From January until the end of March the Napa Valley erupts in a riotous carpet of yellow. Forget summer in the valley or even harvest, this time of year is mustard season! While the Napa Valley is technically in it’s “slow season” this is an incredibly beautiful time to visit wine country. The tasting rooms are less busy, there is always a seat waiting for you in front of a fireplace or two and then there are the views. As far as the eye can see, large swaths of this colorful flower fill the gaps between the grapevines, it truly is a Napa Valley must see.
The Napa Valley Register recounts the story of the mustard flower’s origin: “This profuse plant with its cheerful flowers is not indigenous to Napa County. While proven to be a beneficial vineyard cover crop today, its seeds are thought to have been equally as beneficial for a directionally challenged early-1800s explorer.
In 1823, the first Spanish and Mexican exploration party entered Napa Valley. Its goal, purportedly, was to find a suitable mission site. A Jesuit priest, Father Jose Altimura. Altimura is said to have introduced the mustard plant into the local landscape. There are two version to this story. The first one claims the priest loved the condiment so much he scattered mustard seeds everywhere he went, including Napa Valley.
According to the second version, Altimura was said to have a poor sense of direction. Those who tell this story underscore his inability by saying, “Altimura could get lost in a closet.” Reportedly, Altimura made every attempt to conceal his challenge in order to preserve his job and reputation. The legend claims Altimura would leave a broad, but discreet, trail consisting of a large swath of mustard seeds whenever he had to venture away from the expedition party or their encampment.”
To celebrate the end of this season, we rounded up our favorite images of our favorite Napa Valley flower!
Instagram User @bamillerdesign in St Helena, CA
Instagram User @jennykx in the Carneros Region, Napa Valley, CA
Instagram User @duggiedohar in Rutherford, CA
Instagram User @photo_mbooth in Rutherford, CA
Instagram User @norcal_karen captures vineyard worker pruning the vines before bud break.
Instagram User @norcal_karen in St Helena, CA
Instagram User @thecarmelgallery at Bennett Lane in Calistoga, CA