Yountville In the Spotlight

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Home / Yountville In the Spotlight

Town of Yountville

The village of Yountville can easily claim the unofficial title of “Culinary Capital of Napa Valley” with its cornucopia of dining choices – many known around the world – and more Michelin stars per capita than any other town in America.

A Monument to Michelin

Yountville remains an authentic and quaint spot, while accommodating a steady stream of epicurean devotees who make their way to dine at the tables of celebrated chefs and restaurants that are spoken of in reverent tones. Perhaps the most famous is The French Laundry, owned by Thomas Keller. Awarded 3 stars by Michelin (the only restaurant in California to receive that designation), this temple of culinary excellence has been a success since it opened in 1994.

Michael Chiarello, a household name to anyone who watches the Food Network or has bought a cookbook, has been chef or partner at seven wildly successful restaurants in the Napa Valley, starting with Tra Vigne. In 2000, he created NapaStyle, an online and retail brand, and in summer 2008 Chiarello will open a store, restaurant and demonstration kitchen in the V Marketplace 1870, an historic complex of upscale specialty shops, tasting rooms, galleries, restaurants and a hot air balloon company in the heart of Yountville.

Golf, Hike, Boat or Float

Work off your dinners with a round of golf at the Vintner’s Golf Club. Redesigned by PGA Tour and Senior Tour player, Bob Boldt, the nine-hole course accommodates professionals and leisure players. The Yountville Bocce Club offers players a spirited game on its courts, and bicycle enthusiasts can find plenty of rentals and tours that will accommodate everything from quiet pedaling past vineyards to full-tilt off-road mountain biking.

Kayaking gets you out on the placid waters of Lake Hennessy for a close-up look at wildlife and waterfowl, while you paddle peacefully in the sun. You can swing from a hot air balloon and view the splendor of Napa Valley’s carved contours below, with their ribbons of vines strung across the valley floor and up to improbable heights on the steep sides of the Mayacamas and Sonoma Mountain ranges. While you’re up there, toast your ride with a flute of champagne!

World-Class Art, Music and Entertainment

Culture flourishes in Yountville as well, with the Napa Valley Museum located here, featuring exhibitions ranging from fine art and history to natural science. Galleries provide a more intimate setting to experience works of fine art from national and local painters, sculptors and artisans.

The Lincoln Theater presents name stars, from Bill Cosby to David Sanborn and The Temptations, in an elegant space that has undergone a $20 million renovation. At the Mondavi Winery, the Summer Music Festival features artists such as Dave Koz, David Benoit, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band and UB40.

Restaurants, Cafes and Bistros Abound

Domaine Chandon, with a heritage that stretches back to Dom Perignon in France, continues to be one of the most spectacular wineries in the Napa Valley, and the first and only winery to incorporate a fine dining restaurant. But picking a restaurant in Yountville is to face a happy excess of options. A local and visitor favorite is Bistro Jeanty (awarded a Michelin star), an old-world French bistro with new world flavors blended by Chef Philippe Jeanty that embodies country elegance.

Renowned chef Thomas Keller (of The French Laundry) is also the force behind Bouchon, a Parisian-style bistro and next-door Bouchon Bakery, a traditional boulangerie, as well as his newest offering, ad hoc, the casual sibling of The French Laundry. ad hoc serves a prix fixe, four-course chalkboard menu, changing daily.

Highly acclaimed chef Richard Reddington, formerly of Masa’s and Jardiniere in San Francisco, and Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley where he was executive chef, has opened Redd, an elegant, contemporary restaurant with creative food and wine selections. In nearby Rutherford, La Toque, owned by chef Ken Frank, has been lauded for its “sublime flavors and textures” and has received a Michelin star. The Wine Spectator says, “For a complete food and wine experience, no restaurant in Napa Valley can match La Toque.”

Cabernet Country

Bordered by the Rutherford, Stag’s Leap, Mount Veeder and Oakville appellations, Yountville is in the heart of premium wine country. To learn as you go, there are podcasts from Goosecross Cellars, a limited-production boutique winery, where you’ll hear the latest on subjects that will enhance your enjoyment of wine and food and some fun facts about the Napa Valley.

Oakville, just four miles north, is home to the iconic Oakville Grocery, which gave rise to the concept of the upscale country store. Oakville is also the site of ultra-premium vineyards that have won innumerable gold medals, including: Far Niente, Nickel & Nickel, Opus One, Plumpjack Winery – and its new sister winery CADE. Also, there is Saddleback, Screaming Eagle, Silver Oak and Blackbird Vineyards.

Yountville brings you into the heart of culinary indulgence and surrounds you with the world’s most sought-after wines.

Dining Out

Bistro Jeanty
If there’s any town in America that has more fine restaurants per-square-inch, we haven’t heard of it! Michelin stars are almost as numerous as those in the heavens in Yountville, so we’ll introduce you personally to all the choices in this “Culinary Capital,” starting with one of our personal favorites, Bistro Jeanty.

Philippe Jeanty, chef and owner of the bistro, has been in the kitchen since he was 14, starting at the esteemed champagne producer Moët & Chandon in their Résidence de Trianon in Epernay, France. Under the tutelage of executive chef Joseph Thuet, Jeanty spent three years there, learning first-hand the intricacies of food and wine pairings and sourcing ingredients from the farmers and growers in the bountiful French countryside.

Continuing his relationship with Moët & Chandon, Jeanty was part of the team to come to the Napa Valley in 1977 when the company established Domaine Chandon and opened the first fine dining restaurant in a winery. Accolades accrued and food and wine afficionados vied to get into the restaurant. Within a year, Jeanty was named executive chef and remained with Chandon until 1998.

During that time, he discovered that the region, much like his rural home in France, was a cornucopia of fresh produce, farm-raised meat and poultry and just-caught seafood. When he fulfilled a long-held desire to helm his own restaurant, opening Bistro Jeanty in Yountville, he incorporated these ingredients in his menus, developing dishes that are the essence of French provincial cooking, informed by the abundant natural ingredients of Northern California. This is the ultimate in wholesome comfort food, or as Jeanty likes to call it, “French soul food.”

When Michelin extended its prestigious ratings to the Bay Area and Wine Country in 2007, it awarded a Michelin star to Bistro Jeanty. The restaurant has also been picked by Gourmet Magazine as one of the Top 10 Restaurants in the Bay Area and was named in the Top 20 Restaurants by the Zagat Survey. While these are important awards, the test of a restaurant (in our opinion) is how it’s received by the community. Any night at Bistro Jeanty you will find winemakers whose wines are household names, hoteliers and other restaurant luminaries gathered at the bar, chatting with Philippe or dining on the patio.

The ambiance is French country elegant. There’s something about the red-and-white striped awnings and the flower-filled window boxes that gives the building a welcoming feel. Inside, you’ll swear you’ve been transported to the South of France; the lilting music, warm, mustard-tone walls and deep red cement floor and the quaint posters create a charming backdrop for intimate dining.

There’s an all-day menu that changes seasonally which can be viewed on the chalkboard listing daily specials. Chef Jeanty makes the rounds of the tables when not stirring up something wonderful in the kitchen and will share his recipes, explaining where the ingredients are from and what wines might go best with the dish. With Bistro Jeanty’s extensive wine list, this can help you zero in on the best choice. The waitstaff are professional and good-natured, a reflection of Jeanty’s ebullient personality.

There are two dining rooms: the front room where the bar is and the rear room – a good idea for chilly nights with its cozy fireplace. During summer and fall, opt for the covered patio for alfresco dining, and if you brought Fido on your trip, he can join you on the dog-friendly patio.

Once you take a bite of the hearty cassoulets, duck confit, or the sensational coq au vin and entrecôte frites, you’ll understand the term “French soul food.” Memorable dishes like house-cured pork belly with lentils and foie gras and desserts that make you willing to throw caloric caution to the wind, showcase the refined, yet homey foods that Jeanty loves to cook.

Bistro Jeanty
6510 Washington St., Yountville

Things To Do

California Wine Exhibit at the Napa Valley Museum

Ongoing Year-Round, Wednesday – Monday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

"California Wine: The Science of an Art", a million dollar, state-of-the-art interactive exhibit takes you through a year in the winemaking process.

Cost: Adults $4.50, Students and Senior $3.50, Youth ages 7 - 17 $2.50, under age 7 free.
Free Admission every Monday.
Info: 707. 944.0500

Napa Valley Museum
55 Presidents Circle, Yountville.

Live Music at Domaine Chandon

Saturdays, 3 – 6 p.m.

Come enjoy summer afternoons with live music on The Terrace at Domaine Chandon. Savor the joy of sipping sparkling or varietal wine and enjoy hors d'oeuvres with the backdrop of live music.

Cost: Entertainment is free of charge
Info: 707.944.2280

Domaine Chandon,
1 California Drive, Yountville