We love California and we love going to Napa. It’s been a few years since we have been in the Napa area so we planned a whole trip around just winery visits.
This trip we stayed in Napa. We have stayed in Santa Rosa twice and we like it, but it’s farther from the wineries we wanted to visit. We flew into San Francisco and had about a 90 minute drive to Napa.
River Terrace Inn, Napa
We stayed at River Terrace Inn in Napa. I had several clients stay here and they really liked it so I decided we’d try it. It’s right on the river in Napa, very close to downtown Napa. It could be walkable but there’s also parking downtown.
We had a river view room with a fireplace. The morning and evening temps were cool but daytime got in the upper 70’s to upper 80’s but still so much better than over 100 degrees like we had in Texas.
There is a path all along the river as well. It dead ends close to Oxbow Market. You can walk there from the hotel either along this path or out of the front door along the street.
The hotel had a restaurant and bar with indoor and outdoor seating. There was live music on Friday and Saturday night.
Within walking distance of the hotel is the Oxbow Public Market. The market has restaurants, wine tasting and a market with fruit, cheese and just about anything you want. The first day we walked to Gott’s Roadside for a burger. It was a late lunch so we snacked at the hotel for dinner.
We ate some good food on our trip! Here’s our list of recommended restaurants: (with links)
- Jax White Mule, Napa, we ate here for breakfast 3 times. Never made it for a different meal but it will be on the list for next time.
- Calistoga Inn Restaurant and Brewery. Had lunch here in between tastings. Great sangria and salad with a big outdoor space on nice days.
- Farmstead Restaurant, Long Meadow Ranch. We found this one watching YouTube videos prior to our trip. Everything was really good!
- Pacifico Mexican Restaurant, Calistoga. We stopped in here for a light lunch between tastings and ended up eating too much! It was so good!
- La Cheve Bakery and Brews, Napa. A line forms out the door early here. You order at the counter and sit down.
- Bottega Restaurant, Yountville. We stopped here on a whim and it was amazing! The best ricotta gnocchi I’ve ever had.
Now for the fun part! I’m including a list of the wineries we visited with links. I’ll also give a brief description about each winery and tell you our favorites.
We did a lot of research and watched YouTube videos to try to decide which ones to visit. We also bought a few bottles that we could get locally to see if we even liked their wine. The tastings and tours mostly start about $30-40 per person and go up from there. That can add up quick.
Most wineries require reservations now and almost all say age 21 and up. Tastings will sell out, so definitely get those reservations made.
We had planned three of our days and left one day open, booking two tastings while we were there. I liked that we had the time to add some we didn’t know about before the trip.
- Brian Arden Wines, Calistoga
- Tank Garage Winery Calistoga
- Beringer, St. Helena
- V. Sattui, St. Helena
- Charles Krug, St. Helena
- James Cole Winery, Napa
- Paraduxx, Napa
- The Prisoner Wine Company, St. Helena
Brian Arden Winery
First up was Brian Arden, to say we fell in love with this one is an understatement. We went back for a second reserved tasting during our trip and this is the first (so far) wine club we joined. We love the wine! It’s a small, family winery with a great story. We brought a few bottles home with us but our first shipment arrives in October.
During our reserve tasting we got a tour of the barrel room. The cheese and snack board was included and it was delicious! Their in house chef prepared it.
Tank Garage Winery
We have been following Tank Garage Winery on Instagram for a while so we were excited to visit. The tasting room is an old gas station with the pumps still there. They have indoor and outdoor seating as well as a members only area.
Some of the bottles and some merchandise proceeds are donated to various organizations through Tank Cares. I bought a few specifically because of this.
The two bottles here are part of Tank Cares.
“Love is louder than bombs. Empathy is deeper than hate. Truth is stronger than lies. Good is greater than evil.”
We visited Beringer mostly because we wanted to see the property, it’s beautiful! Our private tasting was on the patio, the weather was perfect.
We walked the gardens and wine caves. There are dining areas in the caves that used to host private dinners, but not so much anymore. Not sure if that’s Covid related or something else. I think it would be a really cool place to have a dinner and tasting!
V. Sattui Winery
This was our second visit to V. Sattui Winery. We went in 2016 when I ran the Napa to Sonoma half marathon with some friends, it was also our 20th wedding anniversary. (I really should get that post done!)
The atmosphere is pretty laid back at V. Sattui. There’s a big outdoor space with picnic tables and lots of shade trees, it’s a good place for lunch if you have kids with you. They have a big deli counter with meats, cheese, prepared sandwiches and so much more plus a tasting offered in the store. We did that tasting in 2016.
This trip we did the tower tasting and it’s adults only. It was seated and we had 5 wines I believe. And magically seven bottles were delivered last week, but who’s counting?
Cannot wait to get into this bottle. Just need it to cool off a bit, it’s going to be great by the fire.
A client brought me a bottle of Malbec from Charles Krug just a few weeks before our trip. She had no idea I love Malbec or that we already made reservations here!
Not sure if it was just our luck but there were several tables with very young (and loud) children there. It was the only tasting we had where kids were allowed so that might have been my mistake for not noticing that when making the reservation. I definitely suggest you check that if you want a kid free tasting. Unfortunately the staff was also a little overwhelmed. As far as experience, this was our least favorite but we like the wine! And we tried a lot of it.
James Cole Winery
This stop got added when we visited Tank. They are sister wineries and very different atmospheres. James Cole ended up being one of our favorite wines. We went for our tasting early in the day, the weather was perfect outside and we had the whole place to ourselves. Really wish we had bought more than one bottle. Christmas, maybe?
They are a small family owned boutique winery in Napa. I love the label on their bottles!
Paraduxx has a great atmosphere for tasting. There’s a huge outdoor space, most areas are set up like a small living area, covered for shade. The weather was near perfect on the day we were there. All of the Paraduxx wines are blends.
There were several we really liked and ended up bringing them home. I think we would consider becoming members of this winery. You can choose just Paraduxx or get a mix from all their wineries.
The Prisoner Wine Company
Our last winery visit was Prisoner. I was intrigued by this one because of the name and the wine bottles. We were able to find a few of their wines locally, Unshackled is one we like, it’s a red blend.
The Prisoner Wine Company has a great story, you can read about their work around justice here.
This tasting was completely different than the others. We chose the outdoor tasting with a DJ and we were served pizza. It was a little warmer since it was late in the day but the pizza and wine were good. We opted not to bring any home in our suitcase since we can buy it here.
The Frose’ was really good!
It was fun and relaxed, definitely not quiet. So depending on what kind of atmosphere you like this tasting may not be the one for you. They have tasting rooms indoor as well.
I loved the decor and atmosphere here.
Part of what I love about California is the scenery. I love when we just get in the car and drive. And I don’t even get us lost anymore!
I would love to help plan your winery tour in California!
If you are interested in traveling to California, or any other options, I’d love to earn your business. You can reach me at Lake Pointe Travel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 469-698-4071. This is my personal lifestyle blog but I’m a travel agent by day.