While Napa Valley’s reputation is built on being the United States’ most prestigious wine growing region, the area is also famed for its gastronomic excellence – with the two going hand in hand to create an epicurean haven for visitors.
Each year, over 4.5 million visitors flock to the region in northern Californian to explore the scenic countryside scattered with more than 450 wineries where some of the world’s finest Cabernet Sauvignon is born.But, fine dining has become an equally important drawing card for visitors – Napa has more Michelin stars per capita than any other wine region in the world; there are more than 24 restaurants with at least one Michelin star, and two restaurants boasting three stars, as well as several eateries established by celebrity chefs such as Michael Chiarello, Tyler Florence and Masaharu Morimoto.
Wining and dining are a pair of human pleasures that should never be separated, which is why there are now so many Napa Valley wineries with restaurants in the region – perfectly pairing their finest vintages with gourmet local cuisine.Although often one and the same, food and wine enthusiasts can unite at Napa Valley winery restaurants under one roof for a complete culinary experience that will leave no part of your palate unsatisfied.There are currently 16 designated AVAs (American Viticulture Areas), which determine wines grown from a specific geographical location or ‘appellation’, in the Valley – although some areas are more renowned for their cuisine than others.
The charming, down-to-earth town of Yountville is arguably Napa Valley’s epicentre of fine dining. Easily accessible from both the Valley’s main routes, Highway 29 and the Silverado Trail, the town is home to some of the region’s most revered restaurants – with no less than five owned by celebrity chef Thomas Keller.St Helena is another sub-region that features excellent Napa Valley wineries with restaurants, while its central location makes the town an ideal place to stay as you explore the surrounding sun kissed countryside. And, at the northern end of the Valley, Calistoga carries a similar small town ambience coupled with sophisticated dining and shopping – while the underground thermal features give rise to natural spring spas that provide an idyllic way to unwind.
The town of Napa itself has also been transformed from a sleepy town into a prime destination for dining out in restaurants and wine tasting bars amid its tranquil riverside setting.The most famous wine to come from the region is the classic Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, which will be a part of any wine tasting experience you have in the region.This distinctly American style of Cabernet Sauvignon is typically oak-aged, high in alcohol, tannins and acid, with fruit laden flavours. It is best accompanied by hearty, red meat dishes such as steak or lamb, especially when grilled or smoked. If you are not a meat eater, then try pairing a ‘Nap Cab’ with Portobello mushrooms or cheese, especially cheddar, Gouda or Vella Kack.
Although most Napa Valley wineries with restaurants are open all year-round, there are seasonal differences that may influence what time of year you plan to visit. Summer is undoubtedly the busiest time of year, vineyards are blanketed in beautiful green during Spring, the colours transform to burnt oranges during Autumn, and Winter is when the acclaimed Napa Film Festival takes place (November).
If you are interested in dining at Napa Valley winery restaurants, contact Wine Paths for more information and inspirational ideas before planning an exclusive tour with the assistance of our local expert.
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