By Jessica Hanaghan
There is no love sincerer than the love of food.– George Bernard Shaw
Napa Valley is famous for its beautiful vineyards and world-class wineries, but it also has a secret that visitors will find irresistible: its culinary treasures.
This fertile area is in the middle of California’s wine country. It not only makes some of the best wines in the world, but it also has a thriving food scene with farm-to-table restaurants, Michelin-starred restaurants, and a love for food that rivals its fame for winemaking.
Join me on a culinary adventure through Napa Valley, where tastes and landscapes come together to make a trip you’ll never forget. As someone who has worked in hospitality and has lived in the Napa Valley for years, some of my favourites are Brix Restaurant, The French Laundry, Bouchon, Ad Hoc, Auberge du Soleil, Bottega, and Valettes in Healdsburg.
Finding the Roots of Napa’s Food
Our trip starts with a deep dive into the past of food in Napa Valley. Since the Middle Ages, this land has been a rich source of fresh vegetables, fruits, and handmade goods. The food in the valley is deeply connected to its farming past, which makes it a paradise for foodies.
From the Farm to Your Table
The farm-to-table philosophy is one of the most important parts of the food scene in Napa Valley. Local restaurants are proud to get their food from farms close by so that each dish can show off the best fresh food from the area. The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone is at the center of this trend.
It is a well-known school that teaches chefs how to cook in a way that is good for the environment. You can get a feel for this attitude by eating at the institute’s restaurant, which serves new dishes made with ingredients from the area.
Typical Vineyard Food
The wineries in Napa Valley not only make great wines, but they are also beautiful places to eat. Imagine having a gourmet picnic among the rows of vines at a winery like Domaine Carneros, where you can pair handmade cheeses and charcuterie with sparkling wines and take in the beautiful views of the area.
Some wineries offer “vineyard-to-table” experiences, where chefs make multi-course meals that are perfectly paired with their wines to create an unforgettable sensory trip.
Excellence with a Michelin Star
There are a lot of Michelin-starred restaurants in Napa Valley, which has made the area a world-class culinary location. The French Laundry, which is run by the famous Chef Thomas Keller, is the best place in Napa to eat well. Its attention to detail, creative tasting menus, and great wine choices make it a place that any serious foodie must visit.
While 3-Michelin-Star The Restaurant at Meadowood is still under construction due to an unfortunate fire in 2020, Chef Christopher Kostow’s creations can be sampled at The Charter Oak in St. Helena. Here, seasonal menus highlight produce from its 3.5-acre culinary garden, with an emphasis on using all edible portions of the plant through its life cycle.
A Trip to Calistoga’s Diverse Food Scene
Calistoga, the northernmost town in Napa Valley, has unique geothermal supplies that offer a different kind of food experience. After a day of wine tasting, visit one of the town’s well-known spas or hot springs to relax. For a taste of local food, go to Solbar, a Michelin-starred restaurant with a seasonal menu full of creative recipes that use Calistoga’s many fresh ingredients.
The Taste of Small Towns in Napa Valley
If you go outside of Napa’s most famous towns, you’ll find that its smaller towns are where you’ll find the best food. Yountville is known for its cozy feel, and the Bouchon Bakery is a place where you can get delicious pastries and handmade breads.
In Oakville, which is surrounded by vineyards, there is a historic deli called Oakville Grocery. It has gourmet picnic supplies and a taste of Napa’s long past.
Wine and Food Go Together Like Peanut Butter and Jelly
When you go to Napa Valley, you can’t leave without trying to pair food and wine. All over the area, wineries offer guided tastings where their wines are paired with carefully made dishes.
Try Sauvignon Blanc with fresh oysters, Cabernet Sauvignon with juicy steaks, and Chardonnay with soft brie to see how well they go together. The careful thought that went into these pairings makes the tastes better and the tasting experience better.
In the End
Napa Valley is a great example of how food and the place it comes from can work together in harmony. It has a rich wine culture and some of the best food in the world.
As you enjoy each bite with a glass of fine wine, you’ll start to understand why Napa Valley is a pilgrimage for anyone who appreciates the art of the table, not just wine lovers. So raise your glass and cheers to the delicious treats of Napa Valley, where you can not only see paradise but also taste it.
Jessica is a speaker, author, and intuitive healer who focuses on meaningful travel.
As the founder of Jessica Leslie Collective, she uses the power of meaningful travel to help others find their own healing paths.
Through her speaking events, such as the prestigious Women Thrive Through Travel Mastermind, she has shared her powerful insights and inspired many to have their own transformative travel experiences.