My boyfriend and I are traveling for a long weekend to Napa and staying at The Carneros Inn in the middle of November. We are looking for winery and restaurant recommendations and would love to hear your thoughts!
We'd love to experience the best of the best (views, wine, overall experience) to get a true experience of wine country.
Thank you in advance!
Hello Justine! So excited for you! Jacey and I spent out 1st Anniversary out there and have returned several times since. I was just out in the Napa area working for a month and Jacey and I had a chance to add a few favorites to our list, as well as going back to some of our "regulars." So, first I will list our favorites, then some other wineries we have enjoyed, and then finally some places we have eaten that I would recommend. Two things to keep in mind. I know it costs a little more, but on at least several, if not all, of your visits, try to take a tour, or do a tasting that is not just a stand up experience in their tasting room. You will get so much more out of the experience. I would also suggest you start making reservations ASAP, as most of the places I am recommending will require you to do so. There is so much to see and do, that I'm sure you will hear fantastic winery and food recommendations from others that are equally as deserving. Well, here goes:
Since you are so close it, I would think it would be remiss of you to not go to Domaine Carneros for some whites/bubbles. It's not our favorite place for bubbles, but they do a fantastic job and the views are very nice. Our favorite winery in the Napa Valley is Joseph Phelps Vineyards. They not only make fantastic Cabernet, but also have vineyards on the Sonoma Coast and make killer Pinot Noir and Chardonnay for you to try. It also gets you out of that Cab mode, you can sometimes find yourself in while tasting in Napa. They also just recently finished remodeling and it is really cool! We love the winery and cave tour at Pine Ridge Vineyards. It ends with a wine and cheese pairing at a table in a cave with an awesome Dale Chihuly piece to gawk at. Caymus Vineyards has a wonderful sit down tasting and great wine. Alpha Omega Winery has a great terrace tasting by a pond and fountains. They are also open until 6:00, so if there is traffic, you can make it your last stop and then let the jam clear out. For bubbles, there is a more laid back atmosphere at Mumm Napa, and a more party vibe at Domaine Chandon. We also think Mumm has better bubbles. Especially if you taste their DVX bottlings.
Other wineries we have enjoyed that I would recommend are HALL Wines St. Helena, Heitz Wine Cellars Sales & Tasting Room, which is free, Frank Family Vineyards, Elizabeth Spencer Wines, Robert Mondavi Winery, Bennett Lane Winery, Flora Springs Winery for their cave tour, Trefethen Family Vineyards. We also had decent experience at Grgich Hills Estate and Cakebread Cellars, but enjoyed the wine at other places better. A lot of people also like Castello di Amorosa, but there were a bunch of screaming kids running around, and it was not really what we were looking for.
As far restaurants go, our favorite experience was at The French Laundry. It challenging to get reservations, so if you are interested, the best thing you can probably do at this point is to get on a waiting list for a cancelation. Keep in mind that this is about a four hour dining experience, however. Thomas Keller also has several other restaurants in Yountville that do a great job, ad hoc, and Bouchon. We also always make a stop at some point at Gott's Roadside, the one in St Helena. It is a cool set up and a great way to not let the wines go to your head. Solid burgers. We also like Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokin' BBQ in Napa, but it can be a little inconsistent. When it is on, it is darn good, though. I think a visit to Oxbow Public Market is a must. They have a great cheese and wine shop and two of our favorite stops for food in Napa town, C Casa and Hog Island Oyster Co Inc. Depending on how our winery visits shake out, we like to grab a picnic type meal from either Dean & DeLuca, but especially Oakville Grocery.
Hopefully that gives you a few places to consider. Have a great time and happy gluttony!
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