I’m so excited to share this post with you! Writing it already has me wanting to go back to Napa! I’ve been to Napa once before my most recent trip. You can check out my post recapping that Napa trip here! During my first trip to Napa, we visited mostly small, family run wineries. And that’s what we stuck to this go around too, except for one larger operation!
Michael and I were meeting Michael’s family for our trip to Napa, and since we decided to check out Lake Tahoe first, flying into Sacramento made the most sense for us. I talked all about our road trip in yesterday’s post! Check it out here. If you’re interested in visiting Lake Tahoe, be sure to check out Michael’s recap on our time there, along with his YouTube video!
Although you can’t fly straight into Napa (on a commercial flight), there are plenty of large airports nearby, including San Francisco and Oakland along with Sacramento! We picked up a car at the Sacramento airport and had it for the long weekend. I’d recommend renting a car at whichever airport you decide to fly into. Although you likely won’t be driving much once you’re actually in Napa, it’s nice to have it for the ride to and from the airport.
Where to Stay
We stayed in downtown Napa at this Airbnb. It was perfect for our group of eight! The location was within walking distance of downtown Napa, which was nice for dinners after days spent at the wineries. We ate dinner in town both nights that we were visiting and easily walked home.
Don’t forget to check out this post for $40 off of your first Airbnb stay!
Next time, I might opt to stay closer to the vineyards as downtown is about a 20-30 minute drive to most of the vineyards. With that said, we easily caught an Uber/Lyft to and from all of the vineyards.
We were in Napa for two full days and squeezed in five wineries. We opted to start our vineyard tours and tastings later in the day, but if you’re itching to get to drinking, you could easily squeeze in one or two more each day.
My biggest recommendation for visiting vineyards and wineries in Napa is to do your research and make reservations ahead of time, whether that be for a full tour or just a tasting (I personally prefer tastings over tours).
Domaine Carneros is the largest vineyard that we visited. It was impressive! Domaine Carneros specializes in sparkling wines. That’s important to know before you sign up for the tour because the tour includes mostly tastings of those wines. It is absolutely breathtaking upon arrival. Check out the front of the property here! It’s a bustling and sprawling vineyard. It’s not so big that there are tour buses here, but there are TONS of people everywhere. Domaine Carneros is a large vineyard, plus there’s a full restaurant onsite with multiple sitting areas. I’d recommend definitely doing this one first since it’s a bit overwhelming. With that said, the tour was a lot of fun!
We were paired up with a group of about 10-15 other visitors and lead around the property by a super informative and equally as entertaining tour guide who showed us how the vineyard operates. During the tour, we tasted five different wines and ended with a sit down cheese pairing. It was informative, and a great way to start our vineyard hopping!
Cuvaison was my favorite vineyard that we visited. We did a tasting there. Cuvaison is a small vineyard, and there were only about 20 other people at the vineyard doing tastings when we were there. We had a lovely table right by the open wall of sliding doors. It was an absolutely beautiful day, and the views at Cuvaison are amazing! The photos in this post were shot at Cuvaison. We brought home a bottle of their rosé and pinot noir, which I can’t wait to dive into!
V. Sattui //
V. Sattui is another large operation, but I liked it a lot because of its different feel. If you’ve ever been to the vineyards around the DC area, this one is similar in that there are huge lawns with picnic tables where everyone kind of hangs out. V. Sattui is a great spot for lunch! They have an expansive market onsite with fresh sandwiches, salads, breads, cheeses, meats, desserts, and of course lots of wine! They also have an outdoor grilling station setup where they serve BBQ.
We grabbed a couple of sandwiches, a few fresh shrimp, cheeses, freshly baked bread, and a couple bottles of wine and found a picnic table to enjoy lunch. The sauvignon blanc and pinot noir wines we had were outstanding! My one regret of the trip is not snagging a bottle from V. Sattui to bring home! Time flew by when we were outside, and we ended up having to rush a bit to leave and make our next tasting appointment.
Rombauer is another small-ish vineyard. I’d say we had the most fun at this spot! Their tasting room is indoors, which is my only knock on Rombauer. The grounds on the property are gorgeous so I wasn’t too fond of standing indoors for the tasting. But nonetheless, our guide for the tasting was great. She was super informative about the wines we were drinking and let us in on a lot of background of the vineyard.
After our tasting we grabbed a couple of bottles of wine and wandered through their gardens. The views at this spot are incredible! Michael and I brought home a bottle of sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, and zinfandel from Rombauer.
Honig was our last stop. We were seated at a large table on their patio for our tasting. While we had a great time at Honig, and the wines were good, the views weren’t the most breathtaking, which is totally relative in Napa because it’s beautiful everywhere!
Michael and I brought home a bottle of cabernet sauvignon from Honig! I’m excited to break into all of our red wines once the temperatures decide to cool off a bit!
Where to Eat
Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company: We only ventured out for coffee one morning, but we found a great little spot on the morning that we did! Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company is located right on Main Street in downtown Napa. It has a quirky, local vibe to it. Highly recommend their coconut milk latte!
Gott’s: When we arrived in Napa on our first day there, we stopped in Gott’s for lunch. It is an all-indulgent high-end diner type place. It was outstanding! And a downtown Napa staple for locals and tourists alike. We stopped in for an early lunch around 11AM, and by the time we were leaving around noon, the line was out the door! So arrive early or be prepared to wait (the line moved pretty quickly from what I could tell). I had a cheeseburger and fries.
Oxbow Public Market: Oxbow Public Market is a really cool marketplace in downtown Napa. It has an on-site brewery, lots of walk-up restaurants, a couple of sit-down restaurants, and a handful of local shops and vendor booths. We popped in Oxbow for ice cream after Gott’s. I would have definitely loved to have grabbed lunch here if we were in town longer. They had tons of great options!
V.Sattui: As I mentioned above, we ate lunch at the V. Sattui vineyard one day. If you’re touring vineyards nearby, it’s a great option to stop in for lunch! The food was outstanding, and there is plenty of room for folks to sit out on the lawn and enjoy a nice little picnic style lunch.
Allegría: If you’re in the mood for Italian after a long day of vineyard hopping, this is your spot! I loved everything about this place! It’s located in the heart of downtown Napa. The atmosphere was great, the service was outstanding, and the food was amazing! Definitely make a reservation ahead of time. It was packed the entire time we were there.
Napa Palisades Saloon: We ended up eating dinner at Napa Palisades Saloon sort of by default on our last night in Napa. LSU was playing in its first game of the season so we needed a spot to watch the game (Michael’s whole fam are LSU fans). The Saloon is located in downtown Napa, and it was a fun spot to watch the game. It was crowded, but not too packed. They have tons of local beers on draft and a decent food menu. If you go, you have to get the cheese curds! I don’t even want to think about how many orders we had while watching the game … they are delicious!
How to Get Wine Back Home
Perhaps the most valuable piece of information I’m going to share in this entire blog post … We picked up a lot of wine while we were vineyard hopping. Thankfully, at the first vineyard we visited, the tour guide let us in on a little secret. DO NOT HAVE YOUR WINE SHIPPED TO YOU! I repeat, DO NOT. It will cost you an arm and a leg. Also, DO NOT pack the bottles in your suitcase. Spare the chance of pinot noir ruining your favorite dress.
Instead, at the first place you visit, ask if they offer any packing boxes for purchase. They should. Almost every vineyard we visited did, but only one straight-out mentioned it. You have to ask. We bought a couple of six-pack boxes, which each came with an insert that’s specifically made for shipping wine. All you have to do is pack all of your wine up in the box, bring it to the airport, and bring it to the check-in counter of the airline that you’re flying. Don’t tape it up, the airline counter attendant will handle it. We were flying Southwest, so Michael brought our box full of wine to the check-in counter and explained that he wanted to check the box and that it was fragile material. The counter agent taped the box up and labeled it with FRAGILE written all over and off it went!
Apparently when luggage is labeled as fragile, it’s placed in the compartment with the animals and strollers, not in the giant compartment with all the other luggage. Our wine arrived unscathed! And since we were flying Southwest, which offers two free checked bags, our wine flew for free! Even if you’re flying on an airline that charges for shipped bags, the cost will still be cheaper than having each vineyard ship your wine to you.
Last but not least, I had to share my outfit details with you! I’m pretty sure I found the perfect maxi dress! The fit is amazing, the material is flowy, I love the buttons, and the colors are incredible! It’s available in over 30, yes I said 30, different patterns and colors and it’s only $30! For sizing reference, I’m wearing an XS. I’m 5’4″ and the length is perfect for flats, but I could also easily get away with wearing it with a low heel or wedge too.
I love how these Kendra Scott earrings paired with the dress. They’re my favorite piece of Kendra Scott jewelry that I own. The tassels are made of raffia and are removable. You can wear them with one, two, or three tassels. I usually opt for two!
Michael made a short vlog of our time in Napa. You can get more of a feel for the different vineyards from the video. Check it out here!
Photos by Michael McHugh