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Lunch Like a Local

Where the Winemakers & Shakers Dine in Wine Country

Brenda and Dylan had The Peach Pit. Rachel and Ross had Central Perk. Even Carrie and Samantha shared many a gab fest in the same sunny Manhattan diner (what was it called??).

Whether we’re talking 90210, 10010 or right here in wine country, there’s an undeniable fascination with dining haunts frequented by our favorite locals. And, lucky for wine country travelers, the spots in our own backyard are much more accessible than their fictional TV counterparts.

Follow the leaders
So, who do you follow around here to figure out where to grab the best reuben on rye? Why, wine country’s very own celebrities, of course – our winemakers! Read on for a short list of some of the best kept secrets in locals’ favorite dining options, from the lips of our illustrious winemakers themselves.

And I promise: unlike Pit and Perk, these places actually exist.

That’s hot
Locals looking for really authentic Mexican food head past the regular market merch to the lunch counter in the back of Rutherford’s La Luna Market. There, the dedicated staff whip up killer Carne Asada (their specialty) burritos and tacos along with a broad selection of other authentic fare at fantastically wallet friendly prices. The oldest Mexican provisions purveyor in the valley, La Luna was originally located on Highway 29 but was subsequently moved to its current location in tony Rutherford – across the street from upscale La Toque, nonetheless. But don’t let the stylish new address fool you: La Luna still does it like they always have. As long time employee Alejandra Cruz points out, there’s nothing “new Mexican or Tex Mex” about what they do: it’s just traditionally prepared Mexican fare made fresh every day (no canned beans here).

Diners can either order to go or enjoy their asada outdoors at one of the spot’s several sunny patio tables. Now that’s the wine country life.
La Luna Market & Taqueria, 1153 Rutherford Road, Rutherford, CA (707) 963-3211

Juice it
Right in the heart of Napa Valley sits a small deli known amongst the lunch cognoscenti for making wine country’s best sandwich. “The secret’s in the juice,” one longtime resident winemaker explained to me – the Giugni Juice. An undisclosed mixture of vinegar and several other ingredients, Giugni Juice was originally concocted by a member of the Giugni family in the 70s, when the long-time grocery store was converted to a deli. Guigni’s is conveniently situated in the heart of downtown St. Helena, where it attracts an eclectic mix of locals, tourists and – naturally! – winemakers. Chock full of memorabilia and delightfully evocative of its early 20th Century beginnings, Giugni’s offers an array of breads, meats and cheeses from which diners can choose to complete their own custom sandwiches.

Favorites include the Soppresata Salami, Horseradish Cheddar and not just one but TWO kinds of Rye (light & dark), but less esoteric offerings can also be had – all for around six bucks a ‘wich. Beat that, Nat!
W.F. Giugni & Son Grocery Co.,1227 Main Street, St. Helena, CA (707) 963-3421