Just 12 miles north of Yountville, at the southern edge of St. Helena, drivers headed up-valley can’t help but wonder as they pass Farmstead, the latest project of Napa’s Long Meadow Ranch. Located on an enormous piece of property that once belonged to the Whiting nursery and growing grounds, Farmstead is a restaurant, a tasting room for both wine and olive oil, a farmstand and – yes – a nursery still.
What that means is you can stop for lunch and, while you wait for a table, pop into the tasting room to try Long Meadow Ranch’s famed organic wines and olive oil. After a relaxed sit on the sunny terrace, you can pick up some fruit and snacks to tide you through your afternoon tastings. And gardeners will want to check out the kitchen garden, from which chef Sheamus Feeley, gets many of his ingredients. Feeley was formerly the exec chef at Rutherford Grill, and was handpicked by the Hall family to launch Farmstead, their first restaurant.
Created from the ground up (literally and metaphorically) in concert with the Halls, who’ve set themselves up as promoters of all things organic, Farmstead is a full-fledged roadside attraction. By the time you leave, you’ll know about organic wine and olive oil production, and you may well have plans for your own vegetable and herb garden – complete with a few starter plants.
Those who know Napa well are familiar with Long Meadow Ranch for their free-range, grass-fed beef and their organic wine, olive oil, and produce, all of which are showcased at Farmstead. The restaurant itself, though, is Feeley’s baby through and through. Trained at the Rutherford Grill, Feeley is a midwest-raised meat and potatoes kind of guy, and as he told me in a pre-opening interview, his goal is to marry the farm-to-table sensibility with the hearty traditions of comfort food. Farmstead’s menu is rich with warming basics like short ribs, chicken and dumplings, and cheese biscuits that are worth driving north for all on their own.