February 3, 2016

St. Helena: Clif Family Velo Vino Tasting Room; things to do

Wine Country

Clif Family Velo Vino Tasting Room  709 Main St., (707) 968-0625.  Tasting daily 10am-6pm; pairings by appt.  

exterior of Clif Family Velo Vino Tasting Room in St. Helena, California

This small tasting room presents casual wine tasting combined with a knowledgeable, friendly, and welcoming tasting-room staff, plus the opportunity to enjoy a tasting paired thoughtfully with tasty nibbles.  The tasting room is part of the Clif Bar empire, whose headquarters is in Emeryville but whose owners are now locals and owner of the Clif Family Winery here (the winery is not open for visits but does sometimes hold special events, and it is where many of the bruschetta ingredients are grown).

interior of Clif Family Velo Vino Tasting Room in St. Helena, California

I was greeted with my name on a star in front of a tasting set-up at a dining table.

wine-tasting set-up at Clif Family Velo Vino Tasting Room in St. Helena, California

My hunny and I had the Bruschetteria Trio pairing ($30/person), which includes samplings of the best from the Bruschetteria food truck that operates outside on the street.

Bruschetteria food truck at Clif Family Velo Vino Tasting Room in St. Helena, California

First up was a blush-colored NV Sonoma Coast Sparkling Brut—described so nicely by Samantha as having “a kiss of sweetness on the finish”--paired with some coconut-cashew snack mix.  Next was a 2014 Oak Knoll Chardonnay with a creamy finish, paired with a Porchetta Bruschetta (pork).  Then came a 2011 Gary’s Improv Napa Valley Zin paired with Funghi Bruschetta (mushrooms).  And finally a 2011 Kit’s Killer Howell Mountain Cab with rice arrancini balls.  (That’s actually four pairings, but who’s counting?)

Bruschetteria Trio pairing at Clif Family Velo Vino Tasting Room in St. Helena, California

This was adequate as a small lunch, but if you are still hungry you can order additional food from the truck.  I recommend the spectacular caramelized Brussels sprouts and the over-the-top delicious cured salmon-avocado-pickled lemon bruschetta described by Executive Chef John Mc Connell as “California on toast.”  Indeed.

California on toast plust carmelized Brussels sprouts at Clif Family Velo Vino Tasting Room in St. Helena, California

You can also add on a sweet ending, which we did with a TCHO chocolate budino topped with Cabernet Sauvignon salt and paired with a big and bold but not sweet Petit Sirah Port.

TCHO chocolat budino at Clif Family Velo Vino Tasting Room in St. Helena, California

Clif Family Bruschetteria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

All this is available and non-alcoholic drinks, too!  Wines are available for purchase only online or at the tasting room.  Should you want to combine your tasting with a bike trip, check with the Calistoga Bike Shop about tasting-biking packages.  A Valentine’s Day hint—if you can’t make it in for a tasting on February 14, give your sweetie a gift certificate and visit later at your convenience.  

More things to do in St. Helena.

More things to do in the Wine Country.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


  1. I got hungry reading your post (OK, and wanting a glass of wine too). The TCHO looked delicious and I love how the food truck was just across the street! I love Napa Valley and Sonoma and will definitely check this place out the next time I am there. I like how it's more than "just wine".

  2. Good heavens, I should never have read this in the late morning as I won't make it until high noon for lunch. I love the tips and the food photos - we were just in Hawaii and I noticed at the Monkeypod Restaurant on O'ahu how popular the Brussel Sprouts side dish was as an appetizer. We boomer babies must have finally figured out they are not only good for you, but they can taste good too!

    1. Here's a yummy Brussels sprouts recipe for you, http://berkeleyandbeyond.com/Way-Beyond/SuperSimple-Recipes/Brussels-Sprouts/brussels-sprouts.html

  3. Okay now I'm hungry! I've got some smoked salmon in the fridge and avocado so I'm going to try making my own California toast. The Clif Family Tasting Room looking like a nice cozy place for wine and nibbles.

  4. I love the food, wine and architecture of St. Helena! Your post brought me back there~

  5. The Velo Vino Tasting Room looks inviting, I like the idea of the food cart in front, it seems to be a trend that's catching on up here in Vancouver. The food sounds tasty and the chocolate budino very interesting.

  6. I'm long overdue for a trip to St. Helena. Very clever idea of the Cabernet Sauvignon salt. Red wine and chocolate are a great combination!