Diet season, bleh. I say, winter-time is the perfect time to indulge in Napa Valley’s paramount foodie scene. That scene would be Yountville, with its five Michelin stars and eateries casual to sublime.
In winter and early spring, there are fewer crowds in Wine Country and special experiences that aren’t available during busier times. Calmer days allow chefs to stir up all sorts of deliciousness, too, and there are some definitely beguiling scents wafting on Yountville’s wintertime air, including Meyer lemons, chocolate, and all things fermentable including, of course, wine.
What’s stirring in Yountville this winter?
- The Art House Short Film Series continuing through March at Jessup Cellars Tasting Gallery features monthly art house films paired with flavor-infused popcorn wok-popped to order. Chef Mike serves up Zinfandel Port paired with Winter Spice Popcorn (cinnamon, allspice, cloves and a touch of honey), Cabernet Sauvignon paired with Bacon Smoked Sea Salt Popcorn, Sauvignon Blanc with Green Onion Garlic Popcorn, and more, eleven amazing combinations in all.
- Chefs on the Vintage Estate, home to the luxurious Villagio Inn and Spa, harvest their Meyer lemons all winter long, and use them to stir up fresh, house-made batches of lemon curd. This creamy, dreamy condiment debuts at afternoon teas alongside tender pastries and in luscious Meyer Lemon Tarts.
- Mad for fermentation, Chef Richard Reddington of Redd and Redd-Wood house-ferments winter vegetables from the garden, cures his own meats and makes three kinds of sausage, including breakfast sausage spiked with maple syrup, and his own, mouth-watering Italian-style cotechino.
- Have you ever wondered how the experts can detect aromas of summer blackberry, nutmeg or even chocolate in a wine’s bouquet? Winemakers Bell Cellars help train palates using fresh fruit, herbs, and other delectables representing wine flavors and aromas. Students of the vine are guaranteed to savor the preferred drink of Bacchus in a way they never have before.
- Pics of Chef Victor Scargle’s Brussels sprout plants could very well be the most-Tweeted image from Lucy’s Restaurant. Yountville is heart-healthy thanks to Chef Scargle. He has planted a rainbow palette of cruciferous vegetables in his kitchen garden, considered vital for vibrant health. Take a saunter through the Romanesco, broccoli cheddar cauliflower and violet broccaflower. The most intriguing of all has turned out be the oft-maligned but definitely interesting Brussels sprouts–visitors always appreciate these cute mini-cabbages more after their visit to Lucy.
- Michelin starred chef-spottings: Pancha’s is Yountville’s only true dive bar, family-owned and operated for decades, offering cheap drinks and pool tables. It’s a great spot to rub elbows with local chefs and vintners after hours. Just head through the vintage hitching posts out front.
Tasty winter festivities:
CabFestNV — February 28, March 1 & 2 — NEW! Napa Valley’s first Cabernet festival, and it’s in Yountville!
Napa Valley’s legendary Cabernets finally have their own festival. The festival kicks off Friday with a salute to “Cigars & Guitars,” including a live concert, cigar party, and showing of rare classic guitars. Then, on the weekend, more than 100 of Napa Valley’s top wineries pour. lincolntheater.com/cabfest/
Taste of Yountville — March 14-16 — Yountville’s downtown street party!
Taste of Yountville signals the transition from winter to spring in Wine Country, when the mustard is blooming and grapes are beginning to bud. This is the village’s celebration of the year featuring its signature street party with food, wine, art and music, plus other weekend happenings all over this charming town. yountville.com/events/taste-