- Napa’s Chateau Montelena caused a sensation when their 1976 Chardonnay put California wines on the map and beat French wines to take top honors at a Paris blind tasting
- “Cheers!” – when clinking glasses, make eye contact with the other person. Otherwise, according to French superstition, you’ll risk seven years of bad sex!
- A vineyard acre of land in Napa Valley will cost you at least $120,000
- Don’t be a “bowl grabber”! Always hold your wine glass by the stem
- Reservations are a must for dinners and wine tastings
“What wine goes with Captain Crunch?” - George Carlin
- Picnic in the vineyard
- Sunrise hot air balloon ride
- Michelin dining at The French Laundry
- Learn your aromas & look like an expert at the tastings
- Spend an afternoon sampling food at the Ox Bow market
- Take a break from wine at di Rosa
- Burger & fries at Gott’s Roadside
- Sunset drinks at Auberge
- Edible souvenirs and picnic prep at Oakville Grocer
- Get lost in the valley!
Eco-friendly meets luxury
European & romantic
- Ram’s Gate Winery | Most likely your trip to Napa will begin with a drive from San Francisco. Stop at the first winery you encounter in Sonoma for the perfect introduction to wine country. The views are beautiful and the architecture of the building itself is worth a visit. Cuddle up near the outdoor fireplace for appetizers and a glass of sparkling Brut.
- Oxbow Market | This won’t be the only visit to the market which feels like a micro-version of San Fran’s Ferry Buliding. Stop by for an afternoon snack – half dozen at Hog Island Oysters or lamb tacos at C Casa. A latte from Ritual Coffee Roasters is the perfect pick-me-up or sample interesting flavors like “Dad’s Cardamom” or “Strawberry Je Ne Sais Quoi” from Three Twins Ice Cream.
- Yountville | Just off the St. Helena Hwy, this teeny little town is by far the best place to base yourself on a first time trip to Napa. Many of the areas best restaurants and luxury boutique hotels are within walking distance and the town is perfectly located between Napa, Sonoma, St. Helena and the surrounding wineries.
- Ma(i)sonry | Part art gallery, part winery, be sure to pay a visit to the manor built in 1904. The outdoor patio is perfect for a leisurely afternoon wine tasting. Their Bespoke membership is also worth looking into as they offer wines from Mendoza, Argentina in addition to their Napa wines.
- Bottega | Chance are good you’ll spot Michael Chiarello whose celebrity chef status should not deter you from this Yountville mainstay. It’s rustic romance and you can’t go wrong with any of the pasta dishes from the Italian-inspired menu.
- Bouchon Bakery | Fuel up for a full day of wine tasting at Thomas Keller’s famous bakery. Arrive early for the flaky croissants and classic French macarons – long lines are known to form in the morning!
- A Limo Excursion | Hire owner, Brian, ($65-$75/hr for 1-6 ppl) for the day. It’s worth the money for safety alone, but it’s nice to take in the scenery.
- Cade Estate Winery | Winding up Howell Mountain, you’ll find the first organically farmed, LEED Gold Certified Winery. The views are unparalleled from the tasting room and due to the smaller size of the winery, it’s more of an intimate setting.
- Oakville Grocery | It’s easy to spend hours perusing the aisles of the oldest continually operating grocery store in California. Make your own charcuterie & cheese plate, grab some almonds with truffle & sea salt for the perfect picnic. The grocer also stocks the perfect souvenirs/gifts and a website to order your favorites once you get home.
- Clos du Val | Enjoy a picnic at one of the few vineyards in Napa licensed for picnicking. You may also enjoy a private romantic wine tasting for two.
- Jarvis | After lunch, head to the 45,000 square foot cave which is the country’s first winery built entirely underground. The winery uses classic oak cubes from Cognac to help create the signature style.
- The French Laundry | Reservations must be made 2 months to the calendar date at the ever popular Thomas Keller institution. Awarded 3 michelin stars, the restaurant offers a 9-course tasting menu as well as a vegetable tasting menu every day. As touted on the website, “no single ingredient is ever repeated throughout the meal” providing an experience that “excites your mind, satisfies your appetite and piques your curiosity”.
- Ad Hoc | Luckily, Keller has a more casual dining option as well. The wildly popular spot is known for it’s upscale, home cooking with a twist such as buttermilk fried chicken with tomato-bacon fondue.
- Domaine Carneros | Champagne is the perfect aperitif so why not start the day with a glass of bubbly. Enjoy a flight on the terrace of the Château and you almost feel like you’re in the south of France.
- Hess Collection | After a day of wine tasting, the Hess offers something different with its art collection on the vineyard. Complimentary tours are daily from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm.
- Solbar | Take a drive up to Calistoga to see a different side of Napa. This hippie-chic town is the prefect place for a bike ride or a visit to the nearby hot springs to unwind. At the Solage Calistoga, you’ll find a sustainably-farmed menu at the hotel’s restaurant. Enjoy a Sunday brunch or lunch al fresco.
- St. Helena | Spend a leisurely afternoon strolling down Main Street and browsing the cute shops. World famous Dean & Deluca is a must-see for gourmands and the perfect stop for gifts and souvenirs.
- Auberge du Soleil | Instead of dinner, enjoy the terrace and view with a drink, preferably at sunset.
- Bistro Jeanty | With all of the fine dining experiences to be had, this bistro represents the rustic, old world Napa. Don’t miss an incredible steak frites in an authentically French-feeling atmosphere.
- Napa Valley Balloon Tour | Rise early (around 5:30 am) for a sunrise balloon tour. Unfortunately, weather can be unpredictable and fog can often change the course of the tour. (**Politely decline if the balloon will not be flying over Napa. You will get your money back and even though a hot air balloon tour is fun, it’s not worth it if you can’t see the rows of vineyards!)
- Boon Fly Cafe | Head toward Sonoma for a post-balloon breakfast at the Carneros Inn. Grab a Boon Fly’s Famous Bacon Bloody Mary and the delectable “Green Eggs & Ham”. Don’t miss the donut holes!
- Oxbow Shopping | Chances are you didn’t have enough time at your first trip to the market. Spend a lazy afternoon checking out the Poor House for classic Napa decor and Napastäk for epicurean delights.
- Gott’s Roadside | Not your average diner, a burger and fries is a must here! Opt for the cheeseburger on a toasted egg bun with sweet potato fries and top it off with a chocolate milkshake.
- Afternoon at the Pool | It was an early morning so spend some time at the hotel pool for a little R&R or spa treatment before dinner.
- Redd | Chef Richard Reddington’s contemporary space serves up creative dishes in a relaxed setting. Dine on the outdoor patio shaded by olive trees or in the bright & airy interior. His more casual spot, Redd Wood, is a great alternative for wood-fired pizzas and house-made pastas.
EAT + DRINK