If you like having something to do or watch while catching a buzz, you don’t need to travel far.
The central San Joaquin Valley has been a strong wine region for years, but a growing craft beer scene has added a new dimension to imbibing. Most of the wineries and breweries host weekly events, but the bars serving their products also have begun to add diverse events such as paint or craft nights.
Here’s a rundown of 10 (though actually a lot more) things to do for those looking to leave the kids at home.
Test your buzzed knowledge at a pub quiz – These (typically) weekly trivia nights offer bragging rights and, in some cases, cash winnings for those who need more incentive than beer and food. There are at least four in Fresno/Clovis: Sequoia Pub Quiz at the northeast Fresno location every Monday, House of Pendragon (my personal favorite) on Tuesdays, Geeks Who Drink at the Tioga-Sequoia Beer Garden on Wednesdays and Fresno Pub Quiz at Santa Fe Basque on Thursdays.
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Go on a Fresno County Wine Journey – These two-day events allow you to taste from more than a dozen wineries and breweries in the area with the purchase of a $10 wristband. Make sure you bring your own glass! The next one happens in November.
The Madera Wine Trail holds a similar event Nov. 11-12, but the details are not yet available.
Drink a locally made craft beer or six – Did you know downtown Fresno has an Ale Trail? Not only do we have several dozen breweries and home brews, but the amount of bars and stores carrying local beers continues to grow. If you need something to do while you drink, keep your eye on Tioga-Sequoia, Full Circle and House of Pendragon’s locations in Clovis, Sanger and (hopefully) soon to be downtown Fresno.
Go to an Old Town Clovis craft beer crawl or wine walk – Both events happen twice a year and feature live music and food.
Visit a local winery – Pretty much all of them have something going on.
Kingsburg winery Ramos Torres does it all during their family-friendly Friday events: wine, food, dessert, live music and a movie. Is there anything you like that isn’t on that list? I doubt it. The next hangout is Friday and will show the “Harry Potter” prequel film “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” It also has a cupcake/snow cone vendor, which speaks to me.
Toca Madera has several Latin-themed events coming up, with a salsa party and Selena tribute scheduled for July and September.
Kings River Winery also has an active summer concert series.
Visit the Central Coast – The Valley’s craft beer scene is coming along, but the trend has exploded just a few hours west of us. There are dozens of breweries and wineries, but the Central Coast also has a number of established festivals. Most are in the spring, but the Central Coast Sour Fest runs Sept. 23.
Make sure you check out the Central Coast Beer Trail’s interactive map so you can plan visits to breweries in Paso Robles and other cities on your way to the coast.
See a concert at Vino Robles Ampitheatre – The Paso Robles winery is less than two hours from Fresno and has pulled in major talent for the rest of the year. Broadway’s Idina Menzel, 2000s-era rock bands AFI and The Shins, classic rockers Chicago and The Doobie Brothers, and comedian Ron White are on the bill.
Do some beer yoga – I Believe in Downtown Yoga hosts a beer yoga session pretty much every month. The next one will be at Chukchansi Park. The yogis will hit the outfield at 9 a.m. Aug. 26. A $34 ticket includes a yoga class, a beer (or soda) and a game ticket.
Plan your own brewery tour - The Bee’s online craft beer section has the updates on the comings and goings of Valley breweries. It also has a map of the 20-plus breweries between Bakersfield and Modesto, so plot your own course and try them all.