Author Archives: Trevor

Napa Valley wine grape harvest is off to its earliest start in a decade

As we told you previously, the 2014 Napa Valley wine grape harvest kicked-off in late July. It turns out the start was earlier than we’ve seen around here in quite some time.

On Tuesday the Napa Valley Grapegrowers issued a press release announcing the 2014 harvest had started earlier than all harvests dating back to 2004. The release also provided the following data points:

  • July 2014 average high temperature ranged from 80 degrees in Carneros to 92 in Calistoga and Pope Valley – right in the sweet zone for fine wines
  • March – June 2014 months were all 3-5 degrees higher than average, getting the vines off to a strong start
  • 2014 total rainfall is around 50-60% of normal
  • February and March 2014 rainfall was 11-17 inches, falling at exactly the right time of the season to mitigate drought concerns and irrigation needs

Visit our Harvest 2014 page to watch the story of the 2014 harvest unfold through daily videos, images and updates from wineries throughout the Napa Valley.

Napa Valley wine grape harvest will start this week

Ready or not: the 2014 Napa Valley wine grape harvest is about to kick-off. Sparkling wine producer Mumm Napa, typically one of the first to bring in fruit each year, will begin the 2014 harvest at first light on Wednesday, July 30th at its Game Farm vineyard between Yountville and Oakville.

The late July start to harvest is almost an identical timeframe to last year, when Mumm Napa began bringing in fruit on the first of August.

The 2014 growing season has been an interesting one in the Napa Valley–with the region suffering through drought conditions due to an unusually dry winter and spring. What impact that will have on the fruit this year and in years to come remains to be seen.

Just like the final product in the bottle, no two harvests are the same. Be sure to check out our previous coverage of Napa Valley harvests:

Harvest 2013
Harvest 2012
Harvest 2011
Harvest 2010
Harvest 2009
Harvest 2008
Harvest 2007

Veraison in full swing, Napa ranked among the “10 best small cities in America”

The dog days of summer are nearly upon us and things are getting busier here in the Napa Valley. Here are a few interesting tidbits that have recently come across our desk.

How to See Napa in One Day
The folks at Forbes Travel Guide created an insane one-day Napa itinerary. It certainly does not qualify for our idea of a relaxing day in wine country, but to each their own. Here’s an excerpt:

After having one too many fall-off-the-bone ribs, taking advantage of the Downtown Napa Wine Tasting Card might be a good idea. For $30, you’ll have access to 12 tasting rooms all within walking distance from Bounty Hunter. Just present your card at places such as Naked Wines, Capp Heritage, Uncorked at Oxbow, Mason Cellars and, of course, at Bounty Hunter for exclusive vinos made by small-production winemakers that can’t be found outside of these tasting rooms.

Full story.

The 10 Best Small Cities in America
Conde Nast Traveler published a list of the ten best small cities in all the land and the City of Napa checked in at number three! Excerpt:

Barely an hour’s drive north of San Francisco, the rolling hills, vineyards, and gorgeous inns of Napa Valley draw oenophiles, romantics, and anyone in search of a small slice of Europe in Northern California (with restaurant quality and prices to match).

Full story.

Veraison in full swing
Veraison, which signals the onset of ripening, has been spotted throughout vineyards across the valley. Here are a couple of our favorite images that indicate harvest is just around the corner.

Chef Sean O’Toole’s Torc launches a “secret” menu

Last November the downtown Napa dining scene got a jolt when Chef Sean O’Toole opened Torc. Now, the restaurant is making a play to entice locals (and those “in the know”) to visit and keep coming back.

Starting on July 9th, Torc will have a “secret” menu available daily between 5pm-6:30pm. The menu, which will include three courses for $35, will not be printed and will only be made available to those who ask for it. Diners will be able to choose between two choices of appetizer, entree and cheese/dessert.

Check out the sample menu below and give it a try later this week.

Half of the top 20 “best wineries in America” are in Napa Valley

It’s no secret the Napa Valley is one of the premiere wine growing regions in the entire world. Despite more states producing more varieties of wine than ever before, our little valley continues hold its own according to a new report.

The Daily Meal released a list of the “101 Best Wineries in America” and on quick glance the Napa Valley is very well-represented. In fact, 50% of the top 20 are from our region, including:

Dunn Vineyards in Angwin, California (#6 overall)
Heitz Cellars in St. Helena, California (#7 overall)
Matthiasson Winery in Napa Valley, California (#8 overall)
Caymus Vineyards in Rutherford, California (#12 overall)
Chateau Montelena in Calistoga, California (#13 overall)
Shafer Vineyards in Napa, California (#15 overall)
Corison Winery in St. Helena, California (#16 overall)
Duckhorn Vineyards in St. Helena, California (#17 overall)
Schramsberg Vineyards in Calistoga, California (#19 overall)
Robert Sinskey Vineyards in Napa, California (#20 overall)

Here’s the full list of 101 Best Wineries in America (including the methodology).

7 Napa Valley restaurants earn stars in 2016 Michelin Guide

Napa Valley is recognized around the world for its amazing wine–what many don’t know is that it consistently produces world class food to match. Following the release of its 2016 Bib Gourmand picks for the Bay Area, Michelin has released its broader list of the top restaurants in our area.

All told, 14 Napa Valley restaurants were included in the 2016 guide (7 stars and 7 bib gourmand), the same number as last year.

Here are the local establishments recently recognized with Michelin’s coveted ‘stars’ for 2016:

Three Stars “Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey”
The French Laundry in Yountville
The Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena

One Star “A very good restaurant in its category”
Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford
Bouchon in Yountville
La Toque in Napa
Solbar Wine in Calistoga
Terra in St. Helena

7 Napa Valley restaurants make Michelin’s 2016 Bib Gourmand list

Earlier this week, Michelin released its annual list of top local eateries–starting first with its 2016 Bib Gourmand honorees. As a reminder, the Bib Gourmand includes “…eateries that offer excellent food at a reasonable price.”

The San Francisco Bay Area saw 74 total establishments make the cut–4 fewer than last year. So, how did Napa Valley fare?

Last year Napa had seven eateries on the Bib Gourmand list and 2016 is no different. The only change to the Napa Valley list was the removal of C Casa (Napa) and the addition of Farmstead (St. Helena).

In order to receive a Bib Gourmand designation, restaurants must serve two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less (tax and gratuity not included). Here are the 2016 lucky seven:

Bistro Jeanty (Yountville)
Cook St. Helena (St. Helena)
Farmstead (St. Helena)
Grace’s Table (Napa)
Oenotri (Napa)
Redd Wood (Yountville)
The Farmer & The Fox (St. Helena)

Do you have a favorite?

2015 Napa Valley wine grape harvest is underway

With more than a week left in the month of July, the 2015 Napa Valley wine grape harvest is underway.

On Monday, sparkling wine producer Schramsberg began bringing in fruit from the Carneros AVA in the southern part of the Napa Valley.

On Wednesday, Mumm Napa saw the first fruit from its Game Farm Vineyard come in, in what marks the earliest harvest on record for the winery.

Thanks to @wineohtv for the photo “from the front lines of the grapevines” as #NapaHarvest 2015 got underway early this morning, kicking off our earliest harvest on record.

A photo posted by Mumm Napa (@mummnapa) on 

If the past several years are any indication, harvest 2015 promises to be another wild and crazy ride. Explore the past eight Napa Valley harvests using the links below and stay tuned for much more.

16 majestic winter photos from Napa Valley

Winter is officially here and around these parts that means it’s time for a bit of rest and relaxation. If you’re planning a trip, here are some suggestions on how to enjoy Napa Valley without the wine and here’s the definitive guide on where to eat. We’d also highly recommend spending some time to soak in the amazing winter views. Here is some inspiration.

Seven Napa Valley restaurants earn stars in 2015 Michelin Guide

Following last week’s release of its 2015 Bib Gourmand picks for the Bay Area, Michelin today released its broader list of the top restaurants in our area. All told, 14 Napa Valley restaurants were included in the 2015 guide (7 stars and 7 bib gourmand), up from 12 in 2014.

Don’t miss our newly released Ultimate Foodie Itinerary for Napa Valley

Here are the local establishments recognized with 2015 Michelin stars:

Three Stars “Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey”
The French Laundry in Yountville
The Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena

One Star “A very good restaurant in its category”
Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford
Bouchon in Yountville
La Toque in Napa
Solbar in Calistoga
Terra in St. Helena