Napa is known for offering the best in wine and food, but what some out-of-towners may not know, is that it’s also a valley rich with music and art. Yountville Live, an eclectic mix of events, organized by Bobbi Hach-Jacobs and Claire Parr, (the girl bosses and best friends behind the successful Live in the Vineyard events) delivered a unique experience that combined live music, and award-winning chefs paired with award-winning wines.
Yountville Live does not bring out food and wine snobs. It brings out epicureans who want to absorb as much knowledge as they can and cherish the delicious wine and food in front of them.
I knew in advance about the events I’d be attending, with my All-Access Pass, but I still didn’t fully absorb how decedent and generous with tastings they all were!
I started day one off by attending the Welcome Reception at Brix Restaurant and Garden. Brix is located on the Kelleher Family Vineyard, which is a seemingly endless 16-acre beautiful vineyard. This farm-to-table restaurant catered the event with hors d’oeuvres and a healthy representation of boutique wines and Five For Fighting played a set.
Usually at tastings, I go into “food blogger mode” and only focus on taking pictures and getting information for my articles. However, the attendees, (some locals and some from all across the country) were very approachable and wanted to geek out over the festivities, which allowed me to forget about my homework and mingle around.
One of of my favorite sips of the day came from Groth Vineyards, their 2016 Sauvignon Blanc. It’s light melon flavor kept me returning for refills.
After Brix, I got gussied up for the Welcome Gala at the V Market Pavillion. This gala also boasted a 4-course dinner prepared by world-renowned chefs and a live performance from Rodrigo Y Gabriella. Check out our Instagram page here and here to watch footage of the chef’s plating.
Course 1: Chef Bob Hurley & Chef Kevin Miller
Chilled Rainbow Carrot Soup + Dungeness Crab Green Goddess Salad with a Savory Panna Cotta
Course 2: Thomas Keller Restaurant Group Team USA Gold Medalists,
Chef Mathew Peters & Chef Harrison Turone
Maine Sea Scallop with Avocado, Grilled Cucumber, Toasted Pistachio and Sturgeon Caviar
Course 3: Chef Graham Elliot
Kalamata Olive Crusted Lamb with Roasted Asparagus, Chanterelle Mushrooms, Smoked Yogurt
Course 4: Chef Chris Kollar
Chocolate Sushi Bento Box with Dark Chocolate Gyoza, Wasabi Ganache and Crystallized Ginger
Each chef was given an opportunity to tell us what inspired their course and it was lovely to feel like you got to know them personally. My favorite, out of the 4-course Welcome Gala Dinner (this was such a brutal decision!) was Chef Peters and Chef Turone’s scallop dish. This dish represented the Bay Area beautifully, since I always think of seafood dishes when I think of coastal cuisine.
In addition to listening to live music, drinking and eating, guests could also learn a few tricks of the trade from the experts. Many wineries hosted master classes taught by chefs to highlight all the different styles of wine and food Napa is reputable for. Workshops were taught by a broad range of industry insiders and chefs. I jumped at the opportunity to take Chef Chris Kollar’s Chocolate Making Class, especially since I adored the bento box he created the night before.
Many of these workshops were taught in the instructor’s place of business, so Chef Kollar’s was taught at his shop. This gave me the feeling of being in the Chef Chris’ home, making it an intimate experience for for students. He guided us through how chocolate was made and we got a behind the scenes look at his shop. The best part was when we got to devour our “learning materials” and learned how to paint chocolate with edible paint.
The mid-day Grand Cru Tasting event brought out the best in local wine-making and food. Many of the wines I tasted were upwards of $150 per bottle (and some even more expensive).
As if I wasn’t stuffed already, I still had another Master Class and a private dinner at a vineyard to attend. Brace yourselves.
Kitchen Collective, a new, members-only private “kitchen club” in Napa, also participated in hosting Master Classes. Think Soho House for foodies. I was given a look at this exclusive club for chefs, which happens to be the first of it’s kind in America. I took a Mediterranean cooking class called How’s Your Hummus? taught by Kitchen Collective’s Chef Itamar Abramovitch.
This class was a little more intimate, which is great, because I got an up-close and personal tour of Kitchen Collective. Kitchen Collective offers their members a professional kitchen, private dining rooms, a bar and lounge area, even a courtyard complete with a fire pit.
My dinner that evening was set at Brasswood Estate, catered by Executive Chef David Nuno. Little did I know ahead of time, I would be dining in their actual wine cave! It’s dark and a little chilly but a glass of Brasswood’s 2013 Cab Franc warmed me right up. Totally worth the $85 per bottle price tag! In addition to plentiful amount of Brasswood wines flowing, dinner was provided by their catering services. The dinner included a 9-hour fire-roasted lamb. I had the hands-down best dessert of my entire life in the cave – a Butterscotch Panna Cotta with a Rosemary Hazelnut Cookie. It’s even better when you dip the cookie in.
The one huge advantage to sipping on Napa Valley wines all night- no headaches the next day! Today I was somewhat stationary knowing I would learn a lot from Kitchen Collective’s great workshops.
The first class was called Mozzarella in the Morning taught by The Hearty Boys (Steve McDonagh and Dam Smith of The Next Food Network Star season 1). This class was packed with students but The Hearty Boys still made sure everyone was able to get a hands-on lesson. Dan started by teaching us how to make a Fried Green Tomato Caprese Salad in the kitchen. Then Steve moved to the bar to teach us how to make an Artichoke Sour cocktail.
For the following workshop, Chef Itamar Abramovitch instructed us through the Wood Fire Pizza Master Class. This was all about baking (and tasting) pizzas in Kitchen Collective’s massive outdoor wood fire. The most fun part of the class was watching attendees get creative with their pizzas. I went for a square cut with my pizza. I’m not sure I have a future in pizza making, but the compliments from the other students were good enough for me!
That evening my dinner, catered by Chef Brett Schaublin, was at Ma(i)sonry, a rustic, yet elegant art and wine gallery. The highlight of this three-course meal was the entree, an Akaushi Ribeye. The ribeye was topped with a deconstructed baked potato and plenty au jus for dipping. The evening concluded with an intimate performance from Zach Heckendorf in the Ma(i)sonry property.
Yountville Live ended on an uplifting note, with their Bubbles Brunch, a gala catered by Morgan Robinson of Smoke and featuring a set by JOHNNYSWIM. This gala raised funds with an auction for The Pathway Home, a non-profit providing education and support to post-9/11 Veterans.
Yountville Live was unlike any wine/foodie event I’ve ever attended. I left feeling completely full: full of culinary knowledge, full of the best food and wine Napa has to offer and a full list of new friends. VIP tickets for the 2018 Yountville Live are already on sale. I cannot wait to come back next year!