When B and I decided to spend some time up in Napa Valley, I was overwhelmed to say the least. With 400 wineries, how were we ever going to find the *Perfect Ones* to go to?
I did an embarrassing amount of research to pick which two wineries we were going to visit. We didn’t particularly want to visit any of the more popular ones, though we did consider Domaine Carneros and V. Sattui.
We decided on Stewart Cellars and Ashes & Diamonds.
I was pretty much sold on Stewart Cellars the moment I saw a picture of their dreamy courtyard. I don’t even remember where I found it, but the more I saw the further I was convinced. They have a gorgeous tasting hall, in addition to the courtyard, but I think we got the best seats in the house at a window side bar, since James kindly opened up the windows for us, allowing the perfect breeze to come in without being blinded by the California sun. They also have a location of Southside Cafe on property, which helped our decision to go, knowing we would be able to grab a salad or torta after our wine tasting!
I found our second winery, Ashes & Diamonds, through one of my favorite Instagram accounts and bloggers, Will Taylor of Bright Bazaar! The newest winery in Napa just opened in November of 2017, and offers a love letter to wine country that is so refreshing, especially after seeing some of the more ostentatious chateaus in the area. The bright white and yellow midcentury modern buildings serve as an ode to Napa’s entree to the global wine business in the 1960s. The inside space is striking yet welcoming- with comfortable seating and wine cork side tables, no detail has been spared. The eye for minutia is even seen down to the bottle labels, designed by Brian Roettinger, aka the art director behind Magna Carta Holy Grail. There are two distinct label designs, signaling whether the bottle is from a single vineyard or a blend! Light and happiness pours throughout the property, creating the absolute perfect atmosphere.
Both of our sommeliers were amazing. They did a really great job of gauging our wine knowledge and teaching us about the wines we were drinking and the process behind them in laymen’s terms, recognizing that we could still have a fun and informative experience without being wine connoisseurs. Make sure you bring cash with you, since some wineries don’t accept electronic tips, even when though they are well deserved by the staff.
We spent the morning before our first wine tasting strolling the charming streets of Yountville, including a stop at Bouchon Bakery, one of my favorite stops in NYC as well. They have a beautiful courtyard outside to eat at, if you manage to snag one of the coveted tables. No where else in Napa that we went to was as busy as this bakery was! In addition to Bouchon, the legendary Thomas Keller also has ad hoc and French Laundry right in town. If I succeed in coming back to Napa soon for a more relaxed type of vacation (instead of the one day excursion from SF), I would probably stay at Hotel Yountville or Napa Valley Lodge.
The town of Napa itself has a great downtown area that we were able to spend a perfect evening walking around exploring. There are plenty of restaurants we wanted to try, including Alba, Zuzu, Tarla, and Eiko’s, but we decided to snack our way through Oxbow Public Market instead.
We could have easily spent a full week in Napa Valley, and we hope to get the chance to soon! It strikes the perfect balance of being relaxed and laid back, with no shortage of activities to do. We would have loved the chance to go hiking or biking around the beautiful area, taken a hot air balloon ride, or taken a bit extra time to unwind at one of the world class spas. Until next time, Napa!