Monday, September 26, 2011

Napa Valley's Main Street

We had planned a leisurely drive through wine country.

We thought that a mid-
morning drive north on Silverado Trail from Napa to St. Helena would give us the opportunity to view vineyards and pull off the road to take photographs.

Silverado Trail paralleled California Highway 29. We had been on 29 a couple of times in the past few days and had experienced heavy traffic on this two-lane roadway.

So, we thought Silverado would be the "road less traveled" and provide us the opportunity to get a closer look at the heart of Wine Country.

However, the drive north on Silverado was not going to be a leisurely one. We later read that the Silverado Trail offers beautiful views, but "...this road can be dangerous, because people drive much faster than on Highway 29 and seem to get more impatient, passing on stretches where it is unsafe to pass. Use caution and you'll enjoy 'the Trail' immensely" (

Looking back on the morning drive, we would agree with that cautionary note. Even with frequent stops, i.e., pulling off the road into driveways, crossroads, or small turnouts, the traffic repeatedly built up behind us, as did the frustration level of a couple of other drivers.

But, "cros-sing the valley from west to east, connecting Highway 29 with the Silverado Trail, are three major crossroads. Each road crosses the valley at the town that it's named after. They are: Yountville Cross Road, Oakville Cross Road, and Rutherford Cross Road. Each road passes wineries and beautiful homes, and all offer gorgeous views."

Only when we took these roads, as we zig zagged our way north, did we have a chance to photograph vineyards in various stages of the life cycle of the vines.

As you can see, it was nearing harvest time in Wine Country.

The destination for most people traveling north on CA 29, known as "Napa Valley's Main Street," is St. Helena.

"St. Helena, in the Napa Valley which embraces it, is one of the loveliest, most intimate places on earth. The sun smiles on it, the breezes caress it and the mountains hold it as close as a lover. Few places have wine so renowned, food so fresh and life-giving, or people so content and pleased to welcome you" (sthelena.

The tree-lined two blocks of central downtown encouraged a slower pace and browsing. The older buildings seemed to anchor the downtown shops.

Goodman's Depart-
ment Store is a beautiful structure, but I could not learn anything about its history.

In addition to seeing the shop named "fideaux, Outfitters for Cats & Dogs," we thought this was one of the more unique signs indicating the business was closed.

This work of art, made from old license plates, certainly caught our attention as we passed by this shop.

We could not resist a stop at the Model Bakery for "the best English muffins anywhere," according to Chef Michael Chiarello, owner of Bottega Restaurant in Yountville, CA, and host of Food Network's Easy Entertaining.

We headed back to Napa with six of the muffins--the maximum number that one can purchase because of their popularity.

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