Looking to plan your perfect Napa getaway but don’t know where to start? It can be a bit overwhelming and there are so many options to choose from.


Guess what, it doesn’t need to be overwhelming! I am hoping I can help get you started with planning your perfect trip to the region! Let me know what you think of this post as I am planning to write more on Napa! Would love to get more suggestions on what you want to know more about!


Okay, so where do we start? We will start with lodging and transportation to get a base for the trip.



Lodging:

SO MANY PEOPLE IMMEDIATELY LOOK FOR AIRBNB’s and I hate to be the Debby downer here, but Napa has some (let's call them unusual rules) and Airbnb’s aren’t in abundance in the area (Napa has very strict hospitality laws). You will find many hotels to choose from in the area, a couple of my favorites are Vista Collina and River Terrace Inn.

Vista Colina: If you are traveling with a group or even kids this place is great! They have a big pool area and a place called the village where you can continue to taste wines after the wineries are closed. They also have cooking classes, which is a super fun activity outside of wine tasting (obviously wine is included in that as well)!

River Terrace Inn: Cute, chic, and has a boutique vibe with great service! There restaurant (Alba) is one of my favorite spots to eat breakfast in Napa as well.


Pure Luxury Transportation

Transportation:

Unless you have a DD, transportation can be tricky. I do recommend renting a car from either the Oakland or San Francisco Airport if you are coming in from out of town. For a day of wine tasting my ABSOLUTE favorite transportation company is Pure Luxury Transportation. They have a very large fleet to choose from (and can even do airport transportation ). If you have a smaller group or are just with one other person they have some great SUVs and if you are a larger groups their sprinters and buses are awesome! And of course, the drivers are super friendly and professional.


Planning Your Itinerary:

I highly recommend a minimum 2 days of tasting if this is your first time to the region. Many people will try to fit 3 or more tastings in one day and I do not recommend this unless you plan on spitting the wine (WHY ON EARTH WOULD I SPIT THE WINE? – ha. I get that. But it is okay to spit some of the wines if you would like to make it to more than 2 wineries in a day. Spitting still allows you to taste the wines and maybe only consume the ones you LOVE).


So, during my first few trips to Napa I was trying to fit 3 or 4 wineries in the day and I couldn’t tell you if I really liked any of the wine after the second winery. Usually the wines I bought from the 3rd and 4th wineries were expensive and not that great, thanks to my AMAZING drunk taste buds! If you want to try to get three wineries into the day, I recommend starting first thing in the morning. Make your first appointment at 10:00am, second at 12:30, grab a quick sandwich in between (I will list my favorites below), and then plan your last tasting at 3:00pm. If you are doing 2 tastings in a day, you will have more time for tours and learning more about the history of the properties and Napa. And there are so many great tour options (I’ll list some of my favorites below).


Now, the next question I get often…..WHY ARE TASTINGS SO EXPENSIVE? There are a few reasons for this. First reason, they need to pay the staff that are providing you with the tasting experience, tour and answering all of your questions. Second reason, Napa is just an expensive place to own land, farm, and build. And the third reason….many places will set the very expensive tasting fees because they want serious people in there. What do I mean by serious? People that are looking to buy wine. So keep that in mind when you go to Napa, many places are happy to give you a tasting experience but they still need to make their businesses run, and they do that by selling wine. If you are looking to buy wine, tell them that up front when you are making the appointment and they will help you pick the right tasting experience.


Book reservations? YES! I would highly recommend booking your reservations weeks in advance. If you are going to 2 wineries in a day you should definitely plan to book ahead and plan 2-2.5 hours in between each place. If you book a tour/tasting it can take upwards of 2-2.5 hours and then an additional 30 min to get to your next location depending on where in the valley you are (so make sure you consider your tastings each day by the location because the valley spreads pretty far). If you try to do 3 in one day, I recommend booking two appointments and trying to stop in to the third somewhere that accepts walk in tastings.




Favorite Tours:

Hall Wines: They can get busy over the weekend so I recommend booking their tour experience as it was one of the first I did in the region and I’ve brought so many people back since!

Pine Ridge Winery: They do a tour and cave tasting (with a food pairing) that is amazing!


Wineries that have some more affordable options:

Titus Winery: One of my favorites to recommend to people and most people have ended up joining their wine club!


Quick lunch spots:

Yountville Deli: grab a quick sandwich

Gotts Roadside - St. Helena: This is close to Hall if you go there. They can get pretty busy but you can order online ahead and save yourself a ton of time.


Check out my other blog posts in Napa!

Yountville - Napa Weekend Getaway

Napa Summer Sunsets -- Tasting Room with a View: Miner Family Winery

Titus- A hidden gem in Napa Valley

Davis Estates - Views that you need to get to Calistoga to see

Odette Estate Winery -- Must Visit off of Silverado Trail

Aonair - Breathtaking views and fabulous wine

Looking for the perfect Napa weekend getaway but don't know where to stay, eat, or drink? Yountville is definitely the happening place to be!


Yountville is one of Napa's hidden gems (or maybe not so hidden). A lot of people don't know about it or haven' spent much time there. The little town of Yountville has so much character, cute hotels, amazing tasting rooms, and fantastic restaurants. The best part is you can walk to EVERYTHING! I recommend doing a tasting somewhere out at a vineyard in the morning and then come back and stroll around Yountville for the rest of the day while enjoying some of the best wines and food Napa has to offer!


Here are a few of my top places I stopped into while I was in Yountville over the weekend:


Downtown Tasting Rooms:

*There are so many downtown tasting rooms in Yountville, some that welcome walk ins and others that require a reservation.


Hestan Vineyards: Aside from the wine, when I look for something special in a tasting room, the staff and experience are tops. The staff at this tasting room help really make the whole experience. They sell their cookware in the tasting room, which I wanted to buy literally ALL OF IT! I definitely recommend making a reservation here, especially if you come in over the weekend. But if you are strolling around downtown through the tasting rooms, you can stop in and they will definitely accommodate you if they are not packed.

Favorite Wine I tasted: 2014 Hestan Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon



Hestan Tasting Room - Yountville

Silver Trident Winery: One of the hidden gems of downtown Yountville. It is a cute tasting room that is furnished and decorated with Ralph Lauren. Walking into this tasting room you will immediately feel at home. The staff are personable and knowledgeable on the wine and the cheese pairing is fantastic! For the best experience, I recommend booking an appointment here.

Favorite Wine I tasted: 2016 Playing With Fire


Stewart Wines: Another great tasting room in the area! You will not be disappointed by these wines! Walk ins are welcome in the tasting room and courtyard. They also share the space with a restaurant that will provide great bites to go with your wine! Favorite Wine I tasted: 2015 Stewart Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon


Lodging: North Block Hotel

Courtyard outside the rooms - Northblock Hotel Yountville

North Block Hotel is THE cutest little boutique hotel that has a great courtyard and central location in Yountville that is perfect to walking to everything in the downtown Yountville area. The staff were very welcoming, the rooms were spacious and nice and you have your own little outdoor seating area. They have a SPA as well (I did not get a chance to go try the SPA). My favorite thing about this hotel is how small it is, so you don't feel like you are tripping over people everywhere you walk. You feel like you are in your own world when you are in the hotel room. Also the room service food comes from Red Wood - which is one of my favorite restaurants in Yountville, so that is a huge perk as well! Also, the breakfast for North Block is served at Red Wood as well! If you are looking for a luxurious hotel getaway for the weekend this is your spot to go!


Wineries in the Area - a Short Drive Away:


Cliff Lede Vineyards: This place has some killer wines and isn't too far from downtown Yountville. Their wine membership is great and the staff are very knowledgable and passionate about these wines!


Chandon: Great place to start the day with some sparkling wines!



Restaurants:

Red Wood Restaurant: As I stated above this is one of my favorite restaurants in Yountville. Go here for lunch if you can! They have AMAZING pizza and their chicken is AMAZING as well. If you go for dinner you will be impressed as well. They are also Gluten Free friendly which is important for me!

Yountville Deli: This is my FAVORITE quick lunch spot in all of Napa. They have lots of snacks, but their sandwiches are amazing! We go here probably 2 out of 3 times we are wine tasting in Napa.

Restoration Hardware Restaurant: If you are looking for the most recent trendy spot, Restoration Hardware has done an outstanding job of the PERFECT ambiance for enjoying a meal or drink with friends.

**Yountville has a wide array of restaurants that will range from ten dollars to a couple hundred dollars per place. Make sure you are doing a little bit of research before you book a reservation if you are on a budget! The ones that I mentioned here are middle of the road and the deli is a causal lunch option!



North Block Hotel - Yountville

One thing that ALWAYS gets away from me in Napa is TIME. So staying in Yountville is a perfect central location where you are close to many of the great wineries in Napa but also some of the places that are further up north are not quite as much of a trek when you are staying in Yountville. Love this place and I hope you do on your next visit!


-AU

Why Temecula Wine Country is the perfect California weekend getaway and how to plan your perfect day in Temecula!


Hi my winos! I recently made a day trip out to Temecula during a girls weekend to San Diego, and I knew I had to share it with all of you! Temecula has all the best vibes! It's relaxed - yet up-beat, full of character, beautiful wineries, beautiful views, great wine, and I could keep going....seriously. But I'll give you a recap of my trip!


Side note ** I recommend going to three wineries during the day (one of them plan lunch at as well). There are quite a few wineries that have lunch offerings, so try to plan around that. That way you can get a meal in to be able to make it to three tastings!



DRIVER

One of the most important things (I think) in a day of drinking with friends is a driver! It makes the world of difference when you have someone who keeps you 1. (most importantly) safe and 2. on time to the next winery. I also love a fun driver that is onboard with fun upbeat music in the car and is personable but not all up in your business. I tried out Tour del Vino (you can visit their site here) and loved it. Sue helped us book and plan our day in Temecula and was a huge help! We sort of planned this last minute, so it was a huge help to have someone so knowledgable in the area to help book the good places! Will use them for my next trip as well since they seriously made everything so much easier and were so much fun! (Also, the SUV was really nice and very well maintained- made me feel like a celeb).



AVENSOLE WINERY

Our first stop of the day was Avensole Winery.

Tasting Fee: $20

FAVORITE WINES:

Celebration: Sparkling wine that is refreshing to start with, and is super crisp and zesty

2014 Super Tuscan: This wine was different and I loved it! 84% Sangiovese, 12% Merlot, 4% Cabernet which was a great blend. Smooth and easy to drink!

We did the hosted tasting in the barrel room and our host was super attentive and VERY knowledgeable not only on the wines he was pouring but on wine in general as well. I love when the tasting hosts are personable yet knowledgable enough to spit some fun facts at you! They also have a great outdoor patio you can hang out on. I recommend buying a bottle of wine (if you have time to stay a while) and hang out on the patio.



LORIMAR WINERY

Our second stop of the day was Lorimar Winery.

Tasting Fee: $15

FAVORITE WINES:

2013 Cabernet Franc: This wine is perfect for the fall and winter! Cozy up at home with the fire or a nice pasta dinner and this one will pair great!

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon: Earthy undertones, and strong blackberry on the palate. This is a great Cabernet for the Cab lovers out there!


We had a great tour through the vineyard with our host. They were setting up for a wedding which looked like it was going to be stunning! I mean wedding in the vineyard, sign me up! This place was hoppin' with lots of people! They do sunset nights on the weekends in the summer months. You can order food outside and watch the sunset while drinking wine and listening to live music....I'm in! Everyone here was having a great time. We had lunch here and ordered in advance when we booked our tasting, this helped save us time and eat while drinking all the wine!



AKASH WINERY

Our third and final stop of the day was Akash Winery.

Tasting Fee: $15

FAVORITE WINES:

2017 Sauvignon Blanc: This SB was a great blend of white peach and lime zest. Great wine to start the tasting out with!

2016 Zinfandel: Loved this Zin! A little spicy yet complex with some cocoa notes. I would drink this with pizza every night if I could!


Okay this place....all the chic vibes! Its classy, modern, relaxed, and feels like your second home. The staff is super welcoming, friendly, passionate about the wine, and so excited to tell you the story! They have games outside and a great outdoor patio that overlooks the vineyard. Inside its a open warehouse vibe. Everything about this place was done tastefully. The girls loved the vibes and wine here! Highly recommend this place to just buy a bottle (or two) of wine and just hang out for a couple hours!


Okay y'all, START PLANNING YOUR TRIP TO TEMECULA NOW! This place was so much fun and I am already working on planning my next trip back!


-A.U.

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