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Spring has sprung and with this recent gorgeous weather, we want to make the most of it! And with April being North Carolina Beer Month, there are plenty of tours and events to enjoy at our local breweries, such as Crank Arm, Full Steam, or Big Boss. While there are a few beer events on our list this month, there are plenty of other wonderful events to enjoy this great weather in. Read on to find out what we recommend:

Spring Menus in Herons: Strawberries, basil, carrots, so many new flavors are ready for eating with the seasons change. And making the most of it is James Beard Nominee, Executive Chef Steven Greene. His new spring menus for Herons, the Bar and Lounge, and more all begin this month, starting April 5th. Come see what he has in store for you this season.

Seasonal Spa Treatments: A new season also means new spa treatments, and we’ll take any excuse to go! New to the list are our Rest and Restore facial and our Piedmont Ritual. This 30 minute anti-fatigue facial is perfect for travelers after long flight, to prepare for a long day, or anyone wanting a well-rested glow. Our newest ritual features warm herbal compression balls infused with herbs and spices and designed to relieve the body of toxins and tensions. This indulgent treatment relaxes you from head to toe, and an added bonus? Use your compression balls for an at home soak to continue the experience!

Haw River Farmhouse Ales Beer Dinner: Celebrate North Carolina Beer Month with us at our beer dinner with Haw River on April 14th. Located in Saxapahaw, NC, Haw River Farmhouse Ales feature Belgium styled beers with incredible depth and acidity. Each of the five courses are created by James Beard Nominee, Chef Steven Greene, and are complimented by its own beer, paired perfectly by Sommelier Hai Tran. Tickets can be purchased by calling 919-447-4050.

Cakebread Wine Dinner: Beer not your thing? Then join us for our Cakebread Wine Dinner on April 19th. A five course dinner with wine pairings by Sommelier, Hai Tran, and feature two cabernets for the main entrée, created by James Beard Nominee Steven Greene. Tickets available at 919-447-4050.

North Carolina Beer Month Umstead Uncorked: To continue the celebration, our Sommelier is taking a step away from wine to showcase a selection of some of the best beer offerings available to us. We will explore as well how beer and food can work together and in some situations where beer might be the better option for pairing than wine itself. Event takes place on April 28. Tickets available at 919-447-4050.

Art in Bloom at the North Carolina Museum of Art: The NCMA Second Annual Festival of Art and Flowers is this month, April 7 to 10. Floral designers from across the state and more interpret masterworks the from the museum’s collection in 56 creative floral displays. Events include scavenger hunts, lectures, tours, and workshops taught by floral designers from around the world. Not a bad way to greet the spring.

NC Museum of Art Trunk Shows: In addition to the Art in Bloom festival, the museum store will be having several trunk shows throughout the weekend of April 7 to 10, featuring Vintage Bee Honey, Lucia Shaw Sculptural soaps, and Matthew's Chocolates. All of these shows are from local artisans, and the perfect home additions for the spring.

Macbeth: about a little ballet this month? Between April 14 and 17, the Carolina Ballet will be presenting Founding Artistic Director Robert Weiss’s newest ballet, Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Set to an original score by J. Mark Scearce, Composer of Carolina Ballet’s Dracula, this murderous dance will keep everyone on their toes. Just remember to not say Macbeth’s name upon entering!

Compliments of the house: With everything beginning to bloom, simply get out doors on our grounds! Our natural surroundings are one of the elements that make the Umstead so serene. Another great area to enjoy is the J. C. Raulston Arboretum. This beautiful botanical garden is the perfect place to escape to see the blossoms beginning. Only 5 minutes away, speak with the concierge for directions or to arrange transportation.

Looking for more? Talk to our concierge at concierge@theumstead.com or give them a call at 919-447-4030. They are the best keys to unlocking the city.

Spring is upon us! And we couldn't be happier. The triangle usually has unusual weather, but this year we just couldn't get into the ever changing cold to warm, but with the first day of Spring this month, we are ready to say good bye to the cold, and hello to longer lit days and warm breezes. And with our pool opening up March 1st, we know what we will be taking the most advantage of! Here are other ideas for how you can spend your days of March:

Easter Brunch: Join us on March 27 for our annual Easter Brunch Buffet! Menu items range from spring lamb, to heirloom grits. And we especially can't wait to see the Easter Garden of marshmallows, macarons, chocolate bunnies, and lollipops, all created by Pastry Chef Evan Sheridan! Seatings begin at 11:00 am, reservations are required and can be made at 919-447-4050.

Umstead Uncorked featuring New Chile: Journey through Chile on March 31 at our monthly Umstead Uncorked. In the past decade, there have been a number of growers, producers, and winemakers throughout the Chilean wine industry seeking to explore and showcase the diversity of micro-terroirs that make Chile so unique, moving away from the capital of Santiago. Join our sommelier as the spotlight is shifted to these exciting new wines coming out of Chile. Tickets can be purchased at 919-447-4050.

"Actual State" at the North Carolina Musum of Art: Every Tues, Thurs, Sat, and Sun from 10:30 to 11:30 and 1:30 to 3pm, stop by the North Carolina Museum of Art to witness “Actual State” where visitors receive the opportunity to witness famous works of art being restored. Be sure to wander around and see some of the other art, and maybe brunch at Iris. We highly recommend the Oak City Benedict!

African American Film Festival: The African American Film Festival begins March 3 and continues throughout the weekend with complimentary screenings, panel discussions, and other unique forums. This festival highlights seven feature films and six short films made by and about African-Americans. Be sure to check out this four day celebration of people of color in cinema, featuring local and national filmmakers. More information can be found here.

Saint Patrick's Day Parade and Celtic Festival: Don’t forget your green this month, when you head down to City Plaza in Raleigh for our St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 12! This festive parade celebrates celtic traditions and culture with food, drinks, and activities for kids on Leprechaun Lane. The Irish Village also features celtic inspired jewelry, arts, and crafts. Details can be found here.

Raleigh Blues Festival: If green isn’t your particular shade, how about a little blue instead? The 9th Annual Raleigh Blues Festival starts up at 7:00 pm on March 12th, at the Memorial Auditorium at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. Sir Charles Jones, Pokey Bear, Theodis Easley, Nelson Curry & the Klass Band and Calvin Richardson & Big Robb will be performing live. Tickets are between $51 and $77 and can be purchased here.

Cary Easter Egg Hunt:Have a few young ones with you? Then head over the Fred G. Bond Metro Park and Boathouse on March 19th for Cary’s 25th Annual Easter Egg Hunt. Hunt begins at 10am and 1:00 pm, with a magic show at 10:30 and 1:30 and other entertainment available. More information here.

Compliments of the house: Any excuse you can take to get outdoors before the summer heat sets in we plan on taking advantage of, weather permitting. One way to do it is with our complimentary yoga on Saturday and Sunday. Sign up at the concierge desk and enjoy !

Looking for more? Talk to our concierge at concierge@theumstead.com or give them a call at 919-447-4030. They are the best keys to unlocking the city.

In lieu of all those out to celebrate Valentine’s Day this weekend, be it with friends, loves, or in rebellion of it, I grabbed our Sommelier, Hai Tran, and asked for a few tips on ordering wine at our favorite restaurants. Here are his questions and queues to help you along in picking the best bottle:

Who are you eating with? The company you keep is part of the dining experience, and in combination with the ambience and food, wine completes the picture. So when faced with the task of ordering wine, don’t forget to keep your company in mind. Two of the best questions are “do you prefer red or white?” or “what type of wine do you drink at home?” Both of these greatly narrow down the selection.

What’s for dinner? Wine is meant to compliment, so it’s important to take that into consideration. The old “reds with reds” and “whites with whites” isn’t a bad place to start when you don’t know much about wine, because it’s generally true.

Is there a theme here? If the place is 95 percent Italian wines, you should probably order an Italian wine. Those three California wines are there to please the couple who “only drinks California wines”. If that is you, rest assured the establishment has given as much care into selecting those three as they did with the Italian selections, but the wines they have the most of are most likely what the restaurant curates with the most care.

Do not order the second cheapest bottle. Everyone goes for the second cheapest bottle of wine, which generally is the worst in value. Restaurants know that you don’t want to look cheap, so if they take an inexpensive wholesale bottle and price it as the second least expensive, they will make more money on it. You’re better off buying the actual cheapest if price is a factor.

Be real – price is always a factor. You should always be honest with your sommelier or waiter about what you’re willing to spend. If you want to get real sneaky, open the menu and say, “Do you have anything else like this you’d recommend?” and point to a price you are comfortable with. Everyone else at the table will think you are pointing to an amazing bottle of wine, while the person assisting you will smile and gracefully point to you to a beautiful bottle.

Don’t be afraid of inexpensive wines. At a respectable restaurant, where there is a sommelier or a well-respected wine program, there is someone who has taken great care to build the whole list. They also choose the inexpensive wines too! Sometimes wines are relatively inexpensive because they come from odd places, or are made from weird grapes, or are just a remarkable bargain. Any respectable program will stand by their $40 bottle as much as their $400 bottle.

Just ask. Whether you are dealing with a sommelier or a waiter, they are guaranteed to know the wine list pretty well. Be confident in your ignorance and give yourself over to the pros. My personal go-to: “Listen, I don’t know any of these wines. What is your favorite on the menu that isn’t a million dollars?” The staff usually laughs and gives you something delicious and mid-priced.

Remember, your sommelier wants you to enjoy the wine, and they don’t want the taste or price to hinder that. Now enjoy your weekend!

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