Wine tasting and food pairings within the Napa Valley are nothing new. Visitors can find wineries featuring caviar tastings and three-course meals. There are wineries that offer chocolate tastings and even bacon pairings. And then there is Clif Family Winery, where a robust culinary program defies succinct description. From its popular Bruschetteria Food Truck, Plant-Based Tasting, and Street Food Feast & Flight, Clif Family continues to push the boundaries on what a wine and food pairing can be.
Located in the heart of the Napa Valley, Clif Family is a veritable celebration of everything wine and food. With an adventurous spirit that is palpable to its guests who frequent the St. Helena Tasting Room and Food Truck, the B Corp Certified winery (a company that demonstrates high standards of social and environmental performance) invites visitors to engage the senses with wines by the glass or bottle, paired creatively with a number of culinary options that suit all dietary requirements. For instance, the innovative Plant Based Tasting features items such as artisan vegan cheese, Tostone potatoes, and Hen of the Woods mushrooms. The Street Food Napa Valley program, beloved by both locals and visitors, offers a weekly rotating international menu (i.e., Japanese, Thai, Korean) from their Bruschetteria Food Truck. Globally inspired street food dishes are made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Guests can enjoy their Clif Family wine-paired meal on their sunny garden patio.
The pinnacle of Clif Family wine and food tasting experiences takes place in the Enoteca Private Tasting Salon, where Winemaker Laura Barrett and Director of Culinary and Hospitality John McConnell create exceptional organic and seasonal items sourced from the Clif Family Farm that pair perfectly with the winery’s small-production Howell Mountain estate wines. Enjoyed within the beautiful, sustainably built tasting salon overlooking Napa Valley’s iconic Mayacamas Mountain Range, this is one of Napa Valley’s most engaging experiences.
McConnell spearheads Clif Family’s entire food program with a simple philosophy, “Let the farm and our agricultural program speak for itself,” says the former Hillstone Restaurant Group executive chef and chef de cuisine at Michelin-starred Campton Place Hotel. He and his team, now led by Chef de Cuisine Magnus Young, work year-round in preserving the Clif Family CCOF Certified Farm. Young, a CIA Greystone graduate who previously worked with Michelin-starred chefs Sean Brock and Hiro Sone, appreciates the farm’s bounty. “When I first started as a chef in Alberta, Canada, I rarely had the opportunity to work with year-round, vibrant, seasonal produce,” says Young. “I love the creativity that such great ingredients inspire.”
And so do Clif Family’s visitors, who appreciate not only the winery’s food and varietal quality but also the winery’s commitment to the planet. Every Clif Family product is made with care and global conscientiousness. The winery’s limited-production wines come from their organically farmed estate vineyards in Napa Valley’s Howell Mountain (10 acres) and Oak Knoll District (80 acres) AVA’s, and from grower partners in Mendocino.
“Clif Family’s commitment to sustainability and local sourcing is not just a philosophy; it’s a way of life that we infuse into every aspect of our wine and food pairing program,” says McConnell. “From vine to table, we embrace the bounty of our land and elevate each sip and bite into a truly unforgettable experience.”
Clif Family Winery is only one of three Napa Valley wineries, and one of six in California, to achieve the highly regarded B Corp certification.
Classic Pomodoro Bruschetta
Recipe by Executive Chef John McConnell
2 lbs. ripe Roma tomatoes or Heirlooms, diced into ½” cubes
½ cup Clif Family Organic Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil
8 to 10 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup Italian basil, coarse chiffonade or thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. salt
2 Tbsp. Aceto Balsamico di Modena (IGP Balsamic Vinegar)
1 Sourdough baguette
Small block of Parmesan Reggiano, to grate
Preheat oven to 300° F
Slice the baguette on a 45-degree bias into ½” pieces. Drizzle and brush each side of the sliced baguette with olive oil and transfer to a sheet tray with a wire rack. Bake until the bread is dry, crusty, and light golden brown (30-40 minutes). Remove from oven. While still warm, rub garlic cloves over the crunchy tops of each slice of bread. (About half a clove per toast).
While the bread is toasting, add diced tomatoes to a mixing bowl and add chiffonade basil, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil and mix gently.
Generously spoon some of the tomato mixture onto each piece of toast to cover. Using a Microplane or fine grater, grate Parmesan Reggiano over the top as desired.