The Napa Valley 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, organized by Claire Parr and Bobbii Hach-Jacobs, the entrepreneurs behind the highly successful twice-yearly Live in the Vineyard events, delivered a unique experience that combined live music, noted chefs, and award-winning wines.
People came from all across America to take part in this four-day event, celebrating its third year. Yountville Live does not bring out the food and wine snobs. The attendees seemed as if they just wanted to absorb as much knowledge as they could and cherish the delicious food and drink in front of them.
The festivities kicked off with a welcome reception at Yountville’s popular Brix Restaurant and Gardens. Over the following days, many wineries, restaurants, and The Kitchen Collective, which describes itself as a member-based “social club and shared kitchen,” hosted sessions in locations all over Yountville itself and inneighboring Napa and St. Helena. Such noted chefs as Graham Elliot and Bocuse d’Or 2017 Gold Winners Mathew Peters and Harrison Turone of the Thomas Keller Group prepared dishes for guests, many of who admitted to being star-struck upon seeing them in person and tasting their food. Popular music acts, such as Five For Fighting, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Safetysuit, and Zach Heckendorf played sets at events as guests enjoyed food and wine pairings to bring out the best Napa Valley has to offer.
Chef Michael Chirarello of Bottega took a unique approach in deciding on what to serve. He listened to the band Josephine, who would be playing a live set for his dinner, prior to creating his menu, allowing their music to guide him and basing each dish on a song of Josephine’s. Each dish on his menu was inspired by a song Josephine played in their set. This event was one of the most talked about, leaving attendees feeling as if they’d gotten to know Chirarello and the bandmates of Josephine personally through his stories of creating his song-based menu.
In addition to listening and eating, guests could also learn a few tricks from the trade. Many wineries hosted workshops taught by chefs to highlight all the different styles of wine and food Napa is known for. Workshops were taught by a broad range of industry insiders and chefs, including Chris Kollar of Yountville’s Kollar Chocolates; Claudia Sansone, a cooking teacher and a co-author of Michael Chiarello’s cookbooks; and Benoît Touquette of Fait-Main Wines in St. Helena. Many of these workshops were taught in the instructor’s place of business, giving those who participated a more personal experience.
Members of The Kitchen Collective also hosted master classes, conducted by “Hearty Boys” Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh (formerly of the now-defunct SpritzBurger in Chicago) and Itamar Abramovitch.
Yountville Live ended on an uplifting note with a gala Bubbles Brunch, with food by caterer Morgan Robinson of Smoke, and featuring a set by the married musical duo Johnnyswim. The gala raised funds for The Pathway Home, a non-profit providing education and support to post-9/11 veterans.
Tickets for 2018’s Yountville Live are already on pre-sale. An all-access VIP pass is $1,600 and it’s well worth it.
Click here for images from Yountville Live 2017