It happens each year in the Napa Valley as winter begins to morph into spring: Wild mustard appears all over the valley, first in small patches, gradually growing into massive yellow blankets.
As the yellow-gold becomes ever more prevalent, the grape growers, winery proprietors and restaurateurs of the valley celebrate their cultural and agricultural bounty with a series of events under the banner of the Napa Valley Mustard Festival.
2010 marks festival No. 17, and the grand opening event was held Saturday at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in the town of St. Helena.
Other events still to come include…
* The Grand Dinner – Hosted by Brix restaurant in Yountville on February 19. The mustard-influenced menu will feature courses prepared by top local chefs, each course accompanied by an appropriate Napa Valley wine. The cost: $225.
* The Awards: A Spicy Soiree! – This black-tie event on March 12 honors the most creative mustard recipes of the year, and provides abundant mustard- and wine-tasting opportunities. Hosted by Black Stallion Winery. The cost: $100 in advance, or $150 at the door.
* Napa Riverwalk Marketplace: The Signature Event – This walk-around event takes place over two days (March 13-14) along Napa’s riverfront, at historic Napa Mill, in Veteran’s Memorial Park and at other downtown locations. In addition to mustard and wine tasting, the schedule includes cooking demonstrations, fine arts and crafts, and plenty of live music. Tickets are $35 in advance.
To learn more about all the activities, visit mustardfestival.org.