It’s Monday again, but don’t fret! Instead of getting your typical gloomy case of the Mondays, start dreaming about the perfect weekend getaway in Napa.
About a month ago, I was sitting in a tasting room learning how to properly drink wine. (Because apparently just pouring way more than the standard amount into your glass a couple times/week or more, is wrong.) I met one of my best friends from Seattle in the Napa Valley where we wined, wined, wined and dined, for 4 days… in short, we had a blast and I found my new happy place.
Here’s a little breakdown of how we spent our time while we were there and how we balanced out our days to round out an excellent trip to wine country. A travel guide for Napa if you will.
Breakfast at Pacific Blues in Yountville (a must) and dinner at Tarla Mediterranean in Napa for yummy risotto and a great gluten free selection.
We decided that before we went around acting like we knew what’s up with wine tasting we should take a class, so our first stop was a wine tasting course for beginners at Robert Mondavi, and it was a great first stop. Their grounds were beautiful, their wine was good and the class was just right to get us started.
Our second tasting was to Odette which had stunning architecture, beautiful landscapes and great service, with good wine to boot! We enjoyed the tasting and stayed just the right amount of time. I’m not typically a fan of white wines, but they had a delicious crisp and light Chardonnay that I will have to find locally or try to have shipped for any summer gatherings this year.
The last tasting for the day was at Chandon for some bubbles! Who doesn’t love a good glass of champagne to toast to the greatest weekend getaway ever?? Talk about a pretty landscape! We were fortunate enough to have gorgeous weather to sit outside and enjoy our cheese plate and bubbly while soaking up the sun!
After our first tasting, we went back to Yountville for mani’s and pedi’s and to soak up some much need girl time sans booze at Lavender Nail Salon, where the place was clean and the service was good. Yountville is a great little town either to stay in or to just stop into and walk the main street… it’s very charming and sure to please.
We started our morning with coffee and juice from the Oxbow Public Market before making the trek up to Calistoga for some spa-time. Post spa, we enjoyed brunch in Calistoga at Sam’s Social Club which was so good, very fresh food and fun interiors! For dinner we opted for Mexican and ended up at Don Perico’s in Napa which hit the spot as standard Mexican fare.
First we headed to Sterling where they have a gondola car that takes you up to the winery for the tastings. The wine was nothing special, but the views were incredible and the architecture was like a little slice of Santorini right in Napa.
Second we headed to Mumm for more champs. Again the bubbles, you can’t go wrong. Next to the parking lot there were rows of the mustard flowers that were so pretty! The service wasn’t great at Mumm, but supposedly they are known for that, and the bubbles were delicious (we took a bottle home with us) so I would recommend going anyway.
Third we headed to Artesa, which became one of our favorites of the trip. We started our tasting late and they closed, but let us finish our tasting and my new favorite wine is their Tempranillo… the stuff that dreams are made of. They had so many delicious red wines to taste that we really enjoyed, in addition to their prime location, which on a clear day you can see all the way to the San Francisco Bay from, and their beautiful architecture… it was a win all around.
We kicked off Saturday with a mud bath in Calistoga… it was something that sounded so luxurious and it was on my bucket list, so we fit it in the schedule. What I will say about that… it was interesting, I’ve not laughed so hard in such a long time and my skin has also never been so soft. Now it’s checked off the bucket list… if it’s on yours, try it, you might like it, but try for an early bird special (which we did) or a groupon or something, rather than splurging for the full priced package right off the bat… it’s expensive and it is a different experience, so be open minded.
We kicked off the day with coffee from the Napa Valley Coffee Roasters, which was delicious and then we made our way to the wine train.
The Napa Valley Wine Train had a lot of mixed reviews on the web, but it included lunch and we opted to add a wine tasting to it as well and just give it a try. I’m glad we did. The train itself was charmingly restored, and the ride was a good way to view a chunk of the valley to see if there were any additional wineries we should put on our list. It’s also a good way to orient yourself with the layout of Napa, so it would be fun to do in your first day or so there. The food was pretty good and the wine was okay (nothing special compared to what’s available in napa), but the experience overall was worth it.
For dinner, we booked the Farmstead tasting menu with wine pairings at Long Meadow Ranch. It was one of the best meals I’ve had ever, like seriously, the food was so simple, so pretty (the appetizer in the top right got asparagus soup poured over it which made the flowers float… talk about presentation) and beyond delicious… looking at the pictures is making my mouth water. If you like food as much or more than you like wine and you are in Napa, this is a must!
We had a red sampler on the wine train, as noted above, nothing to write home about and in hindsight, given the day we had planned it might have been worth just having one glass on the train and then skipping the tasting here.
We booked a tasting and tour at Jarvis the day before while we were waiting for the mud baths to start and if you are visiting Napa especially in their peak, book this one in advance. Their Willy Wonka-esque wine caves were very cool and the details they put into the design are worth seeing in person. We sampled 6 delicious wines and both brought home a few bottles… we had a good group on this tour and the tasting was fun in addition to being good wine.
The wines from our pairing dinner at Long Meadow Ranch were perfect. I’m really not kidding when I say this meal was in the top 5 of my life… it’s not your every day kind of thing but it was such a great treat. The wine was so good. The service, amazing. Everything about this last stop was perfect. I found out about LMR by purchasing a bottle at my local wine store in preparation for Napa (I was buying a lot of Napa wines leading up to the trip) so I didn’t buy any wine here, only because I knew I could get it back home.
A note about our Day 3 agenda… we tried to split up some of these bigger things and do one a day (the tasting course day one, mud baths day two, etc.) but we accidentally booked both the train and the tasting at LMR on the same day. Were we to do it over again, we would split the two up… that said, we still thoroughly enjoyed this day, so do what makes you happy if/when you go!
Jax White Mule Diner in Napa for breakfast and we literally had the place to ourselves. It was good enough but don’t drink the water. For dinner we went to Bounty Hunter BBQ and again, good enough but nothing to write home about, though the portions were huge, we shared a sampler plate and still took home leftovers.
First stop, Inglenook. Talk about good wine and a great experience. This place is like a chateau it is so pretty, down to the details. I loved the chandeliers and rugs especially… well and especially the wine! They were so slow (on that particular Monday morning) that we ended up getting a private tour of the wine caves and to see the back vineyards. Seriously worth the stop.
Second, we had a tasting scheduled for Brown, which was great. What a cool story of their estate and how they became wine makers after previously just selling their fruit. They make a lot of Zinfendale and for someone who isn’t a big zin fan, I have to say, their wines changed my tune. Their property is also stunning and great design details here as well… but I won’t give away their secrets, you will have to go do the tasting yourself! We got to meet David the wine-maker… this guy definitely has a lot of fun, and it was a fun experience for us!
Lastly, we went to Nichelini (right next to Brown, and we stopped just for that reason). Although we hadn’t heard of them or their wines, we both ended up joining their wine club. The wines were delicious and we tasted them all! We were pleasantly surprised by many of them here, hence the new wine club memberships, it was definitely a worthy stop.
We loaded up the car, stopped for a delicious brunch (maybe the best we had all weekend) at Boon Fly Cafe in Napa, complete with fresh squeezed orange juice which we may or may not have added to a water bottle filled with Mumm champs… Just sayin. We walked around downtown Napa, went to a yarn shop and some art galleries and then headed back to SFO to fly to our respective homes.
I can’t say enough positive things about this weekend. The trip was so needed and so wonderful. We made it happen and we soaked it up! Napa is definitely in my list of happy places. Especially Napa in Spring (so what if that is my only point of reference), there is enough going on but nothing is jam-packed and you can typically get into tastings without reservations (but do your research to see where reservations will make sense), the flowers are in bloom and everything just smells delicious. I can’t wait to plan another girls weekend with L, hopefully this time it won’t take us 8 years!
Where’s the last trip you took with your bestie? Your happy place? I need to start adding to my list of destinations! Where have you gone or are you planning to go that I need to make sure to get to? I hope you are taking some fun adventures, we will be continuing down the rabbit hole that is our living room for the One Room Challenge this week and I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel… check back Thursday for the big reveal! (Or find me on Snapchat (@designbykrystle), I’ve been sharing lots of ORC living room progress in real time over there.)