When it comes to wining and dining, Napa Valley reigns supreme. Famous for its Cabernet Sauvignons, the region possesses more than 500 wineries, a smorgasbord of renowned restaurants, and a landscape blooming with viticultural treasures. And it all started in Yountville.
George Yount was the first person to plant grapes in Napa Valley in the mid-1800s. Today, the town of Yountville bears his name and a reputation as Napa’s Culinary Capital. Visitors to this 1.5-square-mile foodie mecca are encouraged to “taste life here.” But, in Yountville, no sense is left behind.
Visually, Yountville is a quaint, small town dotted with vines and nestled between the Vaca Range and the Mayacamas Mountains. The streets bear charming sculptures, all part of a public art walk. Scamper through a “Rock Mushroom Garden,” sit next to the bronze “Sidewalk Judge,” or take a selfie alongside “The Chef.” To get an aerial view, hop onto a hot air balloon with Napa Valley Aloft.
Aesthetic wonders continue at Bardessono. Located on the site of the Bardessono family’s former farmstead, this hotel was built using salvaged materials and comprises 62 suites across four “groves” named after indigenous trees. The halls boast contemporary art while the outdoor courtyards house calming water features.
The suites are a study in simplicity, but not at the expense of luxury. With an LEED Platinum Certification, Bardessono prioritizes posh green living, as seen in such sustainable design elements as rooftop solar panels and room-occupancy sensors that eliminate lighting when guests are out.
Most importantly, each suite specializes in tempting the sense of touch. In addition to an on-site Spa Therapy Center, Bardessono also offers in-room spa experiences. A spa butler arrives 15 minutes prior to your treatment to set up a massage table, light candles, run a tub, and chill a bottle of Champagne in anticipation of your after-service soak. We recommend the vinotherapy massage infused with Chardonnay grape seed oil.
Overindulgence is de rigueur in Napa, so one treatment just isn’t enough. Head down the street to the ultra-luxe Spa Villagio and order an Ocean and Earth body wrap. After you emerge from your skin-soothing cocoon, take a bath under the pristine Napa sky on a private terrace.
No matter where you roam, you’ll hear a chorus of corks and the hum of generous pours. Given its central location within Napa (which only measures 30 miles long and 5 miles across at its widest), Yountville is an ideal home base when visiting the region’s seemingly limitless vineyards. But you won’t go thirsty should you remain in Yountville proper. Washington Street, the town’s main thoroughfare, abounds with tasting rooms, where winemakers are eager to share the fruits of their labor.
The family-run Stewart Cellars works with some of Napa’s best vineyards to craft wines that emphasize the grapes’ prestigious beginnings. Stewart’s spectacular Chardonnays and red varietals, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon are available in stores but are best enjoyed at the Yountville outpost, which opened in 2016. Three stone buildings make up the Stewart Cellars “village,” including the Gather Café and the Tasting Hall, where guests can sniff and savor vintages at the concrete-and-leather bar. For a more bespoke experience, reserve a tasting in the Nomad Heritage Library, decked with decor that recalls the family’s Scottish heritage and lined with books on topics ranging from the fashion of Tom Ford to the history of Houdini.
Other enological standouts are Hope & Grace, known for its Pinot Noirs, and Hill Family Estate, maker of the super-tasty Carly’s Cuvée Chardonnay. Handwritten Wines produces a selection of Cabernet Sauvignons using grapes from various American Viticultural Areas—from Stags Leap District to Los Carneros, Coombsville to Calistoga—each with a distinct flavor profile. Beyond its personalized tastings, Handwritten also hosts private farmhouse dinners in the St. Helena hills.
With your taste buds tantalized and olfactory system in overdrive, it’s now time to stroll along Yountville’s gourmet mile. Start with acclaimed chef Thomas Keller’s collection of restaurants, anchored by The French Laundry, one of the most lauded eateries in the world. Keller diehards can also sample Ad Hoc, a casual ode to comfort food; the Michelin-starred Bouchon, which serves French bistro fare like rillettes aux deux saumons served in a jar; and Bouchon Bakery, a pistachio-colored patisserie.
Yountville also acts as a culinary playground for celebrity chef Michael Chiarello. At Bottega, Chiarello showcases his technical prowess and passion for strong Italian flavors in dishes like the decadent Raviolo di Uovo, one massive ravioli filled with an egg yolk, ricotta, and Swiss chard, topped with brown butter and sage. For something lighter, swing by the more laid-back Ottimo for Chiarallo’s take on charcuterie.
Lucy Caesar Salad
Given the region’s bounty, Napa Valley restaurateurs tend to favor locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, a concept evident at Lucy Restaurant & Bar at Bardessono. Its field-to-fork philosophy begins at the on-site garden that yields produce for Lucy’s modern yet earthy cuisine. For breakfast, opt for a beautifully simple spinach omelet stuffed with mushrooms and goat cheese. When supper rolls around, select more sophisticated fare, like a celery root bisque accented with fried brussels sprouts or scallops with petite kale, local citrus, and a prosciutto chip. The menu changes frequently in order to remain true to its farm-fresh principles, a quality Lucy Bardessono, the Bardessono family matriarch and restaurant namesake, surely would have appreciated.
More Foodie Favorites
- Bistro Jeanty Chef Philippe Jeanty presents Napa-inspired takes on the French food from his youth at this James Beard–nominated restaurant. Start with the La Vie en Rose cocktail, served with a float of sparkling wine.
- Hurley’s Restaurant Situated in the center of Yountville, Hurley’s is a reflection of chef Bob Hurley’s deep connection to the region. His daily vintner lunch menu is best paired with a glass of his own Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Kollar Chocolates No trip to Yountville is complete without visiting V Marketplace and its most delicious tenant, Kollar Chocolates. Chocolatier Chris Kollar crafts craveable sweets like “Kollar Krack,” a dark-chocolate bark speckled with pop rocks.