Welcome to Wine Country!
This Mediterranean-styled patio looks like a lounge straight out of Napa Valley.
The discrepancy between the refined atmosphere of the Terrace and the view of all the exciting theme park happenings below and around you is simultaneously striking and — simply put — really cool.
This is especially true when you get to take in Radiator Springs at night in all its rock-and-neon glow.
Aside from the incredible views, the other certain draw is the opportunity to “tour wine country” through a selection of the Disney Family of Wines.
“The Disney Family of Wines,” you ask? These are California wines made from wineries that have a connection to the Disney “Family.” (We did a little post about it here.) You’re bound to spot several familiar faces as you glance through the choices, and looking through the menu is absolutely part of the fun. Not only do you receive a helpful description of each wine option (making this a welcoming place for those new to tasting or looking to expand their knowledge), but you also get to learn about each represented member of the Disney Family, thanks to brief bios included above the wine descriptions.
For instance, I had no idea that the Absent Minded Professor himself, Fred MacMurray, was the first person honored as a Disney Legend!
Also included in the Family are Pixar CCO and Disney Imagineer John Lasseter and Davy Crockett actor, Fess Parker. (Did any of you watch the American Experience documentary about Walt Disney that aired on PBS in September, by the way? It took me weeks until I could stop singing “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” after watching it. Now if only I could find my coonskin cap…)
Also featured are wines from Chappellet Vineyards (connected by former Disney President/CEO Frank Wells). The craft beer selection also includes California natives: Anaheim Hefeweizen, Brother Thelonious Ale and Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA.
Can’t decide? Not a problem. Wine flights are available, and the cool thing is a few of the options mix reds, whites and blushes, so you’re not restricted to trying, say, solely reds. For instance, the Red, White and Rosé Flight features Kurt Russell’s GoGi Goldie Chardonnay, the Lasseter Family Winery’s Enjoué Rosé, and Cabernet Sauvignon from the Frank Family Vineyard.
Beyond beverages, a selection of appetizer plates features a Mediterranean theme. They offer classic options that pair nicely with wine including a Charcuterie and Cheese Board and Bruschetta, among others.
My server suggested the Trio of Beef Tenderloin Sliders, topped with a Horseradish-Caramelized Onion Aïoli.
I really enjoyed how the tenderloin was prepared, with a nice, juicy center and well done sides. The Horseradish-Caramelized Onion Aïoli also added the perfect little mix of heat and flavor.
You’ll note from the suggested pairings on the menu that a Cabernet Sauvignon is recommended for the Trio (as well as the other appetizer I tried, which you’ll see in a moment). But I veered off a bit, finding myself more in the mood for a white. Again I turned to my server for a recommendation. Please don’t hesitate to ask if you’d like a little guidance here. The servers are knowledgable and helpful, and love discussing all things vino.
Ultimately, I ended up going with the Frank Family Vineyards Chardonnay (Rich Frank is a former Disney exec, serving as President of the Walt Disney Studios for close to a decade, among, like, a bajillion other accomplishments).
Noted as a “fruit-forward” wine, this smooth, sweet wine is, I think, an especially good choice for those looking to enjoy the Alfresco experience, but are fairly new to wine tasting.
Having become something of a risotto fanatic over the past few years, I also had to try the Aged Cheddar Risotto Bites.
The Bites come with two sauces for dipping: Marinara and Roasted Garlic Herb Aioli. The texture of the melted cheese and risotto was a great counterpart to the crunchy, fried shell. And while the Marinara was pretty standard, the Garlic Herb Aioli was AH-MAZING.
All this, right above Radiator Springs. Who woulda thought?
The Alfresco Tasting Terrace offers a wonderfully unexpected spot to unwind during a busy park day. It’s so relaxed, in fact, that you might forget you’re in a theme park if it weren’t for the terrific views. And while the food is tasty, it’s the wine that folks come for. The fact that you can enjoy it while learning a thing or two about the Disney Family give it an added bonus for Disney fans.
As you make your plans to visit, it’s good to know that opening hours can vary (typically not until mid-afternoon, and I understand that some days it is not in operation). But if you can make it work in your schedule and the thought of sipping wine in as close to a Napa Valley lounge as you’re going to get when you’re not in Napa Valley appeals to you, then I say make sure you put it #OnTheList… and Cheers!
Have you visited the Alfresco Tasting Terrace? Please let us know about your experience with a comment!
Contributors to this story: AJ Wolfe, Tina F., and Wendy P.