St. Helena

St Helena is both the geographic and cultural heart of the Napa Valley. Stretching for 9,000 acres between the Mayacamas and Vaca mountains, St Helena's Main Street runs along Highway 29, where its vintage storefront facades retain the small-town, country vibe the town prides itself on. Don't be fooled by the low-key rural vibe, though; St. Helena is home to some of Napa's top restaurants and wineries, as well as one cool art gallery.

The restaurants of St Helena put the whole Cal/Med/Italian thing on the map, in no small part due to the presence of the Culinary Institute of America, tucked unassumingly amid the vineyards. Sample some of the offerings at their Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant. Other heavy hitters in the St Helena restaurant scene include The Meadowood Restaurant and La Toque. But you don't need to go all out to enjoy great food in St Helena; the town is also home to the greatest throwback drive-inn ever, Taylor's Automatic Refresher. You can taste the fresh offerings alfresco at the sumptuous St. Helena Farmer's Market, ground zero for premium California produce.

Entirely the product of river erosion, the primary grapes grown in St Helena are Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Merlot. The father of Napa viticulture himself, Charles Krug, opened the Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena in 1861. Historic Beringer Vineyards is another big name in the area. Family-owned V. Sattui Winery features killer White Zin, while small production at St. Clement Vineyards creates robust aged wines. The AVA's jammy red wines see concentrated fruits complimented by currant, blackberry and cherry aromas.

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