St. Helena CA: Your Next Weekend In The Napa Valley
Where to Stay: The Wydown Hotel is located on Main Street in St. Helena (the heart of the Napa Valley). They are situated directly across the street from Archetype Restaurant (delicious brunch!!) and a stone's throw from tasting rooms: Orin Swift, Acme Fine Wines, Clif Family Wines and Thorn Hill Tasting Room. Upon arrival you will quickly realize that the owner of the hotel has better taste in art and decor than most people, and lucky you - because the details from the front desk, "living room," and tea room continue into the gorgeous guest rooms upstairs! The Wydown is housed in a historic building renovated to feature 12 guest rooms, all very spacious and inviting! They captured the feel of a hotel, with B&B Charm and service like you're staying at someone's home! The Wydown is sure to become your "home away from home," when you visit Napa Valley. With only twelve guest rooms, you will likely meet your neighbors coming back from a long day of wine tasting and it wouldn't be odd to find yourselves hanging in the "living room" sharing some of your special finds from the day! I know I have already mentioned their convenient location, but seriously guys, being able to walk to the following restaurants and walk off your dinner afterwards is a total score!! Check out these spots within a few blocks from The Wydown: Cook, Market, Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen, Goose and Gander, Pizzeria Tra Vigne (a little bit of a long walk, but it's pizza, so the extra steps won't kill you!)...
How To Get Around: Luxury Electric Wine Tours is AMAZING....if you're a couple or a group of four, this is the perfect company to go with! They have a gorgeous Tesla they take you around in that comes with bubbles, water, snacks and a stereo system that induces the most cringe worthy sing-alongs and karaoke-esque adventures (sorry, Adam, for my horrible singing voice. ha ha). They have been in business for some time now and have great connections all over the valley. They can plan your itinerary, or in my case they are more than happy to be introduced to new wineries, or take you to places your friends have suggested that you visit! Make sure to check out their site and book early, as they are definitely in high demand being one of the only ALL electric touring companies in the Napa Valley. Pretty soon their Tesla SUV will arrive and they will be able to take larger groups up to 6 or 7....inquire early for your next NV Trip!!
Where To Taste: Reverie Winery and Vineyards have been open for over 20 years! They feature mostly red varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Barbera, Tempranillo and their speciality: Cabernet Franc (pretty sure this years release is already SOLD OUT :( ). They offer a rustic winery/garden/redwood grove tour seven days a week, where you get to take a walking tour of their property and experience several different wines along the way! It is one of the most stunning properties! They sell their entire portfolio direct to consumer and do not distribute (wines are exclusive to the winery alone), so be sure to include this truly hidden gem on your next Wine Country itinerary!
Frogs Leap Vineyards: Located in Rutherford on a piece of property that has been owned by the Williams family for a few decades, John Williams and each of his children are an integral part of the family business, from Winemaking, Farming and Slanging Vino - they do it all! Sadly this was my first visit to Frog's Leap and the reason I say "sadly" is because I don't know why I waited so long. #faceplant! They make one of my favorite Sauvignon Blancs in the valley, a delicious Chardonnay, Rose, Merlot, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon - all reasonably priced and available to taste! Their grounds are absolutely stunning and they offer a myriad of tasting options, from their casual garden tastings that take place for those without a reservation, to their by appointment, seated cheese and wine pairings! I highly suggest making a reservation in advance, however, if you're with a large group and just want to relax and casually taste, their garden experience is on point!!
Aonair Winery and Vineyards: This hidden gem just opened their doors in 2016! They have been producing wines for some time and selling through their mailing list, so the opening of this new location is a treat for everyone involved! They are perched high atop Conn Valley with gorgeous views of vineyards and Conn Dam - one of Napa's main water sources and a barometer of the recent drought! If you have been following our weather patterns, you will see that we haven't seen Conn Dam this full for over 6+ years - exciting for grape growers and winery owners alike - water is life! Speaking of water... in Napa, wine is our life, and Aonair wines are definitely a special part of the valley's composition! Grant Long Jr., the proprietor, was born and raised in Napa and built this brand all his own - a very unique thing for someone whose parents didn't already own their own winery to start! You can find Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache and a tiny bit of Cabernet Franc as a part of their lineup ....definitely a must see on your next trip to Napa! They are by appointment, so be sure to call first!
Elizabeth Spencer Winery: this tasting room is one of the only places featured on this list that you can visit without an appointment! Of course they offer by appointment experiences, but they are accessible to those that don't plan ahead! Located in Rutherford, we visited them after Frog's Leap to finish out our day and I sure am glad we did! The gal who helped us, Tracy, was a hoot! She kept us all entertained, educated, and intrigued the entire time! We left with some delicious Roussane and Marsanne, interesting white Rhone varietals that they produce! They also specialize in Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah....make sure that if you're planning a trip to Napa that you stop by their quaint tasting room for a splash and a great outdoor area to lounge in!!
If you are planning a trip to the Napa Valley and only have a couple days, follow this itinerary and you will so happy you did! Even if you plan to come for just one day and one night, you can easily drive up from San Francisco, hit up a few of these spots, grab dinner, stay over and hit up brunch before your winery visits for the day!
Need more advice? Email me directly and I can help ! Malloryuran@gmail.com
PC: Paulina Shenska www.shenska.com Check out her blog !!