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Yountville: A Little Town With A Lot of Tradition

November 22, 2014
Smack in the middle of Wine Country

Yountville is the perfect base for exploring Napa Valley Wine Country.

Like any first-time visitor to Napa Valley, California, I couldn’t take my eyes off the miles of manicured grape vines lining the fields on both sides of Route 29, the main stretch of road that runs about 30 miles from Calistoga (in the north) to American Canyon (in the south). With a rich history of farming, ranching, winemaking, and hospitality, the town of Yountville—which sits almost equidistant from each end—is often called heart of the Napa Valley.

George Calvert Yount was the first non-native to settle in the Napa Valley, after receiving a land grant of almost 12,000 acres in 1831 from the Mexican Military governor of California. The trapper and lumberjack soon planted pear trees, roses, strawberries, and mission grapes on his land—the grapes originally brought to northern California by Franciscan monks, who used them for sacraments. When Yount died in 1866, this growing settlement, previously called Sebastopol, was renamed in his honor.

Yountville Visitor's Center

Yountville Visitor Center

Some of the public art in Yountville

Some of the public art in Yountville

Since then, Yountville has earned a reputation for being a center of hospitality that George Yount never could have imagined. The little town he began has mushroomed to a population of some 3000 full-time residents (1500 of whom live within the confines of the Veteran’s Home that opened there in 1884).

Yountville still feels intimate, especially when you sit down for a cup of coffee at the Yountville Deli or wait on line for a cup of coffee at the Yountville Coffee Caboose. Most townies live in unpretentious looking but expensive mission-style bungalows with large, inviting porches.

During the harvest season, the town is a magnet for gastronomes from the Bay area and beyond with two Michelin-starred restaurants: Thomas Keller’s French Laundry (with three stars) and Bouchon Bistro (with one star). Also within walking distance are two Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurants, Bistro Jeanty and Redd Wood (selected for their moderate pricing; diners can order two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less). Another favorite is celebrity-chef Michael Chiarello’s Italian restaurant, Bottega.

Legendary Bouchon Bistro

Legendary Bouchon Bistro

Michael Chiarello's Bottega

Michael Chiarello’s Bottega

Inside the Yountville Deli

Inside the Yountville Deli

Yountville is also home to the Napa Valley Museum, the Lincoln Theatre, and numerous wine tasting rooms and parks. Its impressive public arts program has more than 30 pieces of sculpture on display outdoors.

The town is a great place to stop for a memorable meal or to stay overnight at its one-of-a-kind hotels and resorts, including but not limited to the Bardessono Hotel and Spa, a luxurious but energy efficient LEED Platinum certified property;  North Block Hotel, a contemporary boutique property; and the Napa Valley Railway Inn, a series of quirky railroad car suites that still sit on their original track. Moreover, Yountville’s location offers tourists a perfect base for visiting other cities and towns at both ends of the Valley.


IF YOU GO

Visit Napa Valley (official tourism site)


Previously on More Time to Travel:

  • Reply
    Sand In My Suitcase
    November 23, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Yountville sounds like a delightful little winery town – like Healdsburg in Sonoma maybe?

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      November 23, 2014 at 12:14 pm

      Haven’t been to Healdsburg yet but your comment makes me want to go there:-)

  • Reply
    Donna Janke
    November 24, 2014 at 2:54 am

    Yountville sounds charming. Amazing selection of restaurants for a small town. The public art is intriguing too. (I love discovering public art.)

  • Reply
    Suzanne Fluhr
    November 24, 2014 at 3:28 am

    We visited the Napa Valley some years ago. We enjoyed the beauty of the area and a charming bed and breakfast I found (of which I cannot remember the name). I wish I had been able to read your blog posts about the area before we went. oh well. Next time. 🙂

  • Reply
    Nancie
    November 24, 2014 at 6:35 am

    It might be small, but it sounds mighty when it comes to fine dining! 🙂

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      November 24, 2014 at 3:14 pm

      We didn’t have time to try all the restaurants we would have liked to! Guess we have to return:-)

  • Reply
    Tom Bartel
    November 24, 2014 at 8:04 am

    We’ve been to that area twice in the last two years. We stay with a friend in Napa. Charming area, with great food and wine–obviously. We’re looking forward to our return trip this year.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      November 24, 2014 at 3:11 pm

      You’re lucky to have friends in the area to visit!

  • Reply
    The GypsyNesters
    November 24, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    We have only passed through the Napa area, obviously we need to spend some more time.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      November 25, 2014 at 8:16 pm

      Definitely a place to stop and return to more than once. You’ll love it!

  • Reply
    Suzanne Stavert
    November 24, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    One of my favorite places on earth! You can’t have a bad time in the Napa Valley! You visited two of my favorites: Bouchon and Bottega! I am envious! So glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      November 25, 2014 at 8:12 pm

      Our palates are obviously aligned, Suzanne. Both are great restaurants!

  • Reply
    Johanna
    November 24, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    What a charming place to visit. I’m also a great believer and lover of public art 🙂

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      November 25, 2014 at 8:12 pm

      Isn’t it always such a pleasant–and unexpected–surprise?

  • Reply
    Carole Terwilliger Meyers
    November 25, 2014 at 11:10 am

    I visit the Wine Country often, and Yountville is one of my favorite destinations. That dish at Bottega looks so yummy that I plan to eat there next time. Here are some of my Yountville discoveries, http://weekendadventuresupdate.blogspot.com/search/label/Yountville

  • Reply
    santafetraveler
    November 25, 2014 at 11:53 pm

    The French Laundry is on my dream dining list. Maybe we’ll get there some day.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      November 26, 2014 at 8:41 am

      Still on my dream list, too! Reservations are hard to come by. Need to be made months in advance.

  • Reply
    A Cook Not Mad (Nat)
    November 26, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    The French Laundry is on the top of our list!

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      November 26, 2014 at 12:49 pm

      Thomas Keller also oversees three other restaurants in Yountville: Bouchon, Bouchon Bakery and Ad Hoc~

  • Reply
    Karen Warren
    November 27, 2014 at 4:37 am

    I love travelling round wine regions but I’ve not been to this area. Looks lovely though and so does the food!

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      November 27, 2014 at 9:20 am

      If you love wine regions, you’ll love this one!

  • Reply
    Michelle da Silva Richmond
    November 27, 2014 at 10:17 am

    Sounds like a charming little town. I don’t know that area, but will certainly put it on my “bucket list.”

  • Reply
    Jackie Smith
    November 27, 2014 at 10:52 am

    With so much wine country here in Washington we’ve gotten lazy about heading south. You’ve reminded me of our trip to Healdsburg – now too many years ago. . .might be time to make a return and visit Yountville.

  • Reply
    Leigh
    November 27, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    I cycled through Yountville a few years ago and loved the area. But to see it as shown with your first photo would be even better. I’m impressed with all the public art as well as the art at wineries. Now if only it was closer so I could visit more often.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      November 28, 2014 at 10:34 am

      Definitely worth a stop…especially for a meal:-)

  • Reply
    Michelle
    November 29, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    I have always wanted to visit Napa Valley but don’t like crowds. Yountsville looks like a beautiful place and a great place for me to use as a base.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      November 30, 2014 at 10:50 am

      Because of its central location, it’s my favorite base in Napa!

  • Reply
    Muza-chan
    December 4, 2014 at 1:16 am

    Beautiful place..

  • Reply
    Sheryl
    December 7, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    Reading this makes me want to return to Yountville – I was there many years ago, and have such fond memories of it.

  • Reply
    Adam
    December 12, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    I realize that it is expensive, but I can’t wait to sample some of these fine restaurants, as I hear they are some of the best in the world.

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