We’re HOME and it was a fantastic trip! Here is Amber’s Recap and Falynn’s Overview of our trip to Napa.
Amber’s Napa Recap
Well… I feel like we will be talking/blogging about it until we go back, so apologies in advance! Several people have asked us what our highlight was and I honestly have to answer, that it was all so amazing that not one specific thing stands out! Before I recap my highlights, I want to break a few Napa myths (or at least preconceived notions I held):
- Napa (and area) is NOT overly expensive. When it came to the prices of food, drinks and lodging we were shocked at the high quality and affordable prices. Compared to places like NYC and Vegas, this trip was very reasonable.
- Getting drunk is an option, not a given. Tastings and tours are spaced out to allow you time to recollect your wits and enjoy your experiences.
We cruised from San Fransisco to Napa, checked in to our adorable cabin, and from local advisement we headed downtown Napa to purchase Napa City Tastings Pass (12 tastings in downtown Napa for $30). We walked downtown Napa sipping from place to place and catching up. Drinking wine and walking leads to a hangry group, so we made a quick stop for BBQ at the Bounty Hunter (highly recommend this place for both the food and atmosphere).
In the evening we did dinner and a concert at City Winery. The food was excellent and the band, The Young Dubliners, was highly entertaining. Not our usual style of music, but I think everyone else in the crowd had all of their albums.
We headed to Calistoga for a volcanic ash mud bath at Indian Springs Resort & Spa. So, I don’t know what comes to your mind when you think “mud bath” but we were mentally unprepared for what we encountered. Let’s just say, if you’re uncomfortable with nakedness… this may not be your cup of tea. Falynn and I got really close. No more secrets. That being said, I would rate this as one of the most memorable experiences of the trip! Also, our men did it and were champs about it!
After the mud bath, we headed to Sam’s Social Club for a delicious brunch at the Indian Springs resort. After filling our bellies, it was wine time so we ventured down the road back to Napa from Calistoga stopping at a couple wineries along the way. After a rushed (but tasty) experience at Peju,we finally found a winery that taught us not only about how they made their wine (a dime a dozen in Napa), but also the proper ways to go about both tasting and enjoying it. We found the perfect combination at the Robert Mondavi Winery with their Signature Tour and Tasting ($35).
That evening, the evening our husbands wouldn’t shut up about the Edmonton Oilers prospect of getting McDavid from winning some lottery (insert gun emoticon), we headed out on the Wine Train. This was an event that post-trip, we all voted was the least worthwhile for the money, however, the one we’d have left wondering about. So if you dream of riding on a train through wine country, we suggest one of the day trips where the scenery will be more visible.
We ladies took the morning to ourselves and the guys headed to the hot tub with coffees in hand and we ventured out to Target for some Starbucks and Lilly Pullitzer. Around noon, we started our day how any Sunday should commence; with champagne courtesy of the Chandon. We sat outside on their beautiful terrace and sipped our bubbly. Somewhere in and around that time, I joined Club Chandon and will happily receive their shipments bi-monthly!
Our next stop was Opus One Winery, where at $45/glass, the tasting was a bit rich for our blood, but thankfully they allowed us to split it between the four of us. The wine, view, and architecture were gorgeous. Next stop, Castello di Amorosa, where we enjoyed another great tour and tasting.
After a team vote, we settled on Italian for dinner and somewhere close to our cabin. This led us to Oenotri in downtown Napa. There have been several arguments since over whose dinner was better, it was THAT good.
Falynn’s Napa Overview
Where to stay?
- RiverPointe Napa Valley – Our little cabin was so endearing and lovely; not to mention reasonably priced ($122 a night). RiverPointe is nestled right on the river bank with beautiful trails, and each private cabin has a small deck, kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom. The property also had a pool and two hot tubs.
- Prices vary throughout the Napa Valley area, and will particularly vary according to season. Do some researches to make sure you are in the area you want and hitting the price point you are budgeting for.
- There are so many adorable B&B’s scattered throughout the valley, along with house rentals, condos, hotels, and little cabins like ours.
What to do?
- Wine touring (obviously)
- Spa – Indian Springs Resort & Spa in Calistoga
- Rent bikes – we never did this, but it would be a great way to experience the countryside.
- Additionally, we noticed a hugely active community
with running and biking trails, and lots of people getting outdoors with their pooches.
Where to eat & drink?
- Food and wine… these are the reasons we went to Napa. There is not a single place I wouldn’t recommend. We overwhelmed ourselves with SO much research on where to eat and what wineries to visit, and in some ways it wasn’t necessary. Although we did make reservations at some places, which I am glad we did.
- Favorite Places to eat? Oenotri, maybe one of the best Italian meal I’ve EVER had (bold claim considering I traveled through Italy); Sam’s Social Club for a hella great brunch; Bounty Hunter Wine Bar, bold, smoky BBQ and rare wines, why not!
- Favorite Places to drink? ALL of them. Chardon, champagne tastings and beautiful gardens, it was perfect; Robert Mondovi, mainly because it was the most informative tasting; Peju, tasty wines and once again, amazing gardens and landscaping.
How to do it?
- Rent a car, you’ll need it unless you want to spend the money on getting a car service to tour the vineyards. But be sure you have a DD, or somewhat of a plan before over indulging. We also used Uber a lot; there was lots of Uber availability and seemed to be the most cost effective way to get around if you were indulging.
- Make a plan, but don’t be too strict with it. We made reservations to ensure we could eat where we wanted and do the things we wanted to do (concert and spa); however, we didn’t make strict places for the rest of the time we were there. We went with the flow and took recommendations from locals to make sure we had the optimal experience
What would we have changed?
- The Wine Train was great, but pretty pricy all things considered. We paid $190 a person to for the Saturday night tour which included a bus ride (unexpected) to Grgich Hills Estate, where we had a great tour and tasting. The train eventually came to pick us up at the winery and we were seated on a dining car and dinner started nearly immediately. Our party ordered the steak, pork, and tuna entrees; food was good, but not quite to our expectations. All in all it was a good time, but I would recommend skipping the dinner tour and do the less expensive daytime tour without the meal.
- Plan ahead and do an informative tasting on the FIRST day. We didn’t do this, so we were going from tasting to tasting not having a clue what we were doing. Eventually we did an informative tasting and the rest of trip was way more enjoyable.
- Not that our hotel wasn’t wonderful, but next time I would consider staying in charming St. Helena or the culinary capital Yountville just to mix it up. Also, these towns are a tad closer to majority of the wineries.
- Bring water and snacks when cruising from winery to winery. The food at the wineries are typically very small and VERY pricy. We made this mistake; we were famished after wandering around in the heat and drinking, we ended up paying $12.00 for a bag of nuts.
What to pack?
- Weather varied with cool mornings, hot afternoons, and mild evenings, so this made it challenging to pack.
- One thing we can agree on is to bring comfortable (yet fashionable) shoes. We wore sandals majority of the time in Napa, but by the end of the day wandering vineyards and standing a lot, our feet and legs were pretty sore.
- We dressed up two nights; once for the concert at City Winery, and again for the Wine Train. The rest of the time, shorts or a dress were a good idea for the daytime and sleeves for mornings and evenings. It seemed everyone around the area varied in style; peopled dressed pretty laid back in town and winery outfits varied from jeans and sneakers to stilettos and miniskirts. So wear something comfy and attractive, but nothing over the top.
- Bring a good cross body bag. You don’t need a giant bag, especially if you have a car; however, I did bring a bag big enough to fit my camera and some other daily essentials.
If you have any inquires or want more information about our stay in Napa, send us a message!
Stay tuned for Falynn’s Re-Cap and Amber’s Overview of San Francisco.