good eats & travel experiences
7 Wineries in 2 Days : most wineries close by 4-5p so start early if you plan on making multiple stops! It’s exhausting but so much fun so be prepared & bring food along to hold you over.
If near Downtown Napa, stop by Oxbow Public Market. Pickup fresh cut deli meat from Fatted Cafe & cheeses from Oxbow Cheese to snack along between wineries.
I suggest 3-4 wineries per day. Definitely fit in a nice lunch in between to sober up a bit & enjoy some of the best restaurants in the country. Checkout my part 1 of 2 of meals.
Book tastings a couple weeks in advance. Busy season is around Sept/October during harvest/picking season. Keep in mind only 2 main roads up & down the valley so at times traffic can be crazy. One lane roads = a mess. Book your appts with plenty time to/from spots. We ran late 2x & there wasn’t even traffic.
Napa Train: We did this our last trip. If you just wanna cruise and drink this is the best.
Driving? – Lots of cops out, beware if your the driver & don’t speed.
I’ve come to love champagne or as found in many places, sparkling wine since my last trip to Napa. To briefly sum up the difference, champagne can only come from the region of Champagne in France therefore everyone else has to call it sparkling wine. Now what separates the good & bad sparkling wines is the method in which they are made. It’s either carbonated like sodas (ugh, bad – big bubbles, big trouble => headaches) -OR- it’s made the “traditional method” which to quickly sum up means natural fermentation resulting in tiny bubbles which is perfection!
How to quickly tell if it’s the good stuff: Look at the label, most likely will say traditional method. Also, the price is higher. Lastly, once it’s poured, it shows. Little bubbles is key & they will fizz for a lot longer. Don’t let crappy sparkling wine ruin your nite, drink the good stuff and next day, headache free.
Schramsberg is by appointment only, make an appointment in advance. The tour thru the caves is really a treat and you’ll have a much deeper appreciation for their process, understand a riddling rack (love this) & their connection with The White House.
// cave tour & tasting starts at $50
Duckhorn – Yes, yes…Yes.. We LOVE this place along with my sis & her best friend. Every glass we have from Duckhorn is so delicious. Whether it be their whites or reds, just love them. On my top 3 list of fav wineries in Napa. Definitely try to score a spot in the patio or since there was a private event this last trip, we were seated in the garden & they even let us keep our Govino cups, drinking from one now. Yum!!
// tastings start at $30 – reservations highly suggested, weekends a must!
Paraduxx is a sister company to Duckhorn. While Paraduxx is priced lower than Duckhorn, it’s my understanding the main difference is Duckhorn uses traditional methods while Paraduxx changes it up with new and unique blends.
This was our first time to Paraduxx & we really loved it. We were quickly seated in their patio out back & happily flopped onto their big patio furniture. They brought us a tray with all our tastings & literature so we could go at our own pace, perfect anniversary setting.
Tip: If you sign up for Paraduxx wine club, you receive free tastings at their other properties including Duckhorn.
// tastings starts at $30, appointment strongly suggested
All thanks to our wonderful server Sean from our last visit, I’ve come to love champagne/sparkling wine since our last trip to Napa. It’s my 1 and only wine club and I love it! On my top 3 list of fav wineries in Napa.
With no appointment but being a wine club member they were so accommodating & took us right away. I spotted Sean and he ended up taking care of us again. This guy is great, taught me a bit more and was the BEST. I enjoyed watching him pour too, you swear it’s going to pour over & it never did – Always just perfect. I purchased a bottle of my fav tasting of the day, Late Disgorged 2007 Ultra Brut.
We also bought some wine boxes, see the pic of the Sr. carrying them. Note: they are empty.
// tastings starting at: $20 or you can order by the glass, i think.
1 of my Top 3 FAV wineries in Napa. This was my 3rd time here, each time such a treat. We are spoiled and receive private tours in the back of whatever is going on. We taste out the barrels & this recent time tasted from the tank, yes the Tank. It was so cool. Tasted like grape juice & it was warm. see pic below.
ZD stands for Zero Defects. Why, well the winery was founded by two former aerospace engineers and so I think Im right to assume it’s a space thing, zero defects and indeed, their wine tastes Perfect!
I love love all of ZDs wines, especially their chardonnays. Oh who am I kidding, their reds too.
// tastings start at: $10 – reservations suggested but you can walk in too
Cakebread is well known by those who love red wine, especially cabernets. Like most wineries, they take care of their club members & offer tastings in the back in a relaxed environment. We especially loved their ceilings, all Cakebread wine corks. Just adjacent is their garden which they let you walk thru. Overall, beautiful spot.
Beware: I swear, every time I drink one of their full bodied reds my teeth turn purple right away. Still haven’t figured out if this is a good or bad thing.
// tastings start: $15, reservations highly suggested
This is a bit of new find for us, we heard of their wines from another winery. This is a small winery, basic counter setup. Nothing fancy but great wines. I was lucky enough to catch one of the guys on his 2x day routine of mixing the grapes outside. Apparently this is the method for smaller vineyards. He was a nice fellow from the mid-west and admired his story and future goals in the business.