May 22, 2015
We travel to the West Coast a lot because Amy grew up in Northern California and still has family that currently resides outside of San Francisco. When we’re in town, we always try to schedule at least a day trip to Napa Valley, one of our all-time favorite places for relaxation and delicious food. Since we visit Napa so much, we’ve gotten very familiar with the scene and all that it has to offer. Here is our 12-hr itinerary: our Napa Valley must-sees and must-dos! Keep in mind that you don’t want to stress yourself out and try to squeeze in too many wineries – three is actually a perfect amount to visit in a single day! We highly recommend seeking out the boutique wineries, where you actually get a feel for the owners’ specialties and can learn about their wine making process. In fact, we often join the wine club of our favorite wineries we visit and because California wineries can now ship directly to Massachusetts, we have our favorite wine styles arriving at our home each month. It’s exciting to see the deliveries show up at our door and it brings back memories of our last trip.
We hope you enjoy our recommendations and can get to Napa Valley at some point during your future travels. Tweet @NickPennaJr with any questions you may have!
Early AM – Pre-Arrival Vineyard-Hopping Attire
10 AM – Breakfast
Whether you want a quick bite or a big meal in the morning, it’s always important to eat a little something before a busy day of wine tasting!
HIS PICK: The green eggs and ham at Boon Fly Café at The Carneros Inn is not to be missed!
HER PICK: A croissant and an iced latte from Bouchon Bakery in Yountville.
11:30 AM – First Winery Visit
Our first stop is Schramsberg Vineyards in Calistoga, which makes delicious sparkling wines.
HIS PICK: The J.Schram Brut Rose.
HER PICK: The Blanc de Blancs.
12:45 PM – Second Winery Visit
We recently discovered Cliff Lede Vineyards, which has a cool laid back vibe and all the vineyards are named after classic rock songs.
HIS PICK: In honor of Pink Floyd, I tried the Dark Side of the Moon Cabernet Sauvignon that I would definitely recommend.
HER PICK: The Sauvignon Blanc, my favorite from the selection that we tried.
1:45 PM – Lunch
HIS & HERS: Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch has a beautiful, lively outdoor seating area and is our new favorite lunch spot.
HIS PICK: Farmstead’s charcuterie board, which is not of this earth, the steak tartare with farm egg, capers, cornichons, tabasco and toast, and a palette-cleansing glass of Mad Fritz beer, which is a small-batch brewery from St. Helena.
HER PICK: The wood-grilled castroville artichoke and a glass of their chardonnay.
3:00 PM – Break for Caffeine
By late afternoon, we need a jolt of caffeine to keep our energy up while exploring Napa Valley. Right outside of Farmstead restaurant is an outdoor coffee bar that serves Stumptown Coffee Roasters.
HIS PICK: Grab a doppio and then you’ll be “good to go” and off to the next winery!
3:30 PM – Third Winery Visit
We then head up to Spring Mountain, which is a little out of the valley, between Napa and Sonoma, in the town of St. Helena.
HIS PICK: We visit our friends at Barnett Vineyards for a glass of their Cabernet Sauvignon. The vineyards are located at the top of the mountain, which makes for a beautiful setting on the hillside.
HER PICK: A second and equally-wonderful spot in St. Helena is Pride Mountain Vineyards for a glass of their Vintner Select Chardonnay.
4:45 PM – Spa
HIS PICK: A massage at Auberge Du Soleil, which is quintessential Napa: beautiful grounds, amazing service and sweeping views of the valley.
HER PICK: I also love their sister resort, Solage, which is a little more modern and zen.
6:30 PM – Evening Attire
7 PM – Pre-Dinner Cocktail
Head back into Yountville and grab a cocktail at R&D Kitchen, which has a nice outdoor patio and fire pit, as well as great cocktail list.
HIS PICK: A Negroni.
HER PICK: A Moscow Mule.
8 PM – Dinner Time
HIS PICK: You can’t throw a stone in Yountville without hitting one of the country’s top restaurants, my favorite being Redd.
HER PICK: I love the Napa ambiance at Bottega! I ordered the seasonal pasta dish with ramps and pea shoots.
10 PM – Last Leg of the 12-hr Napa Tour!
At this point in time, if you’re exhausted or have had a little too much to drink, you may want forgo going anywhere too far and reserve a room down the street.
HIS PICK: I prefer the luxury boutique hotel Bardessono, it has gorgeous décor.
HER PICK: The Carneros Inn is on the outskirts of Napa but worth the drive. You stay in little cottages complete with an outdoor shower and beautifully landscaped patio.
Image Sources: J.Crew, Steven Alan, Vans, Persol, James Perse, Rag & Bone, Tom Ford, Bouchon Bakery, Schramsberg Vineyards, Dark Side of the Moon Cabernet Sauvignon, Long Meadow Ranch, FoodGPS, Barnett Vineyards, Pride Mountain Vineyards, Auberge Du Soleil, Solage, Simon Miller, Vince, Steven Alan, A.P.C., Steven Alan, Salt Lake Magazine, How To Spend It, Proven, Bardessono, The Carneros Inn, Food Spotting