The art of pairing food and wine is definitely a thing in Napa Valley. And it can be really good thing when you’re spending a day biking to wineries and bound to work up an appetite!
That being said, finding a food and wine pairing experience in Napa Valley isn’t as easy as you might expect.
The reason for this stems from Napa’s unique designation as an Agricultural Preserve, and more specifically, the Winery Definition Ordinance, which states that wine tastings “may include food service without charge except to the extent of cost recovery when provided in association with such education and development…”
So essentially, wineries can only serve food when it is in the context of an educational food and wine pairing designed to market their wines; and, moreover, the food component cannot be marked up for profit (must be incorporated at cost). With this in mind, it starts to make sense why these food and wine pairings are so exceptionally rare despite Napa having hundreds of wineries.
But don’t despair, we’ve rounded up a list of Napa wineries that offer food and wine experiences – all within biking distance of our Yountville bike rental shop. Keep in mind that these food and wine experiences are offered by advance appointment only with limited availability, so take care to plan ahead!
Piazza Del Dotto
Piazza Del Dotto is the third and newest winery by the industrious Del Dotto family. This latest outpost, located on the outskirts of Yountville, sets itself apart from its siblings in Napa and St. Helena, with its emphasis on the celebration of food and wine.
Guests can choose from two food and wine pairing experiences designed by Del Dotto Executive Chef Joshua Swartz (formerly of Bouchon Bistro, The French Laundry and Per Se).
The Poppers Tasting ($60, 45-60min) is a lighter pairing of four bite-sized treats matched with a selection of 6 wines.
The more decadent Delicacies Wine & Food Pairing ($175, 120 min) starts with a cave tour and barrel tasting, followed by a seated 5-course menu that includes “delicacies” such as caviar, Maine “Lobster Roll” on toasted brioche and a Wagyu beef slider.
The bike ride to Piazza Del Dotto really is a wine country dream-come-true: a quiet country back road winding past picturesque vineyards framed by mature oak trees and bucolic pastures home to a herd of resident longhorn cattle. Although the journey is only 3 miles, you’ll definitely want to plan plenty of time for impromptu photo stops along the way.
The Oakville Trek ($80, 90min) is B Cellars signature food-and-wine pairing experience, which begins with a walking tour the vineyards, gardens, winery, and caves, where you are offered a barrel tasting. From there, you’ll enter the Hospitality House, where Trek experience begins in earnest, featuring five award-winning wines accompanied by the winery’s seasonal “B Bites” prepared à la minute. It’s an experience designed to heighten your appreciation how much food accentuates wine.
B Cellars is located smack dab at the midpoint our guest-favorite 12-mile Oakville Bike Loop, making for a perfectly balanced ride-to-wine experience. Plan about 75-min for the 6-mile ride to B Cellars. That may seem long for a 6-mile ride, but trust us, you’ll want plenty of time to stop and soak in the scenery along the way and you also won’t want to miss the chance to pop in and check out the historic Oakville Grocery on your way to the winery.
Round Pond celebrates the garden-to-table experience with its multi-course Il Pranzo Lunch ($150, 90min), featuring seasonal ingredients paired with Round Pond wines. This experience begins with a tour of our winery garden and olive grove, followed by a curated lunch on the winery’s beautiful terrace overlooking our vineyards and the Mayacamas mountains. Executive Chef Jamie Prouten carefully designs each course to showcase the beauty of each wine and delight the senses.
The bike ride to Round Pond in the heart of Rutherford is a little longer, about 8 miles from Yountville, with an equal 8-mile journey back. We find that most casual riders are comfortable biking an average of 3 to 5 miles between stops, so if you’re uncertain of your fitness for this longer ride, this could be the perfect time to try an electric bike. Another option would be to break up the mileage with an additional winery stop before or after your visit to Round Pond. Just be sure to plan accordingly and taste responsibly.
1) We’re here to tell you, any stigma about riding electric bikes is GONE
It’s funny to think about now, but just a few years ago our bike rental and tour guests were mostly unfamiliar and strangely unreceptive to the idea of electric bikes.
Most often, they would see eBikes available for rent at our shop and ask about them. Our staff would excitedly describe the amazing pedal-assist technology that makes the pedaling easier so they could ride farther and faster and suggest they should try one, but most people would respond with polite laughter and say, “Oh no, that’s okay, we want to get the exercise.”
It’s taken a few years for opinions to shift, but that hesitation is definitely GONE and we can tell you, eBikes are more popular than ever!
Now we find most people fall into one of two camps: They’ve either tried an eBike and are totally hooked or they’ve heard the buzz and can’t wait to try one!
What’s more, people finally seem to understand that you can definitely still get decent exercise while riding an eBike! No matter your fitness level, an electric bike just gives you the power to amplify your speed and distance capabilities.
Both of our rental shops located in Downtown Napa and Yountville feature a selection of Pedego Electric Bikes available for rent. Guests love the PedalSense technology, which is a true “Pedal-Assist Mode” that allows you to pedal naturally with the aid of the motor seamlessly – and silently! – kicking in to boost each pedal stroke.
Reservations have become a must for our popular Pedego Electric Bike rentals and guided tours, especially for weekends when it’s not uncommon for our Pedego eBikes to be fully booked.
2) You can ride farther (and faster) than you thought possible
One of the best things about our Pedego Electric Bikes is that you can cover MUCH more ground than you’d be able to under your own pedal power alone. The majority of our bike tour and rental guests are casual riders who haven’t ridden a bike in a while. That means on conventional bikes, they’re comfortable riding an average of 3-5 miles between stops at local wineries, rounding out the day at a total somewhere close to 15 miles.
Put those riders on our Pedego eBikes, however, and the same guests who were laughing at the start of the day, admitting, “I can’t remember the last time I rode a bike!” will easily be able cover double the distance (or more) while laughing and whooping it up the whole way. That’s right, 30+ miles is no big deal on our Pedego Electric Bikes.
This has been especially great for guests coming to us with specific wineries they want to visit by bike that might have been out of reach for them on regular bikes. Where we used to hesitate or warn guests they might be biting off more than they can chew, we can now send them out on our Pedego eBikes with the confidence that not only can they easily complete the ride, but they’ll have an absolute blast doing it!
The powerful motor provides assistance as you cruise at speeds up to 20mph. The 20mph cutoff is an important distinction that makes our electric rental bikes legal to ride on designated bike paths such at the Napa Valley Vine Trail.
Plus, our Pedego Electric Bikes also include incredibly thoughtful design details that make going the extra distance comfortable even for less-experienced riders including an oversized comfort saddle, padded handlebar grips and fully adjustable handlebars on many models.
3) eBikes are a new “No Sweat” way to visit the wineries
Another reason our Pedego Electric Bike rentals have become so popular is that with the power of the motor assisting your effort, biking can literally become a “No sweat” activity (if you want it to). In fact, in addition to the popular pedal-assist mode, all of our Pedego eBikes can also operate in a pure “Throttle Mode” – meaning you can operate the bike as a scooter with no pedaling required.
Although wine country is generally pretty casual and none of the wineries have a strict dress code, we definitely understand when we hear from guests who are concerned about what to wear during their bike tour through Napa – there’s a desire to strike a balance between being comfortable enough for biking without looking too casual while at the wineries, which often have elegantly appointed tasting rooms.
Our Pedego electric bikes make it easy to dress a little more upscale without worrying about becoming a sweaty mess as the day goes on.
4) Electric bikes help level the playing field
At our tour and rental shops in the Napa Valley, we host a lot of groups including families whose members span a wide range of ages and ability levels when it comes to biking.
We also often see groups who want to ride together, but learn that Uncle George is recovering from knee surgery, or just not confident he’ll be able to keep up. Our Pedego eBikes have saved more than a few group excursions that may have otherwise been cancelled due to the riding limitations of one member of the party.
We’ve also seen electric bikes become an effective tool for couples where one partner is more of an avid cyclist and the other, not so much. These couples always come back totally jazzed that they were able to ride together in a way that made it fun for both of them!
5) They’re SUPER fun!
Plain & Simple: It’s impossible to ride one of our Pedego Electric Bikes without smiling. The effect is immediate and universal. People truly fall in love from the moment they get on these incredible bikes; in fact, we even started calling the phenomenon “Love at first ride!”
The simple fact is that electric bikes are opening the world of biking to a whole new audience of people who might not have considered biking before. At the same time, electric bikes are also widening the world of possibilities for everyone who already enjoys biking.
So whether you’re considering renting electric bikes on your own or joining us for a guided tour on electric bikes, we look forward to sharing the exciting new world of eBikes with you!