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Mandy

Napa Valley, Sonoma County

Where to stay/what to do for ultimate wine & food trip in Napa area?

I am planning a first time trip to wine country the last week in September 2018.   My husband and I are huge wine and food lovers.  I am overwhelmed as to where to stay, and which wineries and restaurants are must do's.   Where to even start?!  Open to stay anywhere in the Napa/Sonoma areas..or anywhere around!   We don't have an endless budget, but am willing to look at anything suggested!


4 Answers

answered by
Michael

As you realized, overwhelming number of choices. Still, you can make the task easier by realizing nearly all the wineries in each valley are arranged along central roads, which means that no winery is going to be more than 20-30 minutes from any other. (Longer on weekends, due to traffic.) So it doesn't matter much where you stay for proximity -- allowing you to choose lodging on the basis of other factors. 

Personally, I'd recommend staying some place quiet -- the roads (again, mainly on weekends) can be crowded -- wineries, too.  This criterion suggests B&Bs, some of which (the ones I prefer) are on side streets in villages within walking distance of restaurants and shops. 

Or go all out for luxury resorts such as Silverado Resort & Spa

or Meadowood Napa Valley

or Auberge du Soleil, an Auberge Resort

For wineries, it helps if you know what kinds of wines you like, although more and more wineries are now trying to cover the spectrum of wines, so as not to miss anybody.  Still, here are a few recommendations, with reasons why:

Robert Mondavi Winery: probably the most informative tour. Very commercial, but very thorough. 

Williamson Wines:  The best for explaining and matching wines with specific foods. The (modestly-priced) tasting menu (make reservations) pairs their chef's creations with specific wines. 

Castello di Amorosanot the best wines, but the best stone-by-stone reconstruction of a renaissance/medieval Italian castle, complete with dungeon. 

Darioush Winery Silverado Trail: if you're done with  Italy, try Persia. fantasy Persian palaceFantasy Persian palace -- wines are good too!

Van Der Heyden Terry R OD: the opposite of Darioush -- very small, almost rundown buildings. The eccentric winemaker will explain why oak barrels are an abomination! (Other winemakers travel to France to choose precisely which oak tree (Haute Futaie variety, of course!) they want their barrels made from.) His wines are very good. 

What we do typically is drive the countryside, stopping when we see a winery whose wines we've liked, or where the winery property looks interesting -- and always learn something, and end up with more wines in our luggage than clothes. (Just enough clothes to wrap the wine bottles safely.)

Read reviews and guides, and pick a handful and see if you can make reservations. The wines and the wine guides will be better, if a little more expensive. Then just pick randomly to fill in the gaps between reservations. 


Mentioned in this answer:

VIEW DETAILED MAP
  1. Silverado Resort & Spa (hotel)
  2. Meadowood Napa Valley (hotel)
  3. Auberge du Soleil, an Auberge Resort (hotel)
  4. Robert Mondavi Winery (restaurant)
  5. Williamson Wines (restaurant)
  6. Castello di Amorosa (attraction)
  7. Darioush Winery (attraction)
  8. Silverado Trail (attraction)
  9. Van Der Heyden Terry R OD (attraction)
1 thanks


answered by
Bridget

Downtown Healdsburg is adorable and has great vineyards & restaurants. Highly recommend Sonoma as well...both are less expensive than Napa and are a little mellower. Everything is relatively close but traffic can be a pain on the weekends. My personal favorite is Velo Vino in healsburg, it is owned by Clif Bar & Company and hosts bike rides and has a super cute outdoor area. Great homebase for exploring by bike (if you are into that sort of thing).


Mentioned in this answer:

VIEW DETAILED MAP
  1. Healdsburg (attraction)
  2. Sonoma (city)
  3. Clif Bar & Company (attraction)
1 thanks


answered first by
Courtney from Los Angeles

I haven't been to this place myself yet, but my best friend could write a book on Napa and her favorite is the Auberge du Soleil, an Auberge Resort. It's definitely on my bucket list! I also know that the The French Laundry is now taking reservations a few months in advance. Not cheap but it's certainly a once-in-a-lifetime experience!


Mentioned in this answer:

VIEW DETAILED MAP
  1. Napa (city)
  2. Auberge du Soleil, an Auberge Resort (hotel)
  3. The French Laundry (restaurant)
1 thanks


answered by
Fritzi from San Francisco

Yes, there are 400 wineries in Napa, and many more in Sonoma.  Napa is the smallest county in CA.  At the bottom of the valley is the town of Napa and at the top the town of Calistoga.  The two roads runninng along the valley are Highway 29 and the Silverado trail.  Between Napa and Calistoga are Yountville, Oakville and St Helena.

My favorites Napa wineries are Grgich Hills EstateClos Pegase Winery & Tasting Room Cakebread Cellers Rutherford (California)V. Sattui Winery PlumpJack Winery and Beringer VineyardsBardessono is an upscale hotel in Yountville.  Very classy. 

Taking a spa treatment is also part of the wine country experience. Dr. Wilkinson's Hot Springs Resortis an authentic spa in Calistoga for decades.  Indian Springs has a huge mineral pool and various spa treatments.  The mud bath is really fun.

If you go Healdsburg the dry creek road is a beautiful wine road.  Unti Vineyards is my favorite winery there, but Seghesio Family Vineyards also has wonderful wine.

Restaurants are expensive so I usually get a picnic from Dean & DeLuca, or Oakville Grocery.  

If you are into fine dining, there are many choices, but I don't spring for expensive dinners so that is not my area of expertise.

But if you are going to be extravagant a hot air balloon ride over the valley is magical. To take a break from the wine scene, a visit to Safari Westis suprisingly entertaining. 


Mentioned in this answer:

VIEW DETAILED MAP
  1. Grgich Hills Estate (attraction)
  2. Clos Pegase Winery & Tasting Room (attraction)
  3. Cakebread Cellers (restaurant)
  4. Rutherford (California) (city)
  5. V. Sattui Winery (attraction)
  6. PlumpJack Winery (restaurant)
  7. Beringer Vineyards (attraction)
  8. Bardessono (hotel)
  9. Dr. Wilkinson's Hot Springs Resort (hotel)
  10. Indian Springs (hotel)
  11. Healdsburg (attraction)
  12. Unti Vineyards (restaurant)
  13. Seghesio Family Vineyards (restaurant)
  14. Dean & DeLuca (restaurant)
  15. Oakville Grocery (attraction)
  16. Safari West (attraction)




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