can savor the barbeculture with authentic pit-cooked swine and fixins prepared by leading Southern pitmasters as well as local comrades Christopher Kostow of Meadowood, Daniel Patterson of COI and Stephen Barber of Farmstead.

The immersion event takes place at a lesser-known historic jewel right in Napa at Whetstone Wine Cellars.  The food and exhibit will be complemented by live music, Blackberry Farm beer and Whetstone wines.  Cost $125 pp, purchase online.  1075 Atlas Peak Road, Napa.


Photo Orin Swift

Celebrate the opening of Orin Swift’s cool new tasting room in St. Helena

Orin Swift’s edgy new tasting room on Main Street channels the collective spirit of North Coast grit through a lens of simplicity.  One wall is paneled with mixed recycled lumber from Ukiah, another with rusted, steel plates salvaged from a battleship on Mare Island.  One would have to look closely at the textured floor to realize that it’s covered with the yellowed pages of books that vintner Dave Phinney stumbled upon in Chinatown.


Photo Orin Swift

Across the poured concrete counter is the rough hewn stone of the historic Masonic building next door, left exposed when this former narrow alley was converted into commercial space.   

The wines are as unique as the look with Grenache wines from California and Southern France – where Phinney makes wine in Maury – as well as Cabernet Sauvignon blends.  In the dog days of August, don’t miss a chilled splash of Orin Swift’s new 2012 China Doll Rosé ($19 bottle), a really dry, really popular rosé.

The Orin Swift tasting room grand opening weekend takes place on Saturday and Sunday, August 10 and 11, beginning at 11 a.m. until closing.  Regular tasting room hours are daily from 11 a.m. until close.  1325 Main Street, St. Helena.


Image courtesy Grand Hand Gallery

Transformed couture and more at Presence exhibit in Downtown Napa

Attend the artists’ reception for “Presence” exhibit (August 1-September 29) at the intimate Grand Hand Gallery in Downtown Napa on Saturday August 17 between 6 and 9 p.m.  The two artists featured are sculptor John Petrey and Michele de la Menardiere, who paints “to be present and to connect to something deeply essential and sublime”.  For his “Dress Series”, Petrey transforms everyday objects such as bottle caps, playing cards, embossed aluminum, plastic utensils – even composite roofing – into iconic, flowing dresses and gowns that make a presence all their own.  The reception is open to the public and includes refreshments and live music.  1136 Main Street, Napa

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