It’s hard to imagine anything other than wine grapes being grown in the Napa Valley. But thanks to the State Parks’ historic preservation of the Bale Grist Mill
, we get to peek back in time at what folks of the mid-19th century did before the grapes moved in. In many ways the old grist mills were the center of social life for communities. Farmers would bring in their grains and then hang around to shoot the breeze. Located in the northern part of Napa Valley, Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park’s 36-foot waterwheel still powers the mill that was built in 1846. In fact, the mill is still making actual products! Pop in for demonstrations throughout the day on weekends. Take home a bag of cornmeal, polenta, spelt flour, whole wheat bread flour, or even pastry flour. It’s all organic, stoneground, and made in the old mill. If you’d like to stretch your legs, there’s a 2-mile (round-trip) hike to neighboring Bothe Napa Valley State Park, or a shorter hike to a (currently dry) pond. Go ahead, mill about!
TIP: Yeah, the line can get long at popular Gott’s Roadside (aka Taylor’s Refresher), but the wait is well worth it. Pair a Niman Ranch burger or crispy jalapeño chicken sandwich with some garlic fries, a side kale salad, and a half bottle of wine. Enjoy it all on the picnic grounds here … then decide which flavor of ice cream you want for dessert.
Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park is 3 miles north of St. Helena (3369 N St.) on Highway 29. No dogs.
Love our state parks? Learn more about Park Advocacy Day.