The inaugural Yountville Live, a food, music, and wine festival, offered a unique opportunity to explore the charming town of Yountville. Unlike most food and beverage events, where guests are corralled into indoor tents and cramped spaces, Saturday’s Taste of Yountville allowed attendees to spend the day outdoors, exploring the town’s shops, galleries, restaurants, and tasting rooms.
Despite its small size, this charming town in the heart of Napa Valley packs a lot of flavors and experiences into its 1.5 square miles. For those who missed out on Yountville Live, oM SF put together our own “Taste of Yountville,” with a sampling of all that this darling little town (and foodie mecca) has to offer. From pre-dawn to late evening, here’s how to spend a full day in Yountville.
Start your morning off by getting a lay of the land—from 3,000 feet in the air. Offering unparalleled views of the Napa Valley, Napa Valley Aloft Balloon Ride takes off in the wee hours of morning from V Marketplace (6525 Washington Street). (Budget four hours for this epic excursion).
Once you’re back on solid ground, walk across the street to Bouchon Bakery (6528 Washington Street), for delicious Equator coffee and chocolate croissants. You might even pick up ready-to-go ham and cheese or tuna niçoise sandwiches to keep you fueled later in the day.
Stroll down the street to The Ma(i)sonry (6711 Washington Street), a beautifully restored 1904 stone house that is now a “living gallery” and tasting room. While you browse art or stroll the pastoral garden, you can sip on a glass of limited production wine from one of the tasting room’s boutique winery partners. The spacious patio also features a fire pit and a unique collection of giant sculptures, including an enormous corkscrew, and metal jacks with a rubber ball. Reservations are recommended for tastings.
Once you’ve had your art fix, head a few doors down to Redd Wood (6755 Washington Street) for a relaxed lunch of pizza and wine. The bar décor is absolutely stunning, or there is ample seating outdoors. Local chocolatier Chris Kollar, of Kollar Chocolates, recommends the Crispy Chicken Wings here.
Redd Wood is the ideal starting point for the afternoon stroll down Washington Street, to explore the Yountville Art Walk. There are several sculptures on the righthand side of the street, with a few on the opposite side of the street as you get closer to the town’s center. My personal favorites are the three dancing sheep and the basket of apples. Be sure to take a peek at the French Laundry Garden (and its hen house), just across the street from the coveted restaurant itself.
As you return to town center, take a turn in V Marketplace. Originally built as a winery in 1870, the rustic space is now home to a variety of shops and galleries of the town. (My favorite stop here is Kollar Chocolates; I absolutely love the “chocolate-bar wall” in the back). After you’ve had your fill of shopping, relax outside in the the beautiful picnic garden, a perfect spot for taking photos.
Although the marketplace closes around 5:30 p.m., you can continue to enjoy yourself at Bottega (6525 Washington Street). The outdoor bar area (first come, first served) is perfect for pre-dinner cocktails and appetizers (I highly recommend the truffle fries).
By this time, you are probably ready for dinner, and Redd (6480 Washington Street) makes a perfect ending to the day. There is a five-course tasting menu if you crave a haute-Yountville experience, or you can also order a la carte from the innovative seasonal menu (think hamachi sashimi on sticky rice, or swiss chard crepes on celery root and chocolate sauce).
Photos: Napa Valley Aloft Balloon Ride, Eddie Hernandez Photography
Directions: Take BART to El Cerrito, and then catch the Napa VINE 29 to Yountville. Once in town, the Yountville Trolley makes getting around easy.