Friday, April 19, 2013

Wayfaring Wine Country: Mustard Season

A weekend in Napa Valley and Sonoma Part IV

Japan has romantic cherry blossoms, Holland has rainbow fields of tulips, and Napa Valley has wild mustard flowers. We had the luck of catching the peak of mustard season in Napa Valley on our recent trip and we were captivated by the beauty of the wine country landscape covered in a lovely layer of yellow wild flowers. Many travel guides will say that September during the autumn grape harvest is the best time to visit Napa Valley, but I think enjoying the springtime beauty of the valley on a warm weekend in mid February was such a treat and definitely one of my favorite experiences! Though the grapevines were bare, the hills were lush after the winter rains and interspersed between the vineyard trellises was a fine carpet of the sunny yellow blooms.

Early in the morning, we sleepily packed our things, had a quick breakfast, checked out of our hotel in Napa Valley and headed out to Sonoma County to catch our Safari West tour. As we were driving along Highway 29 just north of Yountville, we spotted a vast open meadow covered in wild mustard, stretching from the roadside to the farmhouses and hills in the distance. We pulled over and found ourselves knee-deep in the field of wildflowers. In the chilly and crisp morning air, everything was calm and quiet with just the occasional car passing by and the sound of resounding bird calls. Fresh dew glistened on the flowers swaying gently in the wind under the canopy of a bright blue sky. It was magical. A rare sort of peaceful picturesque moment that makes you want to hold your breath for fear that it would somehow disturb the tranquil beauty of it all.

I later learned of the Napa Valley Mustard Festival, which celebrates the mustard season through various food, wine, and art events bringing vibrancy to the valley during the "off-season" winter months. Sadly, the festival, after 17 years, was recently canceled due to the difficult economic times. I do hope they bring it back someday! I absolutely loved Napa Valley during mustard season!

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