Napa Valley

A Graceful Guide to Napa.jpg

I have to say, I think one of my favorite places in the world might be Napa Valley. I’ve made the trip twice now and both times were pretty magical. It is funny though, the two times I have been were during the exact same time of year so I have only seen Napa in the fall (late October to be specific). But y’all, the fall in Napa…it is perfect. When you hear people talk about the California weather and how good it is, I know I often roll my eyes (probably with jealousy) because in my head I am thinking, “it can’t really be that good.” Well it is. The weather is perfect, the leaves are changing and the wine is endless. My kind of place.


On our most recent trip to Napa, we were fortunate enough to stay for several days. We saw several wineries and tried an abundance of wine. Which I loved. We flew in to Sacramento on a Wednesday night and stayed downtown at the Citizen Hotel. Then Thursday morning, after a delicious brunch, we made our way to the wine country and began to enjoy. After checking in to the resort (which was quite perfect), we dropped our bags and ventured to downtown Sonoma. There we walked around, and simply took in the atmosphere. We walked in to a couple of small tasting rooms and made our way around the square. And I highly recommend doing so as it was super cute.

That afternoon though, we had a reservation at Scribe Winery (in between Sonoma and Napa) which was AMAZING. Seriously, if you told me that you only had one day in Napa, I would tell you to put it on your list. It was this old hacienda with an amazing patio where you could sit and enjoy their wines paired with food fresh grown on the property. Absolute perfection. So needless to say, we stayed there on Thursday and took it all in.

On Friday and Saturday, we scheduled a driver to take us to our different tastings. We ended up scheduling 3-4 tastings each day and I thought it was perfect. On Friday we started at Opus One where we were actually given our own little private tour of the cellar. From there, we left and went to Auberge du Soleil for lunch with a view. After lunch, we ventured over to Cade which is a pretty popular spot but still small and quaint. Finally after Cade, we made our way to Kelly Fleming, which is now also on my must-do list.

On Saturday we began the festivities at Viader. Jon Luke and I had been to Viader before, but I LOVE this spot. It is a smaller joint, and family operated, so the history behind it is perfect. (I love hearing the stories of how the wine maker got her start.) After Viader, we made our way to lunch at the Solbar. This was the perfect place to sit and enjoy a cool glass of rose as the temperatures were up that day. After lunch, we made our way over to Tamber Bey for the next tasting. This tasting was unique because it is actually horse stables. Such a cool story behind it and a great atmosphere to hang out for the afternoon! Finally after Tamber Bey, we made our way back into Napa where we stopped at Beaulieu Vinyards. My dad really wanted to see this one so we were lucky to find four seats at the bar and post up for the rest of the day. We ended up making friends with our server so my dad was telling her a story about how he had been saving a bottle of 1975 Reserve from BV for when I had a baby. Unfortunately, his house caught fire two years ago and he lost a lot of his valuables, including the wine. After completing our tasting, the manager came over with a “special tasting” for us (we were pretty much the only people in there at this point) but we had to follow his instructions on how to enjoy it. We did as he said, and eventually he revealed that we were tasting the 1975 Reserve that my dad was never able to try. It was a pretty special way to end the trip.

There really are so many wineries in Napa that you could go for days and not see the same place twice. I have several that I would return to, but also several that I still want to see! If you are planning a trip to Napa sometime soon, keep reading to check out some of my favorites from our trip or others that people have recommended!


Places To Stay

Carneros Resort and Spa - This is where we stayed this time around and I LOVED it. It is a large property with small cottages all throughout. You can rent one bedroom rooms, two bedrooms, or even residences and truly get comfortable in Napa. Our little cottage was a two bedroom complete with an indoor and outdoor fire place, kitchen, dining area, outdoor living area and a hot tub. It was so nice to come home each day and have a spot to just sit and relax!

Senza Hotel - On our first trip to Napa we stayed at this bed and breakfast and I loved it. It was quaint and homey and really was in a great location as far as getting in and out of the wineries in Napa. This spot has fewer rooms so I never felt overwhelmed or like I was at a “hotel.”

Hotel Yountville - My family stayed here the first time we went but there were not enough rooms when we booked. We spent some time there with them though and it truly is a beautiful hotel. I love the rooms and the quality of the space. Also, Yountville is adorable so it is a good spot to be in!

Bardessono- Before this recent trip to Napa Valley, I did a ton of research when it comes to hotels. In the end, we loved the idea of having a two bedroom house, which is why we stayed at Carneros, but if Jon Luke and I go back by ourselves, I would love to stay here. This hotel is so chic and beautifully designed, it looks amazing! This spot is also in Yountville so I love the location as well!

Vintage House - This hotel is also in Yountville (I do really like the town) and is super cute. It was one of the ones I researched but we also walked in while we were there and it was lovely!


Grab A Bite

Oenotri - We ate here on Thursday night for our first meal in Napa. Y’all, this was some of the best Italian food I have had in the states. It was all homemade and of course their wine selection was wonderful. We took our time there starting with a cheese & charcuterie board, followed by pizza and paste. Definitely make a reservation though because we even had a wait with one!

Ad Hoc - We loved Ad Hoc so much when we went for dinner that we ended up going back for Sunday brunch. This is one of the restaurants from chef Thomas Keller, so again, make a reservation and come with an appetite. With a set family style meal, you don’t have options but I promise the food is AMAZING. You get four shareable courses and the menu changes daily. They are known for their fried chicken, so we went back for Sunday brunch to have chicken and waffles. But ask them the menu before you book so you have an idea of what you will be eating if you need to!

Boon Fly Cafe - All the reviews I read said this was a must for breakfast. Luckily it is on the Carneros Resort Property so we were able to walk over and find seats at the bar. Definitely a great places to grab food before you head to the wineries!

The French Laundry - If you can get in and like the idea of a FANCY meal, definitely give it a try. We were able to eat here during our first trip to Napa and I loved the experience. Thomas Keller is famous for this restaurant, and you won’t be disappointed. With several small courses throughout the night, this is a place you go and enjoy yourself. The French Laundry sits in the heart of Yountville so it is an easy walk if you are staying in town.

Auberge du Soleil - So this is actually a hotel and I LOVED the location. They had two restaurants inside so we had a reservation at the Bistro and Bar. We were able to sit on the deck with an amazing view, enjoy more wine and fill ourselves with much needed carbs. The pizza was delicious.

Solbar- Also inside a hotel, this spot was so aesthetically appealing, and the food was so good. Another patio (the amazing California weather) where we sipped rose, chatted and had another great meal before seeing more wineries!


Time For Wine

Scribe Winery - Scribe (above) is definitely at the top of my list. It is more laid back, and a little rustic which I loved. The property is BEAUTIFUL and everyone at Scribe is super laid back. When I was reading reviews to prep for the trip, they all said that Scribe has become one of the popular hang out spots (or “most hip” really) and I can definitely see why because the entire tasting was great.

Kelly Fleming - Kelly Fleming is one of the newer wineries in Napa Valley. Everyone kept talking about their up-and-coming wine maker and how she was so wonderful. And she was…their wine was amazing. But what I loved most about this place was that when I asked to take a photo in the kitchen, everyone was super accommodating. While I was in there, I saw a girl who looked younger than me cleaning glasses, so naturally I started a casual conversation. Come to find out…she was the wine maker! And she was sweet as can be and SO humble. She ended up coming out to visit with us and it felt as if the family was just hanging out enjoying a glass of wine. I loved it!


Cade - Cade is such a classic. This was our second time at Cade but it never disappoints. Not only is the actual winery and tasting room beautiful, but the wine is delicious. To be able to walk through the tanks and cellar was definitely a treat!


Viader- As I said before, Viader is one of my favorites. It sits at the top of this hill with a beautiful view below. This winery is family owned and operated so the stories that come with it are amazing! I loved being able to sit and hear the history and as a bonus, the wine is amazing!


Beaulieu Vinyard - This tasting will always have a special place in my heart. After they let us try the 1975 Reserve that my dad lost in his house fire, I was so emotional. We did not tour the vineyard at BV but I have heard great things. The tasting room though is a great spot to stop and and take a break on your way back in to town!


Vine Cliff Winery - We visited Vine Cliff on our first trip to Napa and I loved it. A smaller winery, they made us feel so welcome and comfortable that I am pretty sure we over stayed our welcome. But it was perfect!

Tamber Bey - I actually really enjoyed Tamber Bey because it was different than everything else we had done. First, the winery is actually beautiful horse stables so you are surrounded by these beautiful horses. Also, with some cool stories, Tamber Bey was one that will always stand out. They turned one of their riding arenas into the area that now makes the wine, and they have a horse rescue on property. The stories were endless and the wine that we sipped on was fabulous. They have a rose that is WONDERFUL so I brought several bottles home.


Opus One - Opus One is everything you hear it is. Grand. Beautiful. Classic. All of these things. You can tell that it is one of the more well known wineries in Napa Valley, as there are a lot of people moving in and out. This was our first stop of the day because the crowds were lighter so I would definitely suggest going in the morning. We ended up making friends with one of the girls who worked there (my dad talks to everyone) so she took us on a quick tour of the cellar which was so neat!


The pictures of these places do not do them justice. I was working on my photo album from the trip and I kept saying to myself how much prettier things were in person haha But in all seriousness, there are SO many different wineries to try in Napa and Sonoma and I cannot wait to plan our next trip. It truly is amazing!


I could go on and on about just how much I loved visiting Napa. It truly has become one of my favorite places to visit and I cannot wait to go back! After this recent trip, Jon Luke and I have decided that we want to expand our wine knowledge even more and have begun to catalog our wines, learning more about each bottle we have. It is something fun to take with us as we continue to learn about wine, and we can reminisce on each bottle we brought back with us! If you are looking to plan a trip, I hope this little guide helps you in some way. I will say, you cannot go wrong while you are there, as it is all beautiful. Just be prepared to enjoy good food and great wine and you will be set! Happy travels!