Travel News

Yountville, California: An Ideal Starting Point for Seeing Napa

Locations in this article:  San Francisco, CA

Every fall thousands descend on California’s wine country. Before they set out, they have to answer the California oenophile’s dilemma: Napa or Sonoma? This week we sent our correspondents to both counties. Read Phil Baker’s experience in Napa and then check back tomorrow for David Latt’s adventures in Sonoma.

When I worked for Apple a number of years ago I needed a place to get away every once in a while from the pressures of Silicon Valley–a place to take a long weekend with my wife Jane and come back totally refreshed after just a few days.

Over the years, through trial and error, we’ve found our perfect 3 or 4-day respite that’s particularly suited to our shared love of great food and wine. It’s the idyllic town of Yountville, a tiny hamlet located between Napa and St. Helena, right off Route 29, the main route that runs through Napa County. The town is less than a square mile with a population of slightly less than 3,000, but it’s no ordinary town. It’s sophisticated yet restful and offers the chance to enjoy cuisine that matches that anywhere in the world.

It’s the site of Napa Valley’s first planted vines in 1838, 55 miles north of San Francisco and a little more than an hour’s ride from Oakland Airport or SFO.

Yountville. Credit DereksKey Via Flickr Creative Commons

Yountville’s main street, Washington Ave., paralleling Rte 29 for its two miles in length is populated with a variety of restaurants, tasting rooms and gift stores. What’s not first obvious from the mostly modest buildings is that Yountville has the greatest concentration of Michelin Star restaurants per capita of any town in the world. The restaurants range from the affordable to the extraordinarily expensive and that’s considered the best in the country.

A few miles in all directions are several hundred wineries that offer some of the best tasting experiences in America, and maybe the world. Within the town of Yountville are wonderful hotels, including one that’s one of just two in the U.S.A. that is Leeds Platinum, the highest certification for its attention to the environment, both during its construction and now in its operation.

What I like most about Yountville is that you can park your car and never need to use it. You can walk to almost everything if you chose, or borrow a bike or use the car just to visit some of the wineries.

While it’s hard to go wrong, here are some of the very special hotels, restaurants and wineries in the area. More >>