The Ultimate Guide to Napa Valley
As my blog name should portray, I am a true wine lover! Visiting Napa Valley was truly a bucket-list destination for me and I am so excited to be able to now share it with you. With over 500 wineries in the Valley, it can be difficult to narrow down which ones you should visit. Because let’s face it, there is no way you are going to be able to visit them all in one trip. So here is MY Ultimate Guide to Napa Valley:
My Three Day Itinerary
- Check-in to Andaz Napa Hotel
- Lunch at Don Perico Mexican Restaurant
- Drive-up the Valley for a tasting at Chateau Montelena (reservations not required / $40 tasting)
- Return to Hotel and Explore Downtown Napa (tons to do and see within walking distance)
- Dinner at Allegria (Italian)
- Coffee & Pastries in the Lobby of Andaz
- Tasting at Artesa Estate Vineyards and Winery (reservations not required / $35 tasting)
- Tasting at Hall Wines St. Helena Location (reservations are not required, but highly suggested / tastings and tours start at $50)
- Tasting at Cakebread Cellars (reservations required)
- Return to Hotel at leisure
- Dinner at Downtown Joe’s
To say that we fell in love with Andaz Napa would be an understatement. Everything from the hospitality, the location, the atmosphere, to the gorgeous room was absolutely incredible. With the in-room soaking tub, fireplace, and dreamy bed… you may never want to leave the room if you have a few good bottles of wine to enjoy.
We first tasted Chateau Montelena’s wine in San Francisco at their satellite tasting room. We fell in love immediately and knew we wanted to make it out to their gorgeous property in the Napa Valley. The history of the property is rather interesting and the gorgeous chateau-style castle is definitely a beautiful place to explore and take photos.
All of their wine is incredible, but they are actually quite famous for their Napa Valley Chardonnay. Chateau Montelena’s ’73 Chardonnay actually put Napa Vally on the map for award-winning wines when it shockingly won at the French “Judgement of Paris: wine competition in 1976.
Chateau Montelena is located at the most northern point of the Napa Valley, around a 40-minute drive from Andaz Hotel and downtown Napa. However, it is well worth the journey and the drive allows you to see literally all of the valley… which is why I placed it as my first stop on my itinerary.
Artesa Estate Vineyards and Winery was probably my favorite winery that we visited. Not only was their wine incredible, but the architecture and views were also stunning and close to unbeatable. We enjoyed their Terrace Tasting, which takes place outside with panoramic views of the valley. My favorites were the 2016 Pinot Noir, Block 91D and the 2014 Codorníu Napa Grand Reserve Brut. Artesa sets off of the main stretch of the valley, by just a little bit. But trust me, you don’t want to skip out on a visit here!
Hall Wines is a gorgeous property with some impressive owners and history. The winery opened in 2003. The estate vineyards contain more than 500 acres of Bordeaux varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc. But as their tagline is “experience the Art of Cabernet” – they are most certainly known for their Cabernet Sauvignon. With a large variety of art throughout the facility and special attention to being energy efficient, Hall is making its mark in Napa.
We tasted four of their Cabernets: Ellie’s Cabernet, Jack’s Masterpiece, Howell Mountain, and Bergfield. Each wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon (with the exception of Berfield, which has 1% Cabernet Franc). All of the wine that we tasted at Hall was phenomenal, and Cabernet is not usually my first pick when it comes to varietals.
Cakebread Cellars was another winery that was extremely impressive to us. Their current release tasting consisted of a 2015 Chardonnay Reserve, 2016 Pinot Noir, 2015 Merlot, and 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon. Each wine was top-notch, my favorite was their 2015 Chardonnay.
Standout features at Cakebread Cellars include their love of delicious foods and their interest in education programs. They often offer cooking classes and pairings using food from their exclusive on-site garden. A culinary event would make the perfect date night during your time in Napa Valley!
I love taking the train as a means of transportation. So I always assumed that taking a train through Napa Valley that stopped at different wineries would be the coolest thing ever. But honestly, I was very underwhelmed with the entire experience. For the high price tag, it wasn’t worth it in my opinion. The food was not my favorite and I don’t really enjoy doing wine tours and tasting with large groups of people. I like a more intimate experience. However, the experience was neat and now I can say that I’ve done it.
I chose the legacy tour, which stopped at 3 different wineries: Robert Mondavi, Charles Krug, and V. Sattui. Each winery was beautiful – but a bit too commercialized in my opinion. However, if you like large groups and don’t want to worry about driving or getting an Uber – then the wine train is a good option for you.
The staff at TORC Restaurant in downtown Napa were incredible hosts! The chef went above and beyond in creating a fabulous menu for us. We were able to try a huge variety of specialty dishes. And for reference, the location was walking distance from our Andaz Hotel!
- Farm Fresh Deviled Eggs, pickled onions, and bacon***
- Bengali Sweet Potato Pakora, yogurt-truffle dip*****
- Sierra Porcini Carpaccio, house-made brioche, green garlic, pistachio***
- Japanese Hamachi Crudo, flavor mango nectarine, hibiscus-koshu, forbidden rice, avocado****
- House Made Rigatoni, heirloom tomatoes, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Australian black truffle*****
- Maine Diver Scallops, New England style chowder, la ratte potato, white corn, fine herbs*****
- O’Liberty Farm Duck, Oaxacan chorizo, epazote, butter beans, avocado, bitter chocolate sauce***
- TORC Clafoutis, Rojas Farm bing cherries, almond kirsch****
- Silverado Trail Strawberries, cream cheese ice cream, pistachio, consomme*****
*Stars based on my personal favorites on a scale from 1-5
I highly recommend a dinner at Torc if you find yourself in Napa (which you absolutely should at some point in your life)! Sending a special thank you to them for hosting us during our visit.
This was just a portion of our huge road trip from Napa to Vegas. I will be sharing each segment individually over the next month. Then I later plan to make one huge itinerary sharing exactly how I planned the whole thing from scratch… so stay tuned! But thank you for reading my Ultimate Guide to Napa Valley! Follow along on Instagram for an inside look at all of my adventures.
Thank you to all of the wonderful venues that hosted me during my time in Napa!
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Until next time,