Amazing Napa Valley
When people visit Napa Valley most come for the wine and food. However, hidden amongst the vines and world class food is a place full of things to do for those who love to be active. In fact, a lot of wineries and restaurants are owned and staffed by people who are endurance sports enthusiasts themselves. This is my guide to some of those Napa Valley chefs and sommeliers who are combining wine and food with the sports they are passionate about.
The Bottega Gran Fondo: Do you like wine, food and cycling? If so, this is your weekend. The days leading up to the 35, 56 or 78 mile ride are full of wine tastings with sommeliers and chef demos where the chefs make the pro cyclists help them cook. Best of all, these chefs and somms are crazy about cycling themselves so they join you and the Professional cyclists for the ride on Sunday morning. The ride is full of “chef stops” where you get michelin star style energy food to get you through the ride and to the crazy good feast that awaits you at the finish line.
Gotts Roadside: Burgers, fries, shakes and a family who lives the active lifestyle. A great place for a casual feast after your long ride. Plus, they are my title sponsor. And the family goes to Wildflower every year in their Airstream. The kids even do the MTB course at Lake San Antonio. The winemaker for Joel Gott wine, Sarah Gott, is a 2x finisher at Ironman Whistler.
SolBar: Chef Brandon Sharp does Ironmans and he also has some michelin stars. His menu has lighter dishes to “nourish you soul” and hearty cuisine to “comfort your body.” All of them are full of great flavors and farm fresh indegrients. The food is amazing and you will leave feeling satisfied but still ready for that ride or run in the morning with no food hangover.
Velo Vino by the Clif Family: Velo Vino is a great mid ride stop for water and Clif Bar snacks. Or, you can end your ride there and enjoy some great eats from their food truck, Bruschetteria, while you sit on the patio and enjoy the sun with a glass of wine. The Clif Farm is on Ink Grade Road, a popular climb for cyclists. They have even marked the climb with signs like you find on the mountains in Europe. An amazing touch from a family who is all about endurance sports.
Health Spa Napa Valley: Nestled up in St. Helena, HSNV is the place to get a good workout in and then lounge in the sun with food and wine. HSNV was kind enough to allow me to swim there while my pool in Napa was being repaired after it cracked during the August 2014 earthquake. The owners are triathletes themselves and run computrainer classes in the fall/winter for cyclists.
This list is definitely not all inclusive but highlights some of my favorites. This valley is full of hidden gems for running and cycling; you just have to know where to look. So, if you want to fill your day with athletic endeavors and then get some amazing food, Napa Valley is a solid option. Also, the valley continues to improve infrastructure to accommodate those who visit the valley in search of outdoor activities. The Napa Valley Vine Trail is being built to run the length of the valley (Napa to Calistoga) so you can enjoy the scenery on your bike without traffic! Moore Creek Park at Lake Hennessey keeps adding trails. The running/hiking is top notch–if you want to train some hills for Wildflower this is the place!