I recently went to Napa Valley for the first time ever and loved it. Anyone who drinks and enjoys wine needs to go there.
I went over Labor Day – and I live on the East Coast – so yes, a long weekend is totally doable. We spent two days in the Valley and on our first day we visited three wineries and the second day we visited two.
Follow our itinerary for a fun and also relaxing trip to Napa:
We stayed at the Hilton Doubletree about a twenty minute ride from the wineries. After eating breakfast we ordered an Uber and off we went to the wineries!
10:00 am: Our first stop was Frank Family Vineyards. We walked inside and into a side room with two bars – perfect size for about 6 people to enjoy wine at each one. Our “guide” for lack of a better word, was easy going but also very knowledgeable. We started with a sparkling wine – which was delicious! Then we had a Chardonnay followed by three red wines. My favorite was the sparkling wine, the Pinot Noir and the Sangiovese. Give yourself about an hour and a half to two hours here. It is not rushed but we made our next appointment a little too close for comfort. We ordered our Uber and were off to the second winery!
11:15 a.m.: We drove up a windy road to Schramsberg Vineyards nestled on the mountainside. We walked in and our tour began at 10:30. We followed our tour guide into a tunnel lined with thousands of bottles of wine! This vineyard specializes in sparkling wine so our tour guide explained the riddler (he turns each bottle of wine throughout the day to ensure sediment deposits move down to the neck of the bottle). I asked our guide about the caves and he said they meander about 2 miles throughout the mountainside and were hand-carved by picks decades ago. After learning about the wine process and history of the location and owners, we got to taste the wine while in the cave! With the backdrop of thousands of bottles of wine and a dozen candles, we were able to taste 5 different wines – 4 sparkling and 1 red wine. I loved all of the sparkling wines, but my favorite two were the Blanc to Blanc and the Brut Rose.
1:30 pm: After this vineyard, we requested another Uber and traveled to Rutherford Grill – request to sit on the patio – there are excellent views of the mountains.
4 p.m.: We drove a short distance to Salvestrin Vineyard. This vineyard was so relaxing. We sat out on the patio with the sunshine and views of the rows of grapes and mountains as a backdrop. We tried 5 wines here. My personal favorite was the Sangiovese.
6:00 pm: We had dinner at Cook St. Helena – a cozy Italian restaurant.
After breakfast we were on our way to our first winery – Nickel & Nickel. When we first pulled up we were blown away at the beauty of the property. It’s a farmhouse surrounded by gardens, a horse stable, a barn, and mountains in the background. We took a tour of the grounds – walking into each building and learning the process of making wine. We even went down to the wine cellar and took pictures by the barrels.
We then enter the farmhouse again and moved to a private dining room where 5 wines were waiting for us with 3 different types of cheeses. We tasted each one individually and then were told to mix and match the wine with different cheeses to see how the taste changes. I loved the first cheese with the first wine. This winery is very sophisticated and classy and it was really cool to see how each winery has their own personality.
12:30 p.m.: Mustards Grill – this place was so busy! The food was also delicious.
3:00 p.m.: Del Dotto Vineyards – we pull up to this European looking home which seems quite small, however as we continue walking towards it, it gets bigger – because the first floor is actually below ground. We enter and the entire place is filled with marble, colorful walls, and what looks like an Italian mansion. We then enter the caves for our wine tasting and learn about oak barrels and how the wood taken from specific woods can change the wine. We tried about six wines – all red and mainly cabernet. We then head back out of the caves and stand at a bar where we drink more wine and they provide cheese, prosciutto, and homemade pizza. So fun!
6:00 p.m.: Brasswood Bar + Kitchen – we started off outside but then a bee took a real interest in me so we went inside. Their food was also delicious. I highly recommend getting the arancinis as an appetizer.
We then drove to San Francisco and stayed there for the night so we didn’t have a long trip to the airport in the morning – our flight was at 7:45 am!
We hope to go back soon! We loved it and with more than 500 vineyards, we can go back hundreds of times and always visit a new one!