MJD and I were lucky enough to spend three days in Napa a few weeks ago and I already can’t wait to go back! Obviously Napa is home to delicious wines, but it was also stunningly beautiful and we ate so much yummy food along the way! Located about 60 miles or so (depending on exactly where you are headed) from the San Fran Airport, Napa is a California destination that I would recommend everyone visits at least once! If you are lucky enough to visit, the below list were our favorites from our few days in town. I hope you’ll love them too 🙂
Where To Stay-
Napa Valley Lodge: After a quick search for boutique hotels in the area, we settled on the Napa Valley Lodge located in Yountville. The hotel was absolutely gorgeous with a beautiful property filled with flowers (as you can see above). The location was great as it was a short walk from all of Yountville’s restaurants and tasting rooms. The Napa Valley Lodge also offers complimentary breakfast which was a great way to start the day before heading out for wine tasting. With a bocce court and pretty pool area, there were plenty of places to relax after a day of tastings too. We had fun playing bocce before dinner and enjoying the Napa nights on our room’s balcony. I absolutely loved Yountville so would highly recommend a stay at the Napa Valley Lodge to be in that area!
Where To Drink… Wine of course 😉 –
Since most people are visiting Napa to sample the local wines, I couldn’t have a travel guide without including our favorite wineries. I’ll be posting a more detailed post on the wineries with additional details soon, but wanted to be sure to highlight them here too 🙂
Domaine Carneros– A gorgeous chateau/castle style winery with a lovely patio for tastings. Domaine Carneros is known for its’ sparkling wine and pinot noirs.
Far Niente– Located in Oakville which is known for cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay which is what you will find at a tasting or tour at Far Niente. The tour shows their winery including the caves and original building from the late 1800’s.
Tres Sabores– Tres Sabores is a small, family owned winery that makes organic wines and grows their vines alongside olive trees, lemon trees and pomegranates. The owner’s six golden retrievers were also a highlight of the tour 🙂
Eleven Eleven– Located relatively close to downtown Napa, Eleven Eleven had the most gorgeous tasting room. The wines are great and the service was too.
Hess Collection– A big name Napa winery with an interesting background (originally their winery was owned by the Church!) and a stunning art collection, this was a must-visit for us.
Where To Eat-
Besides being home to many wineries, Napa also has so many amazing restaurants including several Michelin starred restaurants. The French Laundry is one of Napa’s most famous restaurants- located right in Yountville- and reservations are usually booked six months in advance. I would highly recommend making recommendations for any of the more popular or award winning restaurants well in advance of your trip if you really want to try them. Most of the recommendations below are located in Yountville, just because it was very convenient from our hotel.
Bouchon Bistro– One of Thomas Keller’s restaurants, we were lucky enough to grab a reservation at Bouchon a few weeks before our trip. As you can probably tell from the name, it’s a French restaurant and we indulged in super yummy duck, escargot and steak frites. This was a short walk from our hotel and we both loved it.
Auberge du Soleil– Several friends had recommended going to Auberge and checking out their bistro and it was well worth it. We went a bit before sunset and got to see the valley as the sun went down. It truly is a stunning view (see above pics 😉 ). We were easily able to walk in to the bistro section, but I believe reservations at the restaurant would take some advanced planning. We did a variety of appetizers, cheese, charcuterie and of course ended with dessert here. Everything was fab!
Bouchon Bakery– If you can’t get in to Bouchon for dinner, I would definitely recommend grabbing breakfast or a sweet treat from their bakery. It is located right next door and the outdoor patio area was perfect for munching on our croissants. I fell in love with their mixed berry croissant and the No-tell-em macron (their version of Nutella).
Brix– We went to Brix on our first night in Napa and I was blown away by their property. They have the most beautiful garden and patio area which was the perfect place for a pre-dinner drink. They grow a lot of their produce right there as well. I really enjoyed the half chicken for my dinner entrée. We also got the Brussel sprouts and truffle fries for sides and couldn’t stop eating the sprouts- so so good!
ZuZu– During our tour at Tres Sabores, our host recommended ZuZu and we were so glad we went there! We went for lunch one day as it was in downtown Napa and more convenient for us to go there before winery visits. ZuZu is a tapas restaurant with a fantastic menu. My favorites were the salted cod with crostini and the empandas. MJD also was a fan of their beer selection.
Oakville Grocery– This is not your typical grocery story so don’t be confused by the name. Oakville Grocery is located right on Route 29 and is the perfect place to grab lunch during a day of wine tasting in the area. We stopped here after our visit after our visit to Far Niente and before Tres Sabores for lunch on their picnic tables. I had the BLTA (A for avocado, obvi) and MJD had a caprese sandwich with prosciutto. Both sandwiches were great. You can also pick up wine and other snacks there, making it a great stop to stock up for a picnic if you were to have one.
Other Napa tips:
Getting around: You obviously don’t want to be driving around from winery to winery- while they are tastings, it can be a lot of wine depending on how many you visit in one day. We used Uber for most of our trip and it worked well. Just keep in mind some of the wineries are seriously large estates with long driveways off the main roads and it can take uber sometime to get there. As long as you plan your schedule accordingly with enough time between visits, it should work okay!
Planning your day: We visited two to three wineries a day during our visit. This was the perfect amount for us as we had time to go out to lunch and still feel good enough for dinner, too. Keep in mind most of the wineries or tasting rooms close around 5-530ish so it gives you a built in time table for when your day of winery hopping ends. As there are a ton of wineries to visit, I would recommend planning to visit wineries in the same general location on the same day to keep things easier on yourself and for transportation.
Until next time, Napa… Cheers!