By Craig Smith
Locals already know that Mustard season is one of the most beautiful times in the Napa Valley. Many visitors, who often stumble into it, can’t believe their good fortunate at being here when the valley rolls out the yellow carpet. It’s a good reason to celebrate, something Napans do well, and this year the party stretches across the Napa Valley.
Downtown Napa is focusing on Presidents Day weekend, February 18 and 19, with food and entertainment pairings. The Napa Yard is joining the party, as is CIA at Copia, Oxbow Public Market, C Casa, River Terrace Inn, Live Fire Pizza, Napa Palisades, Charlie Palmer and many others. You can visit the QR Code on this page to get full details of their offerings and everything else happening in the Valley, but here’s a teaser – The Wine Train will be offering a Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Garlic Fingerling Potatoes, Pepperonata, Green Beans and a Cognac Mustard Sauce on their Gourmet Express and Legacy Trains. If you’ve never ridden the Train, or haven’t done so at this time of year, it’s a great time to hop aboard. The green, rain-soaked hills and vineyards, cloaked in mustard-yellow, is one of the Valley’s best looks.
The following weekend, February 24-26, downtown tasting rooms will again be offering what has become their popular passport program. For $125, you can visit over twenty rooms for a glass and a bite, maybe a library pour or some other delightful surprise. “Downtown tasting rooms feel way more approachable, almost like walking you’re your living room, to enjoy a glass of wine with your family and friends,” said Bill LaLiberte from the Downtown Napa Association. Twenty percent of your passport cost will be donated to a local charity. While you’re in downtown, enjoy Napa’s Art Walk, the Rail Arts District, Arts Council Napa Valley and the other galleries and showrooms around town.
And that’s just Downtown Napa…
The season long celebration begins in January and runs through March at Silverado Resort and Spa, with Mustard inspired bites (Deviled Eggs, Prosciutto & Cheddar Grilled Cheese bites, Sausage, Peter & Potato Skewers; all three prepared with a variety of Mustards.) February 4-5, Atlas Peak Road galleries and wineries get into the spirit with events at Jessel Gallery, Gordon Huether Studio & Gallery and Silverado Resort. Looking for a unique wine paired with art? Stop by Bougetz, Jan Edwards, Prime Solum and Whetstone.
The weekends following feature happenings in Calistoga, St. Helena, Yountville and American Canyon. Again, the QR Code on this page will tell their whole story in detail.
For eighteen years, the whole valley celebrated Mustard season with a series of events. That ending after 2010, and locals lamented the loss. Two years ago, a county-wide group started planning how to revive the mustard festival, and Napa Valley Mustard Celebration was born. Unfortunately, as it did for much of the early 2020s, COVID crashed the party, and the first year was a bust. Last year, when organizers shook off the doldrums, things got going. 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 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 has been a driving force in reviving the Celebration. She designed “Mustard Muse” for the 2011 event, but that was cancelled before it began. The image is beautiful, and the organizers immediately knew that it was the perfect face to usher in a new era of Mustard Celebration last year. This year’s artwork was created by artist Beverly Wilson. “Up & Away” was hands down the choice of the organizers.
Visit Napa Valley has posted a map with some of the best vantage points from which to view and photograph mustard. If you want details, this QR Code will take you to napavalleymustardcelebration.com. 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 Napa Valley.