There may be Francophiles speaking French while holding French poodles named Frenchie. There may even be French oak tables and men sporting French cuffs lounging in French wicker, but there is no French food at French Blue. Nor is there any French wine. At legendary Wine Country architect Howard Backen’s new restaurant, French Blue (which, in the design world, is actually a shade of blue — the very shade of the front doors that hung on the original Vanderbilt building) in the heart of Napa Valley, the focus is local, local, local. Two hundred miles around the town of St. Helena to be exact. Or, as Beverage Director Adam La Cagnina puts it, “from Monterey to Mendocino.”
Originally published by CaliforniaHomeDesign.com
Howard Backen, of the St. Helena-based Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects, is known for crafting properties with soaring ceilings, elegant architectural details and light-filled spaces. But after designing more than 35 wineries, 18 restaurants, and a plethora of upscale homes, resorts and retail locations for the likes of Restoration Hardware and Williams Sonoma Home, Howard, his wife and interior designer Lori, together with vintner Leslie Rudd (also of nearby Press) and an all-star ensemble of Wine Country hospitality veterans, embraced the opportunity to create a place of their own.
It was a long coffee-less winter for the residents of Oakville. The Oakville Grocery, a beloved resting place for commuters, cyclists and tourists alike (and the only place to get a sandwich between St. Helena and Yountville) has been closed for months, undergoing extensive reconstructive surgery. This weekend, just in time for Memorial Day, the sign out front once again said “Open.”
Whether you prefer a chilled wine or jammy Zinfandel (or cold beer) with your BBQ, the pairing won’t matter much if the food ain't smoking good. With that in mind, here are the best BBQ spots in Napa Valley.
Fifteen hundred feet above Napa Valley on a rocky, rolling patch of land planted here and there with rows of tidy vines is the West Coast’s largest Olympic equestrian training ground. Or at least it used to be. The 3,800, mostly wild, acres on Mt. George, which the team called home for 20 years, was purchased by Japanese gaming mogul Kenzo Tsujimoto in 1990 at which time he sent the Olympians packing and started taking soil samples. (The polo field for example, turned out to be an ideal place for a certain clone of Sauvignon Blanc.)
With Spring right around the corner, what better way to spend this glorious time of year than sipping on a glass of California’s best wine and staying at the most peaceful Inn in Napa Valley? Enjoy a two-night stay at Harvest Inn and a four-course dinner for two with 3-2 oz pours of the Brassica 12 from Brassica Mediterranean Kitchen and Wine Bar in Napa. We've partnered with Brassica Mediterranean Kitchen and Wine Bar and Harvest Inn to pass this wonderful getaway on to you! It's worth $1200, so it's a major score.
When the foggy wind is whipping through San Francisco streets, it's easy to forget that summer really does exist less than an hour away. In fact, the 5-day forecast for Napa and Sonoma currently predicts an average high of 79 degrees F. Few things are better on a hot summer day in the wine country than sipping a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc or Rosé at a winery. But relaxing at a naturally beautiful swimming hole, a river, or a sandy beach in Sonoma is definitely in the running. Here are a few favorite places to take a dip in the Sonoma Wine Country.
After dining at Scopa, the Italian-inspired restaurant in Healdsburg, it is not uncommon to come stumbling out onto the Plaza feeling light-headed. Partly because the small space is always packed and because you have likely enjoyed at least one bottle of red wine, but also, and more importantly, because the ingredients are so impossibly, explosively fresh, the pasta so light and tender, the meatballs so perfectly browned and spicy and the burratta so heart-breakingly creamy that you actually feel like you have reached nirvana.
If you haven’t heard the buzz, Healdsburg’s Jordan Vineyard & Winery has been celebrating its 40th anniversary in star-studded style at rooftop lounges across the country. The family-owned winery’s 40th birthday celebration culminates on Saturday, June 2, with a festive afternoon event on the iconic chateau’s sprawling lawns.
Spring ushers in fair weather for outdoor culinary adventures and flea market crawls, and awakens the senses with eye-popping color from farmers markets to art exhibits. Here are our picks for the best things to do in Wine Country this month.