The 17th annual Napa Valley Mustard Festival begins January 30th

Mustard just beginning to bloom in early January in Carneros

While the vines go dormant in the winter, the mustard blooms in the Napa Valley, carpeting the landscape in bright and warming yellow and stimulating the senses.  Against what better backdrop to celebrate Napa Valley food, wine and the arts than with the 17th annual Napa Valley Mustard Festival coming up later this month.  The festival launches officially on January 30th with the Mustard Magic Grand Opening Event at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone and continues on to the end of March with a variety of events from competitions to jazz fests, art exhibits to gala dinners, and trip-worthy walk-around tastings.

The worldwide mustard competition attracted over 300 entries around the world from seven countries last year and covers 18 categories from traditional Dijon to fruit, honey and bbq, to organic to wasabi.  This competition is for commercial producers and the deadline for submission is January 22nd.  Artists from throughout California are invited to enter the visual art exhibition and competition in flat or 3-D formats.  The art may be any original work of their choosing completed in the past two years and the deadline for submission is this January 15th.  The photography contest is all about Napa Valley mustard in bloom – the deadline is March 20th.  The mustard recipe contest is for Napa Valley chefs and is by invitation only.  Gourmands will have the opportunity to taste and vote on these recipes at the awards ceremony – a Spicy Soiree – Friday, March 12th at Black Stallion Winery.

In February, the major events will be the weekend of fine art on the 6th and 7th held at various galleries in the Valley, and the Grand Dinner at Brix Restaurant on the 19th led by host chef Anne Gingrass-Paik.  In March, every weekend will be packed with events beginning with Calistoga’s Mustard, Mud & Music on the 6th & 7th, which celebrates jazz.  The Marketplace walk-around tasting on the second weekend is a signature event held this year at the Riverfront in historic Downtown Napa.  Here, visitors will be able to taste gourmet and artisanal foods and wines from around the world while perusing through arts and crafts exhibits and enjoying live music performances.  On Saturday the 20th is Taste of Yountville, another signature event which features samplings from the local, not-so-shabby restaurants as well as local Yountville wines, oils and mustards.  The Grand Finale is on the 27th at Rubicon Estate.

During the festival, many wineries, restaurants and hotels/inns will be offering special discounts, particularly during mid-week.

Details of festival and ticket prices, and participating wineries, restaurants and hotels/inns, are on the event website.