Winter Wonderland

Yountville's Winterscape celebration embraces small-town tradition


For 11 months of the year, the Napa Valley town of Yountville serves as a luxurious getaway for tourists while still providing enough small-town charm for residents. But during the winter, Yountville’s small-town charm transforms the city into a picture print by Currier & Ives for this year’s first annual Winterscape celebration.

While the usual Yountville activities like winetasting and hotel packages take on a Yuletide theme, more whimsical (and more affordable) attractions are also a part of the Winterscape festivities. On weekends, Santa makes the trek down from the North Pole to appear at Yountville’s V Marketplace to pose for pictures and hear holiday wish lists. Also for the kiddies is the Napa Valley Museum’s exhibit by renowned collector Dolph Gotelli, who evokes childhood memories of days gone by with his collection of 18th- and 19th-century toys, games and decorations in a series of vignettes. The Dreams of Toyland exhibition is $10 for adults and free for children.

For a more gymnastic crowd, visitors can put blade to ice at the marketplace’s outdoor ice skating rink. With admission at $12 for adults and $8 for children eight and under, the rink also features holiday music, twinkling lights and a menu of delectable goodies. Skaters age 21 and over can warm up with a hot toddy or holiday cocktail after 6pm.

While it may not be quite the same as a one-horse open sleigh, a horse-drawn carriage gets the job done just as easily. On Saturdays, a team of Percheron horses leads a holiday-decorated carriage down Yountville’s Washington Street for complimentary rides. Blankets are provided to keep riders warm and toasty.

Only in the Napa Valley can one find a “Santa sommelier,” and only during the weekends is he on hand rinkside for the North Pole “Drink & Clink” showcasing some of Napa’s top wines. Pair one of Santa’s selections with a menu of pulled pork sliders or roasted chestnuts—open fire not included. It’s all part of Winterscape, running through Jan. 23 in downtown Yountville. Full info at 707.944.0904.