The ultimate foodie itinerary for Napa Valley

In addition to world class wines, the Napa Valley is home to some of the top restaurants in the world. Every year Michelin rains its much coveted stars on numerous local eateries–in fact the town of Yountville has boasted that it has more Michelin Stars per capita than any other location. With all that in mind, we’ve put together a two-day Napa Valley itinerary that is sure to delight the taste buds of even the most fickle foodie.

Day One
Start off with a hearty breakfast in downtown Napa at Alexis Baking Company and Cafe. The cornmeal pancakes are always a winner as are the omelettes and baked goods. Tip: arrive early to avoid the crowds, especially on weekends.

Walk off breakfast by taking a stroll through downtown Napa, where numerous shops, art galleries and restaurants line the streets. Cross the river to the east and enter the Oxbow District, where you’ll find the bustling Oxbow Public Market–a 40,000 square foot marketplace featuring dozens of local food vendors, artisan cafes and an organic produce outlet for local farms.

Head back to your car and cruise north on the picturesque Silverado Trail to Signorello Estate. With a prior appointment you’ll be able to sip five estate wines each paired with canapes selected by the winery’s executive chef all while sitting on the terrace overlooking the valley below.

When you’ve had enough of the amazing views, venture north on Silverado trail until you find Robert Sinskey Vineyards. A reservation for the winery’s “Perfect Circle” tour will allow you to sip wine, stroll through the garden and discuss food and wine pairing. After a quick stop in the caves and some insights into the winemaking process, you’ll gather at the farm table to enjoy seasonal creations from the vineyard kitchen paired with a selection of Robert Sinskey wines.

 

Take the short drive across Yountville Cross Road into town and park at the north end of Yountville. From there, stroll southward and stop to check out Thomas Keller’s world renown French Laundry and his lush garden right across the street. Explore the rows and rows of seasonal vegetables and soak in the mountain and vineyard views looking west across the valley.

When you’re ready to leave the garden, continue south to find your dinner destination. Either Keller’s Ad Hoc or Chef Michael Chiarello’s Bottega will provide a delicious ending to day one.

Day Two
Start with a quick bite and strong caffeine at Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company in downtown Napa or Ritual Roasters at Oxbow Public Market. Get something to eat, but not too much–a day full of food and wine awaits.

Cruise up Highway 29 to tiny Oakville on your way to Swanson Vineyards. Your 11am reservation will have you partake in an intimate one-hour tasting of Swanson wines paired with chocolates, caviar and cheeses.

Continue north on Highway 29 into Rutherford and find Round Pond Estate. No, you’re not here for more wine, your 1pm appointment is for a 90-minute tour and tasting at the estate olive mill. This unique adventure starts with a guided tour of the olive mill, followed by a sit down tasting of olive oils, vinegars and syrups paired with a seasonal selection of garden inspired foods.

 

Head north on Highway 29 to find downtown St. Helena, where you’ll be able to stretch your legs and work up an appetite by browsing through numerous shops, art galleries and more in this quaint town. If you’re in need of an afternoon pick-me-up, stop in at Sogni Di Dolci for a delicious Italian espresso or split a gelato before heading out of town.

Close out your time in Napa Valley by watching the sunset from the deck at the Restaurant at Auberge du Soleil while you enjoy a glass of Napa Valley’s finest along with delectable Mediterranean-inspired dishes prepared by Executive Chef Robert Curry.

17 breathtaking Napa Valley harvest photos

Harvest has been underway for nearly eight full weeks now in Napa Valley. In order to give you a sense for what harvest is like and to provide a small glimpse into the work that goes into creating the delicious juice we all know and love, we’ve collected a few of our favorite harvest images from around the valley.

7 Napa Valley restaurants make Michelin’s Bib Gourmand list

It’s that time of year again–time for the release of Michelin’s annual list of top local eateries. Today, we got the 2015 Bib Gourmand list, which includes “…eateries that offer excellent food at a reasonable price.” The San Francisco Bay Area saw 78 total establishments make the cut. So, how did Napa Valley fare?

As a reminder, the 2014 list included five Napa Valley restaurants. The 2015 Bib Gourmand list released today saw a total of seven Napa Valley eateries make the cut.

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 lucky seven:

Bistro Jeanty (Yountville)
C Casa (Napa)
Cook St. Helena (St. Helena)
Grace’s Table (Napa) **New for 2015
Oenotri (Napa)
Redd Wood (Yountville)
The Farmer & The Fox (St. Helena) **New for 2015

Do you have a favorite among these?

Napa harvest: Coombsville fruit showing unique characteristics

Earlier this summer we told you about St. Helena’s Cairdean Estate from proprietors Edwin and Stacia Williams. We recently caught up with Edwin to get a general update on harvest and a few specific details on the Acquaintance Vineyard located in Coombsville.

It’s no secret the annual wine grape harvest in Napa Valley got off to an early start back on July 30th, here’s what Williams had to say about it:

The main story with the 2014 season is the lack of rain. The lack of rain this year isn’t affecting us the way one would normally think lack of rain would affect growing crops. The rains that we did get came at the right time and the right amount to have ground water available for this growing year. However, the lack of early rains and a cold winter in general made the grapevines “wake-up” from their dormancy early.

Meanwhile, south east Napa’s Coombsville area has seen some interesting changes in 2014. Here’s Williams:

From what we have observed in our Coombsville vineyard (Acquaintance Vineyard), the early season has had many effects, both obvious and subtle. The obvious early season means that we are bringing in fruit early; specifically we are harvesting our Acquaintance Merlot next week, which is about two and a half weeks earlier than normal. The more subtle is the dynamics of the vineyard are off. We have noticed less pests in the vineyard, but also the flavors aren’t like previous vintages. I personally suspect that the rain schedule we received changed the soil nutrient update by the vines to change the more typical flavors of the vineyard.

Keep in mind that by saying the flavors are different, it isn’t that the flavors aren’t good. Far from that, actually. The flavors just aren’t typical of what we have seen since we have been growing fruit in Coombsville. It will mean that wineries, like us, who stick with what the fruit provides in a season, will find that the 2014 harvest of Coombsville fruit will have unique characteristics not found in previous vintages. That should make us all very excited about this season.

Stay tuned for additional updates and follow along on our dedicated Napa harvest page.

Napa among 10 healthiest cities in the world

Just in time for the weekend we’ve got a few interesting Napa Valley items to pass along. In the meantime, harvest continues in earnest (as does earthquake recovery), don’t forget to follow along on our dedicated harvest page featuring photos and videos from winemakers throughout the valley.

Napa ranked among the 10 healthiest cities in the world
CNN put together a list of the 10 healthiest cities in the world, including Copenhagen, Vancouver, Monte Carlo and Napa! Here’s part of the write up on our little city:

Let’s be honest: Napa is best known for its wine. The list of vineyard tours and wine tastings in its famous valley is enough to make your head swim — sans alcohol.

Though new research shows the antioxidant in red wine won’t necessarily help you live longer, having a glass or two certainly can’t hurt — and may even provide some much-needed stress relief. Plus there are other health benefits to living in Napa, the city’s residents say.

Full story.

Napa Valley Rocks Earthquake Benefit Announced
The producers of BottleRock 2014 announced Friday afternoon that they’re putting together a one-day earthquake relief concert scheduled for September 28th. At present, artist Michael Franti is scheduled to perform with additional acts still in the works. Full story.

The “perfect” weekend getaway to Napa Valley
The Huffington Post included an article from Marisa Churchill that featured several recommendations for the perfect Napa Valey weekend getaway. Among the suggestions we can get behind are Bardessono Hotel, Addendum and Oxbow Public Market. Check out the full story for more.