At the beginning of September, my husband and I went to Napa, California to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary. We were actually married in May, but wanted to visit Napa when the grapes were about to be harvested. We had an amazing time, mostly thanks to my husband for booking and researching where to go and what to do. He talked with quite a few people who had been there or lived there and they gave us the best recommendations! We flew into San Francisco and drove to Napa where we stayed for six days.
On our way to Napa, we stopped at Farley Bar in Murray Circle for lunch and saw the amazing views from our table. When our waiter found out we were celebrating our 10th anniversary, he brought out an amazing dessert of assorted hand made chocolates with an edible chocolate sign that said, ‘Happy Anniversary.’
Once we made it to Napa, we checked into our hotel, scoped out downtown Napa and headed off to our first wine tour and tasting at Robert Mondavi. When we arrived, we were told that Margarit Mondavi, Robert Mondavi’s 2nd wife had passed away that afternoon. It was definitely a somber mood at the winery as she had quite an impact with the arts, wine and food at the winery.
in Robert Mondavi’s Cellar room. They use new French Oak Barrels every year. This room has over 1.5 million dollars of new French Oak Barrels waiting for the 2016 wine!
The fermentation barrels, they each hold over 5,000 gallons of wine.
Robert Mondavi’s Estate Vineyard at sunset
On Saturday, we drove up to Jordan Winery for a tasting and tour. We had the sweetest tour and tasting guide, Carlie (When we returned home, she had written us a personal thank you for visiting, how sweet is that?!). She had just passed her Sommelier exam. She lead us through the Jordan library, through a secret door and into our tasting room where we tried 4 different wines. We had a great group of people we were with on this tasting- we ran into them on two other days at about 3 different wineries!
The Jordan Chateau
Wine and food pairing at Jordan Winery in the private library
After we were done at Jordan, we talked with our tour guide and she recommended a few places so we checked out Hawkes. If you check out their site, read their about us section. Definitely memorable! Anyway, they had a great chardonay and it was a quaint and beautiful little place along the side of the road.
They get their grapes from three different areas. They farm about 85 acres.
After Hawkes we headed to Beringer to our Rhine House Tour. The tour was amazing- as it was just Adam, myself and our tour guide, Michelle. We had a great time in a private room of the Rhine house, hearing stories of the Beringer family, tasting great wine- and no- none of it was White Zin. They have their cash cow of White Zin, but their reds were unique in the best possible way. Our tour guide was great, she even brought us more wine to try, food to taste with the wine and again gave us great recommendations for breakfast the next morning!
After Beringer, we ate at Bistro Don Giovanni and had a great dinner. The food and wine was delicious, everyone was working so hard to make sure you had a great meal and service. They had a beautiful outside area we sat at after we were finished with our meal. Definitely a place to go back to!
On Sunday, we started our day off at Silver Oak. Our tour guide, Maggie, was wonderful. She took us all around the grounds, through the vines- where we tried a grapes right off the vine. Wine grapes are definitely different than your table grapes. Wine varietals are so much smaller, about the size of a blueberry. Anyway, Maggie took us through the vineyards, the archive room, the fermentation area and barrel room. The grounds at Silver Oak are so beautiful and the history was fun to learn about!
Our tour guide opened a 2006 cabernet as part of our tasting- and she didn’t even know we were celebrating our 10th anniversary. It was a great coincidence. We got a picture with the magnum bottle of the 2006 as well!
in the barrel room at Silver Oak
Silver Oak Cellars
our view from our table, overlooking Venge Vineyard.
From Silver Oak, we headed to lunch at Bistro Jeanty in Yountville. A small little place but great food! It reminded me of a really amazing home cooked meal but with a French twist. The decor was really fun too, I envision France to be a lot like this little place! After lunch, we headed to Venge Vineyards. This came as a recommendation from someone my husband knows. The wine was fantastic, the views were incredible and it was really relaxing. We sat at a table outside and our tasting guide, Al, was great. This place is a small vineyard but should not be overlooked.
On Monday, we started our day off at Archetype. They are usually closed on Mondays but I am so glad they were open on this holiday weekend. It is such a beautiful place, yet one I would have probably just walked past if I was walking by. The inside was beautiful, simple and inviting. I had the best cinnamon walnut roll with orange cream cheese and breakfast sage sausage. If I could plan my revisit Napa trip, this would be on my list for breakfast every. single. morning.
After breakfast, we headed straight to Hall Wines, where we were greeted with a glass of wine by our tour and tasting guide, Chris. Hall Wines was unlike any other place we had been to with regards to the artwork everywhere. Hall makes great wines- we first found one of our original favorites from Costco- their 2012 Cabernet. We have had their 2013 and liked it too, but getting to try their higher end wines was a real treat. The stories behind each wine was fascinating and the artwork and labels were so intriguing to me.
the table in the Bergfield Barn. The lights above it represent the grapes at different stages of the growing season.
Our tour guide, Chris, getting a barrel tasting for Adam. Chris is using a wine thief for the 2015 Kathryn Hall wine. This wine has been aging for 12 months and will continue to age in barrel for about another 12 months. It was delicious and I can’t wait to try it when it is released in 2017!
The magnum bottle of White Zin that was a originally thought of as a ‘mistake’ and turned into a huge success!
overlooking the courtyard from the Bergfield Barn
The pizza oven in the courtyard of Hall Wines for their wine club parties!
The fermentation and processing room at Hall Wines. The artwork hanging from the ceiling are another rendition of grapes. Kathryn Hall’s favorite color is red- if you haven’t guessed!
our tasting room at Hall Wines
Little Bunny Foo Foo at Hall Wines- there is quite a funny story behind this bunny, too long to add to this post, but it is pretty great!
From Hall Wines, we went to Chimney Rock. We actually tried to go to Chimney Rock earlier in our trip, but the doors were locked and it seems they only do tastings by appointment. So we scheduled one on Monday! We have had Chimney Rock wines at one of our local restaurants and really enjoyed it, so we wanted to check out their winery. We had a wonderful tasting with Debbie and received a personal thank you note from her when we returned home. I really enjoyed their white wine- the Elevage Blanc. I am not typically a white wine person, but this was quite amazing!
After Chimney Rock, we headed to Auberge du Soleil for a late lunch. Their terrace is breath taking and the food was amazing. I know, I am sounding like a broken record, but this trip was truly amazing. Everything went so well, the wine was amazing, the people were so down to earth and the itinerary was fantastic… (thanks babe!)
This trip all started with a discussion over a movie, Bottle Shock. We first watched this movie the night our third child was born. We were talking about how fun it would be to go to Napa for our 10th Wedding Anniversary. From that moment on, we wanted to go to Napa. Luckily it all worked out for us to go for our tenth anniversary. I wasn’t pregnant or nursing and our kids were old enough to be left with their grandparents and hopefully it wasn’t too difficult for them to watch all four kids! We are very grateful to have parents willing and so close to watch them for us during this trip. The movie Bottle Shock is based, loosely we found out, on Chateau Montelena and the story of 1976 when their wine beat the French wine in a blind tasting. It was pretty fun to see the actual Chateau and hear the real history and not the Hollywood version.
From Chateau Montelena, we went to Robert Sinskey Vineyards and had a wonderful tasting and food pairing. The photography was beautiful and the food pairings were great! It was definitely a place I loved as it felt relatable to me. I love the photography aspect and everything on their grounds made them pretty self sufficient. They had beautiful landscaping which was well thought out- for instance they had olive and lime trees, strawberry bushes and much, much more growing that they used for their kitchen. I loved their wine cellar. The lighting was amazing.
From Robert Sinskey Vineyards, we went to Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars who won the red category of the 1976 blind wine tasting in France. Their wines were amazing and the view was breathtaking. It was fun to hear of the reasons they named the wine, ‘Stag’s Leap’ (it has to do with the rock in the picture below and a deer (stag) leaping from one rock to the other). The wine was fantastic, the beautiful floor to ceiling windows overlooking their vineyards and historical mementos displayed from the 1976 tastings were amazing.
the words ‘Stags Leap Wine Cellars’ was not typed on my me- that was on the window overlooking their vineyard and the mountains behind.
If you are still with me, kudos to you. This is the longest post ever, and will be helpful to me when I try to make our album of this trip and the hundreds of pictures. This won’t be a trip I will ever forget- one I am so appreciative of the work my husband put into booking the tastings, tours, flights… well just everything. I would love to say I helped, but I didn’t. I made sure the kids had their stuff together but that was about it! If you ever head to Napa, I would highly recommend any of these places I linked to! There are a few more restaurants I would love to add, but this post was plenty long as it is, so if you want more recommendations, just ask!