When your parents ask you if you’d like to join them on a trip to San Francisco and Napa Valley, the answer is always yes! Today, I bring to you my Wine Country – Napa Travel Guide where I will be rounding up some of our trip highlights, hotel recommendations and our favorite wineries and restaurants in Napa and Sonoma!
We flew straight into San Fran from NYC and headed first to our hotel, The Argonaut. This hotel is a stone’s throw from Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghirardelli Square and right in the thick of things! The hotel was nautical themed, had really nice rooms and even had a snack/tea time in the afternoons for all guests.
As soon as we checked into the hotel and freshened up, the first thing we did was head straight to Fisherman’s Wharf. It was walking distance from the hotel and we got to see all of the restuarants, bars and shopping on our way there. Fisherman’s Wharf is definitely a happening place with lots of hustle and bustle all day and night! We even checked out an old arcade right on the water and had lunch overlooking the harbor!
Obviously the coolest thing about Ghirardelli Square is visiting the Ghirardelli Chocolate shop! The smells of chocolate are out of this world and we even got to taste some samples while we were walking through the store.
Also, in the square are tons of art galleries, a huge green space that overlooks the Golden Gate bridge and the first stop on the trolley. The trolley takes you up the hilly roads of San Fran, past the famous Lombard street and to wherever you heart desires! My parents thought it would be really fun to walk up the hill to Lombard street. It was tough and we did a lot of complaining, but we made it!
One of my favorite things that we did while in San Fran was visit Alcatraz. Despite being a total tourist destination, the trip was definitely worth it! We took a ferry out to the island, which ended up being really beautiful. The grounds were full of bright flowers, making it a great place to take photos. We took a tour of the facility and learned a lot about the history of the prison and the island. It was definitely worth the trip!
After spending two days in San Francisco, we had a car service drive us out to Napa Valley. The ride was about 2 hrs, but the views were totally scenic the whole way there! We headed out to Yountville and stayed at the Villagio Resort & Spa. The Villagio is an amazing indoor/outdoor resort with private villas, a pool, a spa facility and the most amazing breakfast! I’m talking omelettes, mimosas…the works! The reason we chose to stay in Yountville was because it is smack in the middle of Napa Valley, it has all of the best restaurants, and the Villagio is one of the only hotels that has a Spa!
We did wine tours every single day and then enjoyed a delicious dinner every single night. Below is a listing of our itinerary!
Laura Michael Wines (formerly Zahtila)
Laura Michael Wines is a very small vineyard that is known for their award winning Cabernet and Zinfandel wines. This is definitely a local vineyard whose wines are not available all over the country, so if your goal is to taste boutique wines, this is a great place to start!
B Cellars was one of the first wineries we went to after arriving in Napa. Just outside the Calistoga Region of Napa Valley, B Cellars sits on beautiful property overlooking a lake. They are known for their blended wines, which did not disappoint.
Stags Leap Region
Hartwell Estate Vineyards was, hands-down, our favorite vineyard during our trip to Napa! We actually changed our flight home from an afternoon flight to the redeye to make sure that we had one last day in Napa. Thank goodness we did, because we ventured to the Stags Leap region of Napa and tasted some of the best wine of the trip. Hartwell sits atop a small hill, has an absolutely gorgeous estate and tasting room and served us wine and cheese at a private table overlooking the vines. We bought a case of wine from Hartwell and opened the last bottle during our Rehersal Dinner! This vineyard is a must!
Baldacci Family Vineyard was definitely one of the more touristy spots where a lot of the wine tours stopped. There was a nice tasting area outside, overlooking the vineyard and the wine was definitely great!
The final Stags Leap region vineyard that we stopped at was Reynolds Family Winery. While they source some of their grapes from other vineyards, Reynolds mixes those varietals with their own to get complex flavors and meet the high demand their wine has!
Oak Knoll Region
Trefethen Family Vineyards just celebrated their 50th Anniversary. While their name is a bit of a tongue twister, the wine is superb! The building on property houses a huge winemaking warehouse and has beautiful, sprawling views of vines for acres!
Black Stallion Winery is another tourist trap. The grounds and the building are very impressive, but there were large crowds on-site and the wine wasn’t anything to write home about. Black Stallion is also a winery that distributes all over the country, so to me, it was a little bit of a waste to check out something I could get at home. If you care less about the wine and more about the scenery, you will not be disappointed by the modern-cowboy tasting warehouse!
After days of tasting wine, Mumm Winery was the perfect place for us to stop for something a bit different! Get ready for the most fun Champagne Tasting ever! The Champagne at Mumm is made in the traditional French methods, making this a fun and unique experience! I even bought mini-champagne bottles that I included in my Bridesmaid gifts at my wedding!
There are a few wineries that I left out, but the ones I did mention were definitely our favorites in Napa Valley!
Bottega is a great italian restaurant just a few minutes walk from the Villagio. There is a large outdoor area with lounge seating, fireplaces and heat lamps that is the perfect place to have some dessert after dinner! We did just that and enjoyed our desserts while lounging outside and even got to meet Chef Michael Chiarello, who hand-picked his favorite desserts for us to try!
If you have heard of French Laundry or Thomas Keller then you have probably heard of Bouchon. Also walking distance from the Villagio, Bouchon Bistro is a slightly less expensive way to get a taste for Thomas Keller’s world-famous cuisine without spending a fortune! The question is, do I regret not eating at French Laundry…maybe?
Hurley’s is a Yountville staple and boasts Mediterranean cuisine in a casual atmosphere! We ate on the gorgeous back patio, which have a lovely ambiance!
**Update Hurley’s has since closed**
Out of all of the restaurants we visited, Redd is definitely on the trendier side. Though about a 15 minute walk, Redd is still walkable from the Villagio. Trust me, after a full day of drinking and eating, a 15 minute walk is just what you will need! The decor at Redd is really fun and modern and the menu has some fun and unique items that will definitely get you out of your comfort zone!
We decided to spend one day away from Napa Valley to venture into Sonoma! We spent the day on the Sonoma Valley Wine Trolley hitting all of the best vineyards!
By far our favorite was Buena Vista Winery, which is had the most beautiful grounds and historic stone tasting room. It was definitely worth the trip from Napa to Sonoma to have the buttery Chardonnay from Buena Vista! It is one of my favorite white wine’s to-date!
BR Cohn is not only a winery, but they also have a large grove of olive trees, used to make olive oil. This estate has a beautiful tasting room that welcomes you like a home. You are allowed to walk the grounds that house the vines as well as the olive trees, for beautifully scenic views!
Ravenswood is an absolutely stunning vineyard in Sonoma that has a Tuscan feel! If you are looking for gorgeous views that make you feel like you are in the foothills of Italy, then you have to add Ravenswood to your itinerary! You can even blend your own wine here…a win-win!
I hope you enjoyed this travel guide! If you are planning a Napa Valley trip and have any questions, feel free to reach out!