From the rolling vine-covered hills of Carneros in the southwest, to the hideaway of Calistoga in the north, the Napa Valley offers some of the most sophisticated and eclectic dining in California, complementing its already world-class wine scene. In addition to its famous fine-dining establishments—The French Laundry in Yountville and Harvest Table in St. Helena— new restaurants are opening all the time in the valley.
Signature Restaurant Experiences
Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch, St. Helena
Housed in a former barn, the quintessential farm-to-fork culinary restaurant at Farmstead showcases the bounty of Long Meadow Ranch’s farm, orchard, gardens and vineyards, along with its 650-acre home ranch in the nearby Mayacamas Mountains. Seat yourself at one of the restaurant’s dining room tables made from reclaimed wood or on the outdoor terrace, and choose from an extensive menu of locally sourced dishes—grilled trout, grass-fed beef meatballs or brick-cooked local chicken. The real stars of the menu are the starters and sides, such as a wood-grilled artichoke and braised cannellini beans in salsa verde. Executive chef Stephen Barber and his crew take the term farm-fresh seriously, with the restaurant’s beef coming from its herd of grass-fed Highland cattle, and even the eggs, honey, olive oil and lamb coming directly from its properties. Farmstead also consists of a general store, with a wine-tasting bar and chef’s table, an outdoor café and a farmer’s market.
The latest project from renowned chef—and Napa Valley native—Curtis Di Fede, Miminashi is a Japanese Izakaya gastropub in a historic downtown Napa building. Di Fede, who founded critics’ favourite Oenotri, has as deft a hand executing gyoza dumplings, ginger-seared chicken skewers and dashi-braised beef as he did crafting Oenotri’s wood-fired pizza and southern Italian fare. Don’t miss the pork donburi when it’s on the menu, which changes seasonally, or the Japanese soft-serve ice cream with flavours such as pomegranate, edamame and black sesame.
Signature Winery Experiences
Amici Cellars, Calistoga
The new Heritage Blend Experience at Amici Cellars gives visitors a behind-the-scenes peek into a day in the life of a winemaker. During the half-day experience, you’ll tag along with winemaker Tony Biagi as he goes through the steps required to craft the estate’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon blend. As well as learning about all aspects of the winemaking process, you’ll be treated to a private tasting and pairing featuring seasonal small plates such as duck confit.
Round Pond Estate, Rutherford
The Vino & Olio experience from Round Pond Estate is another new offering, which features a tour of the winery’s olive groves, olive oil tasting and a pairing of small plates with estate wines.
Breakfast: Carneros Resort and Spa, Napa
Start your day at Carneros Resort and Spa in Napa with eggs Benedict with thin-sliced honey cured ham and jalapeño hollandaise or chicken and waffles at the Boon Fly Café, a cheery roadhouse with a porch and rocking chairs.
Lunch: Oxbow Public Market, Napa
Stop at Napa’s Oxbow Public Market, where you’ll have trouble choosing from all the offerings. Grab bread from The Model Bakery and sandwich fixings from Fatted Calf, and pair with a glass of wine from a nearby tasting room.
Dinner: Archetype, St. Helena
After tasting your way north to St. Helena, opt for the fresh fare at Archetype, where owners Ann and Howard Backen offer locally sourced and sustainable fare. Dishes include avocado toast with smoked trout, radish and basil.
Sweet Treats in Yountville
Stop at Yountville’s V Marketplace where chocolatier Chris Kollar’s artisanal truffles feature ingredients such as organic flowers and flavours ranging from coffee Kahlua to almond praline.
Yountville’s other dessert must-stop is chef Thomas Keller’s legendary Bouchon Bakery. His French macarons may be perfectly Parisian, but it’s his pull-apart pastry known as monkey bread that those-in-the-know will line up for.
Beer, Wine and Cocktails in Napa
Napa’s Compline is where master sommelier Matt Stamp expresses his passion for wine with events such as the Sunday night blind tastings and world tours.
The first distillery to open in Napa post-Prohibition, you can sample its Rumslinger Rum and Bourbon Cordial in its speakeasy-style Grand Tasting Salon.
Enjoy a lemony Coombs Saison or Capps Belgian Dubbel, brewed with local candy cap mushrooms, at this pint-sized microbrewery and taproom on historic Tannery Row in Napa.
[This story appears in the February 2019 issue of WestJet Magazine]