A Foodie's Guide to Napa Valley's Surprise Spring
Stay at either hotel and it's likely your days will be spent exploring the various wineries, from Carneros to Calistoga, including Plumpjack Winery with its top-notch cabernet, Grgich Hills Estate with its infamous chardonnay and Clos Pegase Winery, which made the eco twist-off cap seem downright classy. Those looking for a full-on winery experience can always indulge in a visit to Francis Ford Coppola Winery with legions of wide-eyed star seekers savoring every tasting glass while a fancier sort tucks into leisurely lunches at Rustic, with its menu of Francis' very favorite Italian dishes.
A bit farther from the central valley in St. Helena is Long Meadow Ranch, which offers an organic farmstead with winery and a farm-to-table dining experience that captures the true essence of modern-day Napa cuisine. Its nursery barn is now Farmstead, a 110-seat eatery by chef Stephen Barber, whose ingredient-driven American menu wows on a daily basis with such dishes as carpaccio of Long Meadow Ranch beef topped with almonds and arugula, chili-roasted local crab and a signature beef cut of the day with heaping sides. Many diners rave these are the best meals in the Napa Valley.
As for local springtime events, this year will offer the second installment of Napa Valley Arts in April, celebrating the gallery and collecting scene in the valley through a calendar of special exhibitions, art events, curated tours and theme tastings. The four-week event highlights a different region of the valley every week, with behind-the-scene glimpses of winery art collections in the valley that include works by Francis Bacon, Jean Dubuffet, George Rickey and Richard Serra -- the hottest arts event of an increasingly warm season.
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