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.