You don’t have to drive to Southern California to see the ground bursting with flowers. The agricultural fields of the Bay Area are bursting with their own “superbloom” right now.
Wild mustard season happens every January through March. And the more winter rain, the more flowers pop up—and that means this year is a big one.
“It’s really an embarrassment of riches,” said Chris Vomvolakis of Sonoma County Tourism. “Because of the January storms and the abundance of water, there has been an earlier explosion of wildflowers throughout the county.”
While crops are dormant, mustard flowers burst to life in the fields protecting and replenishing the soil while signaling the coming of spring. Farmers later till the mustard into the soil, providing mulch, nutrients and phosphorus.
“If I had to pick the best, most picturesque, most Instagrammable location in Sonoma County, I would say it would be in the fields on the south side of Highway 12 between Santa Rosa and Sebastopol” Vomvolakis said. “Glorious yellow mustard grass growing up around dormant oak trees as far as one can see.”
The Wine Country is one of the best places to see Bay Area’s mustard superbloom, with yellow flowers contrasting the old vines and blue skies. It’s also time for almond, cherry and other flowering trees to bloom, trimming just about every park and greenbelt in the North Bay with bright buds.
As part of its Mustard Season events, Napa Valley puts out an entire map guiding visitors to superbloom hotspots. In fact, Downtown Napa will host its annual Mustard Celebration this weekend from Feb. 18-20, with special menus and—of course—wine tastings.
Farms in the South Bay are also an excellent place to see the mustard in bloom. And after a tragic year for the agricultural community and residents of Half Moon Bay, the town is welcoming a change of season.
The Standard pulled together a list of the best places to see mustard blooming north and south of the city. You can stroll, hike drive or bike around to see this rite of pre-spring but for goodness sake, please stay out of the fields.
Where To See Mustard Fields Near SF
- Sonoma Valley: Along the south side of Highway 12 from Santa Rosa to Sonoma
- Alexander Valley: From Healdsburg to Geyserville on Highway 128 and River Road
- Sugarloaf Ridge State Park : Hike around the Mayacamas near Kenwood
- Downtown Napa: Sample the Mustard Celebration on Feb. 18-20
- Yountville: Zero in on the fields, food and wineries near Highway 29
- Silverado Trail: Gaze at the vineyards on both sides of the road from Napa to St. Helena
- Iacopi Farms: Pay $10 to roam the mustard fields on Saturdays and Sundays. The 2023 bloom has peaked, so Feb. 18-20 may be the last weekend of the year. Observe “No Trespassing” signs nearby.
- Highway 1 to Pescadero: From Half Moon Bay, head south to pass many other fields of mustard at farms along the coast. Again, please do not enter fields or trespass.
Maryann Jones Thompson can be reached at [email protected]
Shelley D. Fargo can be reached at [email protected]