Food, wine & music at Sierra Vintners starts in May

Naggiar, Pilot Peak, Sierra Knolls’ Bear River Tasting Room, Sierra Starr and others celebrate wine, food and music with regular festivities throughout spring and summer.

Along with others, Bent Metal, just past the county fairgrounds in Grass Valley, and Solune and Montoliva along pastoral Hwy. 174, offer idyllic picnic spots. You’ll find picnic tables and Adirondack chairs.

This year the wineries are “kicking it up a notch” in their festivities.

Naggiar, with its fabulous vineyard setting and a Mediterranean-style tasting room, begins its season with a wine release party on May 11, and events continue until October.

Naggiar has a new investor — Sir Timothy Sainsbury and his family — and is now selling some of its Sonoma Valley Cabernet, along with Naggiar’s wines, as we reported exclusively in November. Highlights of Naggiar’s summer are:

•It will offer five tribute concerts that are “double bills” with musicians, five other music events and a regular weekend concert series. The tribute concerts are: Lynyrd Skynyrd on May 25 (Skynnyn Lynnyrd); a tribute to Huey, Lewis & the News on June 29 (Super Huey); Billy Joel tribute on July 27 (Joel: The Band); Beach Boys tribute on August 31 (California Beach Boys); and Earth, Wind & Fire tribute on September 28 (Kalimba Band).

•The musical stage at Naggiar will be moved in front of its picturesque pond, with more table seating, more shade and new lawn seating — making it one of the more spectacular outdoor music venues in the foothills.

“Jim E” at Naggiar

Accomplished local chef, cooking school teacher and caterer Jim Eckardt will cater all the events. “Jim E,” as he’s known to locals, will expand the offerings with his best tapas and small plates.

Jim owns Jim E’s Club 141 for catering, cooking classes and special events in downtown Grass Valley.

Pilot Peak offers its popular “Sunset Saturdays” at its Penn Valley winery with wine, food, live music and dancing, starting in May. There’s rock and roll, blues, folk music and more. The setting is exquisite: A terraced patio with flowering plants, sun or shade, and a big stage for dancing. Fresh, local food is on the menu.

Pilot Peak also offers complimentary “comparative” wine tasting, served in flights with food pairings.

Sierra Starr’s new, expanded winery — with a stellar view — will offer four “Music in the Vineyard” concerts on its expansive lawn, adjacent to the vineyards and winery (June 22, July 19, August 17 and September 14); an open house on June 8; and a wine a chocolate pairing with Cello Chocolate in its tasting room on April 19.

Bent Metal celebrates its third anniversary on April 27, with some new releases.

Sierra Knolls’ Bear River Tasting Room offers wine, music and pizza on Fridays. The pizzas are baked to order in a wood-fired pizza oven. Jardin del Rio ( also has a farm stand at Sierra Knolls in the summer.

In times past, Sunday was a picnic day, when Grass Valley residents boarded a narrow-gauge train bound for Chicago Park. Families would picnic by the Bear River. Enjoy a picnic day at Montoliva, which has ample space among the vines, as does its neighbor, Solune.

(photo credit: Dan Senkbeil)

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