All of my travel and accommodations for this trip were covered by ClifBar. I was not compensated for writing this post or asked to share any of my experience. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Two weeks ago, I had an awesome opportunity to head out to California with other sports-focused dietitians for a nutrition retreat with the Clif Bar team. Some of the other attendees are BIG in the sports nutrition field so while I felt a tad out of my league, I was excited to be a part of the whole experience.
After landing in San Francisco, we immediately headed to the Clif Family Winery in Napa Valley, Velo Vino, for lunch.
The tasting room is decked out in cycling decor and offers up specialty foods like preserves, nuts and vinegars in addition to Clif bar products. We enjoyed a delicious lunch from the Bruschetteria food truck on site and of course, a small wine tasting. The Bici (cute name, right?) was definitely a fave of mine!
After lunch, we made a quick stop to check-in at the Napa Valley Lodge where we’d be staying for the night. I didn’t snap any pictures of the resort, but my room was gorgeous with a little patio that overlooked a vineyard. We were able to freshen up a bit for heading out to the Clif Family Farm for a tour.
I’ll be sharing a little backstory of Clif Company, as well as more of their culture in Part 2, but the fully organic farm should start to clue you into how they roll. Our tour was led by Farmers Brad and Drew and they shared all sorts of insight into how they handle growing all of the food for the food truck and more. The Clif Family Farm is certified with CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers) and Food Alliance. The Clif Bar Family Foundation also created Seed Matters, an initiative to preserve genetic diversity among crops and support seed research.
There has been some controversy surrounding the recent Mr. Seed video that was released by Seed Matters, accusing the Clif Foundation and the producers of being fear-mongers and spreading misinformation regarding organic and non-organic farming practices. I did take the chance to ask the Clif team about the video and the response was that Clif stands behind the messaging. While I personally do not agree that the best way to go about encouraging organic farming practices is with aggression and vulgarity, I can appreciate that organic has always been important to Clif and that they continue to fight for their messaging.
As for the farm tour, we got to see everything they’re growing including lettuces, onions, blueberries, peaches, their signature red flint corn. They also have several bee hives on the property, as well as chickens and roosters.
After the tour, we gathered for an educational edible experience with Kate Geagan. Kate walked us through some fun taste tests and opened our eyes to the variety of descriptors there are for foods. She focused on the energizing foods Clif used in their bars and products: dates, apples, bananas, sweet potatoes, beets, etc. We also covered the importance of gut health in supporting our energy metabolism from the foods we eat. It was a great refresher from a lot of the discussions at the Food As Medicine conference I went to in the fall, which was so interesting!
The taste testing was fun and delicious, but after we finished it was definitely time for a good meal. Everyone boarded our bus and headed over to the Clif Family Vineyard for dinner. Executive Chef John explained the menu and actually prepared it right on site in the wood fired outdoor oven!
We enjoyed Clif signature Red Flint Corn Polenta with Chanterelle Mushrooms (ahhhmazing!), Grilled Kale with Lemon Ricotta Salata and Radicchio Salad with Garlic Anchovy Vinaigrette and Pecorino. There was also wood-fired chicken for the non-veg folks. Oh, and plenty of delicious vino, as introduced by the winemaker Laura Barrett, who we got to chat with during dinner.
Most importantly, the meal ended with delicious mini sweets: Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Plum Compote and Savory Herbs (weird/incredible combo) and Chocolate Budino with Whipped Cream and Sea Salt. Of course, I had to try both and whoa! I actually liked the Panna Cotta best, but you can’t go wrong with chocolate and sea salt! Yum!
Dessert was the perfect end to our first day and we headed back to the Napa Valley Lodge for bed. More on Clif culture and our tour of Clif Bar HQ to come in Part 2. Stay tuned!
Your turn–Have you been to Napa Valley? Did you know Clif Bar Company also owns a vineyard and a farm?! When it comes to dessert: chocolate or vanilla?