Rancho Gordo, Napa
If a top-notch restaurant in the valley or Bay Area is serving beans, it’s a good bet they are getting them from Rancho Gordo. Founder Steve Sando works with small farms in Central California, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, and Mexico to source a variety of heirloom dried beans packed with flavor, history, and culture. Unlike commodity beans that get packaged, then end up sitting around for who knows how long, Rancho Gordo beans have a noticeable freshness. As such, they typically cook a bit faster. Discover beans such as Eye of the Goat, Christmas Limas, and Yellow Indian Woman. Although the beans are available online, there is a small retail store at Rancho Gordo’s headquarters where the beans can be purchased directly every day except Sundays.
Oakville Grocery, St. Helena
It’s hard to miss the iconic store right off Highway 29 in St. Helena, which makes it a perfect stop for cyclists and winery visitors in need of sustenance. Founded in 1881, Oakville Grocery is the oldest continually operating grocery store in California. Fresh sandwiches, such as the Oakville Chicken Salad and BLTA (with the additions of avocado and serrano aioli to the classic), are irresistible. It pays to peruse the shelves, too, as the store prides itself in selling the best small-scale artisan food products from Napa, Sonoma, and beyond. It’s the place to pick up gourmet olive oils, jams, sauces, honey, pickles, cookies, cocktail mixers, and wines for souvenirs or gifts.