The perfect trip to Napa

The perfect trip to Napa
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So you’ve got yourself a vacation booked to wine country do you?  Before you panic at the sheer magnitude of vineyards every guide book says you MUST visit, let me tell you some insider information.   You will never conquer Napa.  It is an always evolving magical kingdom (yes, like an adult Disney) that is meant to be enjoyed in small sips.  Okay, more like in cases of wine.. but you get the point.

Advisory: There is one thing I feel compelled to warn you about in the land of grapey-goodness.  You will inevitably get drunk at the tastings (guzzlings.. tomayto/tomahto) and the vineyards are all quite a bit of a drive from one another.  Plan accordingly with a private transfer car or a responsible driver.

Day 1 and 2: Must See Big Vineyards: 

These vineyards have put quite a bit of effort into creating their magic (think castles, gondolas, animals, museum artifacts) for their guests… and while you might not go for their wines per se, you go for the theatrics.
  • -Sterling
  • -Beringer
  • -Castillo di Amorosa
  • -Hess
  • -Robert Mondavi
  • -Domaine Carneros
  • -Staggs Leap
  • -Ledson Winery and Vineyards
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Day 3: Choose 3 lesser known vineyards that are only open for private tours.  

This will afford you a completely different experience.  It will be informative, you will eat cheese and chocolate, and you’ll get to drink exceptional wines that are very exclusive.  And well, who doesn’t want to be a wine snob and say things like, “mmm, yes, the notes of caramel are quite faint” as you swirl the wine against your glass in a 100 year old cellar?  Isn’t this kind of the point of Napa?  I’ve done private tours at the following three vineyards and I highly recommend them (mmm, yes)

  • -Keever
  • -Bell Wine
  • -Cliff Lede
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Day 4 (or day 3 if you’re wined-out):

take a hot air balloon ride over Napa Valley
Stroll down Washington Street for some urban tastings and shop for souvenirs and goodies in theMarketplace in Yountville
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Food.

Don’t worry yourself with breakfast or lunch.  Pick up a croissant from Bouchon bakery with your coffee before you begin wine tasting.  Midday, there’s nothing more quintessential Napa than a picnic of cheese, baguette and your newly purchased wine.  For dinner, the possibilities are endless.  There are so many fabulous farm to table restaurants with fresh ingredients and delectable wines.  If you’re looking to spend 2 months rent on a meal, French Laundry is an experience worth splurging for.  For me, I can’t condone spending so much on a meal I’ll only half remember eating on account of my lingering wine blackout. Something that we can all afford: you have to make your way to Redds for pizza by the outdoor fire pits and a charcuterie board worthy of an instagram upload.
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Lodging.

Hmmm, this is a tough one.  My big suggestion is chose a place that is on the vineyard.  You want to open up your balcony and see grapes.

The Harvest Inn in Helena delivers on the vineyard view.  Fireplaces in each spacious room, this boutique hotel is quaint and charming.  I stayed here for a few days and was smitten with the experience, but we had a suite.  The reviews online warned that there is a big disparity between rooms, so chose wisely!

Hotel Yountville is a great choice if you’re after centralized location, a wee bit of a vineyard view, with the luxury of a resort feel. You can walk right out the hotel door and into any of the shops, restaurants and bars lining Washington Street.
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Hotel I discourage you from booking: (unless you’ve got kids or are a golf fanatic): Silverado Resort & Spa.  The apartment style rooms are spacious, but are begging for a facelift.  All in all, I felt like I was staying in a housing development on a golf course, not in Napa Valley.  I mean, they didn’t even give you wine upon check in.  I still don’t get it.

What am I missing?  Leave a comment below and I’ll make sure to review it next time I head up North 🙂

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