Napa Valley is known world wide as one of the most beautiful places to visit & vacation in the country. From first dates, girls trips, college break road trips, bachelor parties, weddings, honeymoons & anniversaries…this is the perfect day or weekend trip & a must on any bucket list. I’m sure all my dolls are no strangers to Wine Country, but I’m going to take you region by region & show you a couple of my “must see” wineries, resorts & restaurants.
Choose from grand resorts, charming bed & breakfasts or swanky hotels. Taste the grapes from the most fertile soil & dine on cuisine cooked by world renowned chefs. Napa is one of my favorite place to travel!
(The recent wildfires threatened & succeeded to destroy some of the picturesque part of Napa by taking lives, demolishing homes & tearing down years of beauty built by families that dreamed of having a vineyard. But everyone is working very hard to rebuild & I wanted to share a link for anyone looking for a way to help keep #NapaStrong ) https://www.generosity.com/emergencies-fundraising/wine-country-fire-relief-fund–2
(Scroll to the very bottom for the entire list of wineries affected by the fires & to what extent)
But on to a happy note…the best way to help is to VISIT! I’m going to take you through a few of our Napa Vacations & day trips to show you some of my favorite vineyards, where we stayed on our 2 year anniversary, the best views of the valley, our favorite place to eat with the parents & some of the most romantic wineries on the trail…and a bunch of bucket list adventures to check off as well!
Let’s start at the bottom of the valley & work our way up…and I’ll break it down to help you decide where to stay, where to eat & what to see when you visit.
There are so many fun and fabulous things to do and see, to eat & stay …and to play. Let’s think of the Valley as a bottle shall we? Now…how to get from the bottom of the bottle to the top… The Napa Valley Wine Train runs from downtown Napa to St. Helena and back, serving meals and wine on the trip. Some trips also include winery stops. The nostalgia alone is worth it. While the wine train may be a fun & romantic thing to try…and responsible as well…I do suggest a driver or car to be able to stop and visit the wineries that make your list of “must sees”. And I can’t stress enough…call ahead & make reservations!
WHERE TO WINE:
Each vineyard has a unique story that runs deeper than just a wine tasting. I can’t tell all the stories…but this simple tale of two people making their dream come true will hopefully help you search for the soul for deeper understanding of the passion of this culture with every sip you take & every word you read…
With a family name rooted in winemaking since the 1400s, wine was in Dave’s veins. He started collecting bottles in the late ‘80s. In 1988, he was on a wine-buying trip in Napa Valley with his wife Yolanda when they stumbled upon a beautiful 1912 Frank Lloyd Wright craftsman house located in the desirable Rutherford appellation. Dave had a palate for fine wines and a love for real estate, and he knew the Rutherford property had the potential to produce some remarkable grapes. He and Yolanda purchased the 17-acre property on the spot after falling in love with the view.
Currently the footprint consists of 437 acres with 121 acres of chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot and sangiovese. It took Del Dotto & Family 18 years to find the ideal sites to cultivate each individually selected grape. Each vineyard is organically farmed, with no chemical sprays or fertilizers, and all weeding performed by hand. The plants are meticulously cared for by professional vineyard workers in order to maintain the quality of the crop that defines the Del Dotto reputation. – ( http://www.deldottovineyards.com/About )
1055 Atlas Peak Road
Napa, CA 94558
WHERE TO DINE:
Our brunch at Brix is one of my favorite family memories. Blessed to have our family this close to the Valley…we took a day trip from Walnut Creek, CA (where Mama & Pops Dahl live & where my hubby grew up) to taste some wine & have some lunch. We stumbled upon this place before you even get to most of the vineyards. We were lucky to get a table outside, right off the beautiful garden, where most of the food we ate is grown & dined on delicious, farm-to-table Californian fare with majestic mountain views. The wine selection was impressive as well. We can’t wait to go back!
WHERE TO STAY:
Although I recommend staying more north, there are some really charming Inn’s along the way.
The Candlelight Inn is my pick if you’re staying in Napa. It is a beautiful historic Bed & Breakfast full of charm & romance. They have wonderful, reasonable, activity packed packages.
Candlelight Inn Napa Valley
1045 Easum Drive – Napa, CA 94558
WHERE TO PLAY:
Try checking some things of your bucket list …like taking a romantic hot air balloon ride with breath taking views of the Valley!
Take a trail ride through the vineyards on horseback. Unlike any experience offered in the Valley, this horseback ride through the sprawling vineyard, coupled with the perfect pairing of estate wine and an assortment of cheese, charcuterie, spreads, fruit and nuts, will be the highlight of your trip to Napa Valley. We have taken a romantic trail ride through the wine country & can’t wait to do it again!
100 Rapp Lane
Napa CA 94558
Grgich Hills Estate – Go Grape Stomping! From the beginning of harvest through the end of October, you can stomp some grapes, enjoy a glass of Grgich Hills wine, then take home a souvenir T-shirt and Govino glass. $35/person.
WHERE TO WINE:
Stewart Cellars works closely with acclaimed consulting winemaker Paul Hobbs, to capture the signature terroir of Stewart’s premier vineyards. The wine has a nice price point as well. They had me at “wood burning fireplace & exposed beams.”
Stewart Cellars – Tasting Room
6752 Washington St, Yountville, CA 94599
WHERE TO DINE:
Take a stroll down Washington Street & check out where all the action is. Yountville has become one of the most sought-out spots for foodies from around the country. The town is known for its celebrity chef restaurants and down-to-earth charm, and with easy accessibility from both of the valley’s main routes, Highway 29 and the Silverado Trail, it’s easy to stay in or stop by!
Ciccio is situated on the northern end of Yountville in Napa Valley, California. The building was originally built as an Italian Grocery Store in 1916 and has since been remodeled to an Italian restaurant that smells of a wood burning oven. Try their brick pizzas & ask to sit at the community table…you can meet new friends & talk about the wineries you plan to visit!
WHERE TO STAY:
Enjoy staying in the heart of the quaint little town of Yountville at this gorgeous rustic, yet modern resort.
WHERE TO PLAY:
6500 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599
WHERE TO WINE:
Visit the tasting room right off of the Silverado Trail to sample the hand-crafted wines & enjoy one of the best views in the Napa Valley. Enjoy a bottle in their private cabanas, lunch in the perfect picnic spot in the oak grove or a tour of the mile-long caves!
The Inglenook legacy began in 1879 when Gustave Niebaum, a Finnish sea captain, wine connoisseur and entrepreneur, came to Rutherford to build a wine estate that would rival Europe’s finest. When Niebaum’s grandnephew, John Daniel, Jr. inherited the chateau and vineyards in the 1930s, Inglenook had already earned international acclaim. Francis and Eleanor Coppola purchased the property in 1975 and have spent forty years reuniting the original vineyards, returning winemaking operations to the chateau, and restoring Inglenook’s illustrious heritage. – www.inglenook.com This winery is a must see. Just the drive up will transport you to another country.
One of Napa Valley’s most historic properties, restored to perfection by an Oscar-winning filmmaker.
This historic, renowned Inglenook Chateau is one of the most beautiful old wineries in the Napa Valley, and is a $25 fee to visit.
1991 St Helena Highway
Rutherford, CA 94573
Speaking of classics…you can’t forget Caymus Vineyards
Caymus Vineyards produces two Cabernets Sauvignons – a “Napa Valley” and the venerable “Special Selection”. Both Cabernet bottlings have aromas and flavors which can only be achieved through “hang time” – a technique which chances the loss of crop if early winter sets in. Leaving the fruit to “hang” on the vine unusually long develops suppleness, increases color, and matures the tannins of the grapes.
WHERE TO DINE:
Auberge Du Soleil’s brunch…it will blow you away with it’s creativity & flavor. Sit outside on the deck & enjoy the views for days. You will leave here with an experience hard to forget. So hard to forget that it made my “where to stay” list as well…
Nestled on the cliffs just high enough to see some of the most iconic views of the Valley…somewhere between the Rutherford & St. Helena region on your way up the bottle… Auberge Du Soleil sits awaiting to blow your mind.
Michelin Star Restaurant, Napa Valley’s only Forbes Five Star-Rated Hotel, Award-winning Spa, Adults-only Resort, Seasonal culinary, wine and music events, Extensive outdoor sculpture garden, outdoor yoga, divine brunch are just a few things you need to know about this must stop.
WHERE TO PLAY:
Cakebread Cellars is offering a Pasta Cooking Class on October 28th. Click here for details
WHERE TO WINE:
Newton Vineyard is a jewel atop Spring Mountain in St. Helena. Enjoy unique panoramic views of Napa Valley and stroll through their famous English gardens while tasting through a selection of current vintage wines.
Cade Estate Winery is perched high upon Napa Valley’s Howell Mountain among a dramatic hillside of Manzanita trees. The views are unbeatable.
Beringer Winery est. 1876 One of the few places that walk in are welcome, Beringer winery is grand, historic & widly worth the stop. We loved it! Click here for tasting prices on their award winning reserve https://www.beringer.com/en/visit/tastings
WHERE TO DINE:
The Harvest Table, Chef Charlie Palmer’s Wine Country kitchen features a menu that highlights locally sourced ingredients and the best of the Napa Valley. Our dinner was divine right down to the beautiful oversize brick fireplace! It’s located in the quaint & charming Harvest Inn…
WHERE TO STAY:
Harvest Inn– This is where my husband surprised me & booked our stay for our 2nd anniversary. The vineyards were right out of a storybook, the English tudor style main house
was enchanting & the entire ambience of the property was perfection. It was picturesque from start to finish from the food, the view, the romantic suite to the gorgeous grounds.
The Harvest Inn
1 Main St, St Helena, CA 94574
If you’re looking for more of a resort feel, check out Meadowood Napa Valley Resort. Sitting on 250 acres in quaint St. Helena, California, Meadowood Napa Valley resort entices you with it’s lush landscape and isolation. The rooms run a rustic elegance vibe, with cottage-like beamed ceilings, private terraces and, in most rooms, fireplaces. They also offer croquet, tennis, swimming, an extensive fitness center and golf on the grounds. IT’S HEAVEN!
WHERE TO PLAY:
Sunday, October 29, 2017
738 Main Street
Saint Helena CA
Take a cooking class!
This visit was very special to me as I love to cook & have a passion for the culinary arts. It was magnificent & inspiring!
The CIA at Greystone
2555 Main Street
St. Helena, CA 94574
Calistoga, California sits on top of Napa Valley like the cork in a wine bottle. This is by far my favorite region of the Valley.
WHERE TO WINE:
Its grand entrance will entrance you…but you haven’t seen anything yet. The jaunt up the road leads you to a jaw dropping CASTLE! It comes complete with an old world drawbridge & moat. There are baby goats & chickens around the gorgeous grounds, making it feel even more like an enchanted country farmland. The award winning wines will take your breath away almost as much as the stunning scenery. Walk the tour, check out the underground caves & the medieval torture chamber! The Great Hall is glorious too!
You can even attend church there. Latin Mass is held in the Saint Catherine of Siena Chapel at Castello di Amorosa every Sunday morning at 8:30 AM. Proper church attire is requested (women should wear a veil and men a tie).
And the parties…talk about “putting on the ritz”
The New Year’s Eve Gatsby Gala is one for the books!
They roll out the red carpet & the paparazzi take your picture , everyone wears formal 1920’s attire, they serve a 3 course decadent dinner in The Grand Barrel Room, the wine is exquisite, there is dancing to the swanky sounds of The Speakeasies & you ring in the New Year with a glass of bubbly. Just perfect!
$305/ Wine Club Members, $355/ Guests Reservations required
Click here for more events
Perched 300 feet above the town of Calistoga, Sterling Vineyards offers unparalleled panoramic views of Napa Valley. The cable car carried us up the hill to the winery designed after architecture from the Greek island of Mykonos, where Sterling founder Peter Newton once lived. If not you’re not scared of heights…this is one of the coolest views there is. Photo ops for days…
1111 Dunaweal Lane
Calistoga, CA 94515
1 (800) 726 6136
Established in 1882, this masterpiece of a winery is most famous for winning the white wine section of the historic “Judgment of Paris” wine competition. Chateau Montelena’s Chardonnay was in competition with nine other wines from France and California under blind tasting. A fictionalized version of Chateau Montelena’s historic victory was featured in the 2008 film Bottle Shock. We bought the movie at the gift store, brought a bottle home, uncorked it & watched the film with the family…highly recommend the winery & the movie!
WHERE TO DINE:
Evangeline – New Orleans spirit with French technique in a charming restaurant where two-thirds of the tables are outside. French and local wines and Nola-influenced cocktails accompany Creole and French fare enjoyed in the rustic-modern space and outdoor patio.
WHERE TO STAY:
A charming and romantic boutique hotel offering free continental breaky & luxury feather beds.
If you’ve ever stayed at & fallen in love with The Madonna Inn in San Louis Obispo like me…then you will love this hotel too!
One of the more affordable Auberge Resort’s, The Solage is a Forbes Five-Star Napa Valley Resort providing a full range of spa services, a Michelin-starred restaurant and complimentary cruiser bikes to explore the resort and quaint town.
WHERE TO PLAY:
Safari West: Take a mini-safari through this 400-acre wildlife preserve (which is also a safari-style bed and breakfast). The accommodations are “glamping” (glamorous camping), with plush beds, hot showers, polished wood floors, copper basins in the private bathrooms, and one-of-a kind hand hewn furniture. It’s the perfect destination for families looking for a bit of adventure and luxury. You can stay overnight in their luxury tent cabins – or take one of their guided tours. It’s a fun experience for families and for anyone who loves to see wild animals. You even can sip champagne with giraffes and go on safari under the warm California sun. Safari West puts it, “the spirit of Africa in the heart of wine country.”
You can take a three-hour Safari Adventure tour or a 90-minute Serengeti Trek walking tour. You may see zebras, blue wildebeest, cape buffalo, watusi cattle, and kudu. These are only a few of the more than 800 animals that live on the Sonoma Serengeti at Safari West.
Bonus wineries beyond the beaten path:
If you are an explorer who loves road trips & finding sleepers then this “best kept secret” is for you. Pop the cork and keep coming up the path. Nestled 26 miles northwest of Calistoga…this hidden gem that just hosted a James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour Dinner, will prove worth the drive with it’s picturesque grounds & palate pleasing tastings.
The “wine dogs”, Bernadette the St. Bernard and Gus the Yellow Lab, will greet you with tongues a waggin!
4085 W Dry Creek Rd
If you dare to drive even more north…which I made my husband do … Well I’m Italian, a total tourist at heart & I grew up watching the Godfather, so of course I’m going to make him to take me to The Francis Ford Coppola Winery. Yes, I had some wine with that cheese 😉 I loved every minute of our time there. It was full of nostalgia, movie memorabilia & great Italian food!
300 Via Archimedes, Geyserville, CA 95441
Lastly, A Dahl family tradition in Sonoma:
Depending on the direction you’re coming from & going to…see if you pass one of our favorites in Sonoma Valley – Viansa Vineyards They have little cabanas that hang over the edge of the cliff that you can sit in & have a picnic. The views are priceless.
I hope I’ve given you enough information & suggestions to plan the perfect weekend getaway to the wonderful world of Wine Country! Leave any comments or questions and I will be happy to answer them.
Enjoy your trip!
(Scroll down for the list of wineries damaged or destroyed by the fires of 2017)
The winery was completely destroyed but the barrel room & vineyards were spared. They plan to rebuild.
(Pictured above was a our 2 year anniversary trip…Signorello was our first stop & it holds a special place in our hearts & we pray they recover & rebuild their beautiful winery.)
Stags Leap Winery
Established in 1893. Destroyed.
White Rock Vineyards
One of Napa’s oldest wineries (founded in 1870), White Rock initially said all employees were safe and it planned to assess damage on Oct 10th. Unfortunately, it later confirmed the winery was a total loss. The state of the vineyard is unknown.
William Hill Estate Winery
Footage of the winery’s sign burning that went viral, it turns out the damage to the actual winery is mostly cosmetic. Officials say vineyard damage was minimal.
The Stag’s Leap District winery suffered some landscape and vineyard damage, but said the winery structure was sound, despite some reports that were more dire.
While the winery building and tasting room survived, the crush pad at the back of the winery was burned and all agricultural equipment and 1 acre of the winery’s Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard was burned.
“What this all will mean for vintage 2017 is yet to be determined. Much of our wine is already inside and resting in barrels. As for vintage 2018, I am reasonably certain that we will continue, repair the damage, replace the equipment needed, etc.,” the winery said on its Facebook page.
Helena View Johnston Vineyards
The Mercury News spoke with the owner’s brother, who told them “all is lost” at the organic winery
The Patrick Road fire damaged this Atlas Peak winery. The extend of those, however, is still being determined.
This small-batch family winery, which makes no more than 1,000 cases per year, reportedly suffered a “total loss”. Proprietor and winemaker Michael Parmenter told local media “everything gone except our (wine) cave.”
Sonoma County wineries
Paradise Ridge Winery
The winery reported a total loss on its Facebook page. In A Wednesday morning post, though, it said all employees were safe and vowed to rebuild.
Ancient Oak Cellars
This Russian River Valley winery suffered heavy damages, with the tasting counter, two onsite redwood barns and the owner’s house being destroyed, the company said on its Facebook page. There was some good news the next day, though, as it wrote “although we have not been allowed on the property yet, Ken and Arnulfo and I were able to look from afar and we *believe* that our vines may have been spared. It’s too early to know for sure, but we see green, and not all scorched black as we feared.”
There’s reportedly some fire damage here, but the facility is still standing. As of now, though, the extent of the damage is unknown.
There’s some damage here, but the winery said on its Facebook page that the wine was secure in its cellars. ” We have some damage to fix,” it said. ” We are cleaning up and hoping to have the power back on this [week].”
Chateau St. Jean
Despite reports it had burned to the ground, this Kenwood winery’s main structure is still standing and appears unharmed. Damage to outer buildings and the vineyard is still being assessed.
Mayo Family Wineries
A house on the property was destroyed by the fire, but the winery itself has so far been spared.
Gundlach Bundschu Winery
According to reports on Twitter, the property suffered some fire damage, but said its winery and structure were still intact. The family home on the property, however, was lost.
Mendocino County wineries
Frey Vineyards Winery
Alison deGrassi of Visit Mendocino told the Mercury News that the winery, which focuses on organic and biodynamic wines, was destroyed by the fires.
Oster Wine Cellars
Visit Medocino’s deGrassi also listed Oster, another Redwood Valley staple, as a total loss.
The vineyards at this Hopland winery are “scorched but they are not ruined,” according to owner Julie Golden (via the Mercury News).
Mayacamas Vineyards (1155 Lokoya Rd. Napa). One of the property’s historic buildings burned to the ground, the winery itself — a stone building constructed in 1889 — remains intact. For more on Mayacamas, see our individual report here.
Palmaz Vineyards (4029 Hagen Rd, Napa): The winery’s main building only suffered superficial damage, according to the LA Times.
Paras Vineyard (2340 Mt. Veeder Rd., Napa). The family farm burned and there is some vineyard damage.
Patland Estate Vineyards (Soda Canyon Rd., Napa): Reports of extensive damage to estate and vineyards.
Pulido Walker (Mt. Veeder, Napa) According to the company’s Facebook, “Pulido Walker suffered a devastating loss of our home, but thus far the Estate vineyards seem to have withstood the destruction from the flames.”
Roy Estate (1220 Soda Canyon Rd, Napa). There is confirmed damage at Roy Estate on Soda Canyon Road.
Sill Family Vineyards (2929 Atlas Peak Rd, Napa): Reports say the winery is destroyed.
Sky Vineyards (4352 Cavedale Rd, Glen Ellen): Skyla Olds, whose family owns Sky Vineyard on Mt Veeder, has learned that the family’s home had burned, but the winery was still intact, at least for now, though damaged.
Korbin Kameron (13647 Arnold Dr, Glen Ellen): According to the winery’s Facebook, it lost buildings and part of the vineyard.
Mayo Family Wineries (13101 Arnold Dr., Glen Ellen): According to Jeff Mayo, a house on the property has burned, but as of Monday afternoon, the winery has been spared so far.
Nicholson Ranch (4200 Napa Rd., Sonoma): Despite early reports of big damage, the winery has made a statement via Facebook that despite some wreckage, it’s still intact.”
Paradise Ridge (8860 Sonoma Hwy., Kenwood): The winery has burned down.
Backbone Vineyard (Redwood Valley): Owner Sattie Clark said the winery has burned down.
Frey Vineyards Winery (14000 Tomki Rd., Redwood Valley): Reports have Frey largely destroyed.
Oster Wine Cellars (13501 Tomki Rd., Redwood Valley): Reports have Oster largely destroyed.
William Hill (1761 Atlas Peak Rd., Napa): According to a spokesperson at Gallo, which owns William Hill, the winery buildings are intact and sustained only minor cosmetic damages
VinRoc (4069 Atlas Peak Rd, Napa): The Atlas Peak winery looks to be largely destroyed.
Ancient Oak Cellars (4120 Old Redwood Hwy., Santa Rosa): Reports owners lost house, two barns, and tasting counter. The winery’s vineyard at Siert Ranch also damaged.
Chateau St. Jean (8555 Sonoma Hwy., Kenwood): The winery’s statement: “At this stage, there is limited damage to our infrastructures and sites, however the fires are ongoing and we still have limited access to all of our different assets.”
Gundlach Bundschu Winery (2000 Denmark St., Sonoma): Winery owners home burned. Winery sustained some damage
Storybook Mountain Vineyards (3835 CA-128, Calistoga): The winery said it lost the building that housed the library wines, but the winery and two houses still stand.
White Rock Vineyards (1115 Loma Vista Dr., Napa): One of Napa’s oldest wineries has suffered significant damage.