Week 2 of my 2019 West Coast Swing, consisted of San Jose, San Francisco, Napa and the Monterey Peninsula all in six days! Next week I’ll share my Guide to the Monterey Peninsula and Pebble Beach – but first let’s go on a trip to Napa!
Warning: Mitchell and I are BIG wine lovers! While Mitchell has grown up in a wine loving family, I’m a rookie wino – but I’m definitely willing to learn 😉 In the past four months, we’ve traveled to Florence, Italy, to experience Tuscany and, this past week, we ventured to Napa, CA. How did we get so lucky?!
We made a point to come a few days early to the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am before my work duties kicked in, specifically to experience Napa. I’d say this is one of our best Christmas presents to one another yet!
Napa via the Golden Gate Bridge
We flew into San Jose Monday evening to stay with friends and drove to Napa the following morning on Tuesday. In my opinion, San Jose is an easier airport to fly into than San Francisco International Airport. As a bonus, you won’t battle much traffic on your drive from San Jose, north through the city to wine country.
Driving over the Golden Gate Bridge on our way to Napa was an amazing way to kick-off our trip! Make sure to stop along some of the scenic points to take photos of the bridge. Lands End was a beautiful park with trails that lead you to gorgeous views of the bridge. A few miles up the road from Lands End, they also have several viewing areas close to the Golden Gate Bridge, just before you cross.
We started our Tour de Napa, in one of the northern most towns in the Napa Valley — St. Helena, and worked our way south to the city of Napa, CA.
Rombauer was the first winery we visited. There, we were treated to beautiful views up high in the hills and were introduced to Napa’s stellar chardonnay. My husband and I are normally red wine drinkers and prefer Sauvignon Blanc if drinking white. But we were pleasantly surprised to really enjoy the chardonnay. Apparently Napa’s chardonnay — and specifically Rombauer’s chardonnay — is known as “Cougar Juice,” for all the retired women that love to drink it at lunch with friends. We thought that nickname was hilarious and we can see why the women like to drink it!
If you visit Rombauer – make sure to try their red, El Dorado Zinfandel. It’s so unique, packing so many fruity flavors in the initial taste, followed by a dry finish.
Must see: you have to walk down the hill and into their cave cellar below the winery. Super cool!
If you are looking to tackle a lot of wineries in one place, Oakville is the place for you. With wineries lining the roads, we stopped in this hotbed after St. Helena for the pillar of Napa – Robert Mondavi.
You’d likely recognize some of his mass-produced brands like Woodridge, but this is Mondavi’s signature winery. Mondavi helped put Napa on the map, by bringing worldwide recognition to the area through technology and marketing strategies.
This is a fun one to visit and see, what some claim to be the father of Napa Valley’s, namesake winery. Mondavi’s signature wines won’t disappoint either. Napa is known for its cabernet and Mondavi’s is superb.
This is just the cutest little village! We stopped here to grab a delicious sandwich at the Yountville Deli, connected to the “Ranch Market Too” grocery store. Even though we were just passing through, this would be a wonderful place to stay at one of Napa’s boutique hotels. You can walk the entire village easily and it boasts some of Napa’s best restaurants, including French Laundry – a favorite among Hollywood’s elite.
Located right across the street from Silverado Country Club and Resort, William Hill is a beautiful place to finish your day trip in Napa. Nestled atop the rolling hills just north of downtown Napa, the William Hill Estate is an impressive operation. They were kind enough to take us through their vineyard for various tastings and then inside their production facility to conclude the tour.
Our private tour was one of our favorites of the day and our tour guide was really informative, showing us some of the newest technologies they are currently using during their wine making process. Their Cabernet Benchland Series and Bench Blend were also our favorites. You can finish off your tour by sitting out on their patio and taking in the breathtaking views.
If you have time, bring your sticks and schedule in a round of golf at Silverado Country Club – where the PGA TOUR plays its annual Safeway Open and awards my favorite trophy, a wine barrel, to the winner. I also encourage you to plan a trip to watch the tournament in person. What would be better than watching some of the world’s best golfers, while drinking some of the world’s best wine?!
Downtown Napa is a fun and modern town. We stayed the night there in a popular hotel chain and were a short drive away from various high quality restaurants.
We enjoyed our trip to Napa and hope it won’t be our last. Who knows, we just might have to join a wine club at one of the wineries we visited!
Up next: Pebble Beach and the Monterey Peninsula
After our one-day trip to Napa on Tuesday, we drove the three-hours down to the Monterey Peninsula on Wednesday morning to the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. The drive was beautiful and I will share my guide to that part of the Bay Area next week.
Let me know your favorite stops in Napa, by commenting below or on Instagram!