Art & Wine Walks: Grass Valley, Nevada City and Auburn

THE FOOTHILLS ARE A PRIME DESTINATION for historic, walkable towns. “Towns that ooze century-old ambience are strung out along Hwy. 49,” as Lonely Planet wrote in naming Gold Country one of the nation’s top 10 travel destinations for 2012.

Examples include old-town Auburn; downtown Auburn, with its new central square; Grass Valley and Nevada City. The towns increasingly are incorporating food, wine and art into their ambiance, with art and wine walks, and art exhibits in tasting rooms and restaurants.

In old town Auburn, visitors can stop at the Old Town Gallery and view paintings, jewelry, photography and other artwork from more than 60 local artists. Then they can stroll across the street to Carpe Vino, a popular tasting room, wine shop and restaurant. Carpe Vino, run by Gary and Drew Moffat, celebrates its 10th anniversary this summer.

Downtown Auburn’s stars include the Monkey Cat restaurant, featuring local wines, such as Lone Buffalo, Viña Castellano, Dono Dal Cielo and Casque; Tre Pazzi Trattoria; and the PlacerArts art gallery, offering creative exhibits year-round. Themed exhibits promoting local and regional artists change regularly.

An Auburn Art Walk is held the second Thursday of June, August and October, from 6-9 p.m. in downtown and old town Auburn.

Nevada City’s wine tasting rooms and restaurants regularly feature local artists. LeeAnn Brook’s contemporary landscape paintings are displayed at restaurants such as the New Moon Cafe and tasting rooms including Nevada City Winery and Clavey Wines.

“Summer Nights Nevada City” is on July 11, July 18 and July 25 in downtown Nevada City—an outdoor festival of food, drink, art and music.

Downtown Grass Valley has become one of the foothills’ premier food, wine and art destinations. It has a half dozen wine tasting rooms and wine bars—more than most foothill towns. The tasting rooms regularly feature local artwork.

The Art Works Gallery at 113 Mill Street features 37 juried visual artists presenting their work in a splendid gold-rush-era building. (Images and artwork from Art Works Gallery Artists Eileen Blodgett, David Wong and Katie Wolff is featured throughout this issue).

Grass Valley’s 2nd Saturdays is an ideal way to visit the town’s tasting rooms, restaurants, shops and galleries. Among the best in the foothills, it is held every month, from 4-7 p.m. Visitors can make their way through tasting rooms, art galleries and stores—all within walking distance.

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