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Napa’s newest wine bar - Whole Foods … Sipping 1988 Chateau d’Yquem sauterne and dropping names like Quetzal, Riverdog, Bouchon and Model Bakery

rworange | Jan 17, 200807:09 PM

I drove up to the door of Whole Foods, left my car with the valet to park and proceeded to the wine bar. I had other meal plans or I might have stopped by the Brazilian churrascaria-style grill and selected one of the meats skewered on shiny swords.

I was considering the 2000 Harlan Estate cabernet sauvignon, but I’m more of a sauterne fan.

It was lovely with layers of flavor and especially enjoyable with the marcona almonds. One customer commented that drinking it was almost a religious experience.

Cheese plates are available for $6 and are actually nicer than most restaurant cheese plates.

The wine bar has 6 seats. About a dozen wines are available by the glass for $5 - $20.

There is also a binder of wines available by the ounce. These are mainly bottles from estate sales. Wines range from $6 - $25 an ounce.

The entire wine selection seems excellent with one whole section dedicated to Napa wines. There is also a nice selection of vegan and non-alcoholic wines.

Seriously, this makes the new Oakland Store, which impressed me, look ghetto.

First of all they have an regional, local forager and the produce is from farmers like Queztal, Riverdog, Hurley Farms, etc.. The wild mushrooms that are from local Napa forests complements of ‘the mushroom lady’, Connie Green are in serious competition with Far West Funghi. They are just stunning.

This also corrects some of the errors of the Oakland store. There are actually groceries in the grocery department. They have a whole aisle of bulk bins. The fish department from their partners such as Vince’s Shellfish and Sonoma Seafood is beautiful.

The bakery department has breads and baked goods from Bouchon, Model Bakery and Sweetie Pie’s as well as their own in-house bakery. If you are a La Brea fan there is a nearby freezer-case filled with these breads that you can finish baking at home. They had the prettiest mini cake decorated with frosting grapes. The generous sample of the Model Bakery croissant stuffed with feta and spinach was lovely, the croissant crispy and the filling very rich.

There is a kitchen in back where they offer daily classes. Check the Place record which links to the store website that has the current schedule. The website doesn’t list prices but the classes are about $30 - $50 average.

Classes include
- Corporate Team Building Cooking classes
- Social cooking classes
- Floral arranging classes
- Health and nutrition classes
- Kid-focused cooking classes
- Gardening classes
- Eco-responsibility tips and education
- Entertaining tips

Of course there is the extensive prepared food section complete with a taqueria. What I found amusing was that this Whole Foods also has a clothing department. If you could send money orders to Mexico this would be an upscale version of my Mexican market.

Like Oakland, there’s wood-fired pizza, sushi many soups, the steam tables with foods of various ethnicities. There’s a walk-up window outside to get a cup of Allegro coffee.

There is free wi-fi in the café areas. Condiments like catsup, hot sauce and soy sauce are organic.

They also have the best staff of any Whole Foods. There was a little mishap which I actually wouldn't have mentioned in this report. They handled it with such class that I was profoundly impressed. Instead of walking out disappointed, I left happy planning my next visit. On top of it they borrowed staff from other stores to help with the opening (yesterday 1/16) so things were humming along.

As a bonus to supplement your upscale shopping, there's a Trader Joe's next door.

Thanks hhc for the tip this morning which happened to coincide with my being in Napa today.

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