Explore 14 North Bay wineries this December

And an old-fashioned pie-eating contest also is coming up at Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort.|


New chef for J Vineyards, Martini Winery

Aaron Meneghelli has been named executive chef for J Vineyards & Winery in Healdsburg and Louis M. Martini Winery in St. Helena.

Born and raised in the Napa Valley, the chef heads the culinary programs at both wineries, drawing on his understanding of the local food and wine industry. Meneghelli learned the importance of delicious, well-made dishes through his close-knit Italian family.

“The community that happens around a table, that’s what started to drive my passion for food,” he said. “It isn’t just about being able to cook something — it is focusing on the entire experience someone will have at my table.”

His arrival at J Vineyards marks a new chapter for the winery. The Bubble Room reopened in late September with an elegant and inspired pairing menu that emphasizes fresh, local products and highly skilled technique.

At Louis M. Martini, Meneghelli will enhance the winery’s progressive Californian cuisine with traditions of Northern Italy, an important place for both the Meneghelli and Martini families.

Before joining Louis M. Martini and J Vineyards, he worked under Chef Sarah Scott at Robert Mondavi Winery and with Chef Richard Reddington at his Yountville restaurants.

Meneghelli joined Napa’s Angèle in 2008 as executive chef, helping it earn its first Michelin Bib Gourmand. He also had stints at The Carneros Inn in Sonoma as executive sous chef and Calistoga Ranch as executive chef.

For more information and reservations, go to jwine.com and louismartini.com.


Winter passport wine tasting begins

The 12th annual Winter in the Wineries Passport program kicks off Saturday, Dec. 4, giving travelers a chance to explore 14 wineries in Calistoga, Lake County, Pope Valley and St. Helena.

For $60 per person, visitors receive wine tastings at participating wineries, corkage at participating restaurants and discounts at Calistoga lodging, spas and shops.

Advance reservations are required with most participating wineries. Program runs through Feb. 6, 2022. Cost is $60. For a full list of wineries and to reserve, go to visitcalistoga.com.


Bricoleur welcomes holidays with food, wine

Bricoleur Vineyards has been cooking up food and wine events for the holidays, from shopping to cooking classes and a pizza night. Here are a few of their offerings:

  • Join Santa and the Bricoleur culinary team on Zoom at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 2, for a free virtual Cooking with Santa Claus class, featuring Mrs. Claus’ sugar cookies. The class is ideal for families and friends to get into the holiday spirit.
  • Enjoy a four-course, wine-paired dinner with French chef, Marie Richard, during the Bon Appetit, Mes Amis dinner at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4. The dinner costs $200.
  • Family-Style Pizza Night with Bricoleur returns 5 - 10 p.m. Dec. 10, featuring wine, salumi boards, salads with garden-grown veggies, wood-fired pizzas and handmade pasta. Tickets are $85 adults.
  • Bricoleur is partnering with a handful of local vendors to host a holiday market from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 12. The market also will have photos with Santa, holiday activities and food, as well as wine for purchase by the glass and bottle. A $5 entry fee is required and will be used to help fund donations for a toy drive. Bricoleur Vineyards is located at 7394 Starr Road. To reserve or for Zoom link, go to bricoleurvineyards.com/collection/events.


Celebrate the holidays with pie-eating contest

Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort & Mineral Springs invites the North Bay community to a festive pie-eating contest at 3 - 5 p.m. Dec. 11 at the House of Better, the restaurant at the recently renovated resort.

The winner of the contest will receive a two-night stay at the historic resort as a first-place prize for finishing the most pie (without hands) in five minutes. Pie eating begins at 3:30 p.m.

Radio and TV personality and KCBS Foodie Chap Liam Mayclem will host the free event. House of Better is located at 1507 Lincoln Ave.

Also on Dec. 11, Calistoga will hold its Ugly Holiday Sweater Day, offering local shopping discounts to participants sporting their favorite kitschy sweater.

Staff Writer Diane Peterson can be reached at 707-521-5287 or diane.peterson@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @dianepete56

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