Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Planning a Trip to Napa Valley

We had the best time on a quick trip to Napa last week.  We were just there for a quick time but got to see, do and eat a lot.  We learned a lot when we were there - things we liked, things we'd do differently next time, etc. so I figured I'd share a little today in case anyone else is planning a trip and also to remember for whenever we head back - I'd love to make another trip with Derek, couples or just girlfriends! 

Planning Each Day
We had two full days and two days that were partially travel as well.  For our full days we did three wineries each day which was plenty for us - some people we talked to did four each day but I'd suggest no more than that - two would be ideal if you had more time so you didn't have to rush and could also do things like pool/spa.

Lots of wineries offer similar timings for tours throughout the day so you can plan out your day easily.  I thought I'd like the wineries that we just "stopped at for tastings" better but I actually enjoyed our tours much more so next time I'd probably schedule even more than we did this time.

A typical day was usually waking up super early and relaxing (East Coast time!), the first winery tour at 10am, another tour at noon, lunch and a final tasting our own.  Then we'd relax/nap at the pool, go to dinner and were usually in bed by 9/10 because of the time difference. 

The whole Napa area is such a quaint, cozy area.  We were only in Yountville and above (Oakville, Rutherford, St. Helena, Calistoga) - we didn't have time to make it anywhere lower like the actual town of Napa or over to Sonoma.

We left time for a little bit of pool time each day after our tours - usually not until 4pm or 5pm and the spa one day.  If time allowed it would be nice to do one winery tour, a nice lunch and then a long pool afternoon. 

There were plenty of spots to take nice walks, our hotel (and I think most hotels) had bikes to ride around, there was the wine train, hot air balloons, stop at the Napa Valley sign for a photo, etc. 

Getting Around 
Since we were there for such a short amount of time we just ubered from winery to winery and it worked just fine - a couple of wineries didn't have the best service since it's remote so next time - especially if with a group - we'd probably use a car service maybe one day.  

We did use a car service to get to/from the airport but there were plenty of uber drivers offering to drive back into San Francisco. 

Our hotel had a hotel car that was available from 6pm-10pm to drive to dinners and anything else during that time.

The weather in Napa is so nice - when we saw 90+ degrees as the high I left pants and any other cooler weather clothes at home even though I knew it got a lot cooler overnight - I wish I'd brought more warm items because by dinner time the temperature is already going back down! 

We loved those cool mornings, around the first tour things would be warming up and it was just a few hours of that high 90 temperate - but it was dry heat.

I'd love to go back in the winter as everything is so cozy, lots of fireplaces and a lot of the workers said while it's really cold overnight it's usually about 60's during the days.

Winery Discounts from Hotels
Something I wish I knew before we got there was that our hotel offered discounts at some wineries throughout towns.  We picked one of the list to use but had already visited one by the time we'd checked in and had a tour scheduled for another.  If you're planning a trip - I'd call your hotel to check before! A few of ours below... 

Domaine Chandon - complimentary tasting for two
Cliff Lede - complimentary bar tasting with the purchase of another tasting
Priest Ranch - complimentary tasting with the purchase of another tasting 
Cakebread - two for one tastings Monday - Friday
Robert Mondavi - complimentarty reserve flight tasting with the purchase of a reserve flight tasting 
Hall - complimentary tasting for two
Pine Ridge - two for one tasting and 10% discount on wine purchases 
Domaine Carneros - 15% off wine and merchandise purchases 
Darioush - complimentary tableside portfolio tasting for two
Chappellett - up to 4 complimentary tasting offered at 10am and 12pm
Rutherford Ranch - complimentary wine and chocolate or wine and cheese pairing for two

In addition to these there were 25 more offers!

Packaging Wine to Send Home
In addition to sending wine home from each hotel (and the shipping fees) you can select just a few bottles to package in your suitcase and buy $4 wine sleeves to pad them (we carried on so this didn't work for us) or you can check some on the plane with you!  We had a friend visit Napa before us and tell us to get the styrofoam containers that come in either a 12 bottle size or 6 bottle size (about $10 and $5 in price).  They are in a box, you just tape it up, put your name and info on it and check it at the gate!

This worked great for us because last time we were in Napa we brought a case home from one of the wineries and didn't really love it once we got home.  This way we just got a bottle or two at our favorite wineries and brought those home - some for us, some for gifts.

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Winery Recommendations:
Domaine Chandon
Stags' Leap
Del Dotto 
V. Sattui

Others that we didn't have time for or learned about there and would like to try next time:
Opus One, Berringer, Domaine Carneros, Hall, Caymus Vineyards, Chapplet

Food Recommendations:
R + D Kitchen
Yountville Deli
V. Sattui 
Bistro Jeanty (favorite!) 

Others that we didn't have time for or learned about there and would like to try next time:
Domaine Chandon, Rutherford Grill, Press, Mustards Grill, Bottega, Gotts Roadside, Ciccio, Pizzeria TraVigne

I'll share about our trip details next week... 


  1. The Napa area is so much fun and so beautiful!! Looked like y'all had a great trip!

  2. I would LOVE to go there sometime - sounds like your days were well spent!

  3. This is so helpful! It's definitely on my must-visit list.

  4. Sounds like an amazing but short trip! My girlfriends have been talking about making a trip out to Napa for a few days so your tips and recommendations were really helpful! Emily @ Martinis & Bikinis

  5. I can't wait to go back, and stay for more than a day there. And love how many wineries offer a complimentary tasting, I was surprised at how pricey some of them can be <3
    Green Fashionista