For Wine & Tapas, Take Me Back To Napa
For Wine & Tapas, Take Me Back To Napa
With its California sunset, mouth-watering restaurants, and stunning vineyards, Napa Valley deserves a spot on your travel bucket list. The famous wine country is known for its legendary wines and picturesque scenery. Whether you’re a foodie looking for a Michelin star restaurant or searching a couple’s retreat, Napa Valley has something to offer everyone.
But what can you do once you get to the golden state? That’s where this travel guide comes in. I took my first trip to Napa Valley with my husband in 2016, and it has been a go-to recommendation for any couple looking for a fun getaway. I’m sharing some of my favorite ways to spend a day in Napa Valley, from the vineyards you can’t afford to miss to the food you’ll never forget.
Vineyards in Napa Valley
You can’t go to Napa Valley and not visit a vineyard. It’s a bucket list experience for any wine drinker. You’re spoilt for choice with dozens of award-winning vineyards to choose from for your trip. This short list includes some of my favorites and most different vineyards in Napa Valley.
- Ram's Gate Winery offers a world-class wine tasting experience that allows you to sample locally sourced culinary treats.
- Prisoner Wine Company is not your traditional winery. With its dark and eerie décor is a must if you’re looking for a different experience paired with some delicious wine.
- Cakebread Cellars is a family-owned vineyard that has been producing wine since 1973. You can visit their cellars from 10 am to 4:30 pm every day.
- Oakville Ranch Vineyards will remain as a very special place to us after celebrating our 3rd year anniversary touring their grounds in an ATV. A very off the grid vineyard, this gem stays away from the typical commercial hype and offers a very private experience for those lucky enough to score a reservation and sacrifice poolside with a glass of “Cab” overlooking Oakville.
- Jacuzzi Family Vineyards takes you to another planet with its medieval-style Tuscan courtyard. You’ll think you’re nestled away in Italy. And yes, the family did invent the famous spa pumped named after them.
- Domaine Carneros was established by Champagne Taittinger to create California sparkling wine using the Traditional Method and it’s a château landmark that should not be missed.
- Cliff Lede Vineyards owner Cliff Lede is a classic rock fan and you will hear classic rock throughout the estate while sipping some of its finest wines.
- Darioush Winery specializes in premium wines and is definitely an eye-catcher with its dramatic Persian architecture and huge decorative columns.
- La Crema Winery is in the heart of the Russian River Valley in a historic barn dating back to the late 1800s and it’s a cozy stop to cuddle up with a nice Pinot Noir.
- Tank Winery is not your average winery given that it’s located in a vintage gas station but has some of the coolest wine labels you can imagine.
- Russian River Vineyards is precisely located in the Russian River and if you’re looking for some great atmosphere, this is your spot. With its unique architecture, glass fireplaces, delicious tapas and charming vibe, this vineyard was automatically bumped to one of my favorites. Also, tastings are not required, you can just drop by for lunch and order a glass of wine.
Castello Di Amorosa has become very commercial over the years but that does not take away from the fact that the place is breathtaking and offers a fun ambiance. I remember visiting this winery for the first time in 2015 with my family and reserved the special Thanksgiving Lunch tour and to this day is still something we look back at. If you’re looking to be around bigger crowds and get some cool pictures for your Instagram, this is your place.
- Cosentino Winery offers several tasting experiences in their cozy patio that serves as the perfect backdrop to relax and sip their wines.
- Louis M. Martini is famous for its 80 year production of Cabernet Sauvignon and one of the first wineries to open in Napa Valley after Prohibition. It offers several tastings around its historic site but I personally recommend the Bar Tasting for a more casual yet posh feel.
Napa Valley Wine Train
If you’ve been to Napa Valley before, you may want to experience its rich wine culture in another way. A wine train is an all-day adventure and the perfect way to celebrate a special occasion. You can usually expect to spend half your time on the train and half in wineries, as well as enjoying a meal on board.
It’s worth checking out Robert Mondavi, Charles Krug, Merryvale Vineyards, and V.Sattui Winery, as part of the route.
Where to eat in Napa Valley
Napa Valley isn’t just for wine drinks. With its rich heritage of vineyards, it’s no surprise that Napa Valley is home to culinary legends and scrumptious food. Some of my favorite places to eat in the area include:
- Bistro at Auberge Du Soleil is a luxury restaurant with a celebrity clientele. With 13 consecutive Michelin star awards, you can’t afford to miss this restaurant in Napa Valley.
- Buster’s Southern BBQ is what roadside dreams are made of. Once you see the smoke up in the air, you’ve definitely arrived. Don’t forget to try the ribs!
- Lou's Luncheonette is a more down-to-earth option for your Napa Valley meal. It’s the place to visit when you’re in the mood for comfort food.
- Café Mimosa is the go-to cute “diner” for brunch in Napa Valley and the perfect way to kickstart your day.
- Hog Island Oysters was the first place I tried oysters and I’ve been spoiled ever since! Located inside Oxbow Public Market, it is definitely worth a tasty visit.
- Sky & Vine is the perfect rooftop to watch the sunset and have your last glass of wine paired with some juicy sliders.
Other Things To Do
This travel guide could easily turn into a novel – but I’ll save you the reading by giving you a few honorable mentions.
If you’re a fan of brandy, the California Brandy House is an unmissable stop. You’ll discover the wholly unique tastes of California in the vibrant setting of Nappy Valley. You can even take away an engraved bottle of your favorite brandy. I recommend booking in for a brandy tasting if you’re on a couple’s trip or visiting with friends.
Downtown Napa has so many places to offer nowadays but I can surely say that I learned more about wines this last trip (2021) just by visiting The Wine Thief. Jarred and Ruby Pearce are extremely welcoming hosts that will guide you through a few tastings of their wines including their own, AJ Pearce Wines. If you get hungry between sips, just hop over next door to Gott’s Roadside for a Tuna Burger and some sweet potato fries.
Want to give wine a break? Check out the Hanson Sonoma Distillery. Their vodka tasting and pizza make the ultimate pairing, and will not have a sore head the next morning.
Are you planning a trip to Napa Valley? Here are some chilly weather outfits options that might make the cut into your suitcase: