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Nov 2, 2010

Yountville now has 6 Michelin stars!

The French Laundry        (CC 2.0: Peter Merholtz)
Here’s some amazing news: Napa Valley’s Yountville now has the largest concentration of Michelin stars per capita on the planet. That’s thanks to the just-released Michelin Guide 2011, which has awarded stars to four Yountville restaurants:
And consider the other top—though as yet non-star—eateries in that town: Bistro Jeanty, Bottega, Mustards Grill (one of my all-time faves), Brix, ad hoc, and many more. We’re not talking a major city here. Yountville is tiny; you can walk from one end to another in 15 minutes. Nonetheless, within that small space are 6 Michelin stars, and many other restaurants that rank very high with Zagat, OpenTable, and others. What a feat!

Here’s what I find so interesting. Over the years I’ve talked to many people who grew up in Yountville back in the 1960s and 1970s, and they all say the same thing: “When I was a kid, Yountville was really just a poor farming community. Really poor.”

I’m not sure when the phrase “poor farming community” stopped characterizing Yountville. Most people credit Thomas Keller and The French Laundry with a lot of what’s happened—Keller opened his restaurant in 1994 (he also owns one-star Bouchon). But surely Domaine Chandon’s residence beginning in 1973 helped move things along. When Cindy Pawlcyn opened Mustards Grill in 1983, it was a foodie revelation—though no one used the word “foodie” in those days. People from San Francisco descended on Mustards every weekend; the place was always packed (still is).

There’s definitely a compelling story in Yountville and how it changed from a down-on-its-heels farming town to a very upscale getaway. Maybe it will get written.

For now, though, let’s just celebrate the stunning news that this little town in Napa Valley has garnered six Michelin stars.

Buy the 2011 Michelin Red Guide to San Francisco, Bay Area & Wine Country

Read my post about the 25th anniversary party at Mustards Grill 

Read a fun historic article about Yountville by Curtis Van Carter


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