There was a very good story about Yountville by Jennifer Huffman in the Napa Register today, Slow, quaint Yountville suits most just fine, which reminded me of the article I wrote for Relocation Bay Area Magazine about a year ago. Her story does get to why many of us who live here truly appreciate the haven Yountville really is and why us Yountvillians are accepting of the fact, there are a lot of visitors here every day of the year. Below are a few quotes from both Jennifer’s story and my article, Yountville, A Personal Perspective.
It is been especially busy this summer which I suspect is more people in the Bay Area are travelling locally. If you count the entire Bay Area and the greater Sacramento metro area, there are approximately ten million people. I was here during the last gas crisis, running two gift shops, in the late 1970s and was pleasantly surprise how my business held up. Again, many would drive the 1-2 hours to come to the Napa Valley and spend the day. And of course, many of these folks would stop in Yountville.
Back then Yountville was more of a folksy town with many gift shops and a few good restuarants and not the epicurician mecca it is now. Today it is difficult to get a seat at the bar at Bouchon to have a glass of the house planck for $8 a glass.
Even with all this, I still call Yountville home. Being fortunate to have traveled a great deal, it is with good basis I can say, Yountville is great. Please stop by if you ever visit and say hello.
My Article from Relocation Bay Area
The year is 1972. The two reasons for my first coming to Yountville, to buy a pair of Mengen clogs at the Highwayman (run by John Caldwell of Caldwell Vineyards) and have a Vintage Burger at the Vintage Cafe (now Pacific Blues). Both were at the Vintage 1870 which was being managed by Don and Sally Schmitt, Sally the culinary force at the Chutney Kitchen (now Michael Chiarello’s Bottega). They are the same couple who originally opened the French Laundry now of Thomas Keller fame.
Yountville with its six Michelin stars is known as the eatery capital of theUnited States, if not the world, and is said to have more stars per capita than anywhere else. Yet lost in the glitter of the many upscale restaurants, the early morning balloon flights is an illustrious, if not ribald past. Yes, this Napa Valley Mecca was once known for its many bars and brothels. Bouchon Bakery in a past life was theRexHotel, the priciest house of ill repute around. Bouchon itself was the Wells Fargo Bank and James Beard Plaza, both Thomas Keller ventures, was a horse coral holding the fresh teams used to pull the stage coach.
In 1977, I moved here opening a gift business, Caboose Noir, in the railroad cars adjacent Vintage 1870. The Napa Valley was then more of a sleepy dell with only approximately 40 wineries. Heck, the owners of the Vintage 1870 nearly tore it down to sell the bricks. Fortunately this didn’t happen and the property was purchased by a group of investors lead by Mark Power, whose family opened and ran Nut Tree in Vacaville. They have transformed the property and several of them still own and operate the Vintage complex consisting of two Inns, a Spa and the renamed V Marketplace, now upscale shops and a wedding facility.
Through the years since my arrival, Yountville has continued to attract many like me who are drawn here by its charm and small town friendliness. But maybe due to its past, Yountville continued to appeal to many who have helped keep its more notorious character alive, from the likes of the late Howard Lane, a local legendary Maître d’ and true southern gentleman, to Miss Terri’, a transsexual who ran for mayor in 1990 and made the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle. I remember a 1980’s Los Angeles Times newspaper article, which paraphrasing, said one could find Heineken Beer at Tonascia’s Market (formerly Gordon’s Cafe and currently leased by Leslie Rudd of Dean & Deluca) yet Yountville has the lowest per capita income of any city in California.
Now nearly four decades later, I have seen this Town evolve and become my home. From a past steeped in bars and brothels to the enchanted enclave it has become, Yountville is the true heart of the Napa Valley. And if you are in Town, please say hello for I have many more stories to tell you such as the time a big rain storm flooded the Pacific Blues basement where a three day poker game had to be halted when the table started floating…..
From Jennifer’s article
On a weekday morning before the Fourth of July holiday, Yountville was quickly coming to life with tourists slowly wandering the streets, driving cars with out-of-area license plate frames down Washington Street, and consulting maps in search of just the right winery or restaurant.
The holiday weekend beckoned to the visitors, but for the 2,933 residents, it was just another day in what they call the “Town of Yountville.”
The town features more than 1,600 restaurant seats, more than
75 percent of the town’s general fund revenue is a direct result of tourism, and 60 percent of the general fund revenue comes from transient occupancy tax (TOT), a community profile report stated. Yountville also offers 454 hotel and inn rooms.
But that’s not what most locals are buzzing about. These residents said they like Yountville for its quaint feel, community spirit and homey atmosphere.
While Napa is close enough, “I can’t buy a pair of shoes” in Yountville, Stensaas pointed out. The town has lost a veterinarian, hardware store, service station, hardware store, lumber yard, Laundromat, even an ice cream parlor, she noted.
“I think the most important loss is affordable dining,” Stensaas said. “We lost Frankie, Johnnie and Luigi’s, we lost Piatti, we lost Compadre’s and the Diner. When you want to eat you don’t always want to drive” to Napa, she said.
Tourism makes the town as comfortable as it is, Mayor John Dunbar said.
“With that support of our visitors, we are able to continue to provide an excellent level of service to our residents,” Dunbar said. “We have a balanced budget. We provide recreation services and beautiful parks and clean streets and a lot of the amenities that other cities have had to sacrifice.”
Dunbar pointed out that in the past couple years, the town has welcomed a new taco truck, approved a deli grocery store as part of the Somerston wine shop, a convenience store adjacent to the new gas station, lunch takeout three days a week from Ad Hoc restaurant and the reopening of Gordon’s Market.
“The Veterans Home cafe is also open to the public (and) Pacific Blues, Yountville Deli and Vintner’s Golf Club are other existing options that I think most people would consider affordable,” he said.
According to the 2010 Census, 48.7 percent of Yountville’s population is 65 or older. The median age is 64 years…
Thank you for reading this post. If I can ever be of help in finding you the perfect property here in the Napa Valley, please email me at Curtis@NapaValleyAddress.com.
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