My friends and I had this trip to Napa in the works for over a year – to celebrate a new Master’s degree, new babies, and years of friendship. I was really looking forward to it (because it’s Napa!), but also dreading it because it was my first time leaving Max for more than 3 hours. I barely slept the night before leaving and I was worried while flying, but once I was there and busy, it was a ton of fun. We hit up some good spots if you need any recommendations for your next trip out there!
The first half of Thursday was spent traveling as we flew into the San Francisco airport (SFO), drove up to Napa, and checked into our bungalows. We stayed at the Chien Blanc bungalows in Calistoga – they were very charming and off a secluded street within walking distance of downtown Calistoga. After freshening up we went to our first vineyard and a nice steakhouse for dinner.
Hall Napa Valley – we did the tour and the tasting ($40). I highly recommend the tour because you get to see the various art installations all over the property. Favorite wine: the Kathryn Hall Cab.
Press Restaurant St. Helena – our fanciest dinner and oh.so.good! Ask to sit outside if possible and make sure you get the bacon sampler as an appetizer! All the girls loved their cocktails; I stuck with vino. We each got our own steaks and shared sides – the truffle mac (not gf), onion rings (not gf), sautéed spinach, and fries.
Mumm Napa – we were picked up by our driver around 9:30am and started the morning off with champagne! They have two tastings ($25-3 glass flight or $35-4 glass flight). The grounds are beautiful, so ask to sit closest to the vineyard for prime photos and views.
Fantesca Estate & Winery – a private winery that specializes in cabs and was started by a couple from Minnesota (thanks for the hookup, Stacie!). We got a tour of the wine cave, a wine flight in the official tasting room, and a fabulous lunch on the deck overlooking the 10-acre vineyard – mixed greens salad, couscous salad, pan-seared duck, and chocolate chip cookies for dessert. I took home their All Great Things – Mercy red blend and Estate Cab.
Charles Krug Winery – we did the Estate tasting ($45) and also got to look in their new barrel room. I wasn’t a huge fan of the wines and since we didn’t do much of a tour this probably my least favorite of the places we went this trip. If you want to visit some of the “bigger” wineries in Napa, I would suggest Sterling or Beringer instead.
Calistoga Inn – this was a nice outdoor dinner spot with live music within walking distance of our cottages. I had the paella and it was delish! I would recommend it for casual, outdoor dining if you’re in Calistoga.
Evangeline – we started the day with brunch at this cute French bistro. They have outdoor dining and a wide-variety brunch menu. I had the lobster omelette and a grapefruit mimosa and they did not disappoint!
Peju Province – beautiful French Mediterranean grounds and buildings! We did the classic tasting at the bar inside ($35). One of their signature wines, the Province aka “The Porch Pounder”, is a unique blend of red and white wines that was the perfect summer wine for a BBQ.
Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars – a must-stop if you haven’t been! They only do tours in the morning (which we weren’t able to get into), so we did the tasting outside on the patio ($45). You guys…their cabs are top notch! The Cask 23 cab was my favorite. Definitely go here for amazing cabs and great views. Word of warning: make sure you go to the correct winery – there are two wineries in the valley (Stag’s Leap vs Stags’ Leap) and they are not related.
Oakville Grocery – we stopped here mid-afternoon to grab a quick snack. They have a little deli with prepared salads and sandwiches made to order. They also have a cute little coffee bar where you can grab an iced coffee to recharge (with a few gf bakery items, too!).
Caymus Vineyards – this was the perfect last stop for our trip. It was 90 degrees, 4pm and we were getting a little tired, and sitting outside on the patio couch under a fan for the tasting ($50) felt so amazing! It looks and feels like a tropical oasis and the wines are very good. They even gave us a complimentary bottle of Conundrum to take back to our cottage since it wasn’t on the tasting menu!
Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch – my favorite dinner of the trip! Ask to sit outside if possible. The restaurant has a farm-to-table vibe with small plates and entrees, and also offers BBQ from their smokers – a wide menu that could appeal to anyone. I had the risotto (ask for them to ensure it is gf) and added a fried egg on top, and even though I was getting full towards the end, I polished that baby off! It was SO good! I would definitely recommend this place for dinner and drinks.
Sadly we had to pack up and leave early for the airport…but it was an amazing trip and we had a ton of fun. I was able to visit several new places and was very happy with our winery and restaurant selections.
Wineries I had already visited:
- V. Sattui
- Castello di Amorosa
- Frank Family
- Walt (Sonoma)
- Ledson (Sonoma)
Still on my list:
- Opus One
- Nickel & Nickel
- St. Supery
- Hamill (Sonoma)
Where have you been in Napa/Sonoma and what wineries are still on your list? Cheers!