A visit to Hog Island Oyster Co. in Marshall is a bucket list item for many visitors to the Napa Valley area. What better way to enjoy the beautiful California weather than to slurp oysters al fresco while overlooking the water from which they were harvested? While the farm is a little over an hour’s drive from downtown Napa, it’s worth the trip to see the processing facilities, enjoy a cold beverage and some freshly shucked oysters on the half shell, and perhaps pick up some bivalves to enjoy later.
The farmers at Hog Island grow an oyster they call Sweetwater, which gives you a pretty good indication of how it’s going to taste. It’s all of the things you love about oysters: sweet, briny, even fruity, and small enough to enjoy in one slurp. While hundreds of varieties are produced in the US, they’re all one of only 5 species of oysters. The Hog Island Sweetwaters are Pacific oysters, but the specific climate of the oyster farm in Tomales Bay is what makes them unique. Some call this the merroir, like terroir but ‘of the sea.’
At the Hog Island oyster farm, guests can reserve a “shuck your own” picnic table with a grill or a table at the boat bar for a seaside feast. Either way, don’t miss the grilled oysters, topped with a bourbon BBQ butter. Before or after you feast, you can take a tour of the processing facility and learn about Hog Island Oyster Co.’s dedication to ensuring a high-quality product through water quality tests and their unique method of purifying the oysters in saltwater tanks.
Can’t make it to the oyster farm? You can still enjoy Hog Island’s delicious offerings at their stall in the Oxbow Public Market. The bar offers several different kinds of California oysters, allowing you to experience firsthand the effects of merroir on the same species of oyster.