Over the 4th of July holiday, one of my girlfriends told me she’s never been to Napa. WHAT?! You should have seen my reaction. YOU HAVEN’T BEEN TO NAPA? THE HORROR! It’s my favorite place on earth. I haven’t been to Thailand or Bora Bora, but I’m not sure it would top Napa in my book. A group of my closest friends try to go once a year, sometimes twice. My bachelorette party was in Napa. I liked it so much, I even planned my best friend’s bachelorette party there while 32 weeks pregnant. I would not suggest going while pregnant.
I consider myself an expert on three topics: the 1996 USA Women’s Gymnastics team, “Friends” trivia, and Napa. So I’m going to do all the planning for you. Below are my list of favorite wineries, restaurants, hotels, and tips. I’m also going to fill you in on some places to avoid. Enjoy!
ROUND POND: Quaint, beautiful, winery with amazing Cabernets. This has become one of my favorite stops. Unique tasting experiences. You can do a whole sit-down lunch. There’s even olive oil tastings. There’s a beautiful upstairs terrace to relax on. This picture says it all! I would suggest doing the Estate Tasting.
CADE: This is one of the properties I need to go visit again. Last time I went was while I was pregnant. Warning, this tasting will cost you around $80. That’s pretty steep in comparison for most Napa tastings. But the view and the cabs are worth it. Seriously…. look at this place!
Cade is up on Howell Mountain, and not on the main Silverado Trail. So it will take you a little longer to get to here. Let’s just say my friends and I loved this place so much we considered naming our future kids Cade.
PEJU: If you want great wines for an amazing price, this is your place to go! I’m a club member here, and I go every visit. I also get shipments every couple of months. (It was my push present to myself). The tasting is only $25, and will go towards your wine purchase. Great Cabs obviously. They have have a wonderful Sauv Blanc which you don’t find very often in Napa. Peju also has my favorite “tailgate wine”, ya I made that up. It’s called Province, and it’s a light red that you serve chilled.
And if you plan your trip right, you can see the “Napa Rapper”. He plays the guitar and raps all the wine info.
SHRAMSBERG: I’m not big on tours. Once you’ve seen one vineyard tour, they’re all pretty much the same. But this is a MUST DO! Yes, it deserves all caps. The vineyard specializes in sparkling wine. Their entire backstory and process of making wine is fascinating. I won’t ruin the story for you, but this vineyard would have gone bankrupt if it wasn’t for Barbara Walters. I got you interested now right! I like to send a bottle of their Blanc de Noirs as thank you gifts. I know I’m a bit of a wine nerd, but I think it’s fun to send people wines they’ve never tried and fill them in the background of what they’re drinking. It’s like a history lesson with alcohol!
HERE’S A FEW MORE OF MY FAVORITE TASTING EXPERIENCES:
- DEL DOTTO CAVE TOUR: Be prepared to get drunk. They called this getting “del dotto-ed”
- HALL: good wines at good prices
- CAYMUS: great wines; good tasting experience. I also love that a sibling is in charge of each of their own labels.
- DOMAINE CARNEROS: Beautiful, unique sparking wine experience.
- REGUSCI: smaller, family-owned winery. Great people.
- DARIOUSH: unique, extravagant tasting hall
- ARTESA: Great food and wine tastings
- V SATTUI: Beautiful family-owned vineyard. Also one of the few places you can get married in Napa.
My biggest piece of advice is going to the smaller, boutique vineyards. You will have a much more personal and enjoyable experience. My first trip to Napa all I wanted to do was go to the big name, big Cab places- Silver Oak, Groth, Frank Family, etc. I’ve been to all of these, and won’t go back. They don’t care to tell you about the wines. They just try and sell you on their club memberships, and they shuffle you right in and out. Over-priced and not enjoyable. Caymus was the one exception to this rule.
- BOTTEGA: fantastic Italian food
- MORIMOTO: Japanese; Probably one of my favorite restaurants ever.
- REDD WOOD: little bit of everything.
- Lunch at Gott’s Roadside
- VILLAGIO HOTEL: this is where we usually stay. It’s in downton Yountville. Great restaurants nearby. Close to all the wineries. (a lot closer than if you were to stay in downtown Napa). Good prices, especially if you go in January. It’s not too cold, and rooms are about $200 less a night. There’s a spa and a free champagne brunch. Because of course you need champagne to start off an entire day of drinking….
- HARVEST INN: Stayed here the last time we went. Very quaint, great breakfast. Located in St. Helena which also has a wonderful downtown.
- I always use this designated drivers service in Napa. Unless you’re planning on an expensive Uber trip from San Fran, you’ll likely have a rental car. This company will drive your rental car (that you’re already paying for anyways!). They will also map out an entire itinerary for you. They’re small family- owned busines and wonderful people. Napa is built along one main road. There’s cops everywhere, so I HIGHLY suggest some sort of driver.
Hope this was helpful!! Man, now I need to book my next trip. If you have any suggestions or questions, let me know!