I recently read that the Oakville Grocery was verging on bankrupt, and was saved by the generosity of Leslie Rudd of Rudd Vineyards and Dean & DeLuca. I was so relieved. I feel like Oakville Grocery, especially the location on Highway 29 in Napa Valley, is a little piece of history – a little piece of my own history.
Our last trip out to California’s wine country was in 2005. We stayed in Santa Rosa, which proved to be the perfect vantage point to access both Sonoma and Napa, and then enjoy a brewpub or sushi in Santa Rosa come evening. Because Kevin attended an annual conference in San Francisco, our trips tended to lead up to, and occasionally cross July 4th. On this particular trip, the Mondavi Summer Concert series was hosting the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and celebrating July 4th. I’d ordered tickets months before and was incredibly excited. (See photos here.)
On the recommendation of the folks at Domaine Carneros, we stopped at the Oakville Grocery before the concert. Oakville Grocery is practically across the street from Mondavi and in the "front yard," so to speak, of Opus One. It’s surrounded by vines. Inside, it was crowded with people and Kevin and I split up to pick up specialty sandwiches, yummy pastries, and cheeses, as well as a bottle or two of water. It all went into a box, and we wandered into Mondavi.
We spread our blanket out behind a young family. Turns out these folks lived there in Napa, which seems positively wonderful to me. What a great family! We all purchased our various wines in the Mondavi wine shop and we shared.We talked about the wine and enjoyed the wines with complete strangers as the uplifting strains of New Orleans jazz floated over the evening. In the back of the courtyard, tables were set up at the vineyard edge. Robert Mondavi and his wife, Margrit, were there. At times they were up and swing dancing, and looking very much in love. At the end of the evening, fireworks exploded in the sky, lighting up the vineyards and the mountains.
It was really one of the most perfect nights of my life. Vineyards, wine, beauty, music, history, and good company. The Oakville Grocery was just one part of that evening, but I will forever associate it with that night. I’m glad it’ll be around so that we can do it all again.
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