Anyone can tell you to go to Opus One and The French Laundry. I certainly do not discourage that, but it’s not what I’m going to do. Places like Caymus and Opus One make great wines. In my opinion though, the soul of Napa and is in the smaller, boutique winery, many of which do not have tasting rooms. So here’s my favorite mix.
I like to stay in downtown Napa when I head west–it’s quaint, walkable, and has many eating and drinking options. La Casita Bonita is an adorable little cottage where I’ve stayed several times. On my most recent trip, I stayed at The Westin and loved it! They have a salt water pool and it’s within walking distance of my favorite Napa haunts.
Without further adieu, here is my ideal day, or two:
From the Westin, the Oxbow Public Market is a short walk away and filled with goodies. As a gluten free person (I know, I know, but I do have good reasons), I can grab a positively scrumptious breakfast sandwich from Cate and Co. Bakery and a perfect chemex brew from Ritual Coffee.
What could possibly come after a nice breakfast and caffeine? Well, sparkling wine, of course…
I celebrate days that end in “y” with sparkling and Mumm Napa is definitely one of my happy places. For starters, it’s picturesque and stunning, but it also has delicious bubbles and a charming gift shop, full of knickknacks for the taking.
Next, head over to Palmaz Vineyards to explore their beautiful property. Built into the side of a mountain, the unique winery is also partly underground/in the hillside. The wines are never pumped, but propelled by gravity all the way through to bottling, so as not to bruise the wine. It’s pricey to tour/taste and even pricier to buy, but those wines sure are delicious! A gigantic cab sauv is good right out of the bottle. Seriously.
While I adore the idyllic setting of a vineyard, I’m also a fan of the tasting room. They introduce you to wines you may not otherwise discover and have such variety from which to choose, all while sitting in one spot. My absolute favorite wine expert in Napa is Andy Renda at The Wine Thief–also conveniently located across from Oxbow and down the street from the Westin. Andy is beyond knowledgeable AND fun. The Wine Thief is a new business and isn’t it human nature to enjoy saying, “I went before it was famous.”?
If you’d like to get the most bang for your buck (and have an idea what you’ll be eating), take a bottle of wine and bring it to dinner with you. Many restaurants have a reasonable corkage fee, so bringing wine saves you the massive up-charge.
Kitchen Door– back to the wonderful Oxbow Market for this casual, delicious, and beautifully affordable restaurant. When in Napa, the wine seems to flow, making driving an unfortunate experience, so I LOVE a walkable option.
Angele– again, walking distance from my beloved Westin and more white table cloth than Kitchen Door. Amazing food, great ambiance, quaint location. Oh, and white table cloths.
Ad Hoc– another favorite, not walking distance, but located in beautiful Yountville (yes, Napa has Uber). This is another of Thomas Keller’s wonderful restaurants, but more casual and MUUUUCH cheaper than The French Laundry. Ad Hoc is a family style restaurant that serves one entree each night. I’ve been 3 times and have yet to be disappointed. I believe Monday is still fried chicken night… perhaps, don’t go that night, for you can go to Addendum Thursday thru Saturday 11 am – 2 pm for boxed lunches of either fried chicken, pork ribs, or pulled pork. The fried chicken is ah-mazing! Side note: the last time I dined at Ad Hoc, Thomas Keller did as well.
*I get nothing for recommending these places, but would be happy to receive freebies*