Experience the Magic

During the months of February and March each year, when Napa Valley’s vineyards are in their dark and dormant phase, the valley floor erupts with an explosion of bright yellow mustard. The sea of yellow blooms is cause for celebration, attracting locals and visitors to revel in the brightness it evokes across the valley, signaling spring is imminent.

The weather is still very mild at this time of the year, with cool temperatures that average in the high ’50s and ’60s, so it’s an optimal time to visit. As a matter of fact, Mustard Season in Napa Valley is becoming almost as popular as the busy summer and harvest months (May-October). When mustard is at its peak, it is not unusual to see a procession of spectators gathered at prime viewing sites taking photos among the yellow blossoms and capturing Insta-worthy selfies.

Although the mustard is one of Napa Valley’s magical wonders, it serves as much more than a fantastic photo opp. Its purpose is agricultural in scope planted between vineyard rows functioning as a cover crop to protect the soil, replenishing it with nutrients, attracting beneficial insects with its bright hues, preventing erosion, and taking up extra groundwater during years with heavier rainfall. For grapevines, mustard’s high levels of natural chemical agents provide an additional health benefit by suppressing the nematode population (microscopic worms) that can damage the vines. Mustard is quite a hardy plant, growing an average of five to six feet each season, and can survive in the soil for 30 – 40 years.

The history of mustard in California is not well-known, but its roots trace back to the 1700s when the Spanish colonizers came to the Pacific Coast and used it as a spice crop. Over the years, its use as a crop protector became prolific as its attributes became more widely recognized.

Visit Napa Valley welcomes mustard season during Wild Mustard Days, a valley-wide, good life celebration of the seasonal mustard bloom. During the months of February and March, many restaurants, hotels, and wineries offer specials and host mustard-themed events to celebrate the season, such as weekend hotel packages, mustard-themed spa treatments, guided hikes through the mustard, alfresco painting classes, and more.

Jessel Gallery and Bougetz Cellars will be showcasing the magic of the season by gathering some the most talented local artists and photographers for a series of art exhibitions, classes and events-complete with wine, food trucks and pop-up shops. Don’t miss the Opening Celebration on February 19th and 20th. // www.napavalleymustardcelebration.com

Check out Laces and Limos Seasonal Safari for an immersive guided tour – “Magic in the Mustard” experience. Spend the day sipping and swirling, exploring the best places to view mustard in bloom. The back road tour includes two winery stops and an immersive photo session. // www.lacesandlimos.com/experiences

For a self-guided tour, Visit Napa Valley has published a Wild Mustard Days Map that illustrates some of the best mustard viewing areas throughout Napa Valley which can be viewed on their website or downloaded directly to any device via the QR code below.