Culinary Philosophy

“Wine awakens the palate. Food is its natural companion.” -Janet Trefethen

It was no accident that the Napa Valley Cooking Class was hosted at Trefethen for 25 years. Or that when Julia Child visited Napa, Janet Trefethen was her host. Trefethen wines are inextricably linked to cuisine.


Impeccably balanced, with complex flavors and mouthwatering acidity, Trefethen wines thrive on the table. Consistently a favorite in America’s finest restaurants, Trefethen has long had special relationships with some of the country’s greatest chefs. In addition to the long history of culinary education embodied by the Napa Valley Cooking Class, Michael Chiarello chose Trefethen as the place to film his Emmy-award-winning cooking show, Easy Entertaining, and Thomas Keller’s team at The French Laundry has their own vegetable garden on the estate. When Trefethen set out to create culinary experiences for visitors to the estate, they brought in another talented chef to shape the program – Chef Chris Kennedy.

Chef Kennedy opened Stomp in Calistoga, one of the first restaurants in the Napa Valley to focus on food and wine pairing. Later, he and his wife launched Toast Catering, which worked directly with vintners to create dishes specifically paired to each wine. “When I taste a wine,” explains Chris, “my mind goes immediately toward what I would cook to go with it. What flavors in food will bring out the flavors in the wine?”


It was in this capacity that he first met Janet Trefethen. He and Janet quickly began bouncing ideas off of one other, creating pairing guidelines and recipes for our wine club. Now embracing his full-time role at Trefethen, Chef Kennedy works with Hailey Trefethen and Head Gardener Paul Hoffman to source fresh produce for his dishes the same way the family sources grapes for their wines – by growing it on the estate. His passion for estate grown cuisine runs deep, complementing the family’s commitment to estate grown wines. More and more of what he features is harvested a few steps from his kitchen, often the day he cooks it.

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Visitors to Trefethen can experience his exquisite small bites, paired perfectly with Trefethen wines in our Taste the Estate experience. They will experience not only the delight of food and wine playing off of one another, one elevating the other in harmony, but also our passion for creating truly memorable experiences – Napa Valley hospitality at its very best.