Napa Valley Mustard Celebration
By Craig Smith
FEBRUARY & MARCH 2022
Art, Wine, and a Celebration of the Season
The most popular time for out-of-towners to visit Napa Valley is during crush. Vines are heavy with grapes and the smell of wine wafts through the air. Locals like it then too, but they have a leg up on visitors, and know that the best time to be in Napa may be right now. This is when residents own the valley, and this is when the vineyards are awash in a beautiful, bright yellow glow of blooms. This is mustard season, and the valley is stunning.
For eighteen years, the whole valley celebrated mustard season with a series of events. That ending after 2010, and locals lamented the loss. Last year, a county-wide group started planning how to revive the mustard festival, and “Napa Valley Wild Mustard Days – Celebrate the Bloom,” was born. Unfortunately, COVID once again stopped the party.
Almost, that is. To paraphrase the old saying, “You can’t keep a good event down.”
“Honoring what the festival was is now a celebration,” said Jessel Miller, owner of Jessel Gallery on Atlas Peak Road. For many, Miller was the face of the original Napa Valley Mustard Festival, or rather, her artwork was. She was the featured artist of the festival in 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2008 her artwork was used for the poster and all other printed materials. She designed “Mustard Muse” for the 2011 event, but that was cancelled before it began. The image is beautiful, and Miller immediately knew that it is the perfect face to usher in a new era of mustard celebration. She’s created a series of events at Jessel Gallery, and Mustard Muse is the visual host for them all.
Through March, Miller is offering five different mustards from Hurley Farms, and a special red wine blend from Bougetz Cellars, all featuring Mustard Muse on the label. The labels are beautiful, and both the wine and the mustard are in containers that people will want to preserve. Miller has also created a butterfly jacket for women. But that’s just the start – Miller likes a good party, and is holding two of them.
February 19 and 20, Jessel Gallery is all about Mustard Musings, featuring the work of 25 artists, food from Dickey’s Barbecue and music. There will be a pop-up art show with several artists in the parking lot (weather permitting). A special treat for the kids will be a reading of Miller’s Mustard Book & Poetry with Miss Althea from the Napa County Library.
The book itself was an idea Miller had when she was associated with the original Mustard Festival. She was telling the festival organizer about the concept of a young woman born in field of mustard. “You have to write that book,” the woman told her. “That book” became a trilogy. “All the books emphasize soft love and strong values,” Miller said. In the second book in the series, the young girl meets a man at the farmers market and falls in love. In the third, she has twins of her own. The books still sell well, and every year, Miller donates thousands of them to charities.
On March 12, Jessel Gallery will host a live artists demonstration featuring several artists including Beverly Wilson, Thérèse Légère, Jessel Miller, Marcia Garcia, Janis Adams and Joy West. Guests to the Gallery can watch as the artists create their work.
In addition to the art, the Gallery is always open to the public with no admission charge. For more information about the Jessel Gallery events and others, visit napavalleymustardcelebration.com.
Visit Napa Valley has posted a Wild Mustard Season Map with some of the best vantage points from which to view and photograph mustard. Their website is also be a great place to find all things mustard: visitnapavalley.com/mustard. At the least, make sure you get out for a car or bicycle ride in the coming weeks. You’ll be immersed in the beauty of the valley. The map is also posted on the Napa Valley Mustard Celebration site.