Let me introduce you to the best 2 days in Napa ever with a sprinkle of honesty. I would say after visiting 8 wineries and only having one fail, I’m doing ok. We took this trip in October of 2020, so COVID protocols were in place but the trip was still amazing.
While in Napa, we always hire a driver. Trust me, I’ve priced it out and between Uber and a driver, the driver always wins. Especially when some of the locations are up in the hills, some Uber drivers wont come up that far. We always use Rod from Napa Driver Tours. He meets you at your hotel drives your rental car. If its just two of you, I highly recommend renting a convertible! While in Napa, we stayed at Hampton Inn. Its affordable, super clean and they have a nice pool area but I go to Napa to drink, not suntan. Other properties to check out: Marriott Napa Valley, we have stayed here twice and loved it. They have a great gym and pre covid, they offered yoga by the pool! I have never stayed at the following but they are on my list; Vista Collina, Archer Hotel, and Hotel Napa Valley. Now enough with the small details. Lets get to the wine!
Domaine Carneros; selected for “the gram” photo opp, loved for the views and bubbles! The property is located on top of the hill over looking many properties. You will burn all the calories from the night before walking up the stairs, so no guilt with what you’re about to enjoy. Due to COVID, we sat outside…duh bonus, but the interior was gorgeous and I felt like Belle from Beauty and the Beast inside the “castle”. Domaine Carneros offers many different tasting experiences. This was our first stop of the morning so we picked the Sparkling Grand tasting ($60/pp) and Sparkling Sampler ($40/pp). If you want a completely different experience they offer a caviar pairing!! Our host was amazing and explained the different bubbles so well. I have mentioned this in other blogs but DO NOT REFER TO THIS AS CHAMPAGNE!!! Champagne is only made in France. Napa makes sparkling wine! Charcuterie plates are available to order along with Bellini mixers!!! Rule #2 of Napa, always eat with every tasting! Rule #1: WATER, WATER, WATER!!!!
I was drawn to Artesa for the views and that their Heritage flight included tapas. Food pairings aren’t needed but I do think they elevate the experience and can change the flavors on your palate. The architecture of the building is so neat and they have a gorgeous water feature. You can actually see Artesa from Domaine Carneros. Lacy was our host and we had a fabulous view outside on the patio. All of the food and wine pairings were great minus the sardine with an olive. My favorite pairing was the Chardonnay with smoked salmon and egg salad. Artesa also has a great gift shop with beautiful wine bottles.
I was referred to Mira by Brooke and Brent Lawson at Bud_Belief. Reach out to them via Instagram or their website to set up a visit. Our tasting was hosted by the owner, Bear, who was incredibly proud of his product. The building was beautiful and would be fun to taste inside but due to visiting during Covid, we had a wonderful table on the patio outlooking the gardens and vines. Every good wine tasting tour start with a glass in your hand. We started with the rose. Everything on the property revolves around the Fibonacci Sequence. Its a great story and is a part of every detail, including 2 interestingly shaped, rare egg wine barrels. Gustavo A Gonzalez is the wine maker at Mira and damn does he know wine. My favorites were the Hyde Vineyard Syrah and Yountville Cab Sauv. If you enjoy the wines, make sure to purchase on site or get on the waiting list for their Society 610, which we finally made it into!!! Extra bonus, since we visited during harvest, Bear grabbed us some grapes off the vine. Honestly, if you can visit Sept/early Oct, it is such an experience to taste the grapes pre barrel and to see them on the vines.
HILL FAMILY ESTATE
Hill Family Estate was another recommendation from Brooke and Brent. This was our last stop of the day. The property was amazing. You can taste in their tasting room in Yountville but we picked the winery. Jeanne was adorable and so much fun. We started out with a chilled Albarino in a big bottle. We walked though the vineyard to a table under the shade of the trees. Tastings are $50/pp and waived with 3 bottle purchase, which I always suggest! I was impressed with the wine. My favorite was Like a Hawk and Saltonstall Pinot Noir. Fun fact, The Bella twins were arriving at the winery to film part of their show. If you follow Hill’s IG you will see Brie and Nikki love the winery as much as I do!
DINNER AT MORIMOTO
I always love eating at Morimoto for some amazing sushi and fish. I always ask to be seated outside as you over look the “river” that goes through Napa proper. The service is always great and the lychee martinis go well with a day of drinking wine. I am always blown away with the flavors of the food. Some food suggestions are the rock shrimp, white fish carpaccio, spicy yellowtail and duck fat fries.
We woke up pretty late so breakfast was Starbucks on the road to our first location. Our first location is top secret. You need to be invited and know someone aka our driver to get us in. I will always go back to this winery for the views, wine and company. Per usual we joined the club. Fun fact they also make Grappa and sell cigars! Be sure on your way up or back down the hill, you stop at Soda Canyon Store for amazing burritos. They also offer breakfast!
Frog’s Leap is always a staple stop for us. Not only because we are club members, so the tastings are complimentary, but the wine is delicious and affordable. I always recommended our friends to purchase and then let that baby sit. We have bottles that wont be ready to drink for 10-15 yrs, which the entire point is to have a special memory attached to a future celebration. A typical tasting is their signature seated ($45/pp) where you enjoy 5 of the current releases on their patio over looking the garden and vines. Frog’s Leap also grows over 50 organic crops every year and making amazing products with those too! I always bring home a jam or two! My favorites are their cabs and merlots but the sauv blanc and rose are amazing and a great price! I always stock up for the summer. Visit their website for info on virtual tastings if you aren’t able to visit due to COVID or you want a taste of Napa at home.
Boyd was beyond fabulous and recommended to us by Brooke and Brent Lawson of @bud_belief. Brooke set everything up for us and wow, I am so happy we visited. The Boyd family owns this property with small batch wine so its very exclusive and personal. Joan greeted us at their front door with a few of the winery dogs and welcomed us into their home. We sat on the back porch overlooking the vines and enjoyed 5 wines with some snacks. My favorites were the Cuvee, EntreCOTe and rose. Side note, don’t let the dog part freak you out. I’m not a huge dog person but these “little” guys relaxed on your feet patiently waiting for you to drop some cheese. If you can not make it to Napa anytime soon, please look into their virtual tasting!
ASHES AND DIAMONDS
Ashes and Diamonds has a fun mid-century looking building with amazing architecture, but the customer service didn’t match the vibe. This winery would be on my skip list due to the lack of luster and ambiance. We sat outside and enjoyed their A&D wines and cheeses ($75/pp). Not sure if it was because were visited at the end of the day or if this was normal, but our wines were quickly poured with little explanation. I did enjoyed their cab and brought home a bottle for later especially with how modern their labels are. Don’t let my experience over take yours. A&D offers many tasting experiences including a food pairing so there may be something for you to enjoy.
DINNER AT TORC
Torc is phenomenal! The first time we visited we chose to do the chefs tasting where they continued to bring fabulous food. Due to COVID, we ordered off the menu. Our favorites are truffle grilled cheese; super bougie and expensive but 100% worth it, deviled eggs and pasta covered in truffles. The service is always amazing as well.
BOON FLY CAFE
Boon fly café is a great stop to catch breakfast/brunch on your way out of Napa to the airport. They had so many fun juice options for mimosas! I chose watermelon! So refreshing. The café is known for their donuts which were delicious and a must order. I also recommend the breakfast flatbread and avocado toast since CA has super fresh avocados.
I enjoy Napa so much and enjoy being able to share my experiences and favorite things with you. Cheers!