For our 5 year anniversary, my boy friend and I decided to go on a short, but absolutely lovely, weekend stay in Napa Valley. This trip was particularly special because it was the first time just the two of us were in wine country together! The weather was refreshingly crisp and the air had that calming and clean after-rain smell thanks to a few showers that luckily didn’t get in the way of our trip. We were able to check out several beautiful vineyards, taste outstanding wines, eat delicious foods and treats and do some boutique shopping on our strolls through town. It was a romantic and delightful way to celebrate our 5 years together!
Whether you’re escaping reality with your significant other or your best friends- Napa’s relaxing and charming vibes and, of course, aforementioned wines can’t be beat. Here’s a peek of our trip’s highlights and recommendations!
We chose to stay at the adorably cozy and quaint Cottage Grove Inn in Calistoga. I absolutely loved our cottage which was brightly decorated in pinks, yellows and florals. They also had soft classical music playing when we walked in- a very nice, homey touch. They left us a bottle of wine to celebrate with too! Other major perks included a free breakfast spread complete with waffles, smoothies and anything else you could think of, bike rentals, free wine tours and it was super close to the main street in Calistoga.Our first night we decided to take a stroll through main street with our hot chocolates in hand. The area is filled with boutiques, funky antique stores, cafes and restaurants- all set against a mountainous backdrop. Window shopping in cute towns is one of my favorite things to do and it was particularly nice with the christmas lights still lining the streets.On to the wines! Our first stop was at one of my favorite wineries, the family owned Caymus Vineyards located in Rutherford. Caymus has a laid-back vibe, beautiful scenery and lots of soft loungey outdoor seating- which I am a huge fan of. While I’m not the most refined wine drinker, their wines are exceptionally delicious. My favorites were the fruity Conundrum White and their famed Cabernet Sauvignon 🙂
The second winery we stopped at was Regusci Winery in the Staggs Leap District. This winery is one of the oldest in Napa Valley. This tour was so much fun and really gave us an inside look at how they make their uniquely blended wines. We began with a picturesque walk through the pristine vineyards, during which we could hear the clucking of the ranch’s hens and turkeys. We also ventured through their vibrant culinary garden and were all the while accompanied by the vineyard’s two rambunctious golden labs.
The tour was filled with historical facts about the ranch as we continued through the whole estate to see how the wine is processed. It was a very cool experience exploring their underground cellars which housed tons of wine barrels. We even got to try some of their young wines straight out of the barrel! Out of all the tasty bottles we tried, my favorite was the 2012 Elders Cabernet Sauvignon 🙂 For more on this winery, check out this post.
Day two we ventured to Castello di Amorosa, also known as, The Castle of Love. This estate was constructed to emulate the 13th century Tuscan castles and does an impeccable job of recreating an architecturally marvelous Italian fortress. It’s the only Italian Tuscan castle and winery built in America, and as such, it provides a unique wine tasting experience! It was a lot of fun wandering through the castle and peeking through all the corridors and variety of rooms. The castle has a huge Great Hall with replica Tuscan frescoes, 8,000 tons of hand-chiseled stones, a drawbridge, dungeon and torture chamber and a medieval church! Moreover, their wine barrel room is unlike any you’ll probably ever see: it has ancient Roman cross-vaulted ceilings.
No vacation is complete without delicious food! I highly recommend the farm-to-table restaurant, Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch in St. Helena. The food is phenomenal and the atmosphere is relaxed, warm and rustic. Plus the outdoors area is adorable- they have lemon trees, a general store and pretty gardens… and they make estate grown wines, farm organic produce and meats, and sell their own olive oil, honey and lots of other artisanal items in their store. It’s a lovely restaurant concept! In addition, if you want to venture through St. Helena, the main shopping area is right by the restaurant. There are a bunch of cute clothing and jewelry stores, a chocolate shop, bakery and other cool niche boutiques.
Another favorite restaurant of mine is R+D Kitchen in Yountville. The food is always awesome and they have a great variety of dishes, including sushi and BBQ. If you’re in the mood for something sweet to top off your meal, Bouchon Bakery is super close by, along with a bunch of shopping that includes cooking and wine boutiques and art galleries. For more on Yountville and these two fabulous eateries, check out my previous Napa post.
The only sad part about this getaway was that it had to end! On my growing Napa Valley bucket list is still hot air ballooning, hiking in the state park, picnic-ing right on a vineyard, checking out the geyser in Calistoga… and of course trying all the fantastic restaurants the valley has to offer! Next up in my Napa Valley series will be a couple restaurant reviews on Farmstead and Bistro Jeanty 🙂 I can’t wait to share my foodie experiences with you!