Posts From January 2009
January 14, 2009
Discovering the Wine Country's Walking Village
By Brooke Cheshier
"Yountville is a walking village.”
Revolutionary words? Maybe not in the sense that they are going to start an uprising. But in the sense that they transformed the way I view the tiny Napa Valley town – excuse me, village – that I have come to know and love in this past year?
Yountville has always commanded media attention for Thomas Keller and his Michelin-starred restaurants as well as for the pretty strip of shops lining Washington Street. I’ve lived here a year, and I still read about Ad Hoc’s fried chicken night at least once a week. And out-of-towners continue to go into Bouchon specifically for the saffron mussels and French fries (because even though they haven’t been on the menu for over six months, the scented bivalves are so beloved by guests the kitchen keeps the ingredients on hand…just in case).
Locals know these things, but they also know a different Yountville. They know the shaded walking path behind Vintage Inn, and the shortcut through V Marketplace to get to it. They know how delicious it is to stop at NapaStyle for picnic materials – a bottle of vino, some sandwiches and cheeses – and then follow the trail to the tiny park at the north end of town.
Locals know all about the series of interconnected – though slightly fractured – walking paths that make this town beautifully, windingly pedestrian friendly. But, I personally had never read nor heard about them until last week.
Which is why, today, I recruited Pat Bardessono, the author of the aforementioned quote and the woman responsible for my thought metamorphosis, along with her husband Steve to take me on a walking tour of their charming burg.
“You know that this town is just a small village surrounded by an agricultural preserve,” Steve tells me; it’s a sunny, cloud speckled winter day. I look left and see the majestic Mayacamas in the distance. I look right and see the lolling eastern hills of Stags’ Leap. And nearly all of it – north, south, east and west – is blanketed in vineyards.
We are standing on Yount Street in front of the original Bardessono property, which was purchased by Steve’s ancestors in 1926 and is now the home of the soon-to-open Bardessono resort and spa. This property also happens to be, according to Steve, Yountville’s geographic center. It is a lovely starting point for our adventure.
To begin, we head east, away from the commercial heart and toward residential Yountville; a few steps in the other direction would put us in the Hurley’s parking lot. As we walk, Steve tells me about eco-developer Phil Sherburne’s passionate environmental vision for the Bardessono and points out the future site of a small park at the corner of the historic six-acre property.