The past few years have certainly been a time of change, but one change is for the better: we spend more time outdoors now than we did before the pandemic. From dining to wine tasting to weekend excursions, we want to soak up the scenery and fresh air every chance we get.
The town of Yountville is built for an alfresco lifestyle and can easily be added to a Sonoma County getaway. In this walkable village with dramatic mountain views, you’ll find Michelin-starred restaurants and many of Napa Valley’s top wineries. Make it a day trip or a full weekend of outdoor activities. Here are our top picks in Yountville.
Yountville is known for its many excellent restaurants, and here’s a fun fact: the Napa Valley town boasts the most outdoor dining spots per capita in Wine Country, with all of its restaurants and cafés offering open-air seating.
Famous French Laundry owner and chef Thomas Keller debuted his new Regiis Ova Caviar and Champagne Lounge as a pop-up last June. This summer, he decided to make the destination restaurant permanent. Lucky us, because this is a delight for lovers of the salty fish roe.
The caviar and champagne lounge features Keller’s own Regiis Ova brand in Siberian, Royal, Ossetra, Hybrid and Supreme styles. The caviar is served with classic garnishes and potato blinis (15 grams for $50-$65), or stuffed into darling little waffles, laced into crab on Parker House rolls, atop French onion dip with kettle fried potato chips, or as a crown to deviled eggs.
To sip, choose the Champagne flight ($65), bringing 2 ounces each of three elegant quaffs. Relax on the all-season patio, complete with shade, a fountain, and a cozy fireplace.
6480 Washington St., Yountville, 707-947-7181, regiisova.com
Chef Michael Chiarello owns Yountville’s popular Ottimo and Bottega. Now, he gives us the new Coqueta, boasting delectable Spanish cuisine. This is food for sharing, in bold flavors like Spanish white anchovies with Manzanilla olives, piquillo peppers, Basque piparra peppers and pickled kumquat; or olive oil-poached, head-on gulf prawns in robust black garlic-chile sauce.
Dig into paella Valenciana, too – it’s a marvelous mélange of grilled rabbit, snap peas, carrots and Spanish Bomba rice cooked in roasted carrot sofrito and rabbit broth. To sip, sample housemade sangrias (try the Basque favorite mix of Mexican Coke, red sangria and cinnamon), or a margarita topped in “salt air” (a tasty dollop of salted foam). The shaded, wood plank deck is the place to sit.
6525 Washington St., Yountville, 707-244-4350, coquetanv.com
Just a minute southwest of town, the Lakeside Grill at Vintner’s Golf Course is off the radar for most people, but it’s a terrific, retro-style spot for comfort eats like golden crisp onion rings, nachos of housemade tortillas smothered in melty Jack and Cheddar, and a truly great Chinese chicken salad with cellophane noodles and housemade Hoisin dressing. You know, the stuff we all secretly love.
Other favorites include a terrific taco salad brimming with spicy carne asada, rice, beans, shredded lettuce, sour cream, guacamole, cheese and salsa; and a big, juicy burger with bacon, onion ring, mushrooms, Swiss cheese and ranch dressing on a French roll. To sip, order an ice cold beer. To sit, kick back on the patio with views of the ninth hole, flower gardens and lake.
7901 Solano Ave., Yountville, 707-944-1992, vintnersgolfclub.com
Across from Yountville’s North Block hotel and restaurant, you’ll find an elegant compound housed in charming stone buildings. This is the home of Southside café and coffee bar, plus the Stewart Cellars tasting room.
Reserve a seat on the flagstone courtyard for a first-rate Portfolio Flight wine tasting, and request sips of two brand new releases, as well.
The NV Sparkling Riesling is the winery’s first-ever sparkling wine, and it’s enchanting, bright and bioche-y with hints of apple and pear. The 2021 Sonoma Mountain Rosé is a rarity, too, made of 90% Pinot Gris and 10% Pinot Noir, fermented for just 15 days on the skins for a pale pink color and crisp, beautifully floral character.
6752 Washington St., Yountville, 707-963-9160, stewartcellars.com
Certainly you know that Zapp’s Cajun Crawtators potato chips are the perfect pairing for an elegant rosé. Oh, you didn’t? Then head over to Silver Trident Winery for the Potato Chip Extravaganza featuring artisanal potato chips paired with Silver Trident wines.
Through the guided, high-end “picnic,” you’ll find that Symphony No. 9 Sauvignon Blanc goes well with Route 11 Sour Cream ‘n’ Chives chips, Benevolent Dictator Pinot Noir matches with Zapp’s Cajun Dill, and Playing with Fire red blend likes Zapp’s Voodoo smoky paprika and garlic. For al fresco finery, you can choose a seat on the patio overlooking excellent people-watching on Washington Street.
6495 Washington St., Yountville, 707-945-0311, silvertridentwinery.com
Embrace all of the outdoors via a hot air balloon ride with Napa Valley Aloft. You meet the flight crew at V-Marketplace in Yountville, then head to a remote wilderness launch site.
Depending on the weather, you might reach heights of up to a stunning 4,400-foot elevation, soaring over mountaintops, vineyards, water reservoirs and forests.
The big wicker basket transporting you is sturdy, the hour-long flight surprisingly smooth, and the landing is actually graceful, thanks to your seasoned pilot manning the whoosh-roaring propane burners.
6525 Washington St., Yountville, 707-944-4400, nvaloft.com