Friday, October 23, 2009

St. Helena: The Culinary Institute of America @ Greystone

Grant Achatz, Anthony Bourdain, Michael Mina, and Duff Goldman. What do these individuals have in common aside from being renowned chefs? The CIA.

We dropped by this institution of culinary greatness which is located in St. Helena, CA off of Hwy 29. The campus is the West Coast branch of the CIA in Hyde Park, NY. This particular location sits around the Greystone Cellars building which was built in 1888. Greystone Cellars was formerly owned by the Christian Brothers where it was used for sparkling wine production. This place is also listed on the National Registrar of Historic Places.

The main building is a three-story Greystone Cellars building which houses the teaching kitchens, Ecolab Theatre, Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant, Spice Island Marketplace (campus store), the DeBaun Theatre, the Ken and Grace DeBaun Cafe and administrative offices.

Inside on display is Brother Timothy's Corkscrew Collection. Brother Timothy is the world renowned cellar master of the Christian Brothers and has shaped the development of the Napa Valley wine industry since the 1930s. The collection contains over 1,800 corkscrews from around the world dating back from the 18th century.

Pictured above is the Original Cornerstone of Greystone. The original cornerstone was laid in 1888 but it was not marked or commemorated. It was later uncovered in 1982 by workers maintaining the building and is now on display alongside Brother Timothy's Corkscrew Collection.

The Vintners Hall of Fame was closed when we were here. Below is a family wine press built by Antonio Stratta of San Francisco in 1906.

If you go south of the building about 100 feet, you will find the campus store, Spice Island Marketplace. Here, you can purchase CIA souvenirs, cookbooks, linens, kitchenware, cook tools, etc.

Before we left, we found where the original cornerstone was located which was near the campus store.

I always wanted to visit the CIA. It's like stepping foot at the Harvard of culinary excellence. Although the tuition has a heavy price tag, I wouldn't mind attending this school had I pursued a career in the culinary arts. This is a must stop for any foodie looking to know where culinary greats learned their craft (although majority of them attended the Hyde Park campus).

Things to know:
  • The campus is open to the public when the school is not closed.
  • The Corkscrew Collection and Vintners Hall of Fame is open to the public.
  • Purchase CIA souvenirs in the campus store located on the southend of the main building. Their online store is found here:
  • The CIA at Greystone hosts an abundance of cookbook authors every year. You can purchase autographed books, but quantities are limited.
  • The campus has an on-site restaurant called Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant. Basically, the students are the chefs. We didn't eat here.
  • The World of Favors conference is held on campus annually in November. Registration for the 2-day event is nearly $1K.
  • Looking for a place to host your wedding, why not have it here. You can have your ceremony in the Herb Terrace or Historic Barrel Room. For information regarding weddings at the CIA at Greystone, go to their website here or you can email
The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone
2555 Main Street
St. Helena, CA 94574


Anonymous said...

Didn't Bourdain and Achatz both attend the New York campus? I wonder how the two campuses compare in terms of the quality of instruction.

Jocelyn said...

Yes, that's correct. While Hyde Park is the main campus, Greystone is near the heart of many renown restaurants like the French Laundry, Cyrus and Meadowood. I'm sure aspiring chefs would want to stage at any of these establishments after culinary school. But I assume most go to Europe or Spain.

Post a Comment