Hi! Hello! How is everyone?
For those who love wine (myself included) Napa is one of those places that is pretty high up there on your bucket list to visit. It was always on the back of my mind but I never had the chance to go until this past Labor Day Weekend. It was one of my girlfriend's birthday weekend and she suggested we take a girls trip to Napa. I didn't know quite what to expect (except taste lots of wine) and we kind of just went for it and dove into research prior to the weekend. We used Google Docs to plan and it was a huge help! I would highly recommend when planning a trip!
First of all, there are SO MANY wineries you can't expect to visit all of them. Secondly, a lot of the wineries are really far away and you can expect long, windy drives, so make sure you have someone who is willing to drink less wine and be the designated driver, Uber (which could take quite a bit depending on time and location) or take part in a wine tour where your transportation is provided but know that you have to pay separately for the tasting fees.
I'm breaking down some of the places I visited AND some that were on my list that I didn't get to visit on this trip.
We stayed in Napa which was a great location to many of the wineries and it was very close to downtown Napa which was super cute with lots of restaurants and little bars. I would recommend staying in the Napa area to be in the central location of all the wineries. We flew into San Francisco, which is the nearest airport and you can rent a car or Uber to Napa. It's about an hour and a half drive so if you choose to Uber it will be between $80-$100.
Below I listed and linked all the wineries I visited and others I would have loved to visit if I had more time.
Peju Province Winery: This winery wasn't originally on our list but we were told to go from a fellow hotel guest. I loooved this little winery! It was so picturesque and the wine was delicious plus the pours were quite generous too! Our host was very knowledgable, friendly and insightful. This winery served a good mixture of white and reds which I enjoyed since it was a warm day and red sometimes feels too heavy especially in warm weather. Another great thing about this winery is that you didn't need a reservation, you could walk in and enjoy a nice tasting inside an air conditioned bar area. The tasting was $40 but the ambiance was wonderful and well worth the time.
Cakebread Cellars: The set up for this tasting was a little different than the previous winery, we sat around a table with another group of people outside. Cakebread's vineyards were on the grounds so it was the perfect spot for a vineyard photo plus you got to keep your wine glass!
Mumm Napa: This winery is great to visit especially after tasting lots of heavy reds and dry whites. Mumm has sparkling wine and champagne that was very refreshing especially for the warm day. The grounds overlook vineyards and mountains which make for a pretty picture of the view. The tasting prices depend on the flight you pick and they also give you some snacks to enjoy with your bubbly.
Stagsleap Cellars: Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars is known for being the winery that won a Cabernet Sauvignon competition in the 1976 Judgment of Paris, was founded in 1970, and is considered a Napa Valley first-growth estate. The wines were exceptional and very high end. One cabernet sauvignon I tasted was $295 which of course was velvety smooth, fruity and absoltutely delicious.
Darioush: This winery was by far my favorite! The grounds were soo beautiful and majestic. I loved the mediterranean style decor and it was THE place for a photo op! The tasting fee was a little pricey ($51) but the environment and quality of wines were well worth it! I was in awe of everything I saw here and didn't want to leave! The wines included in the tasting were mostly reds but all of them were delicious and smooth. Be sure to ask for Kelly, he was the sweetest and was so knowledgeable about all the wines. And the great thing is you can find Darioush wines in 'Total Wine' shops around the country.
Castello Di Amorosa: I was told to visit this winery by a friend and found this place listed in various articles. This winery is an authentically built, medieval Tuscan castle. It is super touristy (when we went it was crowded and lots of families came with their kids) but such a fun atmosphere because it was so different. While I didn't have as much time as I hoped, I was able to enjoy a wide range of wines here. Outside the castle were peacocks, cows and turkeys roaming the grounds which was fun to see on our way out.
Spring Mountain Vineyard: This winery ended up being the last one for the weekend. This was pretty far out and once you reached the entrance the driveway was very steep and long. (We definitely got lost on our way out haha!) This vineyard consisted of a few small houses and one big mansion where the tasting took place. The house was vintage 30s style with a huge entryway and long tables set up for tastings. The grounds were massive and it was so easy to get lost in the MANY vineyards all around the property. Ask for Rick, he was the best and made our experience so memorable.
Here are some other ones I would have loved to visit but didn't have enough time to visit!
Artesa: This one has an infinity pool, with amazing views of the mountains and vineyards. The tasting fee is $100 and reservations only.
Domaine Carneros: A beautiful mansion with gorgeous views of the vineyard. This is also reservation only and $30 for a tasting.
As for places to eat, we made reservations at 2 Birds One Stone which has a California-inspired Japanese menu. Think soba noodles and ramen. It was light and delicious and service was very quick. Farmstead was highly recommended by many and it was absolutely delicious. All their ingredients were fresh from their farm, vineyards and ranch. Their menu consists of American and seafood dishes which were all amazing! We also visited the Sky and Vine Rooftop Bar inside the Archer Hotel. I would recommend coming here during to day so you can take in all the views, it was late in the evening when we came to eat here and we weren't able to see any views. The servers were very nice and even though they messed up our order they were very gracious and overall provided great service.
Well there you have it, a detailed guide to Napa! Let me know some other places you all love to visit!
Until next time!