It’s early Saturday evening in Lake County, and there are more things going on than a person can possibly fit into one evening. The solution? Pick a general area in the county; if you plan it right, you can party-hop all night long. It goes without saying that the best parties start with a designated driver. After you’ve figured that out, let the fun begin!
The sun is still high as the evening begins off Spruce Grove Road, and the adventure is only beginning. The gravel road meanders steadily upward, working alongside a ridgeline. Trees surround both sides, casting long, dark shadows. A little further on, it turns again, and a vineyard spans the far edge of the hillside, stretching as far as the eye can see. Just a few more turns and the road crests the top of the mountain, revealing one of Lake County’s grandest views. Welcome to Wild Diamond Vineyards, home to tonight’s solstice dinner, catered by Tammy Lipps at Ripe Choice Catering.
One can make out the top of the Sierras in the distance to the left. Straight ahead rest Hidden Valley, Lake Berryessa, and Mt. Saint Helena. To the right, Cobb Mountain, Boggs Mountain, and Mt. Konocti fill the horizon. A shipping container converted into a wine bar/viewing station hardly stunts the expanse of mountains. A covered patio surrounds it, with plenty of seating available to soak in all the views.
The evening starts with a glass of wine and a bite of appetizers making the rounds. The gazebo offers the perfect space to sit and enjoy a bite. Off to the side of the wine bar, Austin and Owens set the mood, their guitars artfully performing neo-flamenco versions of classic songs. Soon, dinner is served buffet style. Tammy shows off her true culinary art with her perfectly seasoned roasted pork–every tender, juicy bite pairs perfectly with Wild Diamond’s Merlot.
The wind picks up a bit, but it’s not a bother in the shelter of the tent. Austin and Owens fill in the gaps between conversions around the table before dessert is served. Nothing says summer like chocolate-dipped strawberries masterfully coupled with a Petite Sirah. The night is still young at Wild Diamond Vineyards, but more stops must be made.
Only a few minutes’ drive away, and the party is in full swing at Fults Family Vineyard. The large barn doors are open, and the Lake County Diamonds are in their element. The dance floor is hopping, leaving many of the tables empty. After a quick stop for a quality, handmade pastry from Mother Lovin’ From the Oven and a glass of wine poured by owner Kendall Fults, it’s time to join the fun. The Lake County Diamonds launch into another irresistibly danceable song, and the floor fills more. The gold hues of daylight help bring the evening to a close at Fults, and the band reluctantly leaves the stage. But fortunately, this isn’t the end of the evening.
Fifteen minutes down the road at Middletown Days, the local country band Breaker One-9’s concert is just starting. Once there, the black night sky settles in for the remainder of the evening. A group of picnic tables encircles the expansive concrete pad serving as the dance floor. It would seem every music lover and family in Middletown is there. The beer line stretches back thirty feet, and empty Coors Light cans fill the recycle bins. Everyone begins dancing when lead singer Tony Zagajowski starts singing the “Watermelon Crawl,” then keeps pouring onto the dance floor as the band launches into their next tune; there’s barely time for a cheer between songs before everyone’s dancing again.
Now’s the time to party. The evening lasts as long as your legs and voice hold out; the band is playing until 1:00 am. At some point, you have to call it a night. But here’s to next weekend!