With harvest season around the corner (that happens in late September or early October for you future wine-o’s), I wanted to share a little Napa Valley travel guide with y’all! Last year I decided to go on a last minute trip to wine country with a few friends for a long weekend and it was one of the best decisions I made in 2016. (Seriously, I’m not even being dramatic!) The food, the wine, the views – everything about this place is perfect. Pour yourself a glass of wine and let’s get this party started!
Since we found ourselves in Napa during harvest season, we decided to stop at Grgich for our first tasting and do some grape stomping! Even if it’s not here, make sure to check this off your bucket list during your time in the Valley. I recommend trying their “Essence” Sauvignon Blanc since this vineyard is known for their whites!
When planning our weekend, we decided to make two reservations a day and save the last for a recommendation. This vineyard was actually recommended to us by an Aggie sommelier, and we fell in love with both their wine and our host! If you go, ask for Addie (she’s the best, but you can only find her there on the weekends since her full time gig is at Google). My favorite wine of their reds is their Dedication blend!
I will warn you that this winery is a bit more touristy than others because…it’s in a freakin’ castle people. While I found the grounds to be better than their wines (it was very ‘gramable okay!?), this is probably the best option of the bigger vineyards in Napa. Be sure to check out their Gewurztraminer during your tasting. It’s one of my favorite white wines I’ve ever had!
If you’re looking for a down-to-earth vineyard to spend a chill afternoon, then put this place on your short list. We learned so much about the wine making process from our host, Teddy, and played with their adorable pups. Aside from their wine, we loved (and still rave about) their balsamic vinegar and gourmet dipping oil. My personal favorite wine is Bodega, named after their sweet chocolate Labrador Retriever.
If you want to feel like you’re at home – head to Frank. The tasting room is in an adorable historic home with a dreamy front porch. We had some good laughs from our host as he told us the wine tasted like damp leaves and tar (LOL – no thanks). However, they did have the best Brut Rose I’ve ever had…and I am not a “Rose all day” kind of gal, so that actually says something. 🙂
The story of how we ended up here is still my favorite thing about this winery. We were on our way back to our Airbnb (more on that house later) in our Uber and my friend, Anna, was chatting up our driver, Michael, in the front seat. I’m 99% sure my other friend, Bekah, and I were napping in the back. Michael turns to Anna and says something along the lines of, “You know, if you haven’t been, you should really check out this winery up here on the right. It was started by Walt Disney’s daughter.” Knowing we would be heading back home the next day, we looked at each other and said, “take us there!” Well, upon our arrival Michael decided to tell us he was a member and would let us be his guests for the day at the winery! It’s true – FREE WINE FROM OUR UBER DRIVER. It ended up being one of our favorite places and stories of our trip!
This will forever be my favorite vineyard for many reasons, but the greatest being that this place will forever be home to the best wine ever and the best views ever. When we were planning, we took one look at their website and knew we had to go (seriously, click the link and you will too). While every wine is simply amazing, don’t miss out on their Merlot and Complexity blend.
After our attempt to eat at Mustard’s Grill (heard great things, but wasn’t down to miss out on wine due to the wait), we stumbled upon what became one of our favorite stops! Oakville Grocery has a killer coffee, charcuterie, and sandwich selection. They also happen to carry the BEST cheese I’ve ever had – Holey Cow from Central Coast Creamery. I still dream about this cheese, people. Grab a baguette, a few of their meats, and a jam or two – you will have the best impromptu charcuterie board you could ask for!
Whether it’s a pre-dinner cocktail or dinner, Basalt has a perfect vibe for any night in Napa. We opted to sit on their picturesque patio (basic, I know) with succulents and string lights galore. I think we tried the entire cocktail menu between all of us during our weekend in Napa, and they were all pretty killer.
The only way to do Carpe Diem’s menu justice is by ordering to share with friends. Order a bottle of wine for the table and try it all – the burrata, the truffle fries, the duck mac ‘n cheese, and the flatbreads.
Nothing pairs with great wine like great Italian food, and this place definitely has the best in town. What was once a former bank (and yes, you can sit in the vault) has now been converted into the perfect dinner spot in downtown Napa. Be sure to order one of their handmade pastas!
If you’re not sure what you’re in the mood for, or no one can agree on what they want, Oxbow has plenty of food to go around for everyone! We had a quick brunch/lunch here before heading to the airport on our last day, but loved Three Twins Ice Cream for an afternoon pick-me-up and Ritual Coffee Roasters to start off our day!
This cute little bistro is the best breakfast and brunch spot in town. I’ve always been an eggs benedict kind of gal, but their global menu has something to offer for everyone!
Our Other Adventures
We went through the whole debate of hiring a driver, renting a car, or just Ubering our way through the Valley. In my #TravelMishapsof2016 (more of those to come in other posts), the Avis/Budget computer system actually crashed as we landed in SFO. Upon realizing we were going to miss our whole day in a line of frustrated customers at the airport, we ended up opting to Uber…everywhere. It ended up working out pretty well for us, and we came out with some stellar stories (like letting us take the scenic route to SFO). However, if you have a bigger group and are looking to hire a private driver, definitely check out Napa Your Way.
As far as location, we opted to Airbnb (duh) at a house within walking distance of downtown Napa. It was probably one of my favorite places I’ve stayed because of the big back porch and orange trees! We ended up picking oranges and having fresh squeezed juice each morning to start off our day while watching the hot air balloons in the distance.
May your hearts, stomachs, and wine glasses be full, people. If Napa wasn’t on your travel list, I hope it is now!