Stewart Cellars in Yountville (©Rebecca Chotkowski)
There’s never been a better time to visit Wine Country. The list of great new restaurants, tasting rooms, attractions and wineries keeps growing. Here are some of the most exciting new additions to the region to consider adding to your itinerary.
Culinary Institute of America at Copia
The biggest opening in downtown Napa this year is hands-down the Culinary Institute of America at Copia, a public-facing, 80,000 square-foot campus offering cooking classes, a high-end restaurant, chef-driven shop and wine tasting stations. The massive center, which in fall 2017 will also display Chuck Williams’ (of Williams-Sonoma fame) personal cookware collection, originally opened as a museum dreamt up by the Mondavi family and Julia Child but had been dormant since 2008.
This year’s buzziest newcomer to Sonoma is Single Thread, a Japanese-inspired restaurant, inn and farm in Healdsburg that’s four years in the making. A ticket for dinner ($295) gets you an extended, dining-as-art experience that begins at the rooftop garden, where along with the farm, many of the menu’s delicacies are grown. Your multi-course meal will be customized to your preferences.
The rock ‘n’ roll themed Jam Cellars tasting room in downtown Napa feels like a lounge with its disco ball and the recording studio tucked in the back. Sit back on a leather couch and sip the approachable, crowd-pleasing wines (playfully named Butter, Jam and Toast) while listening to classic vinyl.
Blue Note Napa
Blue Note Napa, a jazz club located in the historic Napa Valley Opera House offers dinner and a show in its swanky, blue-lit dining room most nights. Performers range from local acts to nationally known artists.
Fine dining enthusiasts will want to make a reservation at the 27-seat restaurant Kenzo, where the Japanese chef, who has multiple Michelin stars under his belt, flies in the fish from the Tsukiji Market in Tokyo and the sushi and kaiseki-style tasting menus run $225.
After five years of construction, you can now schedule an appointment at Davis Estates just off the Silverado Trail in Calistoga. Taste small production wines and take in sweeping vineyard views on the terrace of the new tasting room designed by local architect Howard Backen.
You don’t have to be a guest at St. Helena’s new luxury hotel Las Alcobas to enjoy a season-driven, California-style meal by “Top Chef Masters” alum Chris Cosentino (known for his knack with offal) at its Acacia House restaurant.
Don’t leave Yountville without stopping at the chic, family-run Stewart Cellars tasting room and its adjacent Gather Café. The indoor/outdoor spaces, designed by local design star Ken Fulk, invite lingering with cushy furniture and luxe accents. Order a quick and healthful meal from the café to enjoy in the sun before or after your tasting.
You missed your chance to dine at the classic Wine Country restaurant Tra Vigne (it closed last year), but you can have an upscale Cal-Italian meal at the new Brasswood, where nearly all the employees of the 28 year-old restaurant moved.
You might not feel like you’re in Napa as you pass through the ornate hand-carved poplar entrance of Miminashi, a new stylish Japanese izakaya-style eatery that’s maintained steady local buzz. The homemade soft cream (Japanese soft serve) has proved so popular that it merits its own takeout window.
Brewsters Beer Garden
Downtown Petaluma has a new communal hot spot, Brewsters Beer Garden. The massive new establishment features the town’s first and only European style beer garden, with over 30 rotating local craft brews on tap. Join the locals who come for the kids’ play area, bocce ball courts, live music and hearty, southern-tinged fare.
Sonoma’s favorite micro-distillery, Prohibition Spirits, now has a gem of a tasting room at Cornerstone Sonoma, where you can savor whiskey, rum, gin, the cult hit limoncello and more in the fruit-tree-laden cocktail garden.
West Sonoma is home to one of Wine Country’s more interesting dining additions, Handline. The fast-casual, self-described “California Coastal Modern Roadside Eatery” serves a menu anchored by local, sustainable seafood (in the form of tacos, ceviche, spicy fisherman’s stew and chicken and squid tostadas) and made-to-order corn tortillas. The eye-catching interior is already attracting accolades.