Happy Easter! Happy Passover! Happy Spring! No matter what this Sunday is for you, I hope you are celebrating something! Last weekend I got to celebrate my two loves: Family and Wine. We laughed A LOT, drank A LOT, and tasted A LOT of wonderful Napa Wines. My first time to Napa was last June for my bachelorette party. My girlfriends went all out and spoiled me for sure. I knew I wanted to go back as soon as possible with a little less crazy. But, crazy is fun, so this time I went with my crazy family.
We all met up Friday morning at the rental car facility at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). SFO is about 1 hour and 50 minutes from Napa, and we were staying in an Airbnb in Novato, about half way between SFO and Napa. Airbnb is the way to go for a big group and there are a ton of options throughout Napa Valley. We were trying to be conservative with our budget so we did book a little further out, but we loved our house and it accommodated our needs perfectly.
There are several choices when it comes to airports in and around Napa. Here are my top 4. They are all relatively the same distance to Napa, so I suggest looking at all of them for the best flights and fares.
San Francisco International Airport – 75 miles to Napa
Oakland International Airport – 53 miles to Napa
Sacramento International Airport – 65 miles to Napa
Sonoma County Airport – 47 miles to Napa
After dropping our bags at the Novato house we headed into Napa for lunch and a walk around Oxbow Public Market. It had been a long morning and we were all ready for lunch, and wine!! We chose Napkins Bar & Grill by random so I was surprised when I walked in and recognized it as the nightclub from my bachrlorette weekend! That’s right, each Friday and Saturday night Napkins turns into Napa’s hottest nightclub from 10:30pm to 2:00am. Having now experienced both the food and the nightclub I can recommend both.
We were all happy with our lunch. I ordered the Grilled Fish Tostada, which was a little heavy on the black beans, but there was also a generous serving of salmon. My little tostada was packed with protein, healthy fat and carbs. I may have also snagged a few fries from my brothers plate because we were on vacation, and I heard that calories from fries don’t count on vacation.
To stretch our legs and do a little sight seeing, we went to Oxbow Public Market. I loved everything about Oxbow Public Market. There is so much to see and do. It’s like a farmer’s market and gift shop all in one with a few restaurants as well.
This is my beautiful mom checking out the produce section.
And Joy and Eric at the Oyster bar.
Saturday was our first day of wine tasting. I spent a lot of time planning our wine tasting stops for Saturday and Sunday. There are about 400 wineries in Napa Valley, and I was trying to plan for 6 people with 6 different budgets. Luckily, there are tons of resources available to help plan a tasting tour. I used this map to help with logistics. I also recommend looking for deals on Groupon, NapaValley.com, and I like some of the suggestions from the Nomatic Matt Blog. Keep in mind with larger parties you want to make tasting reservations prior to your trip.
We focused our first day on wineries in St. Helena, and our first reservation of the day was Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards. This was by far our favorite wine and tasting experience, which made it a fantastic place to start, but also, raised the bar very high for tastings to follow.
At $65 per person, this was the most pricey tasting fee all weekend, but well worth it! The experience alone justifies the cost and the wines were equally as impressive. They did waive our tasting fee since I joined the wine club and Eric and Joy purchased a couple of bottles.
Their wines are aged and preserved in several caves on the property, and the tour and tasting begins at the mouth of the cave.
I was aw-struck by the beautifully set table for 10 in the middle of the cave. The six of us were joined by another party of 4. They also provided a spread of 3 types of cheeses and Marcona Almonds to pair with each tasting.
I loved every second of this experience, but my favorite part was tasting the from the barrel.
Maybe my second favorite part was that the sun was shining when we left the cave, and was there to stay for the remainder or the weekend.
After Anderson’s Conn, we headed to V. Sattui Winery, also in St. Helena. I chose this as our lunch spot because they have outdoor picnic benches, and food for purchase, including; a variety of artisan pizzas, sandwiches, BBQ, and a mozzarella bar to die for! Just ask Joy! Honestly, that little piece of bread it’s toppings was the best thing I tasted all weekend.
Last stop on Saturday was Heitz Wine Cellars, right next door to V. Sattui, and chosen in all honesty because tastings were free and no reservations needed. Heitz Wine Cellars was the perfect ending to our first day. The grounds were beautiful and the wine was great. I think we each purchased a bottle here as well.
I splurged and got a limo for Sunday. We had a designated driver on Saturday, but I wanted one day where everyone could kick back and enjoy Napa to it’s fullest, and by fullest I mean drunkest. Kidding! Sunday we explored wineries in Rutherford, starting with bubbles at Mumm Napa. Aside from it being a little chilly outside we enjoyed the outside patio at Mumm Napa. The tastings were more like flights and and my favorite was the Rose Brut.
From there we were off to Rutherford Hill. This is where we spent most of our day and could have stayed longer if we weren’t on a schedule with reservations and the limo. We had our tasting outside again, but by this time it had warmed up and the sun felt amazing! They don’t allow you to have outside food on the tasting patio, but they do have a picnic area where you can bring in your own packed lunch. A picnic of cheese and crackers, hummus, veggies, and nuts is the way to go if you ask me.
Our last reservation was at Sequoia Grove Winery, were I joined the wine club last June. I not only love their outdoor tasting area, but I’ve loved every shipment I’ve gotten since becoming a member. I do recommend visiting Sequoia Grove during the summer months. We were there in the spring so they had tables outside, but it was cold and not the same experience as in June when the outside is buzzing with energy.
So, in some ways we ended in Napa where I started, and I got to bring my hubby back with me, along with the rest of my family. There is so much to do and see in Napa Valley. I talked a lot about the wine and my pictures are very family oriented, but the scenery is breathtaking. If you are planning a trip to Napa I would recommend any of our stops. I’ve even included our itinerary and tasting fees below. You won’t be disappointed with any of them. If you do go, please let me know where you tasted, what you loved, and what other should check out. Would love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading!
10:00 – 11:30
Anderson’s Conn Valley: 680 Rossi Road, St. Helena, CA
*tour of grounds, cave tasting
*$65 tasting fee per person
12:00 – 2:00/2:30
Sattui Winery: 1111 White Lane, St. Helena, CA 94574
*artisan lunch – cheese/meat boards, panini’s, gluten free options. Cost ~$15-20
*$15 tasting fee per person
2:30 – 3:30
Heitz Wine Cellars: 436 St. Helena Highway, St. Helena, California
*No appt required. No tasting fee
AK Limousine inc. – Purchased with Groupon
11:30 – 12:30
Mumm Napa: 8445 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA
*$20 tasting fee
1:00 – 2:00
Rutherford Hill Winery: 200 Rutherford Hill Road, Rutherford, CA 94573
Reservations needed for large groups
*$40 tasting fee
2:30 – 3:30
Sequoia Grove: 8338 St. Helena Winery, Rutherford, CA
Reservations needed for groups 6 or more
*$25 tasting fee