Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Daytrip Napa Valley- First Stop.

I woke up the other morning feeling restless, like I needed a drive in the country.  Not wanting to venture too far off I decided that the Napa Valley would do nicely and would also satisfy my craving for exploring new foodie ventures.  It was about eight o'clock in the morning when I hit the pavement, warm and sunny in the east bay with a crisp edge to the air, thanks to a light breeze.  As I plowed down 680 towards interstate 80 I noticed a significant fog blanket hovering over the valley- much to my dismay.  I had dressed myself in a summery ensemble because I was convinced it was going to be a hot day in the valley but now was doubting my July Northern California weather knowledge at the sight of it.  Thankfully by the time I reached highway 29 the fog was slowly, surely melting away like cotton candy, revealing a azulene colored sky. 

As I made the trek up valley I noticed that it was mostly locals on the road with me, on their way to work at the various vineyards and estates for the day.  Being smack dab in the middle of tourist season was my only fear, but I soon realized that tourists, bless their hearts, don't get up early.  Those on vacation in Napa tend to sleep in, have a languid breakfast and then arrive expectantly (and thirsty) at the cellar door of one of the hundreds of wineries that dot the valley around noon.  This makes exploring easy, fun and traffic-free if you are willing to get up and get out there before the crowds wash over the two lane thoroughfare.

My first stop was the decades old destination, Oakville Grocery.  I've visited numerous times throughout the years, but this Historic Napa Valley Landmark (circa 1881) recently went through a complete structural renovation starting in January and was re-opened in May.  For those of you familiar with the Napa Valley, that is a very long time for Oakville Grocery to be closed- I'm sure there were people out there going through withdrawals.  I was eager to check out the "new" Oakville Grocery, so I made it a priority to stop by while the parking lot was still empty. 

The exterior remains the same, but with a new fresh coat of paint and some architectural improvements.  The familiar hand painted Coca-Cola advertisement still graces the southern facing exterior, a beacon to parched travellers in need of sustenance.  I adore the old world kitsch of this iconic Napa Valley photo op favorite.  Visitors come from far and wide to stand in front of it and smile for the camera, announcing their arrival to the gorgeous wine region we all know and love.  I snapped a couple more pictures of some lovely details...

The market itself has only changed if you knew what it looked like before the renovation, although the new outdoor pick-up window is a great addition for you morning coffee fans.  Here's what the good folks at Oakville Grocery have to say about their little bustling market:

"Our shelves are overflowing with exclusively curated gourmet food products sourced from California artisans and purveyors, with a focus on Napa and Sonoma Valleys. We also offer a high quality yet accessible collection of our neighbors’ wines for purchase by the glass or by the bottle. Not only are we a favorite stop for visitors, we are a center of the community and a place where our neighbors come to gather and shop throughout the day."

Inside, the market is warm and classically appointed.  There is a large deli counter as the centerpiece of the one room grocery- you are greeted by the most enticing cheese display in the valley, full of local, international and artisan cheeses for your picnic basket.  Along with the cheeses, there's an enticing charcuterie assortment that was literally making my mouth water.  They have fresh breads, snack foods, wines, ice creams and other sweet treats, as well as a great selection of prepared foods for you to take out back and enjoy out on their cozy umbrella laden patio.  And for you coffee lovers, you'll be sure to enjoy their selection of fine espresso drinks, teas and morning (or any time) pastries.

It was not, unfortunately, a "shopping trip" for me or I would've piled the goods high and laughed maniacally as I stacked yet another jar of jam or mustard, bread sticks or caramels in my basket.  I was delighted to see so many different local brands represented- an true testament to the beauty that is Northern California.  Where else would you be able to find so many different artisanal foods housed under one tiny roof, presented in such a tummy tempting manner?  Only Oakville Grocery, a classic stop for people young and old.  Stop by, say hello and give the "new" market a good walk through-  it's worth the trip and you'll walk away with an amazing deli sandwich in hand as you wave "Hi!" to the passers-by who are scrambling to pull a U-turn to check it out themselves.  Did I mention they do catering as well? 

*Great tip: Feel free to call ahead to their dedicated sandwich line to place an order in advance. 707-944-9453... and enjoy!

Oakville Grocery, Napa Valley
7856 St. Helena Highway
Oakville, CA 94562 (Map)
Tel: (707) 944-8802
Fax: (707) 944-1844

More of my Daytrip Napa Valley to come... Next up, breakfast at St. Helena's French Blue, a visit to famous Dean & Deluca and an exploration of the city of Napa's Oxbow Public Market. 

Be well,

Btw, it ended up being almost 80 degrees and completely clear that day.  Gorgeous. 



No comments:

Post a Comment