Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Interview on Visiting Wine Country

I recently was interviewed by California Tours, one of my regular clients, on visiting Napa and Sonoma wine country.  I provide private tours for California Tours' customers who want a more intimate touring experience.  You can see the full interview by clicking here.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Winetasting Around the Holidays

Visiting wine country is a popular outing during the holiday season.  Please be aware that many wineries close early on both Christmas and New Year's Eves.  A few may be closed for the entire day, particularly on Christmas Eve.  So be sure to phone the winery before you visit.  When I do a wine country tour on Christmas or New Year's Eve, I recommend tasting in the morning and having a late lunch in wine country.

I used to say that all wineries were closed on Christmas Day; however, I read that one opened last Christmas.  I don't recommend planning to winetaste on Christmas Day; however, some of the restaurants are serving special meals that day, so you can still head to wine country and have a nice outing.

There are usually enough wineries open on New Year's Day for you to drop in at a few and do some tasting.  However, you might not be able to visit all of your favorites.  Again, check first before visiting.

Since both Christmas and New Year's fall on Sundays, the legal holidays will be on Monday, December 26 and January 2.  Most wineries should be operating on their regular schedules on these dates.

If you would like to take a private wine country tour during the holidays, Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel will be open on all dates except December 25 and January 1.  For more information, phone (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or Rick@BlueHeronTours.com

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sausage, Fries, and Beer in Healdsburg

The other day, I noticed a restaurant sign in the distance that I had not seen before:  The Wurst.  Being a sausage lover, I figured this was my kind of place.  At the entrance to the four-month-old restaurant, its owner, Charles Bell, introduced himself.  Charles clearly loves what he does.  He told me about each of the sausages, with all but two being produced by local artisan sausage makers; the burgers made with beef from grass-fed cows; and the variety of micro-brews on tap.

I tried his newest sausage, Provencial, a French country-style sausage.  Grilled on a bun with some grilled onions and sweet peppers, it was delicious.  For $10, I got the lunch special that included fresh cut French fries and a soft drink along with the sausage.  As I was driving folks around wine country that day, I couldn't try any of the beers.  I can't wait to return to try the burger or another sausage.

If you are touring the Russian River, Dry Creek, and/or Alexander Valley and want a quick, delicious lunch in Healdsburg, The Wurst could be the place for you.  The Wurst is located at 22 Matheson Street, a half-block west of the square.  The phone number is (707) 694-0770.  If you want to take a private wine country tour that includes a stop at The Wurst, contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or Rick@BlueHeronTours.com

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Best Sonoma County Restaurants 2011/2012

The new Zagat Bay Area Restaurants 2012 and The Michelin Guide San Francisco, Bay Area, and Wine Country Restaurants 2012 were recently released. Here's an update on the critics' favorite restaurants in the Sonoma County.

Cyrus in Healdsburg is the top rated restaurant in Sonoma County, according to Michelin, receiving two stars.   The Sonoma County recipients of one Michelin star are Applewood in Guerneville, Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant in Forestville, Madrona Manor in Healdsburg, Sante near Sonoma city, and Terrapin Creek in Bodega Bay.

Only 1 of the 25 most popular Bay Area restaurants, according to Zagat, is in Sonoma County: Cyrus. Not one other restaurant in Sonoma County made Zagat's most popular list. The top rated restaurants for food in Sonoma County, according to Zagat, are Cyrus (28 points); Cafe La Haye (Sonoma city), Madrona Manor, Farmhouse Inn, and Bistro des Copains (Occidental) (27 points); and Sante (26 points).

"The San Francisco Chronicle's" top rating is four stars, which were awarded to one Sonoma County restaurant: Cyrus. Two Sonoma County restaurants received 3.5 stars: Madrona Manor and Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant.  Twelve restaurants are the recipients of three stars.

Lunchtime on my tours in Sonoma County usually finds my guests in either Healdsburg or the town of Sonoma. My favorite lunch spot in Healdsburg is Willi's Seafood, which features small plates of the freshest seafood. In Sonoma city, I recommend The Girl and the Fig for French influenced California food and Della Santina's for Italian cuisine. If you would like to take a private tour in Sonoma County that includes a meal at one of these great restaurants, contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at (866) 326-4237 or Rick@BlueHeronTours.com.

Best Napa Valley Restaurants - 2011/2012

The new Zagat Bay Area Restaurants 2012 and The Michelin Guide San Francisco, Bay Area, and Wine Country Restaurants 2012 were recently released. Here's an update on the critics' favorite restaurants in the Napa Valley.

The French Laundry in Yountville and The Restaurant at Meadowood near St. Helena remain Michelin's only three-star restaurants in the Bay Area. Thirty-nine restaurants received one star from Michelin. The Napa recipients are Etoile at Domaine Chandon, Bouchon, and Redd in Yountville; La Toque and Ubuntu in Napa city, Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford, Terra in St. Helena, and Solbar in the Solage resort in Calistoga.

Six of the 25 most popular Bay Area restaurants, according to Zagat, are in the Napa Valley: The French Laundry, Bouchon, Bottega (Yountville), Ad Hoc (Yountville), Bistro Jeanty (Yountville), and Auberge du Soleil. Other Napa Valley restaurants on the 50 most popular list are Redd (Yountville), Mustard's Grill (Yountville), and Hog Island (city of Napa).

The top rated restaurants for food in the Napa Valley, according to Zagat, are The French Laundry (29 points), The Restaurant at Meadowood (28), Terra (27), Ad Hoc (27), Redd (27), and Auberge du Soleil (27).

"The San Francisco Chronicle's" top rating is four stars, which were awarded to two Napa Valley restaurants:  French Laundry and The Restaurant at Meadowood. The following Napa Valley restaurants received 3.5 stars: Bar Terra (St. Helena), Bistro Don Giovanni (Napa city), Etoile, Redd, and Terra. Twelve restaurants are the recipients of three stars.

My favorite lunch spot in the Napa Valley remains Auberge du Soleil. The combination of food, service, and view can't be beat. I've taken many happy guests to this restaurant. If you would like to take a private tour of the Napa Valley that includes a meal at one of these great restaurants, contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at (866) 326-4237 or Rick@BlueHeronTours.com.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Quick Lunches in the Napa Valley

While the Napa Valley is well known for its many excellent restaurants, I find that many guests on my tours prefer a quick lunch, so they can spend more time visiting wineries.  Here are some options for good, but quick, lunches in the Napa Valley.

Picnicking at a winery is a great option on nice days.  While not all wineries permit picnics, there are enough with picnic grounds that you should be able to find a table to enjoy your lunch al fresco.  Some nice wineries at which you can enjoy a picnic include Clos du Val, Regusci, Robert Sinskey, Rutherford Hill, Hall Wine - St. Helena, and Clos Pegase.  A good list of wineries with picnic areas is available on the Napa Valley Vintners website.

Good places to pick up food for your picnic are Soda Canyon Store outside of Napa, Oakville Grocery, Dean and DeLuca south of St. Helena, and Sunshine Foods in St. Helena.  You can also picnic at Oakville Grocery.

In Yountville, you can grab a quick panini or salad at Napa StyleBouchon Bakery has salads, sandwiches, breads, and pastries to carry out. In Rutherford, you can get burritos to go at La Luna Market and Taqueria. St. Helena is home to Gott's Roadside, a great burgers and fries place.  While service is usually pretty fast at Gott's, long lines are the norm on nice weekend days.  Also in St. Helena is Giugni's Deli, where you can carry out sandwiches or eat them at one of the tables in the delicatessen.   Lastly, Calistoga is home to Palisades Deli Cafe.  Again, you can carry out the sandwiches or eat them at the restaurant.

As you can see, there are many options for quick lunches in Napa.  If you would like to take a private Napa Valley tour that includes one of these quick lunches, contact Blue Heron Custom Tours at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or Rick@BlueHeronTours.com.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Monterey County Posts

Monterey County is part of wine country.  On my other blog, "Rick's San Francisco Journal," I have posted recently about Monterey County; just not about Monterey's wine country.  If you are traveling to Monterey County, you might like to see these posts.  To do so, click here

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Friendly Tasting Room in Carneros

In August 2010, "Rick's Tips," Blue Heron's quarterly newsletter provided an in-depth look at winetasting in the Carneros Region of southern Sonoma and Napa Counties.  At that time, I had yet to visit the tasting room of a new winery, Anaba.  Located near the intersection of Hwy. 121 and Arnold Road in the Sonoma side of Carneros, Anaba offers a variety of whites and reds, including Rhone-Style blends, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Port-style wines.  For those who enjoy sweet wines, Anaba is one of the few wineries in the area to offer tastes of three dessert wines: two port-style wines and a late harvest Viognier.

Upon arrival, the friendly staff will explain the tasting menu to you.  You can then taste at the bar or enjoy a seated tasting in the converted farmhouse or on the patio next to the vineyards.  Being a new winery, the surrounding vineyards are in their infancy.  Within a few years, the vines will be producing grapes for use in Anaba's wines.  Currently, Anaba makes its wines at a different location but plans to build a winery and new tasting room next to their vineyards.

Anaba is open daily from 10:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.at 60 Bonneau Road.  If you are heading to Carneros via the Golden Gate Bridge and Hwys. 37 & 121, Anaba will be on the left,  past Cornerstone, as 121 turns to the right.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Best Restaurants for Lunch in the Napa Valley

Recently, I finally got to lunch at Bistro Jeanty in Yountville.  I'd been wanting to dine there for many years as I had heard good things about the restaurant and had eaten many years ago at its now-closed, sister restaurant in San Francisco - Jeanty at Jack's.  If you enjoy classic French cuisine, you will love Bistro Jeanty.  While the menu was a little too meat focused for us, we found enough to keep us happy and had a nice meal on the patio.  Bistro Jeanty is a slice of France in California's wine country.

Having now lunched at Bistro Jeanty, I've eaten at nearly all of the major restaurants between Yountville and St. Helena.  I find Napa too far south and Calistoga too far north to stop for lunch when I am touring in the Napa Valley..  Here are my picks for the best lunch spots in the heart of the Napa Valley.

Auberge du Soleil continues to be my favorite restaurant for lunch in the Valley.  Lunching on Auberge's terrace is the quintessential Napa experience.  The combination of food, service, and view is unparalleled.  Enjoy California/French cuisine at this Michelin one-star restaurant.

For American food, my recommendations are Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen in St. Helena; Mustard's Grill in Yountville, and Farmstead in St. Helena.  The first two restaurants have the same chef/owner Cindy Pawlcyn.  Farmstead recently changed chefs. I have not had a chance to lunch there under the new regime so I hope it is still as good as it was.  Pick your spot depending on where you think you'll be at lunch time.  However, if you love onion rings, Mustard's are the best I have ever had.

For Italian, Bottega, in Yountville, has great, high-end, Italian cuisine.  Chef/Owner Michael Chiarello makes the best calamari I have ever eaten.  I've dined at Bottega a couple of times and every morsel has been delicious.  For more casual fare, including some pizzas, try Bistro Don Giovanni, between the city of Napa and Yountville.  The service is friendly and the food very good.

If you love traditional French food, then I recommend Bistro Jeanty.

For terrific burgers, fries, and shakes, you can't beat Gott's Roadside in St. Helena or at Oxbow Market in Napa.  If some of your party is more health conscious, Gott's has good salads, terrific fish tacos, and a yummy ahi tuna burger.  Being in Napa, Gott's also has a wine list.

Now here are my caveats:.  
  • Yes, the French Laundry is fantastic.  But, unless you are in Napa for a few days, do you really want to spend three hours lunching?   Plus at $290/person without wine, I'd rather split the money among a few of the above restaurants.  And, good luck getting a reservation.  You must call exactly 60 days in advance of the date you want to eat and then have very good karma.
  • Redd and Etoile in Yountville have very good California cuisine.  I recommend both highly but, given just one day in Napa, get equally good food plus a great view at Auberge du Soleil.
  • Bouchon in Yountville gets rave reviews everywhere.  But, for me, I think it's overpriced and can't recommend it, especially given the other terrific choices.
  • There are many other fabulous restaurants in the Valley, e.g. Restaurant at Meadowood and Terra, but they are not open for lunch.
I hope this list helps you pick the perfect place for lunch when you are in the Napa Valley.  Be sure to make a reservation as tables can be hard to come by especially on Saturdays and during the busy season of June through October.  If you would like to take a private Napa Valley tour that includes lunch at one of these restaurants, contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at Rick@BlueHeronTours.com or (866) 326-4237. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Wine and Bread in Freestone

Freestone is a small town in western Sonoma County; really just a crossroads.  Not many folks live here but it's worth a visit if you like good wine or bread.

Freestone Vineyards is owned by Joseph Phelps and his family, long-time winemakers in the Napa Valley.  Freestone has much cooler weather than Napa so here the Phelps family makes superb Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  When we visited, the tasting consisted of current releases of all three Chardonnays and two Pinot Noirs made by the winery.  We had the option for a sit-down tasting in the Guest Center or outside at picnic tables.  Being a bright, sunny day, we chose the latter.  From our table, we could see rolling hills covered with Freestone's vineyards.  Freestone is currently open from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Thursday to Monday.  In the near future, they will also be open on Tuesday and Wednesday.

About 150 yards from the Freestone Guest Center is Wild Flour Bread.  The bakery produces a variety of organic sourdough breads, scones, and biscotti; all made in a brick oven.  Coffee is also available.  When we walked in we could see bakers kneading bread in the back of the bakery and were offered samples of all of the breads being sold that day.  We tasted nearly all of them and walked away with three loaves of bread.  The bakery is open from Friday through Monday from 8:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Freestone is a bit away from the main Russian River Valley tasting route, but you can easily include a visit to Freestone with stops at wineries near Sebastopol and Graton.  The quaint town of Occidental is also close by.  If you visit Freestone, bring picnic supplies, get bread from Wild Flour, and enjoy your meal at Freestone's Guest Center with some nice Chardonnay or Pinot Noir.  If you would like to take a private tour of the Russian River Valley that includes a stop in Freestone, contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or Rick@BlueHeronTours.com.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Beautiful Rhododendrons at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

After visiting the Mendocino coast for many years, we finally visited the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens this past weekend.  We were rewarded with a magnificent display of rhododendrons at the height of their glory.



The Botanical Gardens consists of 47 acres of cultivated flowers as well as native landscape that overlooks the Pacific.  While the rhododendrons were the stars of the weekend, other beautiful flowers were in bloom.



The Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens is open daily; except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the Saturday after Labor Day; from 9:00 until 5:00 from March through October and until 4:00 from November through February.  Plan on spending between one and two hours wandering through gardens; longer if you want to participate in one of the guided walks.

If you would like to take a private tour from San Francisco to Mendocino that includes the Botanical Gardens and other sights, please contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or Rick@BlueHeronTours.com

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Winetasting in Amador County's Shenandoah Valley - Part II, Food and Lodging

In my last post, I talked about wineries in the Shenandoah Valley.  In this post, I will discuss food and lodging options.  Not much has changed since I last visited the area in 2007.  (See Rick's Tips from August 2007.)  A few restaurants have closed and a couple of new ones have opened.  The lodging situation seems unchanged.

The consensus best restaurant in the area remains Taste in Plymouth.  This is the only restaurant serving sophisticated meals in the region.  We have eaten there twice and enjoyed both our meals.  The wine list features many wines from Amador County as well as wines from elsewhere in California and outside of the U.S.  Dinner is served Thursday to Monday and lunch is now available on Saturday.

A couple of steps down but still good is Susan's Place Wine Bar and Eatery in Sutter Creek.  This casual restaurant features Mediterranean influenced cuisine.  In 2007, we had a pretty good dinner at the Imperial Hotel in Amador City but did not get there on this trip.  A local shop owner said the Twisted Fork in Sutter Creek is also quite good.

There's not much food in the Shenandoah Valley so plan on picnicking during your visit.  You can pick up good supplies for your picnic at Andrae's Bakery in Amador City or Amador Vintage Market in Plymouth. 

If you find yourself in the small town of Volcano, you might want to check out the Union Pub as it is owned by the same folks that own Taste.  

All of these places have limited hours so be sure to check their hours of operation before you visit.

As for lodging, the best choices are bed and breakfasts.  I recommend staying in Sutter Creek  as it is the most interesting of the towns in the area.  We stayed at The Foxes Inn and had a very nice, large room with a good choice of breakfast foods.  There are other good B & B's to choose from.  A list is available on the Sutter Creek Business Association's website.

If you would like to take a private tour from the Bay Area to Amador County's wine country, please contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or Rick@BlueHeronTours.com

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Winetasting in Amador County's Shenandoah Valley - Part I, The Wineries

The August 2007 edition of "Rick's Tips," Blue Heron's free newsletter of fun things to do in the Bay Area and Northern California, focused on winetasting in the Shenandoah Valley of California.  Located about 2.5 hours east of San Francisco, this wine region produces mostly red wine from grapes that like hot weather, e.g., Zinfandel and Barbera.

This past weekend, I had a chance to return to the Shenandoah Valley and saw that many things had remained the same while a few new wineries had opened.  What I like best about this region is that most of the wineries are still low-key, family-run affairs.  Tasting rooms are modest and fees largely nonexistent.  Staff is friendly and the owners and/or winemakers frequently pour your wine.  Even on Saturday, you are unlikely to find the crowds that frequent wineries closer to San Francisco.  With most bottles priced between $15 and $30, you are unlikely to break the bank with your wine purchases.  Plus the drive is very pretty; with rolling hills and vineyards full of gnarly old vines.

A good place to start your visit is at Amador 360°, Wine and Visitor Center in the town of Plymouth, gateway to the Shenandoah Valley.  Gregg, the friendly owner, will pour you some wines from wineries that do not have tasting rooms in the Valley and orient you to the area.  He's a wealth of information on all things Amador.

On this visit, we tasted at wineries that we didn't get to on our previous trip.  We enjoyed many good Barberas, Zinfandels, Sangioveses, and Syrahs and bought way too much wine.  Some of our favorites included Scott Harvey (tasting room in Sutter Creek), Sera Fina (tasting rooms at the winery and at Cinque in Sutter Creek), Dillian, Cooper, Driven, Terra Rouge, Andis, and Jeff Runquist.  On our previous visit, we enjoyed Karly, Story, Deaver, Shenandoah Vineyards, Sobon Estate, Vino Nocetto, and Wilderotter (largest selection of white wines in the Valley).  The Amador Vintners website has lots of good information on the wineries.  Before you go, check each winery's hours as many tasting rooms are open only on certain days.

My next post will focus on lodging and restaurants in the area.  Meanwhile, if you would like to take a private tour of Amador wine country starting in San Francisco, contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or Rick@BlueHeronTours.com

Monday, April 04, 2011

Opening Day at Daffodil Hill

Daffodil Hill, near the small town of Volcano in Amador County, is home to thousands of beautiful flowers each spring.  Opening day was late this year with the flowers buried under snow until just a week or so ago.  Finally, on April 1, the early blooms were available for viewing.


For the next few weeks visitors will be treated to thousands of beautiful flowers.  Admission is free.  

In the nearby town of Volcano, you can stroll among its historic buildings and have lunch.  The Union Pub is open for lunch on Saturday and Sunday and for dinner from Friday through Monday.  Since it is owned by the same folks who own the best restaurant in Amador County, Taste in Plymouth, the food is bound to be good.   The St. George Hotel offers Sunday brunch in its restaurant and lunch in the Whiskey Flat Saloon on Saturday and Sunday.  The restaurant services dinner Wednesday through Saturday.

If you would like to take a private tour from San Francisco that includes visits to Daffodil Hill, Volcano, and the nearby wine country in the Shenandoah Valley, contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or Rick@BlueHeronTours.com

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Good Sandwiches and Salads in Yountville

On my tour of the Napa Valley today, my guests from Alberta, Canada wanted sandwiches and salads for lunch.  Since we were in the southern end of the Valley, we ate at Pacific Blues Cafe in Yountville.  This cafe has fresh sandwiches and salads, burgers made with Niman Ranch beef, and a few entrees.  Today was warm and sunny, a nice change from my guests who have gone through one of the snowiest winters on record, so we ate outside.

When visiting Napa, gourmet restaurants abound.  Places to get inexpensive and good food are harder to find, especially between Yountville and St. Helena.  So next time you are in Napa and want a simple lunch, check out Pacific Blues Cafe. If you would like to take a private Napa Valley tour that includes lunch at Pacific Blues, contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or Rick@BlueHeronTours.com.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Good Deli in Calistoga

I don't get to Calistoga very often as it is at the far northern end of the Napa Valley, about two hours from San Francisco.  However, yesterday's guests wanted to visit nearby Chateau Montelena, having seen the movie "Bottle Shock, " which is about the winery's role in the so-called "Judgment of Paris.".  They wanted a good, quick lunch, so we headed to the Palisades Deli and Cafe located in the old Calistoga Train Depot on Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga's main street.  Palisades is one of the better delis in all of wine country; serving hot and cold sandwiches, salads, Mexican dishes, and a few other items.  The deli has both indoor and outdoor seating, or you can take your food to a nearby winery for a picnic.  Rombauer would be a good spot as it has picnic tables nestled in the woods overlooking the valley.

If you would like to take a private Napa Valley tour that includes visits to Chateau Montelena, Palisades Deli and Cafe, and Rombauer Vineyards, contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or Rick@BlueHeronTours.com

Monday, January 24, 2011

Hilltop Winery with a View

I've been taking guests to Plumpjack Winery in Oakville for as long as Blue Heron has been open.  A couple of years ago wines from Plumpjack's sister winery, Cade, started showing up in the Plumpjack tasting room. The Plumpjack staff kept telling me that I had to see Cade.  A couple of weeks ago, I made the journey.

Cade Winery is located high up on Howell Mountain, one of the premier Cabernet regions in Napa.  The winery is Gold LEED Certified for its environmental efforts and the vineyards are organically farmed.  The Plumpjack staff were right, the view is spectacular.  


Cade takes full advantage of its location, producing three Cabernet Sauvignons and one Sauvignon Blanc.  One of the Cabs is from the estate and another is made from grapes sourced from other Howell Mountain growers.  The third Cab, as well as the Sauvignon Blanc, carry the Napa Valley designation.

Tastings are by appointment and cost $20/person.  The experience is very personal.  One of Cade's staff walks you through the currently available wines while you sit in the parlor or on the terrace, from which the above photo was taken.  If you like Cabernet and want to have a leisurely tasting experience, then journey up Howell Mountain to Cade.  If you'd like to take a private tour of the Napa Valley that includes a visit to Cade, please contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or Rick@BlueHeronTours.com

Monday, January 17, 2011

All-in-One in St. Helena

Want to taste wine?  How about some olive oil?  Paired with cheese?  Maybe a little grass-fed beef?  Then Long Meadow Ranch's tasting room in St. Helena is for you.  The Ranch is located in the Mayacamas Mountains and produces wine, olive oil, grass-fed beef, eggs, and heirloom fruits and vegetables.  You can arrange a tour of the ranch but, if you just want to taste the ranch's food, visit Long Meadow's  tasting room in the historic Logan-Ives House, just south of the center of St. Helena

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If you want more of Long Meadow Ranch's and other tasty food, visit Farmstead Restaurant - right next door.  The southern influenced cuisine is delicious.  On a recent visit, I enjoyed a tasty Rancho Ribellita soup full of kale, beans, other good veggies, and beef in a tomato stock.  I love dumplings and was not disappointed with Farmstead's buttermilk dumplings with chickens.  One friend had wood roasted winter squash as an appetizer and "brick cooked" chicken for her main course. She said both were yummy.  My other friend had the soup and potato gnocchi with grass-fed beef.  The serving was so big, he took much of it home for dinner.  The deserts looked terrific but we were all too stuffed.  I'll definitely be including Farmstead among my Napa Valley restaurant recommendations.

If you would like to take a private Napa Valley tour that includes a stop at Long Meadow Ranch and Farmstead Restaurant, contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or Rick@BlueHeronTours.com