Napa Valley has always been near and dear to our hearts. It feels like you’re at peace when you’re there. Maybe it’s the beauty of the vineyards, maybe it’s what the vineyards produce. Who knows. Either way, there’s copious amounts of wine and the best selection of food and lots of both to share, if we were good at sharing either wine or food. Here are the Must See’s and the Must Do’s for Napa Valley…
Hot air balloon rides happen at dawn in the Valley. You get a beautiful view of the entire valley from Napa to Calistoga and everything in between. Mimosas afterwards anyone?
There is no shortage of spectacular vineyards in the Napa Valley. It’s worth doing a tour of a winery while you’re there. I mean, who can resist a tour of Chandon and a sparkling tasting after?
Drive the Napa Valley up Highway 29 from Napa to Calistoga. Be sure to stop and walk around St. Helena enroute. Maybe even get a little crazy and grab a burger at Gott’s Roadside. You will not be disappointed. After you’ve toured through rustic Calistoga, head back to Napa on the Silverado Trail.
Ok, so we get asked all the time about which wineries and which restaurants are our faves. Here’s the rundown. Stay in Yountville. There are great places to stay, a market to get your picnic outfitted at and best of all, the best restaurants are in walking distance. Wine, walking distance, wine. Sold. We recommend staying at the Vintage Inn, the Villagio Inn, or Hotel Yountville. The welcome bottle waiting in your room upon arrival is, well, welcome! As is the full spread in the mornings for breakfast, complete with personal omelette chef as the champagne is flowing. Is this maybe where we should mention the fried chicken and waffles for breaky on the weekends as well? Yes, they do that too.
For dinner, the French Laundry is a classic staple. It’s in it’s own world. We have a few others in Yountville that we tend to crave. Redd has an amazing menu and the food is as good as it gets. The patio is beautiful in the summer and has a very al fresco feel. Their sister restaurant Redd Wood has a more upbeat and casual feel. There’s an outdoor dining and lounge area with fireplaces. We generally start at one and end up at the other! Those late night aperitifs fireside are pretty cozy! The best is Ciccio. The menu changes every few days as different ingredients become available at the local farm. In season, the artichokes will blow you away, we promise.
Wine. Do you like wine? We obsess. There are so many wineries in the Napa Valley and they all do a very good job. A few stand out to us.
James Cole Winery on the infamous Silverado Trail in Napa is our favourite. Do a private tasting in their modern lounge furniture next to the bocce court. Be sure to partake in a casual game in between your bold red tasting.
Just a little further up the Silverado Trail is Regusci Winery. It winds up a little hill to give you a phenomenal view from an outdoor terrace where you can picnic with a bottle of wine post-tasting. Sounds like a dreamy afternoon. Ask for a tour of their cellar, it’s one of the oldest in the Valley. There’s also an honour system farmers market stand at the entry in the summer. Now that’s fresh! In need of picnic supplies? Nearby is the Soda Canyon Store with everything you need.
Be sure to book an appointment for a tasting at Alpha Omega. They have the most beautiful patio over looking a pond where they do outdoor guided tastings. They do a fabulous unoaked Chardonnay, which makes at lease one of us happy! For the best buttery and oaky Chardonnay in the Valley head up to Rombauer Vineyards, that’s where the other one of us gets her fix!
In St. Helena, if you have the hook ups (or if you go online and register to become a member) you can request a tasting at Fairchild Winery. Their cabs are exquisite; if you love big and bold like we do, this winery should definitely be on your hit list.
Another private winery that is a MUST if you can swing it (same deal as Fairchild), is Hourglass Wines, also in St. Helena. Their reds are again, BIG, BOLD, and a mustn’t miss. They’ve recently started producing whites as well (our order is in the mail at the moment, but we trust it’ll be amazingly delicious). Both vineyards are absolutely stunning and are such a beautiful sight to see.
Napa is our happy place. The pace of life and the immense natural beauty gets our heart every time we visit. We hope that you enjoy it all as much as we do! Cheers!
Michelle & Samantha