Built-in 1846 by Edward Turner Bale, the Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park fully restored water-powered grist mill still grinds grain. Visitors can watch the original set of French Buhr millstones in action when the miller grinds grain into Bale Mill flours and meals. In the late 1800s, Napa Valley farmers brought their grain to the mill where it was placed into the boot of an elevator to be mechanically transported upstairs to be cleaned and sifted by various types of equipment – a technical wonder for the Pioneers. The slow turning of the old grind stones gives the fresh meal a special quality for making cornbread, yellow bread, shortening bread, and spoon bread. As old-timers put it, “When the meal comes to you that way, like the heated underside of a settin’ hen, it bakes bread that makes city bread taste like cardboard.”
Enjoy one of the wonderful tastes of the past when you take home a bag of Bale Mill products (available for a small donation). Bale Grist Mill products include polenta, cornmeal, buckwheat, rye, and whole-wheat flours, all organic and stone ground in the mill. Visitors can also shop for gifts in the historic granary gift shop. The tree-filled area surrounding the mill offers a welcome spot for a picnic before or after your mill tour.
Bale Grist Mill is located between the towns of St. Helena and Calistoga on Highway 29/128. You can either park at the Bale Mill parking lot or hike the History Trail from Bothe-Napa Valley State Park to the mill (about 2 miles round trip).