Note: Our hearts go out to all of the Napa and Sonoma region so badly affected by the recent fires. Knowing that so many jobs and livelihoods in that area depend on tourism, one way to show your support is to still visit if you have the opportunity or a trip planned. We have checked that each suggestion listed is open for business. #NapaValleySpirit
This summer, I ran the Napa to Sonoma half marathon. It was a great accomplishment for me after a particularly rough year. Crossing that finish line felt fantastic! But what I haven’t shared is that for the few days afterward, my husband Floyd and I were able to explore the Napa region with another couple we’re close friends with. She was the true motivator in encouraging me to run when I needed an outlet and I was so grateful to experience that journey with her.
In an ideal world, we would have been able to explore California’s Napa Valley region over a long week. But with kids at home on the east coast, a few days of time off were all we could afford to take. If you’ve been following this site for a while, you know that travel is my true passion. It even comes before shoes (Gasp! I know!) So of course that meant that I agonized over making sure our two days to explore Napa were just right. From the restaurants to wineries each detail was researched with a little space left for spontaneity. And knowing I’m not the only one who has had to fit an entire vacation into a few precious days, I wanted to share my weekend in Napa itinerary. Consider it tried and tested for your behalf.
Perfect Weekend in Napa Itinerary
Where to Stay:
So this is one area where I didn’t dig too deep. I knew we needed to be in a central location for race day as our first priority. There are so many cute boutique hotels but we also all had Marriott points. Using points left more room for wine and food so for us it was a no brainer and we found the Springhill Suites to be a great central location, with a pool and overall very nice. If I were to go again as a non-racer, I would aim to stay in Yountville at a charming B&B.
Breakfast: Oxbow Public Market, Model Bakery
This market full of charming stalls is a great pit-stop for any meal or snack! We were on East Coast time which meant we were the early risers. For us the Model Bakery had the most amazing coffee and bagels. It was also a great place to mingle with locals.
Winery 1: Castello di Amorosa
This winery is a castle! Ok imagine I squealed that out loud because I did! Take your time and explore and tour these amazing grounds. Then enjoy the tasting in the cellar. We had an amazing time here, the wine was delicious and the service was impeccable. A great unique start to our day.
Winery 2: Cakebread Cellars
Cakebread felt like the more exclusive wine tasting. You have to make your reservation in advance and our tasting was private with just the four of us. We loved how intimate the setting was as we were tucked away between rows of wine filled barrels. Our sommelier was so fun and we all left thrilled.
At this point we were all needing to soak up some of those scrumptious wines. What better than the infamous Gotts, a roadside burger joint that has a drool worthy menu. Everything was delicious, the weather warm and sunny, and it was at this point in the day that I started to realize there is no bad food in Napa, ha.
Winery 3: Frog’s Leap
We really tried to diversify each winery experience and Frog’s Leap was the perfect ending to the day. Built as a large house with a big wide porch, this winery was picturesque and oh so welcoming. Surrounded by gorgeous wild flowers we held our tasting outside on the porch and took our time laughing and exploring the grounds afterward. To me, this would be as close as it gets to having dinner at Ina Garten’s house.
Dinner: Ad Hoc
Part of going to Napa is experiencing the restaurants as much as the wine. On our list was to visit one of famous chef, Thomas Keller’s restaurants. Ad Hoc was the perfect choice. It is a little more low key, although you still need to make a reservation in advance. There is a daily set menu and everything start to finish was both unfussy yet absolutely amazing. This is one I would love to go back to again and again!
Breakfast: Bouchon Bakery
This is another one of Thomas Keller’s haunts. And typically the line for a fresh croissant is well out the door. Thankfully our East Coast internal clocks helped us out and we woke up early and went for it. Hot coffee, croissants and morning buns. All so fluffy and flakey. It’s pure heaven and we camped out at a little table in a courtyard as we watched the sun rise.
Winery 1: Mumm Napa
For our second day of tastings we started with a trio of sparkling wines from Mumm Napa. It was a pleasant drive and again the setting was open air on a large porch. Especially neat at Mumm is the opportunity to walk through the fine art photography exhibits. I especially loved the Ansel Adams!
Winery 2: Sterling Vineyards
Sterling Vineyards again is another totally different winery experience. I just love all the variety. This one felt like a must do since a cable car takes you to the top and you have gorgeous views of the valley. The architecture is also amazing. The tasting is a walking tour of the winery with stops along the wine for sipping. It felt a little more corporate than the others but again, the cable car and views make it worthwhile.
Lunch: Oakville Grocery Co.
A great way to experience the charm of Napa is with a picnic. This charming outlet has artisanal sandwiches and sides prepared so that you can pack your basket and go. It is a very short drive from Mumm, so ideally you would stop and pack that picnic on your way to Sterling Vineyards. Once you arrive, spread a blanket or find a picnic table under a tree and enjoy!
Winery 3: Hess Collection
The Hess Collection is a wonderful finale. It does take you up a long twisty road but the drive is beyond worth it. The setting is gorgeous with seating outside, large sculptures and the most amazing trees I had ever seen. Once inside the tasting was lively and the wines delightful. I’m still dreaming about a few of them! Finally there is a modern art museum that you can wander and ponder. We all loved this place and thought it had the most peaceful nature about it.
Another great dinner was had at Bottega. Again, make sure to snag a reservation, but the food, ambiance and rose’ were all spot on. With a menu of fresh Tuscan fare that changes daily, you will not be disappointed!
Enjoy your time in Napa! I’m ready to go back myself!
Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. I’m just a travel junkie.