Almost everyone looking to purchase real estate in the Napa Valley has spent at least a little bit of time here as a visitor. As I meet new clients and friends every day who are considering the purchase of a home in the Napa Valley – whether it be a second or third home or even a complete move of their primary residence – I’m consistently asked the same question: ‘I know what it’s like to be a visitor in the Napa Valley – but what’s it like to actually LIVE here?’. So we’ve decided to start a new blog series called ‘Napa Valley Local’s List’ to try to help answer that very question.
Our first stop – one of the simplest yet most necessary places you’ll need to locate and become quickly acquainted with when moving to any new area, a grocery store. As luck would have it, St Helena boasts one of the more charming grocery stores we’ve ever been to, Sunshine Foods Market – or simply know as, Sunshine. Located smack in the middle of downtown St Helena off of Main Street, this small family owned grocery store feels more like you’ve wandered into the Farmer’s Market than a normal grocery store that you’ll visit week after week for your nourishment necessities.
Now before we get into the nitty gritty of this particular grocery store gem, we’d like to mention that although we would love to shop here every time we have grocery needs (it is by far our favorite out of all the ones we frequent), that just wouldn’t be true. St. Helena is also home to a Safeway (located on the east side of town just behind Main St.) and North Napa is home to a Trader Joe’s and a Whole Foods (both about 20 minutes away). There are a number of other grocery store options in Napa, but the ones mentioned here are the ones we tend to utilize the most. We also really enjoy the St. Helena Farmer’s Market when it’s in season (a post on that coming soon!) as well as an absolutely wonderful health food store, Nature’s Select, located across the street from Sunshine.
Alright! On to the exciting stuff…
SUNSHINE FOODS MARKET – THE PROS:
THE CHEESE SECTION – The cheese section at Sunshine is out of this world. If you are a cheese person, you’re mind might be blown when you set eyes on the cheese offering here, which contains both international and local, everyday and near-impossible to find, stinky and sweet, many you’ve probably never even heard of. Although the store is fairly small compared to what most are accustomed to (Safeway/Whole Foods), they have dedicated an entire wall to their cheese selection, as well as a Cheese Expert who seems to be available at all times and who will give you a taste of anything you’d like. Yes, I’ve spent some time tasting my way through the cheese section at Sunshine prior to a dinner party, and the resulting platter did not disappoint. As a side note, I’ll mention the olive section as well, which is located right next to the cheese wall and probably deserves it’s own little section here, it’s so impressive (however I must refrain for I have so much more to talk about).
THE MEAT SECTION – Sunshine has an incredible meat department. The staff in the meat department is knowledgable and friendly and you rarely have to wait because there always seem to be at least 3-4 staff ready to assist you with your order. You’ll find organic, grass fed, free range, sushi grade, super fresh, some of the best meats and fish you’ll find anywhere. Cuts of steak with gorgeous marbling, a whole row of different types of homemade sausage, shell fish, sushi grade fish that we’ve made our own sushi with many (many) times, rack of lamb, different marinated pork tenderloin. The meat department blows the doors off of all the other grocery stores in our opinion.
The selection of wine at Sunshine is really remarkable (even by Napa standards). The fruits/veggies are always fresh, organic, and plentiful, and the deli has an awesome made-to-order sandwich counter as well as fresh sushi. The whole store is full of international and hard to find items that you wouldn’t expect and will be thrilled to have access to, as well as all the local items you would expect in a Napa Valley specialty store. They also have the non-specialty staples that stores like Whole Foods tend not to carry (branded cereal, Eggos, Doritos, etc). And lastly, if you don’t see an item that you want, just let them know. The store Manager Dave will be happy to make a special order for you and might even start stocking it.
SUNSHINE FOODS MARKET: THE CONS
We’re not usually intrigued by the offering at the hot food bar, but it does seem to be a hit with the local lunch crowd, and it does carry staples like roast chicken. And although they don’t have an onsite bakery, they do keep a case full of delicious deserts (most from local Sweetie Pies) and fresh Bouchon Bakery bread (the best in the Valley if you ask us).
It comes with the territory of having such an amazing assortment on offer, but the bill at the end can sting – but not as much as you might think. They really do seem to have fair pricing based on what you’re purchasing. As they say, “you get what you pay for!”, and in this case, you’re paying for some of the best that the Napa Valley has to offer.
NECESSARY DETAILS: www.sunshinefoodsmarket.com / 1115 Main Street, St Helena, CA / 707.963.7070 / open 7:30am – 8:30pm 7 days