From mid-fall to spring, visitors come to the Napa Valley to enjoy Cabernet Season. Once the grapes are harvested and the temperatures are perfectly mild, the region becomes a haven for cozy getaways, and of course, the wine. It’s a time when a slower, intimate atmosphere emerges, creating personal experiences and a chance to explore all the culture (and Cabernet) the valley has to offer.
Cabernet Season is also when the valley’s chefs offer heartier menus and meals, which pair perfectly with Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. From Calistoga to the Carneros region in Napa, chefs and restaurateurs from several of the valley’s towns have offered their thoughts on how the valley’s prized red wines complement seasonal menus.
In Calistoga, chef/owners Jenna Hodges and Shaun McGrath of recently opened Lovina Calistoga enjoy working with local produce on their menus during Cabernet Season. One of their favorite seasonal dishes is their Lovina Bolognese, which pairs well with Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. “As the nights cool off, there’s nothing like a classic Bolognese made with dark, rich Napa Valley Cabernet to make a comforting, wintery meal for your family and friends,” they added.
Chef/owner Chris Cosentino of Acacia House in St. Helena looks forward to creating his menus during this time of year, and says, “I like cooking during Cabernet Season because the crisp weather allows for the warmth and richness of Cabernet to blend well with heartier foods that I tend to cook during this time of year.” Chef Cosentino offers his Quail with Salsify, Pink Lady Apples, and Rose Geranium, adding, “This dish is hearty, seasonal and pairs perfectly with rich cabernets,” chef adds.
Chef/Owner Cindy Pawlcyn of renowned Mustards Grill enjoys Cabernet Season, saying, “It’s a treat to be able to cook in wine country. As each season unfolds, I’m able to change gears and create menus that match the season by utilizing ingredients available from local ranches and farms, including our own gardens at Mustards.” Cindy offers recipes for her famous Mongolian Pork Chops with Braised Red Cabbage, Mustards’ Mashed Potatoes and Chinese-Style Mustard Sauce. “When the weather turns crisp, like most Napa Valley chefs, I start to think about robust, hearty dishes like our Mongolian Pork Chops that work with the valley’s great Cabernets and other red wines,” she adds.
Chef/owner Charlie Palmer, of Charlie Palmer Steak and Sky & Vine Rooftop Bar at the recently opened Archer Hotel in downtown Napa welcomes Cabernet Season, saying, “It’s a time to enjoy a more relaxed pace and hang out in our favorite tasting rooms. It’s also when the valley’s chefs get creative with heartier dishes that sync to our cooler weather.” Chef Palmer offers a recipe for his hearty Colorado Lamb Chops with Fingerling Lyonnaise Potatoes, which he says, “goes great with a glass of our valley’s iconic Cabernet Sauvignon – rich, robust and bursting with local personality.”
Cabernet Season is an ideal time to visit the Napa Valley for its slower pace, fewer crowds, and beautiful scenery. For fans of hearty cuisine expertly paired with rich and bold red wine, it’s the perfect time to get away to America’s preeminent wine region.