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Lovely outdoor space at Queen's Inn & Idle Hour Winery & Kitchen invites visitors to Sip, Stay, Savor & Play

Sip, Stay, Savor, & Play

OAKHURST — Since the Queen’s Inn and Idle Hour Winery’s opening 15 years ago, the hotel and  winery have become a community staple and “the place to be” for a wealth of amenities, most  notably, wines, lodging, cuisine, live music and events, not to mention the beautiful 5-acre riverfront property the businesses share for guests to enjoy.  

Partners Deb Payne and Anna Marie dos Remedios started out as innkeepers at the  Queen’s Inn and bartenders at the hotel’s wine bar way back in 2007. Now they are also purveyors of some of the finest wines available in their winery, as well as offering fine cuisine to guests, locals, and tourists. 

It truly is a place where visitors can get it all, a lovely room or cabin overlooking the Fresno River, a world-class meal, wine tasting, and lively local music in season at their wine bar patio (usually May  through October, depending on the weather). Visitors can check-in to one of their 12 accommodations, which includes four king room cabins added in 2019. They don’t have to leave the premises until the stay ends if they want to enjoy fine wine, a river view and healthy, Mediterranean cuisine. 

Winter visitors find the inn and winery to be a great spot to land for a vacation or an event since the property is located above the fog and below the snow. The Queen’s Wine Bar & Beer Garden pours an  assortment of wines and beers from around the world — as well as the Idle Hour house wines — and is open daily during high season months, May – Oct., and Thursday – Saturday evenings,  Nov. – April.

A Place to Be for Visitors & Locals Alike

But it’s not just visitors who take advantage of the property’s offerings. Locals have  come to call the property home for a lovely afternoon or night out, especially during spring and  summer when the outdoor areas are in full use. Community-minded, Deb and Anna Marie enjoy collaborating with other local businesses to support local events as well as private guests as the property has many great patios and outdoor spaces to hold intimate private gatherings. 

Speaking of the property, it has been in Deb Payne’s family since 1964, when her  grandmother purchased the place. It morphed for a time into the White Oaks Guest Home, a residence for developmentally challenged individuals. Completely renovated in 2007, it opened as the Queen’s Inn, named after Deb’s grandmother, always called Queen, but never ever grandma or granny, in her honor. 

Winemaker Anna Marie dos Remedios learned traditional winemaking methods from  mentor and renowned Pinot Noir producer Josh Jensen at Calera Wine Company. She founded Idle Hour Winery to focus on using traditional methods – native yeast fermentation, gravity-flow racking, and the use of neutral French Oak – all of which are very gentle in nature, and she  applies them to all of the varieties she ferments. She furthered her education by enrolling as a student in the University of California, Davis, winemaking certificate program to gain an understanding of the chemistry of wine and winemaking. 

The partners decided to relocate the winery to Oakhurst, making Idle Hour the first winery here, located just outside the south entrance to Yosemite National Park. In addition to Pinot Noir, varieties produced by the winery include Viognier, Chardonnay, Tempranillo, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Tannat, Malbec, Syrah & Alicante Bouschet, as well as a few other varieties occasionally.  

In addition to the Oakhurst location, the ladies own and operate a second location, Idle Hour Tasting Room, at 1 Del Fino Place in Carmel Valley, in Monterey County, where some of  their wines are sourced. All their wines are single vineyard varietal wines from select California vineyards. The Pinot Noir and Chardonnay come from the Monterey area. The Tempranillo, Petit Verdot, Cab Franc and more come from Clarksburg, in the Sacramento Delta area. 

Anna Marie named Idle Hour Winery after her grandfather Augustinho dos Remedios’ Chinese junk, a sailing and fishing vessel that she enjoyed as a young child with her family in Hong Kong, where she was born. See story here

The names honor the families and legacies of both partners.

Just before COVID hit, the winery expanded food service with the on-site kitchen, adding a Sunday Brunch offering. After the COVID pandemic began, the inn, wine bar and winery had to adapt all services to comply with social distancing and COVID-compliant  operations. 

Over the last two years, the partners have re-envisioned the entire property and have  brought in seasoned staff to create and execute an ever changing approach in managing the  businesses throughout the pandemic. They hired Mindy Eichman, formerly the Tenaya Operations/Food & Beverage Director, to oversee the inn. The winery’s kitchen has become  known for its Mediterranean fare, led by Chef de Cuisine, Dylan Melella. For the front of the  house, Jennifer Wiese, formerly Tenaya’s Assistant Food & Beverage Director, joined the team  to manage sales and events.

The winery currently offers outdoor dining as well as a covered  porch, equipped with space heaters for warmth during colder weather. They began the COVID era with expansion into lunch service and started take-out Family Meals dining and have carried that forward, as well, during the winter months.

Dinner service — known as the “Supper Club” — is a once monthly, reservations only, three-course paired wine dinner on the first Saturday of each month, except when a change is made to celebrate a special occasion. For example, the February Supper Club happens on Saturday, Feb. 12 at 3 p.m.

Reservations are  available to all, and are first come, first served. Make reservations at idlehourkitchen.com.

Special Events

The Queen’s Inn & Wine Bar and Idle Hour Winery & Kitchen is the perfect place in Oakhurst for catering and special events such as weddings, engagements, birthdays, and reunions. If you have an occasion, this property can fill your needs and exceed your expectations. 

Need to limber up? The Wine Bar offers yoga sessions at noon on Thursdays. Yoga hours may change with the seasons and the weather. To open up more space, they are  installing a new deck in the wine bar and are planning to add amenities such as horseshoe pits,  ladder ball and bocce ball. They also lowered the fence around the outdoor wine bar patio to  expand social distancing during live music and other events. 

Public market at Idle Hour Winery & Kitchen

The winery added a small Public Market last year, a place where you can create the  perfect gift baskets, highlighting wine and gourmet foods, from women-owned businesses all  over the United States, including such delicacies as sauces, oils, vinegars, cheeses, crackers,  packaged nuts, gourmet chocolates from Seattle Chocolate and dehydrated soups from Soups of Success, a non-profit organization that supports domestic violence victims.  

Make your Valentine’s Day special at Queen’s Inn and Idle Hour Winery & Kitchen. The staff at the Inn and Winery are committed to making your Sip • Stay • Savor • Play adventure the best it can be. 

Winter Hours

Winter hours for the Queen’s Inn: 

  • Inn: Open daily. 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. 
  • Wine Bar: Thursday – Saturday, Wine & Beer, 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. 

Winter hours for Idle Hour Winery & Kitchen Wine tasting and food service are as follows:

  • Wine Sales & Tasting Monday through Saturday – 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
  • Lunch Service – 12 noon to 4 p.m. 
  • Sunday Wine Sales & Tasting – 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 
  • Sunday Brunch – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

To make book a room, buy wine or make reservations for events, go to  idlehourwinery.com or to their Facebook page. 

Contact them by phone

Queen’s Inn 559-683-4354

Idle Hour Winery 559-760-9090.

For more general information, 

Photos courtesy of Idle Hour Winery & Kitchen and Visit Yosemite|Madera County.

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Sierra News Online