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Sipping and Savoring My Way Through the Best of Napa

Updated: Mar 16, 2022

Calling all wine lovers! Pour yourself a glass and stroll through some of the best vineyards. For those foodies- my top restaurant picks in Yountville. The perfect adventure for any epicurious traveler.

My husband and I planned a trip to Napa for our anniversary. As we are wine enthusiasts and have a modest collection, we thought this would be a perfect trip. While most of our wine is “old world style” from France and Italy, exploring California together was on our list.

We flew into San Francisco, but since we both had been there prior, we decided to make our way directly to Napa by way of Jeep.

I had a convertible when I was younger and have always wanted to drive along the coast and have the wind blow through my hair. It is a great feeling to get off a cross-country flight and be able to smell the fresh air, while vacation vibes wash over you immediately!

We chose to stay in Yountville, since the food scene is bananas, it is considered the culinary capital of Napa. Besides the famous French Laundry, there are several choices that will satisfy the most sophisticated palate. Between Michelin Star dining, to farm-to-table eateries, one can’t go wrong.

Bardessono Hotel & Spa is our home for the next few days. Its modern minimalistic astatic with muted colors reflects the surrounding landscape.

Our spacious suite had great views and the bathroom definitely gave you a feeling of being in a luxury spa.

Before heading to our first wine tasting we grab lunch at Ciccio’s. Pizza always tastes better from a wood burning oven and it made for a perfect quick bite.

We had appointments at all of the vineyards we visited and many required a deposit.

Our first stop…Caymus offered a wonderful tasting and the Wagner family produces beautiful wine. I had been familiar with the famous Cabernet but was interested in trying the other wines under the umbrella of the Wagner name. The Caymus Zinfendel and Petite Sirah were both delicious, but for someone who doesn’t like traditional California chardonnay, the Mer Soleil SILVER was a great choice. It is fermented and aged in a combination of stainless steel and small concrete tanks imported from Burgundy. The wine has great balance of acidity and bright minerality.

Darioush, was definitely a unique experience and the height of hospitality. The grand entrance immediately takes you back to another time, with the towering pillars and bubbling fountains, you feel welcomed by the rich Persian culture this winery emits. Besides the wine being extraordinary, the glasses they used for our tasting was the finest I have ever sipped from. In fact when we got home we ordered a set immediately. The Essential, by Sophienwald, are extremely thin and lightweight, allowing you to enjoy the wine more than noticing the glass in your hand.

The next day we headed to Oakville, while this region is small the wines are big! Groth, Plumpjack, and our favorite Gargiulo, which we have been members of for over ten years, all have some of the best wines in California. Needless to say we enjoyed a lot of great Cabernet Sauvignon.

We grabbed a late lunch from Tacos Garcia, a popular food truck on the north end of Yountville at Pancha’s parking lot. The pastor taco had great flavor and spice, perfect after an afternoon of drinking.

We hired a driver to explore Sonoma on our third day. Starting with breakfast at Boon Fly Café before heading to a champagne tasting at Domaine Carneros.

The food was excellent at the Carneros Resort and Spa eatery, think contemporary roadhouse at a luxury resort. I am a sucker for avocado toast and my husband had the chicken and waffles, but the signature donuts can’t be missed! After an obscene amount of carb loading we were ready for the day.

Domaine Carneros winery specializes in sparkling and is partially owned by Taittinger, a primer champagne company in France, and one of my favorite brut roses. The architecture is modeled after the 18th century Château de la Marquetterie, with its grand staircase and stunning terrace overlooking the vineyard. This property can’t be missed and is great for a late morning tasting. It is also houses the largest solar-powered energy system of any winery in the world.

We also visited B Wise, which was a stand out even though the tasting lounge is in a strip mall along Sonoma Hwy in Kenwood. The grapes coming from Moon Mountain district, predominately make for wonderful Cabs and Zinfandels and is growing a name for itself in the county as an exciting new appellation. It is an added bonus that one of the three wine makers, Massimo Monticelli, came from Silver Oak. B Wise also features a Tannat, which is one of my favorite varietals typically coming from Uruguay. There is now a tasting room at Sleeping Lady Vineyard at the B Wise Loft in Yountville that is a restored bank barn from 1876. Now wine enthusiast can enjoy some of Sonoma’s finest grapes without traveling over the Mayacamas Mountains.

The next morning I woke up to the most wonderful view from my bathroom. Colors of red, yellow and blue filled the sky. I watched as three hot air balloons started to soar. I ran to my balcony, where I FaceTimed with my sister so she could hear the hissing as they climbed higher. This is an excursion I have on my bucket list- but for another time, as my husband is not a huge fan of heights.

After a delicious pre fixe brunch at Ad Hoc…another Thomas Keller establishment, we head to Hall in Rutherford, a highlight of the trip.

I remember my parents coming back from Napa many years ago and my father going into great detail about a particular vineyard. This was shocking to me since my father was never fussy when it came to wine, but he found a new appreciation after visiting Hall.

I made sure to designate our last day in Napa to this vineyard. I thought it was important to go out on a high note and give this exceptional vineyard the attention it deserves.

Kathryn Hall’s dream of showcasing fine wines alongside expressive art and masterful architecture is definitely noticeable when visiting Hall Rutherford.

I have never seen a tasting room quite as breathtaking. The chandelier over the banquet table mimics a tree like structure with vines filled with tiny crystal lights, creating an ambiance of opulence meeting their spectacular award winning, limited-production wines. For true wine lovers this is a must!

I am not one to eat fast food, but after our tasting we decided to grab lunch at Gott’s Roadside, in St Helena. There aren’t many roadside stops that offer sushi grade tuna, and fresh locally sourced ingredients. Indulging in a burger and fires accompanied by a cold pistachio shake definitely lived up to the hype and was worth every calorie.

Back to the food scene in Yountville…

Our first night we had dinner at Bistro Jeanty, very chic and classic. A staple in town and the food lives up to the reputation! They are proud to say they are the only French bistro in Yountville that is actually owned by a French men.

Taking a break from French cuisine we head to Michael Chiarello’s Bottega Napa Valley the following evening. This rustic Italian restaurant offered a lively atmosphere and more importantly white truffles were in season!

We found ourselves at Thomas Keller’s Buchon Bistro for our last night. The traditional French décor with the red velvet banquette, mosaic floor, and elegant lighting mixed with large palm trees add a dramatic flare, not to be outdone by the excellent food.

Insider Tip- Wine, Country, Connection is a wonderful tasting room in Yountville, owned by Master Sommelier Kevin Vogt. The wine selection is wonderful and they can ship your purchases home. You can also sign up for the newsletter and get insider updates on specials.

After four days of enjoying some of California’s best wines, we give our livers a break and head to Half Moon Bay Ritz Carlton.

Stroll over to Half Moon Bay Getaway to step into your next adventure!

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