Yountville, California is one of my favorite places on Earth. Have visited many times, but I was also lucky enough to live there in 2011 and really explore. It’s a beautiful small town (population < 3,000) in Napa Valley, about an hour north of San Francisco on CA 29. Known today for its world class restaurants, luxury hotels and inns, the friendly residents and small town feel are, in my opinion, Yountville’s greatest assets, and there are plenty of things to see and do free-of-charge. Yountville also has an interesting history that goes back 160 years.
“In such a place I should love to live and die.”—George C. Yount
George Calvert Yount, a Missouri farmer, made his way to California in 1831 working as a fur trapper, and in 1836, he received the Mexican land grant “Rancho Caymus” (11,887 acres located in present day Napa Valley, including the areas in and around Yountville, Oakville and Rutherford). Yount planted on the property Mission (or Criolla) grape vines bought from General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo of Sonoma, and built a cabin and grist-mill, becoming the first permanent Euro-American settler in Napa Valley. A village, now known as Yountville, was established in 1855. It became a municipality in 1965.
Just Let It Happen
Yountville is a great “walk around wine tasting” town. It’s a little more than a mile long with lots to see and plenty of spots to enjoy, making it the perfect place to spend a day exploring at a leisurely ‘stop & smell the roses’ (& the wine) pace with no specific agenda or scheduled tour stops.
Walking up and down Washington Street, you’ll find along the way a number of wine tasting rooms, each unique in its offerings and experience. Therefore, lots of good options for you to discover. Below is a list of Zola’s favorite Yountville wine tasting sites, recommended for either the wine or the setting, and in many cases–both, because there’s no bad wine in Yountville.
♥ CHANDON WINERY It’s always good to start off (or end) a day of wine tasting with a sparkling cold glass at Chandon, located at the southwest end of Yountville. Get there by taking California Drive under the highway overpass and across the railroad tracks, then turn right up through the vineyards on Domain Chandon Road. It’s a beautiful place with 360 views. You can hang out or look around, all with a glass of champagne. Life is very good at Chandon.
♥ MA(i)SONRY It’s about art, antique collectibles, and boutique wines in this beautifully restored historic building and garden. You’ll want to stay for a while, browse the displays and collections, and taste wines you won’t find anywhere else. Perfection.
♥ BEAU VIGNE This is an unassuming tasting room tucked away in a building at the corner of Madison and Washington streets, but the wines are extraordinary. You’ll fall in love quickly.
♥ HILL FAMILY ESTATE Located at the corner of Mulberry and Washington streets, this charming tasting room is filled with an eclectic assortment of antiques and collectibles, and the top-quality wines are crafted from the grapes grown by the Hill family. You’ll enjoy the visit.
♥ HOPE & GRACE Easy to miss this one as it’s a small tasting room hidden in the courtyard of a small shopping complex (next door to Bouchon), but don’t pass it by. Hope & Grace wines are wonderful.
♥ CORNERSTONE There’s so much more to wine at the Cornerstone tasting room because there is so much to learn from the well-informed, friendly staff about food & wine pairings and the wines of Napa Valley. A chance to taste test the interactions of flavor and texture with impressive wines.
♥ V WINE CELLAR This place is like the best-ever wine shop, both quality and quantity. You’ll be tempted to browse the shelves for hours. The staff is happy to answer questions and help you locate that hard to find special bottle for dinner.
♥ ROBERT SINSKEY VINEYARDS Although it’s really too far to walk to Sinskey on Silverado Trail from downtown Yountville unless you’re up for a hike (also no side walks), it’s a quick 5-10 minute drive or you can bike down Yountville Cross Road. I always go for the Pinot Blanc (a long time favorite), but always enjoy the variety of tastings (with food pairings) and discovering something new to love.
More to Explore:
• The Art Walk – The installation of outdoor sculptures makes a walking tour of Yountville even finer. (Doesn’t cost a dime to look)
• The lovely French Laundry garden is located across the street from the restaurant (6640 Washington Street). Never will you see more beautiful veggie plantings or exotic looking chickens! (No charge to visit & look around)
• Located at the end of Lincoln Avenue (near the small Yountville Park) is the historic “George C. Yount Pioneer Cemetery and Ancient Indian Burial Grounds”. It’s fascinating, and open to the public (No Charge)
• Vineyards surround the town and provide scenic views for an easy hike (FREE)
• Many of the Yountville restaurants and hotels have daily happy hour special offerings, and that makes for the perfect budget-friendly last stop before dinner. Check out the menus when walking to see happy hour offerings, prices and times.
⇒ Art, Sip & Stroll Yountville celebrates ‘Art in April’ with a FREE ART EVENT each year featuring 45 artists of varying mediums, live music and craft beer & wine. It all starts at the Napa Valley Museum where parking is plentiful (If you like, you can pick up an Art, Sip & Stroll Tasting Package at the start ($25) which includes a tasting glass & 6 wine/beer tickets, but can go with as the event is free). From the museum, you can walk or board one of the shuttles to Washington Street where you can stroll up and down the town center visiting artists, gallery exhibits, shops, tasting rooms, and restaurants as well as enjoy live music.
Bastille Day in Yountville – Traditionally on July 14, Bouchon Bistro & Bakery celebrate ‘La Fête Nationale’ with the people of Yountville at a small outdoor event featuring music, food and wine. [Travel Tip: There are many hard to resist baked goods and breads offered at Bouchon Bakery, and do not miss a chance to experience morning coffee and croissant on the small outdoor patio.]
Yountville Days Parade and Festival – Every fall the town celebrates its history with free fun and activities for the whole family. Everyone is invited.
Because there is so much more to see and do, please share your Yountville wine tasting discoveries with us —- Sign up via the “Engage” page, and join your friends at The Flabby Wine Club.
For the love of Sancerre from the Loire Valley,
a short history of the wine and list of On2In2™ favorites
Napa: The Story of an American Eden, by James Conway* – a best seller, and captivating read on the history of Napa Valley, the people and families behind Napa’s wine making industry, and the stories of fortunes made and lost. *Zeester Media LLC may receive a small commission for a book purchase you make via the link within this page. This in no way affects the price you pay for the purchase.
Wikipedia: George Calvert Yount
About Yountville, The Town of Yountville website
Explore Yountville – Where to stay, dine, shop and taste (Yountville Chamber of Commerce)