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Snapshots of California Wine Country

Snapshots of California Wine Country

Our contributor tours the vines of Napa and Sonoma

Once our contributor reached the top of the hill after unlocking many gates, they got out to see the famous Cain rock, ‘La Piedra.’

On my recent trip to California’s wine country, I saw an unbelievable amount of beautiful things. I had perfect weather during my stay, which allowed me to snap some great photos. But something tells me that even if the weather wasn’t ideal, and my ability to frame a good photo failed me, I still would have some beautiful things to share.

Click here to see the Snapshots of California Wine Country Slideshow!

Everywhere you turn in both Napa and Sonoma, and everywhere in between, there are grape vines. Grape vines trace the highways, follow you up the long mountain roads, undulate like massive waves in the sea, and taunt you with their ripe fruit.

And just like the grape vines that surround you, it’s impossible to not stumble upon amazing food when you’re in California’s wine country. I know the trip was supposed to be about the wine, and it most certainly was, but everything to me comes back to food.

I ate sake-marinatedl local black cod in a shiso broth with Chris Howell at Cain Winery, roasted vegetables on focaccia under a patio umbrella with Michael Trujillo at Sequoia Grove, marinated yellow beets with truffle oil with Kathleen Inman at Inman Family Wines, and duck confit with pistachio brittle at El Dorado Kitchen next to Don Van Staaveren of Three Sticks Wines.

Delicious food, superb wines, unforgettable people…what else could you possibly need?

To snapshots from my visits to these wineries and more, check out the slideshow!

Grapes and Grain Grow Side by Side Along the Back Roads

I spent the first half of my life living in the suburbs of Los Angeles. When I was a child, I sometimes saw orange orchards in Orange County, but they were mostly gone by the time I grew up. Certainly, there were no wineries or fields of grain near my neighborhood.

After I moved to Templeton and Paso Robles in San Luis Obispo County, I often found the vineyards and hay growing next to each other. Grain and almonds had been the major crops here until the vineyards moved in. Above is a shot I took in Templeton where hay was being harvested. This field is right beside the Venteux winery and vineyards.

Heart Hill at Niner Estates in Paso Robles, on a June Day. Author photo, © B. Radisavljevic

Niner Estates in Paso Robles is another lovely vineyard that grows its own hay. Its hayfield begins near the highway and creeps across the land until it meets a vineyard or road. During the summer the bales suddenly appear in the field.

Niner is best known for Heart Hill, a near-natural oak grove that was shaped long before the grapes were planted. It’s been a landmark along California West Highway 46 since 1956.

The Niner property is full of oak and olive trees. Above you can see a row of olive trees along the driveway that leads to the tasting room. Most of the other trees you see in these photos are oaks.

Oaks, Vines, and Hay at Niner Estates on a June Day. Author photo, © B. Radisavljevic Oaks among the Vines at Niner Estates in Paso Robles. B. Radisavljevic

I took these photos at Niner Estates in June 2012, but the grain grows here almost every year. For some reason, as I drive the back roads in late May and early June, seeing the hayfields makes me feel more connected to the past. Seeing the bales of hay stacked in the fields or near the side of the roads touches a part of me I don’t understand. But somehow it helps ground me.

A guide to the small towns of wine country

Drive roughly 50 miles north of San Francisco and, with Karl the Fog in your rearview mirror, a sunny, vine-dotted landscape of rolling hills emerges as you enter the blissful California wine country.

It’s split into two major regions: If you’ve crossed the Bay Bridge and taken I-80, you’ve arrived in Napa Valley if you drove over the Golden Gate Bridge and past cow pastures on CA-37, you’ve come to Sonoma. The path you choose depends greatly on your favorite kind of wine (cabernet or pinot?) or the type of respite you seek—Sonoma is often positioned as the laidback little brother to the luxurious and sometimes over-the-top Napa—and within each is a diverse collection of small towns to discover, ranging from artistic to historic, chill to eccentric.

Here we’ve outlined the best things to do in six of wine country’s most beloved small towns, three in Napa and three in Sonoma. The only thing they all have in common? They’ll never run out of wine.


Visit if: You like the finer things in life

“In such a place I should love to live and die.” Those are the words of George C. Yount, the first white settler in Napa Valley, who founded the town of Yountville in 1831. Yount is also credited with planting the first grapevines in all of Napa Valley, making this 1.5-square-mile town the official birthplace of Napa’s wine industry.

Yet while the ritzy Yountville, located less than 10 miles north of Napa, is still very much a wine town, it’s achieved global recognition for something else entirely: being the birthplace of Napa’s world-class culinary industry, anchored by chef Thomas Keller’s three-Michelin-starred restaurant the French Laundry.

This foodie revolution started in 1973 when Domaine Chandon—the first French sparkling wine house in the United States—opened in Yountville with wine country’s first-ever fine dining restaurant. It eventually shuttered in 2014 (the winery remains the town’s most-visited), but one of its original chefs, Philippe Jeanty, is still in Yountville and has been churning out French comfort dishes for 20 years at his own outpost Bistro Jeanty. His legendary tomato soup in a puff pastry is pure heaven.

But another side of the town has flown largely under the radar: Yountville is Napa Valley’s main art hub. The Napa Valley Museum has been a town fixture since 1998 and has three galleries: one of major rotating art exhibitions, another for local art, and the third showcasing a permanent collection focused on Napa Valley history. The work of local artists can also be viewed in seasonal exhibits at the Yountville Community Center. Moreover, over the last decade, dozens of outdoor sculptures have been installed throughout town. An audio tour of the Yountville Art Walk can be accessed via a QR code scan on your cellphone. Each piece is for sale, with a portion of proceeds going to the Yountville Arts Fund, which supports local art-related activities and events.

Jessup Cellars, one of 18 tasting rooms you can visit along a one-mile stroll through the center of town, doubles as an art gallery. Sip its current-release wines while you admire paintings and sculptures by regional and national artists. Formerly a historic winery built in 1870, the massive ivy-clad V Marketplace has a handful of fine art galleries, too—along with fashion boutiques, a wine shop, and the Kollar Chocolates confectionery, a must-visit for red wine, lavender, and fennel-pollen truffles.

St. Helena

Visit if: You live for the hustle and bustle of bigger cities

Situated in the heart of Napa’s wine country, St. Helena is often called Napa Valley’s Main Street. This quintessential small town has long been a lively gathering place for nearby rural communities since the mid-1800s.

In the early days of settlement, local farmers would come into town to grind grain with an 1846 water-powered grist mill on St. Helena’s northern border (you can visit it at the Bale Grist Mill Historic State Park it’s still operated on occasion at park events). Today, the tree-lined streets of St. Helena are as busy as ever. The two cardinal blocks of St. Helena’s Main Street boast high-end fashion boutiques, restaurants, specialty shops, and art galleries. A constant stream of traffic trickles through its center—that is, until about 8 p.m., when the majority of businesses close and the town transforms into a ghost town until morning.

Many of these businesses occupy historic stone and brick buildings. Pennyweight, for instance, sells handmade leather goods, fancy writing instruments, and feathered bow ties from an 1892 Queen Anne-style Victorian known as Richie Block. Across the street, the old-timey 1913 Cameo Cinema shows current flicks daily.

St. Helena has 22 listings on the National Register of Historic Places scattered throughout its five square miles. The most magnificent of these sits one mile north of Main Street: The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Greystone is a 117,000-square-foot stone palace that was constructed in 1889 by architect Hamden McIntyre, who built several of Napa Valley’s most iconic 19th-century structures. Originally the home of Greystone Cellars, Napa Valley’s first wine cooperative, and later a Christian Brothers winery, the building now houses CIA dormitories, teaching kitchens, and classrooms, along with a student-run restaurant, cafe, and culinary marketplace. The CIA offers historic tours and wine tasting classes daily, in addition to regularly scheduled cooking demonstrations, classes, and boot camps.

Across the road from the CIA is Napa Valley’s oldest winery, Charles Krug, established in 1861. It’s one of many St. Helena wineries that managed to survive Prohibition and played a major role in kickstarting California’s $40 billion wine industry. Dive deeper into Napa Valley’s wine history with tours at other St. Helena wineries, like Beringer Vineyards, Freemark Abbey (the first female-owned and -operated winery in Napa Valley), V. Sattui, and the newly renovated Louis M. Martini. In 2019, Martini opened a massive and modernized restoration of its 1933 winery. Designed by Howard Backen, wine country’s most sought-after architect‚ it’s a stunning blend of old and new—original terra-cotta tiles converge with 30-foot-tall windows—and has four different types of wine and food pairing experiences on offer.

As you head back toward Main Street, pull over at Gotts, a 1950s roadside refresher serving up juicy burgers and creamy milkshakes.


Visit if: You just want to chill

While Napa Valley’s other towns can be quite extravagant, tourists seek out the region’s northernmost town, Calistoga, for its mellow, playful, and humble vibes, where the favorite word of the roughly 5,300 locals is “relax.”

Best known for its natural hot springs and mud baths, this slow-paced, 2.6-square-mile town has long been the underdog of Napa Valley, but that is rapidly changing. Chosen as a major filming location in Netflix’s recent Wine Country movie and the site of a new Four Seasons resort, opening at the end of 2019, Calistoga is right in the middle of a Cinderella moment—though the town is unlikely to let all that go to its head.

The natural volcanic hot springs were discovered more than 500 years ago by the Wappo tribe and, in the mid-1800s, Samuel Brannan, one of the first Anglo settlers to Calistoga, had a vision to make it the West Coast’s version of Saratoga Springs, the famed hot springs town in upstate New York. He came up with the name Calistoga and opened the first resort in 1862. Today it’s the site of Indian Springs, the town’s most iconic resort, which features idyllic midcentury architecture and design and an Olympic-sized spring-fed pool.

Mud baths are a favorite pastime at Indian Springs, but a few blocks down the road, the Calistoga Motor Lodge offers a modernized version of the treatment in its chic Moon Acre Spa, modeled after classic European bathhouses. It opened in 2017 following major renovations to a rundown roadside motel and is the town’s latest celebration of living simply.

And don’t miss out on Old Faithful, one of three geysers in the world with the “Old Faithful” designation. (The other two are located in Yellowstone National Park and in New Zealand.) It’s one of the most photographed points of interest in all of wine country.

In Calistoga, itineraries aren’t necessary—the days are meant to be taken slowly. Start with a coffee and the local paper at the Calistoga Roastery or the illustrious huevos rancheros at Cafe Sarafornia, a diner-style staple for 40 years. When you’re not indulging in a spa treatment or lounging by a mineral pool, take a leisurely stroll up and down Calistoga’s main drag, Lincoln Avenue. Pop into antique shops like Roam, a great spot for collecting farming equipment, and quirky boutiques with silly names (discover your inner pin-up girl at Mad Mod or peruse second-hand threads at Sugar Daddy’s). When you get thirsty, nurse a pint in the beer garden of the historic Calistoga Inn, which was the first commercial brewery in Napa County to open after Prohibition.

Buses full of tourists pull up outside Calistoga wineries like Chateau Montelena, made famous by the movie Bottleshock, and the medieval-inspired castle Castello di Amorosa, but there are a dozen or so tasting rooms right downtown too. At Tank Garage Winery, you can play pinball in between pours of wine inside a 1930s gas station.

If you’ve had enough R&R and are looking for some strenuous activity, make it an adventure to Napa Valley’s top hiking destination, Robert Louis Stevenson State Park. The park’s namesake author—whose quote “the wine is bottled poetry” graces Napa Valley’s iconic welcome signs—honeymooned seven miles north of downtown in 1880. The setting inspired Stevenson’s book Silverado Squatters, and although the honeymoon cabin is long gone, you’ll see a sign marking its place on the way up to the 4,343-foot summit of Mount St. Helena. Your effort will be rewarded with the farthest-reaching views in Napa Valley.


Visit if: You like being able to walk to everything

Napa and Sonoma are often pitted against each other, but what really sets the 2.7-square-mile Sonoma apart is the pivotal role it played in shaping California’s history. Sonoma’s historic town square is the scene of the Bear Flag Revolt, when the state first declared freedom from Mexican rule and raised California’s Bear Flag in declaration.

This storied history lives on at the Sonoma State Historic Park ($3 admission). Start your tour at the Mission San Francisco Solano, the last and northernmost of the California Spanish missions (built in 1823), then visit the Blue Wing Inn, which housed mission soldiers and later turned into a saloon and hotel (Ulysses S. Grant stayed there before he became president). The remaining sites of note—the Sonoma Barracks, Toscano Hotel, and two residences of Sonoma founder General Vallejo—all tie to the 1846 revolt in which a group of American insurgents successfully captured Sonoma from the Mexicans, raised the Bear Flag, and formed the short-lived California Republic. Twenty-five days later, the U.S. military arrived and raised an American flag in its place.

These landmarks have all been preserved and protected by the state, but other historic buildings have been repurposed into hotels, restaurants, shops, and boutique wine tasting rooms that border the Historic Sonoma Plaza—which hosts local festivals, events, and the Tuesday Farmers Market. Take a break along your self-guided history tour for a wine and food pairing at Three Sticks, one of over 30 tasting rooms that sit within one block of the plaza. In the carefully restored Vallejo-Castanada adobe (the longest-occupied residence in Sonoma from California’s Mexican Period), San Francisco designer Ken Fulk thoughtfully married elements of the past with the present, and the result is absolutely stunning. If you’re staying the night, book a room at the El Dorado Hotel & Kitchen, where you’ll find light-filled contemporary abodes and killer paella inside a 1843 adobe building.

Other can’t-miss stops on the Sonoma Plaza include the Girl & the Fig—a pioneer in California’s farm-to-table movement, it’s been a Sonoma mainstay for more than 20 years—SIGH, a posh Champagne bar pouring bubbly from all over the world and funky specialty shops like the self-explanatory Socks on the Square and Tiddle E. Winks, an old-school five & dime.


Visit if: You’re a free spirit

Established in the 1850s, bucolic Sebastopol has always been a farming town. Its most prolific crop? Apples. With nearly 15,000 acres planted at its peak, Sebastopol was once known as the Gravenstein Capital of the World (Gravensteins are a type of apple). The booming orchards and canneries slowed down in the mid-1900s, and vineyards and wineries have since popped up in their place, but the northwestern Sonoma County town, which is less than two square miles, exists today as one big homage to its (literal) roots.

Every spring Sebastopol hosts the Apple Blossom Festival—the parade features everything from llamas to a mini-parade of Dachshunds in pirate outfits—and in the summer, the annual Gravenstein Apple Fair. The town’s apple movement was sparked when renowned horticulturist Luther Burbank suggested a local farmer plant Gravensteins on his ranch. A preserved portion of Burbank’s 1885 Goldridge Experiment Farm on Bodega Avenue (where Burbank developed hundreds of varieties of fruit and nut trees, vegetables, and flowers), offers docent-led or self-guided tours. Sebastopol is also home to America’s first cider pub, Ace Cider, which paved the way for a slew of other cideries, including Horse & Plow, which is run by a husband-and-wife team who source more than 30 varieties for their ciders and craft natural wines. Their tasting barn and gardens are a favorite hangout spot among locals.

The apex of the town’s activity is the Barlow. This 12-acre outdoor marketplace was developed on the site of a 1939 applesauce cannery, and some of the businesses occupy the original, warehouse-like structures. Sebastopol is a community of artisans, and the local talent is on full display throughout the Barlow’s collection of independently owned art galleries, wine tasting rooms, breweries, distilleries, specialty shops, and restaurants. Sample British-style cheese at Wm. Coffield Cheesemakers or stock up on home goods, like locally grown, easy-care air plants at California Sister Floral.

Yet the best embodiment of the town’s eclectic creativity is found along a residential street, Florence Avenue. Here, nearly every front yard displays a one-of-a-kind junk sculpture crafted by literal resident artists Patrick Amiot and Brigitte Laurent (you can’t miss their house, because the yard is packed with their work). Amiot repurposes scrap metal, discarded items, or whatever strangers bring him, from hubcaps and broken appliances to alarm clocks and old-school cell phones, into life-size sculptures of animals, mythical creatures, famous athletes, pop-culture stars, and more. When he’s finished, Laurent paints them.


Visit if: You love the great outdoors

The heart of the Russian River flows through the center of the unincorporated, five-square-mile town of Guerneville, which was mainly a redwood forest up until the 19th century, when lumberjacks came and swung their axes at the area’s towering sequoias. As a result, the town’s first English name was Stumptown—commemorated by the annual Stumptown Daze parade—before it eventually adopted the name Guerneville as a tribute to the town’s sawmill owner, George Guerne.

More than a century later, the town of roughly 4,500 is once again engulfed by lush redwood forest thanks to replanting efforts, but visitors come from all over to see ancient giants at Armstrong Woods State Natural Reserve, a magical, 805-acre grove of preserved ancient redwoods. The park’s main attractions are Colonel Armstrong, its oldest tree at 1,400 years, and Parson Jones, its tallest tree, clocking in at upwards of 300 feet.

Guerneville has undergone several transformations since its logging days, and snapshots of each era are present today. Swimming and canoeing at Johnson’s Beach were popular activities in the 1950s, when Guerneville was a summer resort town frequented by the Bay Area elite. After nearly 100 years, this stretch of pebbled sand is still packed with beach bums every weekend in the summer. The Russian River Art Gallery showcases the work of local artists, many of whom arrived to Guerneville in the ’70s and helped cement the town’s liberal culture. By the ’80s, Guerneville had been rediscovered as a vacation hot spot, but this time by the San Francisco gay community. The Rainbow Cattle Company, an iconic gay bar dubbed Sonoma County’s Gay Playground, has been at the center of the town’s nightlife since 1979.

Guerneville is an ideal destination if you prefer a rustic retreat rather than what’s on offer in ritzier wine country towns like Yountville and Healdsburg—though you won’t exactly be roughing it, either. Many opt to glamp in a renovated Airstream at AutoCamp or luxury tent at Boon Hotel + Spa. Nestled among the trees on an old miner’s camp, Boon Hotel + Spa was founded by Crista Luedtke, the town’s 21st-century pioneer, who has single-handedly revitalized the once-sleepy area. After Boon, she opened a bistro called Boon Eat + Drink Big Bottom Market, a gourmet market and deli and El Barrio, a cocktail bar specializing in mezcals and tequilas. Most recently, she added a modern German restaurant named BROT to the list.

Luedtke’s empire has helped revive Guerneville’s Main Street, though at first glance, it appears frozen in time. Bright-colored, old-timey storefronts are occupied by a mix of old and new businesses. Town landmarks like the Guerneville 5 & 10, a classic dime store that opened in 1949, and Seconds First, a great spot to find vintage, tie-dyed band tees for more than 40 years, have stood the test of time. However, newcomers like the Guerneville Bank Club have brought energy to downtown. Part artisanal collective, part town history museum, the Bank Club opened in 2015 inside a historic 1921 bank building that had been abandoned for 30 years.

Janet Fletcher's Wine Country Table Is A Classic Compendium Of Sustainable California Food And Wine

Vineyards at Goldeneye in the Anderson Valley (Mendocino, California).

How does a recipe book, or any exploration of culinary geography, become an instant classic? Janet Fletcher's Wine Country Table: With Recipes that Celebrate California’s Sustainable Harvest (in collaboration with Wine Institute, Rizzoli, 2019) manages to do just that by capturing the essence of California food and wine with this immersive, precise visual odyssey (photos by Robert Holmes and Sara Remington) that deftly balances stories past and present with food and wine pairing to invoke the sense of place that California's wine-producing regions offer us.

© Wine Country Table: With Recipes that Celebrate California’s Sustainable Harvest

Wine Institute, Rizzoli, 2019

The book is organized by larger geographical areas from north to south (North Coast, Sierra Foothills, Inland Valleys, Central Coast, Southern California) and covers 23 wineries and farms, all told. Each section is a deep dive into the wines, the foods harvested there, and recipes you can make at home. Sustainability is a narrative throughline: Fletcher looks at the challenges each producer confronts in the face of climate change and economic struggle with a holistic approach to the core questions of resource conservation, growing business responsibly, and contributing to community.

There's an overt harmony between wines and foods from the same terroir that show up in the recipes, resulting in intuitive menu-planning. The information on wine AVAs and farming practices sprinkled throughout the book accumulates into a veritable education in the bounty of California.

This is a book you can pick up for dinner-party ideas or sit and read through as you might a travel guide.

Here are three favorite recipes to try in your own kitchen.

Polenta with Slow-Roasted Tomatoes and Teleme Cheese.

Polenta with Slow-Roasted Tomatoes and Teleme Cheese

Patience pays off with this recipe. It takes two to three hours for meaty plum tomatoes to lightly

caramelize in a slow oven and a good hour for polenta to become perfectly creamy on top of the

stove. Pour the polenta onto a board and top with the juicy tomatoes and soft, melting slabs of

Teleme cheese and your patience will be rewarded.

Wine suggestion: California Zinfandel or Sangiovese

1 1/2 pounds (750 g) plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise

1/4 cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon dried oregano, finely crumbled

4 tablespoons (60 g) unsalted butter

2 1/2 quarts (2.5 l) boiling water

6 to 7 ounces (185 to 220 g) Teleme or crescenza, thinly sliced

Crushed red pepper flakes or coarsely cracked black pepper

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Put the halved tomatoes, cut side up, in a single layer in baking dish

just large enough to hold them. Drizzle with the olive oil. Scatter the garlic and oregano evenly

over the tomatoes. Season generously with salt. Bake the tomatoes, basting occasionally with

the dish juices, until they begin to caramelize around the edges and are completely soft but still

hold their shape, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until

softened and beginning to color, about 5 minutes. Add the boiling water and bay leaf. Gradually

add the polenta, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and

continue to whisk. When the polenta becomes too thick to whisk, switch to a wooden spoon.

Cook until the polenta is thick and creamy, about 1 hour. Stir often to keep the polenta from

scorching on the bottom of the pot. Remove the bay leaf and season the polenta with salt and

Pour the polenta onto a large wooden board or rimmed serving platter and spread it to an even

thickness. Top with the Teleme slices, then arrange the tomato halves, cut side up, on top, pressing them gently into the polenta. Spoon any juices from the baking dish over the polenta, sprinkle with pepper, and serve immediately.

Fava bean toasts with ricotta and mint.

Fava Bean Toasts with Ricotta and Mint

This recipe was inspired by the bruschetta at Bruschetteria, a kelly-green food truck in St. Helena, California. When fava beans are unavailable, you can substitute 1∕2 cup (70 g) fresh or frozen shelled green peas.

Wine suggestion: California Sauvignon Blanc or sparkling wine

1 pound (500 g) fava beans in the pod

1⁄2 cup (125 g) whole-milk ricotta

1 tablespoon freshly grated pecorino romano or Parmigiano Reggiano

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

2 teaspoons finely minced green onion or fresh chives

1⁄2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, or more to taste

1 small clove garlic, grated with a rasp grater or very finely minced

Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 slices day-old country-style bread, each about

4 by 2 inches (10 by 5 cm) and 1⁄2 inch (12 mm) thick

Fresh mint leaves, torn into pieces, for garnish

Remove the fava beans from their fuzzy pods. Bring a small pot of water to a boil over high heat. Have ready a bowl of ice water. Plunge the fava beans into the boiling water, return to a boil, and cook until they are tender, about 1 minute if small and 2 minutes if large. (Test a few to be sure.) Drain in a sieve and immediately transfer to the ice water. When cool, drain again, then peel each bean by pinching the skin open on one end, then slipping the bean free.

Put the fava beans in a small food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped do not puree. (Alternatively, you can chop them with a knife.) Transfer to a bowl and fold in the ricotta, pecorino, 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, green onion, and lemon zest. Add the garlic a little at a time, tasting as you go you may not want it all. Season to taste with salt and several grinds of pepper. Taste and add more lemon zest if desired. The mixture should have a lively lemon taste.

Toast or grill the bread on both sides the center should remain soft. Using the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, brush both sides of each toast with oil.

Transfer the toasts to a work surface. Top with the ricotta spread, dividing it evenly. Drizzle with additional olive oil and garnish with mint. Serve immediately.

Heirloom apple galette with honey ice cream.

Heirloom Apple Galette with Honey Ice Cream

A walnut filling similar to frangipane makes this galette stand out from the crowd, and sparkling sugar on the pastry rim makes it gleam. Keep the honey ice cream in mind for other fruit desserts, such as grilled apricots or figs, baked pears, persimmon pudding, and peach or berry crisp.

Wine suggestion: Late-harvest California dessert wine from Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, or Riesling

Honey Ice Cream:

1 1/2 cups (375 ml) heavy cream

1 1/2 cups (375 ml) half-and-half

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (210 g) honey

Pinch of kosher or sea salt

Galette Dough:

2 cups (250 g) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1/2 cup plus 7 tablespoons (230 g) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces

1/4 cup (60 ml) ice-cold water

Walnut Filling:

1 cup (100 g) walnut halves

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 pounds (1 kg) heirloom apples, such as Golden Delicious, Gravenstein, Jonathan, or Newtown Pippin

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 large egg, lightly beaten

2 teaspoons decorative sparkling sugar

Make the ice cream: Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl. In a saucepan, whisk together the cream and half-and-half. Bring just to a simmer over medium-low heat, whisking occasionally to keep the mixture from scorching. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, honey, and salt until well blended and noticeably paler. Gradually whisk in half of the hot cream mixture to warm the eggs, then transfer the contents of the bowl to the saucepan, whisking constantly. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture visibly thickens and registers 180°F (82°C) on an instant-read thermometer. Do not allow the custard to boil or it will curdle. Remove from the heat and place the saucepan in the ice bath. Stir frequently until cool, then transfer the custard to a bowl, cover, and chill thoroughly.

Freeze the custard in an ice-cream machine according to the manufacturer’s directions. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the freezer until serving.

Make the galette dough: Put the flour, granulated sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to blend. Add half of the butter and pulse a few times until the fat is evenly distributed and coated with flour. Add the remaining butter and pulse a few times, just until the fat is coated with flour and about the size of large peas. Add the ice-cold water and pulse briefly until the dough just begins to come together do not overmix.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and gather together with your hands. You may need to knead it very gently to get it to hold together, but do not overwork it. Transfer it to a large sheet of plastic wrap, enclose it in the wrap, and then use the wrap to help you pat and shape the dough into a disk about 3/4 inch (2 cm) thick without it sticking to your hands. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Make the walnut filling: Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Spread the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until lightly colored and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Pour onto a plate to cool. Put the walnuts, granulated sugar, brown sugar, flour, and salt in the food processor and pulse until the walnuts are as fine as meal. Add the butter and pulse until blended, then add the egg and vanilla and pulse until blended and smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Transfer the filling to a bowl.

Raise the oven temperature to 425°F (220°C). If you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven on the middle rack to preheat—ideally for at least 30 minutes before baking.

Peel, quarter, and core the apples. Cut lengthwise into slices about 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick and transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and granulated sugar and toss the apple slices to coat evenly.

Remove the galette dough from the refrigerator and let stand until it is soft enough to roll out without crumbling, 10 to 15 minutes.

Cut two sheets of parchment paper at least 16 inches (40 cm) square. Place one sheet on a work surface and dust lightly with flour. Unwrap the dough and set it on the floured parchment. Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour and lay the second parchment sheet on top. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a 15-inch (38 cm) circle of even thickness. To keep the dough from sticking to the parchment, frequently flip the dough with its parchment cover, lifting the parchment sheets and flouring the dough lightly under them each time. Use as little flour as possible to prevent sticking.

When the dough is 15 inches (38 cm) round, remove the top sheet of parchment and slide a rimless baking sheet or pizza peel under the dough, still resting on the bottom sheet of parchment. Spread the walnut filling evenly over the surface, leaving a 2- to 2 1/2-inch (5 to 6 cm) border all around.

Top the walnut filling with the apple slices, placing them in concentric circles and overlapping the slices slightly. Fold the exposed dough over the apples to make a wide rim. (If the dough is sticking to the parchment, slide a palette knife or chef’s knife between the dough and the parchment and use the knife to help you flip the dough over the apples.) Brush the rim with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the sparkling sugar. With scissors, trim the excess parchment. Slide the galette, still on the parchment, off the baking sheet and onto the preheated baking stone, if using, or bake directly on the baking sheet.

Bake until the crust is golden brown and the apples are tender and lightly browned on the edges, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush the apples with just enough honey to make them glisten. Transfer the galette to a rack to cool for 20 minutes before slicing. Serve warm with the honey ice cream.

Romantic Napa Valley Escape

Poetry Inn

Courtesy of Poetry Inn

Perched on a hillside and nestled amongst cabernet sauvignon vines in the heart of the Stags Leap District, this quaint, five-room inn is a welcome respite for those seeking a romantic escape in Napa Valley. Designed by the famed Wine Country architect Howard Backen (and owned by the team behind Cliff Lede Vineyards), Poetry Inn offers spacious rooms outfitted with king-sized beds, large soaking tubs, indoor and outdoor showers, and private balconies with picturesque views. Further adding to the peaceful vibe at this adults-only inn are plush amenities such as Italian robes, a heated pool and Jacuzzi, twice daily housekeeping, personalized concierge service, and gourmet three-course breakfasts prepared daily. It’s the perfect hideaway for those seeking serenity and romance just minutes from downtown Yountville.

6380 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA 94558, (707) 944-0646

Sparkling Wines, Too

Here is another Sonoma County winery that welcomes you to an exciting tasting experience. A few wineries in Northern California are producing sparkling wines, and a few are legendary for their sparkling Sonoma County wines. Currently, the winery offers sparkling wines for sale in the tasting room, as well as a limited number of bottles for sale on its website. Hendry Ranch is located in the foothills of the Mayacamas and has produced some of the most unique wines in California and the world. Although the winery's greatest strength is the zinfandel, it is a good place to taste Albarino, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir. The Redwood Pavilion is usually reserved for group bottle service, but tastings are served at picnic tables under palm trees. The Moraga estate offers club membership, but the best way to experience the family business is to book a tour. There are simple tastings and if you want to taste new wines and have the opportunity to participate in private wine tastings on the estate, membership in the winery Moragas is worthwhile. Located right in downtown Los Angeles, San Antonio Winery offers people the opportunity to participate in wine tastings and wine tours. There is also a restaurant where you can enjoy delicious pasta, salads, meat and much more with a glass of wine. Grab a friend and meet up for a dinner party at the winery or grab a bottle of wine and grab some friends for dinner. California's wine-growing areas attract many visitors year-round, and some of them are considered among the best in the world, such as Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Santa Barbara, and San Diego. For those who want to experience life in a vineyard and taste artisanal wines, a stay in a winery could be a rewarding experience.

Wine Country Retreat House

Located in the picturesque Napa Valley, Niche Interiors set out to design a sustainable weekend retreat with expansive outdoor spaces for their clients looking to escape to the famous wine region.

Our clients were in search of a Napa Valley weekend retreat and found their dream property overlooking the rolling hills and vineyards. They enlisted prefab builder Blu Homes with a vision of building a sustainable vacation home with expansive outdoor spaces. Niche Interiors, worked closely with Blu Homes to select finishes and fixtures and to customize this energy-efficient prefab home, with bespoke features such as the faux-bois plaster wall in the master bedroom, floor to ceiling chalkboard cabinetry in the kitchen, and woodsy wallpaper in the girls bedroom. Niche Interiors collaborated with Terra Ferma Landscapes on the outdoor spaces, creating custom cushions and pillows for the fire pit and outfitting the pool cabana with sheer drapes to filter the sun on warm summer days.

The furnishings blend mid-century shapes with low-profile modern pieces for a relaxed, informal vibe. Textural rugs and fabrics and hand crafted wood pieces add warmth and layers to the space, allowing the contemporary artwork to take center stage. A variety of local artisans left their touch on the home, including a custom 11 foot long rift oak dining table with molded plywood pendant lights above. The living room is grounded by two custom eco-friendly sofas made of natural latex, organic wool, and FSC-certified wood frames.

Design: Niche Interiors
Photography: Brad Knipstein

Local Attractions near Olema

Grab your binoculars and enjoy the beauty of nature when you come to our fun campground, which features almost 500 species of birds and amazing trees like the bishop pine, bay laurel, madrone, coast live oak, manzanita, Douglas-fir, and spruce. Our campground is home to a number of animals on the sandy seashore or the rolling hills of the grasslands. Visit us today to take snapshots of animals, including:

&bull Tule Elk
&bull Black-Tailed Deer
&bull Coyotes
&bull Mountain Lions
&bull Bobcats
&bull Weasels
&bull Badgers
&bull Foxes
&bull Harbor Seals
&bull Stellar Seals
&bull Elephant Seals
&bull California Sea Lions
&bull Dolphins
&bull Humpback Whales
&bull Blue Whales
&bull California Grey Whales
&bull Starfish
&bull Octopi

San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge

Get your chance to see one of America's most beautiful landmarks when you visit the Golden Gate Bridge, which is just a short drive down our
scenic coastline. Just across the bridge is San Francisco. With the waterfront and Fisherman's Wharf, parks and museums, cruising on the bay, and lots of fine dining, everyone will find something to love in San Francisco.

Wine Country

Just a short drive from the campground are the famous vineyards of Napa and Sonoma. Spend a day at the shops with friends when you visit Sonoma and Napa Valley. This area offers great places for fine dining as well as wine tours that you won't want to miss.

Pacific Ocean

Olema Campground is located on a beautiful and dramatic section of the California coast. Watch whales from the historic Point Reyes Lighthouse. Ocean treasures lie scattered across the sand at Point Reyes National Seashore. Tidal influences and ocean currents bring to shore everything from abalone shells to beautiful driftwood, carved by sea and sand. Patient beachcombers can occasionally find glass floats from fishing nets in Asia. Enjoy amazing views of the ocean, Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay from Mount Tamalpais State Park.


Enjoy a relaxing day out on the water fishing for rockfish, lingcod, halibut, and salmon. There are some regulations within the park and fishing is not permitted in the following areas:

&bull Lagunitas Creek and Its Tributaries
&bull Olema and Bear Valley Creeks
&bull All Coastal Streams within the Park
&bull Limantour Estero
&bull Within Point Reyes Headlands Marine
Conservation Area

Contact us today to find out more about the great activities you can do at our campground including bird watching.

How to Make It

In a 5- to 6-quart pan over high heat, bring 3 to 4 quarts water to a boil. Add noodles, return to a boil, and cook, stirring occasionally, until barely tender to bite, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and pour into a large serving bowl.

Meanwhile, rinse beef and pat dry. Cut meat across the grain into 1/8-inch-thick slices.

Pour 1 tablespoon olive oil into a 12-inch frying pan or 14-inch wok over medium-high heat when hot, add beef and stir until browned on the edges but still pink in the center (cut to test), 2 to 3 minutes. Pour into another bowl.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to pan when hot, add onion and garlic and stir until onion is limp, 3 to 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and stir often until beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add wine, cognac, and oyster sauce to mushroom mixture. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer to blend flavors, about 5 minutes.

Add cream and return to a simmer. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch with 1 tablespoon cold water until smooth. Add to mushroom mixture and stir until it boils and thickens, about 2 minutes.

Add sour cream and beef with any accumulated juices to pan and stir just until heated through, about 1 minute. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour beef Stroganoff over hot noodles. Sprinkle with parsley if desired.

Cleaning mushrooms: Trim off tough or discolored bottoms of mushroom stems and any bruised spots or blemishes. (For shiitakes and oysters, remove the entire fibrous stem.) For firm mushrooms such as portabellas, wipe dirt off with a damp cloth or place in a colander, rinse thoroughly under cool running water, and pat dry with towels. For delicate mushrooms that have lots of places for dirt to hide, such as chanterelles and hedgehogs, submerge in a bowl of cool water and gently agitate with you hands to loose any particles. Drain, rinse carefully under running water, and gently pat dry with a towel.

Wine Country Table: With Recipes that Celebrate California's Sustainable Harvest

Celebrating the Golden State's wine-growing regions, Wine Country Table features compelling stories and recipes that showcase the range of the state's agricultural bounty and the seasonal spirit that continues to define the produce-driven and ethnically influenced essence of California wine country cooking.

Beautifully photographed, the book offers a visual tour of 23 stunning farms and wineries--including Cakebread Cellars, Domaine Carneros, Handley Cellars, and Tablas Creek Vineyard, along with Lodi Farming (cherries), Hilltop & Canyon Farms (avocados and citrus), and Henderson Orchards (pears) to name a few--whose sustainable practices highlight the future of responsible farming and winegrowing embraced throughout California.

Award-winning author Janet Fletcher's recipes turn any gathering into a celebration. Wine pairings and recommendations add sophistication to everyday meals. Wine Country Table shows readers firsthand how responsible growing practices and careful technique result in delicious dishes you'll be proud to share with family and friends.

About The Author

Janet Fletcher is the author or co-author of nearly 30 books on food and beverage, including Cheese & Wine , Cheese & Beer , Yogurt: Sweet and Savory Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner , and Sur la Table's Eating Local: Recipes Inspired by America's Farmers . She publishes the weekly Planet Cheese blog and is the cheese columnist for Specialty Food and Somm Journal magazines. Fletcher's journalism has received three James Beard Awards and the IACP Bert Greene Award, and her food writing has appeared in numerous national publications, including The New York Times , Saveur , Fine Cooking , and Food & Wine .

  • Publish Date: March 26, 2019
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Category: Cooking - Specific Ingredients - Natural Foods
  • Publisher: Rizzoli
  • Trim Size: 8-3/8 x 10-1/2
  • Pages: 352
  • US Price: $45.00
  • CDN Price: $60.00
  • ISBN: 978-0-8478-6543-7


"Wine Country Table: Recipes Celebrating California's Sustainable Harvest by Janet Fletcher is a guided tour of the breathtaking farms and wineries of California, complete with recipes and stunning photography." &mdashEAT YOUR BOOKS

"The book takes readers on a tour through 23 farms and wineries throughout California&rsquos wine country. It highlights the farms and wineries doing it right &mdash being responsible stewards of the land." &mdashFOOD GAL 

"The book looks at California, region by region, with portraits of family-owned wineries, as well as the farmers who grow cherries, prunes, asparagus, figs, peaches, and olives. It includes a discussion of the products that grow, along with vines, in each region. And then there are recipes." &mdashNAPA VALLEY REGISTER

Watch the video: Discover California Wine Country (December 2021).