Martin’s All-American Road Trip; Stop #10 – Napa Valley, CA
Welcome to the beautiful Napa Valley region of California on this week’s stop in our All-American Virtual Road Trip!
Napa Valley is a region in California between two mountain ranges: the Vaca Mountains to the east and the Mayacama Mountains to the west. Because of its ideal geographic makeup, along with the Napa River flowing the length of the valley, the region is well-known for its many vineyards and wineries. The Napa Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area) of Napa County, CA is one of the most acclaimed in the United States.
Napa Valley stretches 30 miles from Mount St. Helena near Calistoga in the north to the San Pablo Bay in the South. The region boasts a dry Mediterranean climate, enhanced by the mountains’ protection as well as the cool winds coming up from the south. It also maintains a variety of soil types due to many influences, such as proximity to the river or mountains, remnants of volcanic ash, and past movement of tectonic plates. All of these features make it an ideal growing region for many various fruits and vegetables.
Enjoy the Scenes
With its beautiful rolling hills and valleys, the Napa Valley region is well-deserving of a tour. There are plenty of driving, biking, or even train tours to give you a nice glimpse of the countryside. Yet an even more astonishing way to view the scenery is by hot air balloon! There are several experienced hot air balloon groups in the Napa region, such as Napa Valley Balloons, who would love to take you up in the sky for a magnificent ride!
For even more specialized tours, you can explore vineyards, castles, or gardens all around the area. Visit properties such as Long Meadow Ranch in St. Helena where you can explore their marvelous vineyards and olive orchards, or Calistoga’s famous Chateau Montelena Winery which beat out Paris in a wine tasting in 1976. Another great place to visit is the beautiful Castello di Amorosa, a grand castle modelled after 13th century Tuscan architecture.
There are plenty of exciting outdoor activities to help you take advantage of the great atmosphere, from bike trails, to state parks, to golf courses and more! On the Napa Valley Vine Trail, you can hike or bike the entire length of the Valley through a system of trails. At the Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park you can see the historic grist mill that was built in 1846 and was an important part of the community. As for sports activities, you can find a number of golf courses and tennis courts throughout the area or go kayaking or paddle boarding in the Napa River.
Have a Culinary Experience
Napa Valley is not just known for its wine; it is also host to an incredible food-centric culture which penetrates much of life in the region. Some common traits in Napa cuisine are “alfresco” or outdoor dining, and the “farm-to-table” concept which emphasizes the freshness and seasonality of its ingredients. To experience the “farm fresh” food first-hand, take a trip to the Napa Farmers Market for some fresh produce and artisan goods.
Along with visiting the many notable restaurants, both formal and casual, you can also participate in a variety of culinary classes to learn more about the art of cooking. Groups such as Gourmet Retreats will provide you with a hands-on cooking lesson led by an experienced professional, and even offer special weekend retreats like the 2-day Gourmet Weekend Retreat – Summer Grill on July 10-11. Find other cooking classes on www.napavalley.com.
Also in Napa is the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, one of the top campuses for culinary education. Here you can watch a cooking demonstration, take a tour, or dine in one of their renowned restaurants on campus.
California is also known for its avocados, typically grown in the southern region. Try creating a California-style turkey burger like the one shown below with avocado and caramelized onions.
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