Keen oenophile? Don’t miss Napa Valley on your next San Francisco holiday. Ground zero when it comes to California wine culture, the hugely popular growing region has produced wine since the 19th century. But nowadays, in addition to its vinous reputation, Napa Valley is one of the state’s top gastronomic destinations, too.
For instance: did you know that Napa Valley has more Michelin-starred restaurants per capita than any other wine region on Earth? World-famous restaurants like The French Laundry in Yountville have helped cement Napa’s culinary reputation.
And yet, for those who want to combine their wine-swilling with their dining, it’s an unwelcome surprise to learn that many area wineries are barred from serving food on-site; local regulations insist that wineries make wine production their primary focus, so food is often viewed as a distraction. Luckily, though, there are a few that have escaped the net — and we’ve selected the best winery restaurants in Napa Valley for vino-loving foodies.
Long Meadow Ranch Winery
As well as handcrafted wines, the Long Meadow Ranch Winery also specialises in extra virgin olive oils, both of which you can taste on-site. For something a touch more substantial, however, venture to the Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch, the winery’s exquisite farm-to-table restaurant. Helmed by Kentucky-born chef Stephen Barber, the restaurant is located in a stylishly revamped former nursery barn, and is centred around an open-kitchen. Enjoy Barber’s Southern-style cooking as well as the companion wine programme, which features both Long Meadow Ranch’s vintages as well as selections from other local vintners.
Long Meadow Ranch Winery, 738 Main Street, St. Helena, CA 94574
One of the ways Napa wineries manage to bring food into the equation is by hosting small-group cookery classes and tasting sessions, which emphasise wine education… and just so happen to come with a delicious meal on the side. Cakebread Cellars is one local winery that’s opted for this approach. Cakebread’s delicious cookery classes are truly hands-on, conducted either in the quaint winery kitchen or the outdoor barbeque area. Its wine and food pairing sessions are also well worth attending; the winery’s resident chefs create four recipes every season, which use ingredients from Cakebread’s gardens and which complement the vintages with perfect harmony.
Cakebread Cellars, 8300 St. Helena Hwy, Rutherford, CA 94573
St. Clair Brown Winery
Located in the heart of Napa, St Clair Brown Winery is an “urban winery.” That means that all aspects of its small lot wine production take place in its downtown Napa facilities — and that only 200 cases of each wine are made. Savour the special vintages, then, at St Clair Brown’s Greenhouse Tasting Room, located just across the street from the winery, and poised in the middle of its culinary garden. Expect a deliciously fresh menu of “garden-to-table” cuisine, then, including the likes of duck confit salad and meyer lemon hummus. The winery also has plans to expand with a full-service restaurant — and even a craft brewery.
St. Clair Brown Winery, 816 Vallejo Street, Napa, CA 94559
Robert Sinskey Vineyards
In a welcome departure from the half-hearted cubes of cheese and charcuterie that can dominate wine tastings, Robert Sinskey Vineyards provides a whole host of delectable treats, such as tartlets, artisan cheeses and homemade jams and preserves to accompany each tasting. For the real deal, however, take a seat at the vineyard’s Kitchen, which uses ingredients sourced directly from its organic gardens. Robert Sinskey’s wife Maria Helm Sinskey — who has written several cookbooks, and worked in Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe — wears the apron, so you can be sure you’re in for a treat.
Robert Sinskey Vineyards, 6320 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA 94558
Written by Victoria Godden
Long Meadow ranch © Kristen Loken photo
Cakebread Cellars © Terry McCarthy
Meat dish © Robert Sinksey Vineyards