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NORTH BAY: Diner's Choice for Forestville, Rutherford

Two North Bay restaurants — the Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant of Forestville and Auberge du Soleil of Rutherford — are among the honorees in OpenTable's 2012 Diner's Choice Award Winners for the Top 100 Best Restaurants of 2012.

The awards reflect the combined opinions of more than 5 million reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners for more than 15,000 restaurants nationwide.

"This year's honorees have accomplished what every restaurant aspires to — making guests feel as though they have had a truly singular dining experience," said OpenTable chief dinig officer Caroline Potter. "These best overall restaurants are consistently getting it right on every level, from top flight ambiance and service to cocktail lists and menus that positively dazzle diners."

OpenTable provides free, online restaurant reservations for diners and reservation and guest management services for restaurants. For a complete list of honorees, go to www.opentable.com/bestoverall.

SONOMA: Burgers, barbecue come to Plaza

Carlo Cavallo of Meritage Martini Oyster Bay & Grille in Sonoma plans to open Burger & Vine restaurant this winter in the former Cucina Viansa space, which has sat vacant since 2004.

The historic property on the Plaza started out as the Sonoma Mission Creamery. Joe Vella made ice cream there alongside his brother, Tom, who established the pioneering Vella Cheese company.

At Burger & Vine, Cavallo hopes to return the Mission Revival building to its roots as a gathering place for families.

"It will be upscale casual," Cavallo said. "You'll be able to get a whole roasted chicken, served family-style, with sides."

On the northern side facing the Mission, Cavallo plans to put in a quick-service burger bar serving shakes and fries, with tall tables made of wine barrels.

On the opposite side, there will be restaurant service and a menu that includes burgers and smokehouse barbecue fare such as pulled pork, brisket and cold-smoked salmon.

As a Wine Country hook, Cavallo plans to stoke the smoker and the grill with French wine-barrel staves.

Burger & Vine will feature a whiskey bar and "leaded" shakes for adults such as Tahitian Vanilla with Rum.

The restaurant will seat 100 people. Cavallo plans to serve lunch and dinner daily and brunch on weekends.

The restaurant, which is currently under renovation and making its way through the permit process, may open as early as February. 400 First St. E. burgersandvine.com.

HEALDSBURG: Demos, discussion with leading chefs

Relish Culinary Adventures will launch a new Healdsburg Chef's Tables program this winter, featuring five well-known chefs who have helped turned Healdsburg into a culinary mecca.

During the "Dinner and A Show" series, the chefs will share the secrets of making some of the most popular dishes from their restaurants. Guests can ask questions during the demo, then enjoy a four-course meal with wine.

Here is the schedule:

Jan.7: Ralph Tingle, chef/owner of Bistro Ralph.

Jan. 14: Ari Rosen, chef/owner of Scopa and Campo Fina

Jan. 21: Dustin Valette, Chef de cuisine of Charlie Palmer's Dry Creek Kitchen.

Jan. 28: Jeff Mall, chef/owner of Zin Restaurant

Feb. 4: Mark Stark, chef/owner of Willi's Seafood and Bravas Bar de Tapas.

The dinners cost $98 per person, including four courses, wine and recipes. To reserve, go to relishculinary.com. 14 Matheson St. 431-9999.

GLEN ELLEN: Olive expert shares history, methods

Olive expert Don Landis will give a free olive-curing workshop from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 6 at B. R. Cohn Winery in Glen Ellen.

Landis will talk about the history of the olive and describe the Greek style of olive curing without lye. Olive tasting and wine tasting round out the afternoon.

Reservations are required: 938-4064, ext. 124. 15000 Sonoma Highway 12, Glen Ellen.

KENWOOD: Art blends with wine at Kenwood

Want to sip wine and view controversial art? Kenwood Vineyards offers an interesting adventure — perusing original art pieces and sipping cabernet sauvignons on Saturdays and Sundays for $30 apiece. The collection of art began with the controversial 1975 "Naked Lady" by David Lance Goines. Gourmet appetizers will be served. Viewings are at 1 p.m. both days. For reservations, please call 707-282-4228. The winery is at 9592 Sonoma Highway in Kenwood.

SONOMA" Spend the day on the Wine Trolley

Here's a great holiday outing in Wine Country — a ride on the Sonoma Valley Holiday Wine Trolley, which is strung up with lights and belts out classical holiday music. This daily tour in Sonoma Valley shows you the historic landmarks, from the late 1800s through the 1930s. You'll stop in at four premium wineries; the fee is $99 for the tour that spans from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You'll begin the tour by gathering at the historic Sonoma Plaza at City Hall, 1 The Plaza in Sonoma. For more information, call 877-946-3876.

NAPA VALLEY: 3rd Restaurant Month in January

The third annual Napa Valley Restaurant Month launches in January, with more than 35 restaurants offering prix-fixe menus and special menu items throughout the entire month.

There are also lodging and spa packages available, and the wineries will be pouring their best cabs.

For a completely list of restaurants and hotel offers, go to visitnapavalley.com and click on upcoming events.

YOSEMITE: Local chefs cook at Ahwahnee

The annual Chefs' Holidays series at the historic Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite kicks off in January with chefs from around the country, including several from the North Bay.

Douglas Keane of the former Cyrus in Healdsburg and Victor Scargle of Lucy in Yountville will be featured during the first session Jan. 6 to 8.

Brian Streeter of Cakebread Cellars in Rutherford will be featured on Jan. 13 to 15. Peggy Smith & Sue Conley of Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes Station will give demonstrations during the fourth session Jan. 16-17.

The two- and three-day night packages include overnight accommodations at the Ahwahnee or Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, culinary presentations and tastings, a chef's reception, kitchen tour and tickets to the Gala Chefs' Holiday Dinner.

Packages range from $332 to $574 per person. To reserve, call 801-559-4884 or go to www.yosemitepark.com.

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