Beer added to this year’s wine walk during Grass Valley’s Foothills Celebration |

Beer added to this year’s wine walk during Grass Valley’s Foothills Celebration

Lorraine Jewett
Special to The Union
Cathy Gribas served chocolate covered strawberries with Katoa Cellars wine at the Lazy Dog Chocolateria on Mill Street during the 2016 Foothills Celebration.
Photo by John Hart |


17th Annual Foothills Celebration

Saturday, March 3 – Rain or Shine

Check-in: 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., Gold Miners Inn

Wine, Beer, & Food Tasting: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Tickets: $40 by 2/25, $50 after 2/25

Downtown Grass Valley Association: 530-272-8315" target="_blank">Text">

Which is more popular, wine or beer?

That discussion takes on local relevance March 3 now that craft beer has been added to the 17th Annual Foothills Celebration wine walk in downtown Grass Valley.

The event has long showcased Northern California wines and gourmet tastings from local chefs. The 21 serving venues include wine tasting rooms, restaurants, and a variety of downtown stores.

This year, two of the venues will offer craft beer. Thirsty Barrel Taphouse & Grille (116 Neal Street) will serve samples from its more than 30 taps, and Mill Street Clothing Company (117 Mill Street) will be the place to go for tastings from Grass Valley Brewing Company.

“We wanted to add to the event by adding beer to expand our reach in the community,” said Marissa Hernandez, Grass Valley Downtown Association Event Coordinator. “People love beer as much as they love wine!”

Guests will check in at the Gold Miners Inn Saturday between 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. and receive their tasting glasses, wrist bands, food tickets, and maps. The event takes place from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Some of the venues will feature live music.

Wine is fine, but is beer better? It’s an age-old rivalry. Experts say a glass of wine goes to your head more quickly than a pint of beer. On the flip side, few people complain about their “wine gut,” and some say red wine has health benefits. Others insist beer is superior because it dates back to the earliest civilizations, and brewer’s yeast used to ferment beer contains B vitamins.

Gary Smith, owner of Smith Vineyards and an event organizer, said he welcomes the addition of beer tasting at this year’s Foothills Celebration.

“I think it’s a great idea,” he said. “It will bring more people who wouldn’t typically come. I always tell people, ‘It takes a lot of beer to make good wine.’ I have beer in my fridge at the winery and I drink beer when I’m making wine.”

Nevada County boasts 18 wineries, which produce more than 40,000 cases of wine annually. Smith said the Foothills Celebration is a unique opportunity to underscore the diversity and quality of local wines.

“It helps introduce our wines to people who haven’t already tasted them,” said Smith. “It’s a good way to get our names out in public and a chance for the public to meet the winery owners.”

For Thirsty Barrel owner Craig Davis, beer and wine go hand-in-hand, or mug-and-glass.

“When I first envisioned opening my business, I was only going to offer food and craft beer,” said Davis. “But then my fiancé said, ‘You can’t just have beer. You have to have both because I like wine!’”

This will be Davis’s first foray into the Foothills Celebration.

“It gives me and my chef a chance to show off beer pairings with food,” he said. “When people think of pairings, it’s always with wine. This is a huge opportunity to take a break from wine pairings and have something different.”

The catchphrase of the Foothills Celebration is “Stroll, sip, sample, and shop!” Tickets include unlimited wine with more than 30 varietals being poured, unlimited beer with more than 30 craft brews available, and five food tastings. The festival fare includes crostini with lobster dip, tasty carnitas tacos, hand-dipped chocolate covered strawberries, and other gourmet bites.

Grass Valley-based Zinfandel Advocates and Producers, better known as ZAP, will be pouring its wine namesake at Cult of Gemini (156 Mill Street), an eclectic gift store. ZAP special projects coordinator Leah DeLira explained Zinfandel “helped settle the West”; lore has it that miners arrived with grapevines hanging from their pack saddles.

“When all the settlers came to the Sierra Foothills to mine for gold, they all wanted to drink and started planting vineyards, and almost all were exclusively Zinfandel grapes,” said DeLira.

DeLira said ZAP welcomes the addition of craft beer at this year’s Foothills Celebration.

“I think it’s a great idea because I love beer,” she said. “Generally, I prefer wine, but sometimes it’s just beer time.”

Tickets are $40 in advance if purchased by February 25 and $50 after that date. Special tickets for designated drivers are $10. The Foothills Celebration is organized by the downtown association and Sierra Vintners. Top sponsors of the event include Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and Tri Counties Bank.

Lorraine Jewett is a freelance writer who lives in Nevada County. She can be reached at

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.