Reason number 148 as to why fall is my favorite season: enjoying the bounty of summer produce in all its forms. Although I’m not a canner myself, I definitely enjoy the fruits of other people’s labors (pun intended). And there are several places in the Napa Valley where you can find locally and artisanally produced jams, preserves, chutneys, curds, and honey. Pick up several for a terrific gift or souvenir of your trip to Wine Country.
Hurley Farms is a small, family-owned operation on five acres in Napa, which grows most of the fruit used in its jellies and jams. Right now, in addition to its wide assortment of products, it’s featuring fall flavors like pumpkin butter, apple butter, pear butter, pear ginger lemon preserves, lemon curd, cranberry curd, and cranberry sauce. They also sell farm-fresh eggs from its own chickens. (2083 Silverado Trail, Napa; open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm)
The Clif Family Farm, located in Pope Valley, sells seasonal preserves and jams in its Velo Vino tasting room. It’s currently offering blackberry, nectarine, pluot lavender, tomato chutney, pear ginger, O’Henry peach, onion confit, pepper jam, fig, apple butter, and tomato sauce, with more flavors coming as harvest continues. (709 Main Street, St. Helena; open daily from 1- am to 6 pm)
Marshall’s Farm sources small quantities of gourmet honeys from various microclimates of the San Francisco Bay Area, searching out locations that support only a few hives but produce exceptional yields from seasonal blooms of eucalyptus, star thistle, wildflower, blackberry and other plants. Located in American Canyon, Marshalls sells everything from flavored-infused honeys to those for allergy relief, as well as beeswax products and gift baskets with nuts and fruits. (159 Lombard Road, American Canyon; open Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm and weekends 11 am to 4:30 pm)
If you’re on your way out of town and don’t have time to stop by these local producers, there are several markets that offer ample selections of jams and preserves on their shelves: Sunshine Market, V. Sattui Marketplace, and Dean & Deluca in St. Helena, and Oakville Grocery in Oakville.
Once you’ve picked up your favorite selections, try a dollop of the jam on a crostini spread with goat cheese or bleu cheese, and pair with your favorite Zinfandel or Sauvignon Blanc. No need to thank me…. just enjoy!