The Napa Valley.
When you think of the world’s most famous wine-growing regions, the Napa Valley is certainly up there. Before leaving Australia, I wrote an article for Taste & Travel on the Yarra Valley in Victoria, and during my food research month in Adelaide in October I visited the Barossa Valley in South Australia. It was such an eye-opening experience visiting the Napa Valley – while our wine regions in Australia are beautiful and certainly produce some amazing wine, America simply does it bigger and better.
From the gorgeous grounds of V. Sattui Winery, 125 years old and winner of wine awards from all over the world, to the expansive, classy vineyards and exclusive, fireside tastings at Mondavi Winery, there are wines to suit everyone’s tastes.
And the food! The food. The region is brimming with Michelin stars and off the charts Zagat ratings. The French Laundry by Thomas Keller is widely regarded as the best restaurant in America, and for those with less hefty budgets he also owns the famous Bouchon Bakery in Yountville. Gingerbread macarons, Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes, Salted Caramel Monkey Bread and Apple Pie Croissants are just some of the hearty, buttery treats on offer.
We dropped past V. Sattui Winery for lunch, as the winery houses an Italian Market filled with cheeses, local made breads, house cured meats, condiments and salads. Pick what you want from the huge selection, and then purchase a picnic set (US$0.95 for a setting for two) and sit under the shade of the trees on their rolling green lawns. We picnicked on crackers, truffled triple cream brie, a hard goats milk cheese and mozzarella with olives and sundried tomatoes.
Also, one of the wineries is in a castle. An actual castle. This castle had a cat. He wasn’t too impressed we came to visit. I was pretty impressed though. The castle even had a moat.