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Special Restaurant Dinners - Winemaker Dinners

Can anyone suggest restaurants who have periodic special dinners/winemaker dinners to which I could take guests?

I hoping for a resultant that seats 24 - 36 or so in a well-appointed setting for straight forward well-prepared food that is not overly fussy.
My party would comprise perhaps 4-6 of the total. I have found that oftentimes the food at such events is more overworked and interesting than good.

My preference is for tasty bistro/trattoria style food rather than haute cuisine.

I suppose that the daily dinners at Chez Panisse might be a good model for what I am looking for, but do any other places come to mind?
First choice is San Francisco but would consider other places as well. I haven't been to Oliveto's Head to Tail (?) dinner but think I would prefer something of that caliber but perhaps with the food items being more mainstream.

Thanks for sharing your experiences.

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  1. Sent Sovi in Saratoga has regular wine dinners with local growers. They are usually in a private room that I would
    guess seats 25-30 people. I have enjoyed these events because
    its a communal table - its a great opportunity to meet other
    wine people.

    Upcoming events Cinnabar Mar 29, Pelican Ranch Apr 26.


    1. I went to a lovely Copain dinner at Plumpjack. They have a great back room and the food which accompanied the wines were top-notch. Thanks for reminding me that I need to go back and order off their menu!

      1. Some wine shops organize dinners like that on a more or less regular basis. K&L does them often. Farmstead in Alameda has done them at Eccolo and Bay Wolf.


        1. You might want to try winery web sites if you are looking for "winemaker" dinners. A lot of times they will advertise them on their sites to try and get patrons.

          1. Liaison in Berkeley has some events scattered throughout the year. They also have a wine club where everyone brings in a specific style of wine and share with others to a special menu created by Todd Kneiss. I'm not sure of the web site address but the phone is 510 849-2155.

            1 Reply
            1. re: foodfan

              Here's the link to their Special Events pages, which list all of the upcoming winemaker dinners


              As an aside, the food at Liaison seems to have been invigorated lately. Given that it's my local, I have always used it as a comfortable option when I wasn't feeling too ambitious.

              But my most three most recent meals there have rivaled some of the best Bay Area bistros, along with many in Paris, and it has now become a destination of first choice.

            2. Steven Kent Winery has candlelight dinners with Chef Dave Page. He did my wedding when he was at Mirassou Winery (since plowed under for tract homes) so I am biased, but they are wonderful. www.stevenkent.com/events.html

              Manresa in Los Gatos puts together special events from time to time. Might be more haute than you were looking for.

              1. Pres a Vi, a new restaurant in the San Francisco is doing a Winemakers Diner Series starting January 23. I was there for lunch last week and it was fab. It is small plates, but three of us were able to split one plate three ways. We shared six plates I was impressed by their wine list as well.

                This is a new restaurant and I don't think it has been reviewed yet. Same chef as Va di Vi in Walnut Creek, but I think better.

                1 Reply
                1. Thanks for the threads, Robert. Our plates were not that small. As I said we were able to split them three ways. Maybe they are smaller at dinner? I haven't any idea what the bill came to as I was a guest. As I recall the plates were around $8 or $9 each.

                  If one of you hounds go to the Winemakers Dinner Series, will you post your impressions?


                  1. Zazu in Santa Rosa on Guerneville Road and Bistro Des Copains in Occidental hold wine maker dinners about once per month. Both restaurants seat about 35-40 people. Bistro Des Copains has a dinner with Marimar Torres on February 20.

                    1. Try this website for an aggregation of wine dinners around the area.

                      Also, Maverick will begin hosting one-of-a-kind wine nights in March. Michael Pierce, their sommelier/co-owner often explores underappreciated wine-growing regions in the US.

                      A16 also does amazing themed wine dinners with Italian growers. The restaurant as a whole is a bit bigger than you requested, but the main dining room section holds about that many people. Their wine director is expecting a baby soon, so it may be a while before she hosts another one--though I'm sure it would be worth the wait.

                      1. The owner of Farmstead Cheeses and Wines in Alameda organizes wine-focused dinners at local restaurants (the last one was Italian wines at Eccolo). According to their most recent newsletter, he has more in the works. You can sign up for the newsletter at www.farmsteadcheesesandwines.com .

                        1. Restaurant James Randall does an absolutely incredible job with their winemaker's dinners. I did my first one two weeks ago and everyone in the room agreed that it was simply a next level dining experience. Unfortunately, they can't fit 24-36 people in the restaurant like you asked for, but a great experience nonetheless.