Believe it or not, The Hubby and I have never visited Napa. Never. Seems odd, right? That changed this fall when we took our first (and certainly not last) trip there. This post is to share where we stayed, restaurants we enjoyed, and of course wineries we visited.
After flying into SFO, we hopped in our rental and drove up to Napa, we took the Bay Bridge route there because it was showing on the map as faster. When we came back at the end of our trip, we took the Golden Gate Bridge route – and it was much more scenic!
We booked our rental and hotel through Costco which saved us a considerable amount of money. Our hotel was the Meritage Resort and Spa which is located in Napa and with our Costco deal, we also had $100 in resort credit, $40 per day in food and beverage credit, a wine tasting for 2, and waived daily resort fees – perfect!
Our room had a (bit of a) vineyard room as well as a complimentary bottle of wine to enjoy. We quickly unpacked and headed across the road to Vista Collina Resort with nine Napa Valley tasting rooms along with Fivetown Grocery, an upscale market full of goodies, it was a great spot to start our vacay. There was an event taking place on the lawn in the center of it all so we were able to enjoy some live music as well. We took our certificate for a tasting for two over to Anarchist Wine Co, found a table in the corner and made friends with the server. Our tasting included 3 wines of our choice in the $20 tasting column – all were delicious. It was a great way to kick off our trip.
We asked our server about a good place for dinner, he suggested we go into downtown Napa and try to get into Cole’s Chop House, it was unlikely we would be able to be seated at a table, but thought we could maybe squeeze into the bar. Conveniently the hotel offered a shuttle to and from downtown Napa every 30 minutes, timing was perfect. Upon arrival, we became the first on the bar seating waitlist, so we ordered a bottle of Veuve and happily awaited our space. The food was nothing short of amazing – I would highly recommend dining here when visiting Napa.
Now, prior to arriving in Napa, you should do some planning. 1) How will you get around? 2) Where are you going to go? Most (if not all) wineries require reservations. Having never been there, I talked to some of my girlfriends about options. We landed on hiring a driver for our rental which couldn’t have been more perfect! I was able to map out our wine tastings based upon area to maximize our time. We had 2 full days to spend and loved the flexibility we had with our driver.
Another pre-trip step I took was purchasing a Priority Wine Pass which provided discounts on two of the wineries we visited. Bonus! Here is a link to a page where you can use a discount code. We purchased the annual pass because for the cost of $39.99 and the savings we were going to receive, it was totally worth it.
We hired Let’s Roll Wine Tours – there are several options where they can plan your day or you can, but being the person I am, I decided to plan our day. Our driver was in communication with us before the trip and was prompt in her arrival on Day 1.
Our first stop was Charles Krug, which seemed fitting as the oldest winery in Napa Valley. We enjoyed a tasting of 5 wines with details provided on each wine along the way by our host. This was an intimate setting and after our tasting, walked around and of course had to take some photos. We used our Priority Wine Pass here and received a 2 for 1 tasting.
We had some time before our next tasting so our driver recommended Market in downtown St Helena for lunch. We arrived a few minutes before opening and grabbed a couple of spots at the bar. This quaint restaurant filled up fast! We decided to split a grilled chicken sandwich along with a bottle of bubbly, it was the perfect lunch!
Our next stop was Hall Wines, this was another location where we were able to leverage some savings on the tasting fee with our Priority Wine Pass. We had reservations for their 90 minute Ultimate Cabernet Experience and it did not disappoint. Another couple was scheduled to join us, but they did not show, so we had a dedicated host guiding us through the tasting. Along with the wine there was a small snack plate to enjoy as well. We were seated in a somewhat private balcony area outside overlooking the vineyards – it was beautiful.
Our final tasting for the day was at Piazza Del Dotto at which we were reserved for a Cave Experience and Barrel Tasting. This was a fun tasting in that the wine was coming directly out of the barrel – a very cool process to watch. After the tasting we were served a pizza to share in their gardens along with wine for purchase.
Day 2 we were picked up by our driver and had three tastings reserved. First stop was Mumm Napa for our 10:00 a.m. tasting on the patio. There are a few different locations offered for tastings at this location, we thought the patio overlooking the vineyard would be a wonderful start to our day. There was a menu to decide which flight of bubbly you’d like to try, we chose the “Perfect Picks” option and allowed our host to choose the 4th glass. He chose the DVX which was amazing. So good that when we finished our flight, we decided to order a “full” glass of bubbly to drink and explore the property, I opted for another glass of the DVX while The Hubby ordered a glass of the Brut Reserve.
All three of our reservations for the day were located very close to each other and we had some time before the second one. Our driver suggested that we stop into PlumpJack Winery to take a peek because it was one of her favorites. I am so glad we did. We drove (almost literally) through the vineyard to get to the winery. We stumbled across huge containers of grapes and as we walked up to the tasting room, could view the active, working winery. There were a couple of people tending to a machine that was de-stemming the grapes, it was all very cool to see. Once we got into the tasting room, the host offered us a spot because they had a cancellation, we happily took it. We did have to “move it along” a bit because of our next reservation. We sat outside with a beautiful view of their vineyard to enjoy the wine and learn about the PlumpJack story.
Our next (scheduled) stop was to Cakebread Cellars, we had the Classic Cakebread Walking Tour and Tasting reserved. This was a nice change of pace to stop at different points along the tour, enjoy a different tasting, and learn about their winemaking process.
Before our driver dropped us off at Cakebead Cellars, we decided it would be best to grab lunch afterwards. Our driver offered to go pick up something for us which worked out perfectly. She recommended Oakville Grocery – she knew the area so we went with it! She also knew that there is a line out of the door every day, so after we looked at the menu online, she headed over there to get our order in. After our tasting at Cakebread, we headed to the parking lot, popped open the back lift gate and enjoyed our sandwiches outside.
We next headed over to St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery next for our next reservation. Driving up to the tasting room is quite beautiful, very green! We enjoyed our tasting on the patio – only a couple of photos from this stop!
We had an dinner reservation in Yountville, but we had some time before that, so thought we would drive around and enjoy the scenery. We hopped back in the car and a made a quick call to Chandon to see if they were open. They were, no tastings, but we could purchase some bubbly “to go” and enjoy on their patio…we were off! We packed some snacks in the car, so this was the perfect time to refuel on the food intake.
Upon arrival, this was another beautiful location with lots of bubbly on display inside the tasting area. We purchased a little “4 pack” of sparkling and headed to the patio.
When planning this trip, my mom told me about one of their visits to Napa and how much they enjoyed Peju Winery. While still enjoying our afternoon, we decided to give them a call to see if they would be able to squeeze us in. Because it was later in the day, they had availability for a tasting and so we took it, shocking at this point for you I’m sure, haha.
The Peju Tower is quite unique, you’ll have to check out their website, loved the outside of it! After paying for our tasting, we were escorted upstairs where we were seated at a table for two overlooking a two story room full of wine barrels, it was very cool.
Our driver took us back into Yountville for dinner at Bottega. It was delicious and the perfect end to our day!
For breakfast on the wine tasting days, we grabbed a quick breakfast at Blend Café at Meritage, but since we had a little bit more time on our departure day, we decided to enjoy breakfast at Olive and Hay. This was a delicious farm to table experience and a great way to wrap up our time in Napa. Loved the pour on my “mimosa, no juice” order!
We headed back to San Francisco and since I am a huge fan of Tyler Florence, I had already made reservations at Wayfare Tavern for lunch. After our big breakfast, we weren’t super hungry, so split a sandwich and enjoyed a glass of wine. The food was amazing, especially the popovers that were delivered to us fresh out of a basket after ordering.
Our trip was very enjoyable, our 25th wedding anniversary was in late August, so decided it was a good way to celebrate that milestone! I learned a lot during our visit and I am ready for another visit soon….Cheers, Napa!
Final selfie from the airport bar, drinking not as good wine!