7 Napa Valley restaurants earn stars in 2016 Michelin Guide

Napa Valley Michelin StarsNapa 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

Bib Gourmand BLOGEarlier 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)

2015 Napa Valley wine grape harvest is underway

Harvest 2015With 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.
If the past several years are any indication, harvest 2015 promises to be another ...

16 majestic winter photos from Napa Valley

Hess PondWinter 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.

Falls above the Soda Hole. #napavalley #sodacanyoncreek

A photo posted by N.J.S. ???????? (@nicolaivolkof) on

#HowellMountain in the clouds today… #NapaValley #WineCountry #Cabernet

A photo posted by Cade Estate (@cadeestate) on

A #California #Christmas #Sunset @chandonusa #napavalley

A photo posted by Alex Evans (@genwino) on

Seven Napa Valley restaurants earn stars in 2015 Michelin Guide

French LaundryFollowing 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

7 Napa Valley restaurants make Michelin’s Bib Gourmand list

FoodieIt’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?

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.

The ultimate foodie itinerary for Napa Valley

Highway 29In 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. French Laundry Garden 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. Napa Fine Dining 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.

Napa harvest: Coombsville fruit showing unique characteristics

Harvest Grapes 2Earlier 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

Napa CabernetJust 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.

Sushi bar coming this Fall to Oxbow Public Market

Eikos Seafood Market and Sushi BarFollowing the earthquake last Sunday, local businesses have made it a point to let people know the vast majority of wineries, restaurants and shops in the area are open and operating as usual. Based on a quick stroll through Oxbow Public Market this afternoon people seem to have gotten the message. As we navigated through the crowd in the bustling market we were excited to see a small bit of progress being made on the new seafood market and sushi bar from Eiko’s. Located next to Five Dot Ranch in the former space of Kanaloa Seafood, Eiko’s Seafood Market and Sushi Bar will reportedly offer classic sushi rolls and specialty and seasonal sushi and sashimi offerings. Guests will be able to purchase sushi, salads, bentos, and noodle dishes to go. The addition of fresh seafood and Japanese cuisine will be a solid addition to the market. Count us among those who can’t wait for the “late fall” opening.

6.1 earthquake rattles the valley, Napa vows to press on

It’s been more than 48 hours since a 6.1 magnitude earthquake shook the Napa Valley and surrounding areas to its core. For us personally, it has been a whirlwind of emotions, nerves and activity. While we were extremely lucky not to have sustained any injuries or major property damage, many of our friends and neighbors cannot say the same. There have been plenty of news reports (as we write this, local television helicopters circle incessantly overhead) on the damage and injuries sustained in downtown Napa and in countless neighborhoods throughout the valley. Evan Kilkus captured some amazingly sad footage via a drone: For us, what stands out the most is how the community quickly mobilized and came together to help one another. There are many things about the wee hours of Sunday morning that we’ll never forgot–among them are the immediate calls out into the darkness from our neighbors asking if everyone was OK. After securing our own homes and families as much as possible, people took to the pitch dark streets with flashlights and lanterns to check on others around them. We knew Napa Valley was a magical place to live before, and the response and behavior of the community, first responders, business and government leaders and beyond over the past few days has only confirmed that belief. For those wondering how they can help, Napa is open for business and ready to welcome you.

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. Mumm Napa crushpadAbove: The crushpad at Mumm Napa 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. TORC_windowImage via 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. Torc Secret Menu for Locals

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. Schramsberg 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).

St. Helena’s new wine and food village has potential

We recently made a trip up-valley to visit a property that was once home to an outlet mall just north of the town of St. Helena. Today, the space is in the final stages of a complete transformation that will ultimately see it reopen as a destination wine and food “village.” Cairdean Estate Tasting RoomAbove: Inside the brand new Cairdean Estate tasting room Cairdean Estate is the brainchild of husband and wife Edwin and Stacia Williams. The couple recently opened a gorgeous new tasting room and sleek restaurant, The Farmer & The Fox, on the property. In addition to the winery, which reportedly has a permit to produce 50,000 gallons annually, the space will also include a mercantile shop (Rosgal), a deli and bakery (Butterscots) and plenty of outdoor space to kick back and relax. Cairdean Estate outdoor areaAbove: Partial view of the outdoor space at Cairdean Estate We visited the tasting room, which unlike most in the valley is open daily until 8pm. Standout wines included the Haley Margaret 2012 Napa Valley White Wine, which is a unique blend of 43% Roussanne, 43% Pinot Gris, 14% Viogner. Perfect on a warm Summer evening. The Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2009 also showed quite well, with hints of cherry and pepper on the long, layered finish. While still very much under construction, a visit to Cairdean Estate makes it is easy to see the potential. Once complete, we expect it to be popular with locals and visitors due to its unique ability to bring together food and wine in a relaxed setting. Stay tuned for our thoughts on The Farmer & The Fox, which is overseen by Chef Joseph Humphrey.

Where to enjoy live music in the Napa Valley

With the 2014 edition of Bottle Rock Napa Valley now in the rear view mirror, we’re excited to have even more live music coming soon to our little valley. Colbie CaillatPictured: Colbie Caillat performs at Robert Mondavi Winery in 2011 Robert Mondavi Summer Concert Series
The Summer Concert Series at Robert Mondavi Winery returns this weekend for the 45th year. Among the performances are Big Bad Voodoo Daddy on July 5th, Five for Fighting on July 12th and Colbie Caillat on July 19th. Go here for the full schedule and to purchase tickets. We’ve attended for the past several years and always had a wonderful time. Bottle Rock Napa Valley Announces 2015 Dates
After attracting some 80,000 fans to the festival this year, Latitude 38 Entertainment announced earlier this week that Bottle Rock Napa Valley will return once again in 2015. The music, wine and culinary “extravaganza” will take place Friday, May 29 through Sunday, May 31, 2015 in the heart of the City of Napa at the Napa Valley Expo. Who are you looking forward to seeing in the coming weeks at Robert Mondavi Winery and who would you like to see at Bottle Rock Napa Valley 2015?

15 spectacular Napa Valley photos that scream “summer”

The passing of the Summer solstice this past weekend got us thinking about all the wonderful things that come along with the season here in the Napa Valley. From major events to small town festivals and traditions, a Summer in Napa Valley can be magical. But don’t take our word for it–here are 15 spectacular photos that prove it.