A One Day in a City Itinerary: One Day in Napa
- Taste wine
- Rent a car if you have a designated driver or hire a driver if you don’t.
- Don’t drink so much wine that you don’t remember your one day in Napa.
Let’s tackle the first one, shall we? There are hundreds of wineries in Napa which are spread out over a large area. This can make it extremely daunting to choose just a few to visit. I recommend visiting just three or four in a day to give yourself adequate time at each winery and enough driving time in between. I like to think of the wineries of Napa in three different categories: Top-notch wine, incredible views, and interactive experience.
My favorites for each are as follows:
Napa Winery for Top-Notch Wine – Jessup Cellars: This winery specializes in small-batch, high-end wines that are handcrafted. Their tasting room is located in an airy, home-like building in the adorable town of Yountville, and it offers a sit-down experience to taste their wines. You’ll meet at a table with an employee of the winery who will walk you through several different vintages ranging from Chardonnay to Cabernet Sauvignon to Zinfandel. They also offer a cheese and nut plate alongside the wines, which they recommend how to pair with each wine.
Napa Winery for Incredible Views – Kuleto Estates: Once you reach the main gate of this winery and surrounding vineyards, it takes about another 10 minutes to get up the side of a rugged hill to the winery. Winding roads and crowded vegetation surrounds the road leading up to nothing short of an architectural masterpiece. The owner of this property made his millions as a restaurateur and decided to spend some of it building a house that reminded me of the winery equivalent of the Hearst Castle atop of a hill that overlooks the whole valley.
Napa Winery for Interactive Experience – Raymond Vineyards: This winery offers wine decanting lessons, blending experiences, a corridor of senses which lets you test how different smells affect how a wine tastes. It also puts an educational spin on wine-making with its “Theater of Nature” which puts a focus on how Biodynamic farming in Napa Valley works. Plus, it’s just pretty darn cool inside with red and silver colors, a club-like atmosphere, and mood lighting in some of the tasting rooms.
To get to these wineries and others in Napa you have a few options, which takes us onto the second to-do during your time in Napa. The first option for getting around is to rent a car and drive yourself if you or someone in your party is willing to be the sober cab. The second option is to walk. There are some wineries and tasting rooms close enough to each other that you can cab it to the area and back to your hotel and still get ina few wineries with the walking and tasting. The third option – and my preferred method if you can afford it – is to rent a driver for the day or take a wine tour (choose a SMALL one, 4-6 people tops) that will escort you around. Often these services have an in with the wineries, meaning your tasting fee may be waived. The tour I went on was through the wonderful hotel I stayed at in Napa, The Wine Country Inn, and cost $100 per person, but we got more personal attention at the wineries and our tasting fees were waived at 3 out of the 4 wineries we went to, saving us at least $60. Pretty good deal if you ask me. Your hotel may have a car service available so check with them first. If they don’t, they’ll be able to recommend someYour hotel may have a service available so check with them first. If they don’t, they’ll be able to recommend some
Another reason to only go to 3-4 wineries besides having enough time to adequately experience the winery and taste the wine? Not getting too drunk. Unless you’re such a high-class wine taster that you’re a spitter (and I have never met anyone who actually does that – not that I walk in that high class of circles, but still…) you will be drinking A LOT of wine. And you don’t want to forget your one day in Napa.
You also want to be able to make sure you are sober enough to go out to dinner because Napa has some pretty awesome restaurants. It is, after all, home to the consistently highest rated restaurant in the world – French Laundry. Good luck getting a reservation.
Most of us are never going to eat at French Laundry, so good thing Napa has a whole variety of other top-rated restaurants, ranging from home-cooking classics in a dining room reminiscent of an elaborate cottage to gourmet masterpieces served in trendy, all-white fanfare. Most of my favorite restaurants in the Napa region are located in St. Helena. For trendy I like Press, for a country-chic atmosphere I prefer Market; both of which are in St. Helena. And for just a freakin’ good sandwich I recommend Rutherford Grill in the town of Rutherford – get the French dip sandwich. For more information on these restaurants, read my recent post about Napa Valley Restaurants.
And, of course, finish off your one day in Napa by ordering wine with dinner.