Tuesday, June 19, 2012

How to do Napa correctly....


       Like everyone under the sun, I dream of living in the Napa area.  Maybe I could just sleep in a barrel in a winery?  Dig a hole under some grape vines?  Live in a big ole Bouchon? This will definitely require a glass of wine and more pondering...Anywho, after many trips, I have a list of my faves...  Hope this will help you Bay area Newbies or just people taking trips to this tiny drunken piece o'heaven.

For wineries, I really suggest you mix it up.   Make an appt at a private winery, stumble into one you spot along the drive or go to a very well-known one.  This way you get to know all the different winery types and this will educate you on what to focus on the next day or the next trip.

Personally, I prefer the private  or low key experience.  Much less squeezing into counters for a next pour and the counter pourers generally care about the wine.  Here is a few of my faves.....

*Tres Sabores - $25/appt required.  My absolute favorite winery and we've been happy members for a few years now.   THIS is what people expect when they go to Napa and NEVER get.

*James Cole - $20/tasting  Amazing wines.  Start and end the day here.

*Schramsberg -$45/appt required. The priciest, but the best sparkling wine.  If this is too much, I suggest just buying a bottle and enjoying one night in town.

*Silverado - $25/tasting Very delicious wine with gorgeous views.

*Frogs Leap - $20/tasting Great place to wind down and enjoy some bocce ball with your wine.

I could keep the list going and going, but kept it weekend small.  A BIG suggestion to you, is find a wine you love and look for it at wineries.  Like if you love Malbec, visit wineries that have malbecs.  Also, if you are with a group and want to save money, just buy a bottle to share at wineries.  Most wineries have nice sitting areas and you can take your bottle and enjoy it outside.

Or if you want to not deal with planning out a trip.  Take advantage of a good tour company, one that takes you to some smaller wineries or gives you a more unique experience.

*Platypus Tours - Small Tour Bus that drives you to the wineries and takes care of appts

*Napa Valley Wine Train - so 1930s, Looooveee it!

*Napa Valley Bike Tours - Make sure to reserve an electric bike for when you get tired after too many wineries!

So wine is settled, now for the most important part, what to eat in Napa!!  I have a lot of favorite places, but there are a few I always end up going back to!  PLUS, you need to make sure you have plenty of snacks for all that drinking and definitely keep some electrolyte water!!

The Fatted Calf - This place is amazing to pick up charcuterie or sandwiches at.  No Napa trip is complete without at least getting some of their chorizo to snack on!  Also, if where ever you stay has a bbq grill, I cannot think of a better dinner than picking up one of their steaks to enjoy with a newly bought bottle of wine.

Ad Hoc Addendum - Open 11am-2pm Thurs-Sat.  For $16.50, you get a choice of their famous buttermilk fried chicken or barbeque.  How can you pass up the offer to eat at a Thomas Keller restaurant for $16.50!?!  Definitely call ahead your order, so you can appear like a local as you cut the line for pick up!

Bouchon Bakery - I never really regret the 45 minute wait for food here, because it is always amazing.  Seriously, you can not go wrong with anything, especially the Bouchons.  I think I want to live in a flour sack here...

Rutherford Grill - A good steak and no corkage fee.  Need I say more??

So much to enjoy in Napa, so take it easy and don't over do it.  Keep hydrated, well fed and you'll be beyond happy the entire trip!!