It’s Barbecue Time — Are You Wine Ready?

ranchordNicasio means “the hidden one,” which makes Nicasio an apt name for a little village in the rolling hills of western Marin County, north of the San Francisco Bay Bridge.

Nicasio’s historic town square consists of St. Mary’s Church (established in 1890), a Post Office, a general store, the volunteer fire department and a bar and restaurant known as Rancho Nicasio.

The restaurant has a brunch menu, a dinner menu and now a “Western Room” menu that shows off the culinary talents of chef Ron Siegel five days per week. Here’s a look at Chef Siegel’s current menu. I haven’t had an opportunity to try his handiwork yet, but I’m planning to.

My personal history with Rancho Nicasio has to do with its summertime barbecues. Each weekend during the summer, live music is featured by great bands and singer/songwriters, accompanied by delicious barbecued food with, as they say in the land of BBQ, all the fixin’s.

How did I discover this great music and food venue? No, it wasn’t through Yelp or TripAdvisor or Facebook. It was thanks to a wine country map.

I was looking for a particular winery — I can’t remember which one — one Saturday afternoon, and the map took me directly through Nicasio. The aroma wafting over Rancho Nicasio was intoxicating, and I had to stop and follow my nose. It led me to this very special place, where a legendary Texas group called Asleep at the Wheel was playing that day. That concert, I was informed, was sold out, but I was handed a schedule of upcoming “Barbecues on the Lawn.” Since then, I’ve tried to attend at least one concert each year, not only because it’s a cool place, but because I believe in supporting live music as well as family-run businesses.

Here’s a look at the remaining 2016 Barbecues on the Lawn schedule:

  • June 19 — The Sun Kings and Unauthorized Rolling Stones
  • June 26 — Ruthie Foster and John Maxwell
  • July 3 — Peter Rowan
  • July 4 — The Zydeco Flames
  • July 10 — Tommy Castro and Danny Click
  • July 17 — The Blues Broads and Shana Morrison
  • July 24 — Elvin Bishop and Buckwheat Zydeco
  • July 31 — Paul Thorn Band
  • Aug. 7 — subdudes
  • Aug. 14 — Zulu Spear and Soul Ska
  • Aug. 21 — Petty Theft
  • Aug. 28 — Asleep at the Wheel
  • Sept. 4 — Chuck Prophet and San Geronimo
  • Sept. 5 — The Sons of Champlin
  • Sept. 11 — “Uncle” Willie K

BBQIf a trip to northern California for a Rancho Nicasio Barbecue on the Lawn isn’t in the cards this year, I have an excellent Plan B for you. Simply fire up your own grill, and accompany the meal with the wines featured in this sampler from Vinesse.

By the way, after visiting Rancho Nicasio that first time, I did find the winery I was looking for — but no thanks to the map I was using.

What I’ve learned over the years is that the “wine country maps” you pick up at hotel information racks are notoriously inaccurate. Even GPS can get “confused” on some of those off-the-beaten path, winding wine country roads.

Your best bet for getting to a specific winery is to drive to the general area, and then follow the specific winery directional signs. Those signs are very helpful and have never steered me wrong.

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