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10 Things to See and Do in Yountville - A One Street Culinary Town

Updated on April 16, 2015

Yountville is a Town filled with Art

The Yountville Art Walk displays over 30 pieces of outdoor sculpture.
The Yountville Art Walk displays over 30 pieces of outdoor sculpture. | Source

Michelin Star The French Laundry Restaurant

One of the most exquisite culinary dining experiences.
One of the most exquisite culinary dining experiences. | Source

1. Michelin Star Dining in Yountville

Before esteemed Chef Thomas Keller purchased the French Laundry in 1994, from the former Mayor of Yountville Don Schmitt and his wife Sally, the one street town of Yountville, CA wasn’t as big of a tourist attraction.

From 1880 to the late 1920′s this two-story double fieldstone masonry building was a saloon, brothel, and last a French steam laundry, thus the Schmitt’s decided to name the restaurant French Laundry.

In 1992, Chef Thomas Keller raised money to purchase The French Laundry. It took him two years to finally open the doors to the public. Foodies flocked to the turn of the century stone restaurant. It received awards from the James Beard Foundation, Gourmet magazines, the Mobile Guide and Michelin Guide for it's innovative cuisine.

Dining at French Laundry begins with two unique nine-course dining menus – a chef tasting menu and a tasting of garden vegetables. Reservations for dinner are taken two months in advance.

Dinner is served seven days a week from 5:30 to 9:15 p.m. Lunch is served on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Guests can bring their own wine if it is not on the French Laundry Wine List. The corkage fee is $150 per bottle with a limit of one bottle for every two guests.

Each day is a different creative menu. The multi-course prix fixe menu is $295 per person. Service is included.

To make a reservation, call (707)944-2380.

Jessup Tasting Room

2. Sip Wine at Jessup Cellars

Located in the middle of town, guests can sip wine at the wine bar or relax with a sit-down, wine tasting in the spacious art gallery.

The owners of Jessup Cellars are three families in the healthcare profession. They give back to the community by hosting special events such as Dress to the Vines weekends and Art House Sessions.

Jessup's winemaker Rob Lloyd is an expert at the art of blending. Try his 2011 Zinfandel. It's bright with big fruit flavors and a pleasing finish.

The Jessup 2012 Chardonnay Los Carneros is creamy and round with a citrus laced acidity.

The 2011 Pinot Noir has notes of crushed cranberry, raspberry and charcuterie on the nose with delicate tannins and a fruit-filled finish.

From now until September 20, 2014 artist Cynthia Carey's Fashion is Art II pieces are display inside the Jessup Cellar. Drink wine, look at art and enjoy the Yountville vibe.

6740 Washington Street - Yountville (707)944-5620 www.jessupcellars.com

Younville - A One Street Culinary Town

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6 Facts about Yountville

1. The town's name is derived from the name of early pioneer George Calvert Yount.

2. The town is a foodie destination boasting four Michelin starred restaurants - The French Laundry is rated three stars. Bouchon, Richard Reddington's Redd and Étoile at Domaine Chandon achieved one star.

3. One third of the town's almost 3,000 population live on the grounds of the historic Veterans Home of California founded in late 1800s. The 900-acre Spanish style site is home to 1100 aged and disabled veterans from WW II to Operation Freedom.

4. Another third of residents work in Yountville or the surrounding cities have second or third homes in this charming community.

5. There are 13 Tasting Rooms in Yountville.

6. One of the best places to purchase wine is at the corner gas station. It's the one and only gas station on the corner of Washington Street and Monroe Street.

3. Where to Stay in Yountville

Moderate
Splurge
Elegant
Napa Valley Lodge
Villagio Inn and Sp
Bardessono
2230 Madison St.
6481 Washington St.
6526 Yount St.
(888) 944-3545
(707) 944-8877
(707) 204-6000

Villagio offers Mediterrean Amenities

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The Garden at Bardessono

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The Vegetable Tasting Menu is from Thomas Keller's Garden

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4. Walk in Thomas Keller's Garden

A few years back, Keller purchased three acres of land across the street from The French Laundry to grow a Chefs garden.

Thomas Keller’s Manager of Culinary Gardens and Landscape is the handsome Aaron Keefer. His French intensive garden grows exotic Tuscan broccoli, beets, Red Russian garlic, cabbage, English Peas, Sacramento Delta asparagus, Red Ace beets, golden beets and Chorga beets, Flashy Trout Black lettuce, leeks, Tokyo turnips and a variety of lettuce during the winter months. All are pesticide free.

Today Keefer is the liaison between the chefs in the French Laundry, Bouchon and Ad Hoc kitchens and the garden. All are owned by Thomas Keller.

Keefer gives the chef an availability list, gets it back from them after they determine the menu for the next day, and then harvests all of the organic produce. “I give them vegetables, and the chefs turn them into works of art,” said Keefer.

The Chef du Cuisine at the French Laundry David Breeden comes out into the garden once a week for inspiration for his menu. He is obsessive about culinary details to make sure each guest has an emotional dining experience.

What is planted today is available to harvest in four months or later and it all starts in the engine of the garden – the Hoop House. It’s not a Green House; it’s where all the seeds grow into seedlings. “We grow 52 varieties of tomatoes – red, yellow, orange, white, stripe and blue tomatoes,” said Keefer. “During peek season we harvest 1000 pounds of tomatoes.”

Nearby the Hoop is the chicken coop with healthy looking chicken pecking at micro greens. The chicken manure is used for fertilizer and their eggs are collected to be used in Keller’s restaurants.

There is no fence around the garden. Locals and visitors have such respect for Thomas Keller and his gardeners, that they walk around the garden to admire its beauty that enhances the small town of Yountville in Napa Valley.

Soar in the Sky with Napa Valley Aloft

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5. Up, Up and Away

Reserve a ride in one of the colorful hot air balloons by Napa Valley Aloft at V Marketplace. The balloons like to take off around 7 a.m. Climb into a basket and see Napa Valley from a different perspective.

Guests soar over Yountville and around Napa Valley before landing in a vineyard or estates pasture. Chase van come to get guests and whisk them back to Pacific Blues Cafe for a champagne breakfast.

Visit nvaloft.com to learn more and make reservations.

Kollar Chocolates

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6. Stop for a Chocolate Break

Inside the V Marketplace is Kollar Chocolate. Chris Kollar and Naomi Pasztor make artisan chocolate right before your eyes. These chocolates are designed with modern and European influence.

This dynamic duo opened their shop in 2011 and try to use local seasonal ingredients such as lavender, fennel pollen and red wine.

Some of the truffles they sell include Earl Grey Tea Dark Chocolate ganache and an orange Grand Marnier.

The V-Marketplace is located in the center of town. This used to be the home of the Groezinger Winery, built in 1870 by Gottlieb Grozinger. Take a peek inside the Historic Barrel Room. All of the bricks are original from the late 1800s. Be sure to stroll into some of the shops for artisan jewelry, artwork and keepsakes.

6525 Washington Street - Yountville www.kollarchocolates.com

The Spa at Villagio Inn

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7. Get a Facial or Massage at the Villagio Spa

The Villagio Spa has been at this location for almost six years. Before being built, the spacious Spa facility was located towards the back of the property.

I had a soothing facial one hour with Michelle after I enjoyed the steam room, lounge and cranberry and ginger water.

The Spa is close to the lobby and offers 16 treatment rooms with a separate Men and Women area with lounges.

Upstairs is an Executive Spa Suite you can book with a treatment and then spend up to an hour relaxing in the glorious and spacious patios. One room offers an outdoor his and her Jacuzzi spa soaking tubs with a fireplace in the middle.

For Reservations Call (800) 351-1133 or villagio.com/spavillagio

Bottega Restaurant

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8. Dine at Michael Chiarello's Bottega Restaurant

Inside the V-Marketplace is the handsome Italian chef Michael Chiarello’s Bottega restaurant. Chef Chiarello showcases the big, bold Italian flavors with a refined twist.

Bottega has old brick walls and a European look with two indoor dining rooms anda private dining/wine room and bar. The outside covered Terrazzo with both lounge and table seating boasts two wood-burning stone fireplaces and the copper lined bar is a warm and inviting space that offers mainly local, small-production vintages from California complemented with a solid collection of Italian wines and specialty bar drinks served with perfectly paired bites.

I ate lunch at Bottega in the private dining room and enjoyed a shaved Brussels Sprout salad with Marcona almonds, chopped egg and Pecorino. Chiarello worked with Chef de Cuisine Nick Ritchie. It resembles a cole slaw with a citrus vinaigrette with Meyer lemons and Navel oranges.

I also ordered Green Eggs and Ham. It had a delightful crunch with local asparagus, prosciutto bits and a Cambozola cheese sauce. On top is a perfectly cooked egg with a slight run of yolk coming down the side of the Panko crumbs.

Lunch is served Tuesday thru Sunday 11:30 to 2:30
Dinner Monday thru Thursday 5:30 to 9:30
Dinner Friday thru Saturday 5:00 to 10:00
Dinner Sunday 5:00 to 9:30

For reservations (707)945-1050 or book your reservation online at www.botteganapavalley.com

Wine Tasting at Bell Cellars

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9. Tour the Artisan Bell Cellars

Anthony and Sandra Bell offer tours of their vineyards and barrel room before taking guests on a sensory training tasting. Smell fresh fruit, herbs and other delectables represented in wine flavors and aromas.

They also offer a Winemarker for the Day class and cheese and wine tasting.

Bell Wine Cellars is committed to handcrafting limited edition bottles of extraordinary wines. The tasting room is open daily 7 days a week from 10:00 - 4:00pm. Call to schedule a visit.

6200 Washington Street • Yountville • California • 94599 • (707)944-1673.

Etoile Epitomizes Wine Country Cuisine

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10. Dine at etoile restaurant at Domaine Chandon

At étoile the menu is elegant with fresh, seasonally-changing dishes, drawing on the restaurant’s extensive gardens, located throughout the property’s 300-acre estate. Nature tells Executive Chef Perry Hoffman what to cook.

Cooking is in his genetic makeup. His grandparents were Sally and Don Schmitt, the original owners of The French Laundry in Yountville. Hoffman first became interested in cooking by helping his grandmother in the kitchen, assisting her with tasks such as making croutons, roasting bell peppers and chopping parsley.

He joined the culinary team at étoile Restaurant at Domaine Chandon in 2007 and was quickly appointed Chef. There he captured critical attention in 2010, as the youngest American chef to be awarded a Michelin Star at age 25. Since then, étoile has maintained one Michelin Star for three consecutive years, in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Hoffman was also named a “Rising Star Chef” by the San Francisco Chronicle in 2010, and was a James Beard Foundation Semifinalist for “Rising Star Chef of the Year” in 2010 and 2011. In 2012, Hoffman was named one ofZagat’s “30 under 30,” and also received recognition from Food & Wine,as he was voted “The People’s Best New Chef: California.”

To make reservations to dine at etoile, go to http://www.chandon.com/etoile-restaurant/make-a-reservation-at-etoile-restaurant.html.

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