I try to never take for granted the fact that I live so close to Napa Valley. As I have gotten older, it has become my favorite place to take a day trip or a weekend getaway because there is so much to do. The valley is composed of several small towns along Highway 29, each one offering unique wineries and restaurants. Most wineries open at 10 am and although I prefer to beat the weekend crowds I am usually not ready to start sipping wine that early. That is why my favorite first stop is Domaine Carneros.
Domaine Carneros is a gorgeous Chateau style vineyard famous for their champagne (technically called sparkling wine because it is grown in California, but I can’t bring myself to call it that). The property is incredible and has panoramic views of the carneros region. I am all for a Saturday morning starting with some champagne!
Y O U N T V I L L E
Lunch is the next best thing in Napa Valley because there are so many world renowned restaurants to eat at. Two of my favorite affordable options are Bistro Don Giovanni in Napa and Redd Wood in Yountville. Both have incredible authentic italian food and beautiful interiors. The meatballs at Red Wood rival anything I have eaten in Italy and their signature cocktails are amazing.
| above: the stunning interior of Redd Wood designed by Erin Martin Design, their mouthwatering meatballs, wood oven pizza and my favorite drink – the mad mule |
Yountville is so pretty to walk through. It is the definition of small, but packed with parks, five star hotels, spas and restaurants, as well as the famous Bouchon Bakery. Even when the line is out the door, I always stop at Bouchon to get a loaf of their french bread and a few speciality pastries. They always have their giant macaroons on hand, but most of the pastries rotate seasonally making it easy to find a new treat to try every time I go in.
Yountville is filled with stone houses that emulate classic french provincial style
Old merged with new architecture on Washington Street adds to the town’s charm
R U T H E R F O R D
Tucked back off the main highway is Inglenook Winery owned by Francis Ford Coppola. This is one of my favorite wineries in the entire valley. Driving down the tree lined road to the main property feels like being transported to the French countryside. It is so peaceful, making it the perfect setting to have a picnic or sip a glass of wine in the vineyard.
| exterior of inglenook and enjoying a glass of wine overlooking the vineyard |
Frog’s Leap Winery is another one of my go to stops. I constantly dream of living on the serene property. In the early spring, blooming mustard flowers fill the valley with the most incredible shades of yellow. These flowers intertwine with the grapevines in front of Frog’s Leap making the property even more stunning. If you would like to do a wine tasting they offer a guided tour and tasting for $25 per person, but be sure to reserve this ahead of time as they fill up quickly!
| cherry blossoms blooming along the driveway at frog’s leap |
S T. H E L E N A
Long Meadow Ranch and Farmstead Restaurant are adjacent to each other, located along HIghway 29 in St. Helena. The general store at Long Meadow Ranch (pictured above) offers a variety of wine tastings and artisanal goods. In front of the store is a beautiful outdoor sitting area with picnic tables and adirondack chairs where you can sip wine and snack on food if you are not eating at Farmstead.
Farmstead Restaurant at Long Meadow Ranch uses local ingredients and organic produce in most of their dishes and they have an onsite farmers market most weekends, selling fresh produce, cheese and meat. This is a great spot to come with a large group!
|sunflowers along Highway 29|
There is never a shortage of places to go and wine to drink in Napa Valley. Wherever you decide to go, it makes for such a fun day!