How to Plan the Perfect Napa Valley Getaway

Napa Valley Hot Air Balloon

Something I have come to really appreciate about living in San Francisco is how close we are to Napa Valley. I come from a big family of wine drinkers, so it’s a real treat to be able to take day trips whenever we’d like. When my mom booked a flight to come and visit my boyfriend Ryley and I in March, we knew that Napa would be at the top of the priority list. This time, we’d be staying the whole weekend.

Planning a trip to Napa can be stressful because there are just so many wineries, hotels and restaurants to choose from. If you are flexible and just want the perfect, easy-to-follow Napa itinerary, keep on reading!

As an FYI, the best time to visit Napa is September through November or March through May.

Where to Stay

I am a huge fan of boutique hotels because they are often so quaint and charming. The White House – Napa Valley Inn exceeded our expectations with their modern-meets-old-style atmosphere. I cannot even begin to explain how amazing I slept in their fluffy white beds, and how full I was after a beyond delicious breakfast the next morning.

It was so nice to just relax and find some peace and quiet away from bustling San Francisco. The White House has an exquisite outdoor area with a pool, hot tub, fire pit and daybeds. I could have stayed there for weeks and been perfectly content. It was such a tough car ride back home!

Napa Valley InnNapa Valley InnNapa Valley Inn FloorsBedroom Living roomOutdoor AreaThe White HouseNapa Valley Inn PoolRyley LoungingDaybedHot tub

Where to Drink / Eat

Day 1

10:15 am – Domaine Carneros

Domaine Carneros is a winery in Napa specializing in still & sparkling wines. The property is made up of a French-inspired chateau with beautiful formal gardens. It was nice to start off the morning with sparkling wine before we got into the real Napa cabs later on in the day. I would highly recommend hitting Domaine Carneros in the morning, because we noticed how packed it got on our way out.

Wine and cheese

12 pm – Bistro Don Giovanni

I can’t think of a better place to have lunch at in between your tastings than Bistro Don Giovanni. I loved the rustic, warm Italian ambiance and had the tastiest spaghetti bolognese dish. It was such an adorable place with extremely fresh cuisine!

Bistro Don Giovanni

1:30 pm – Raymond Vineyards

Raymond is best known for being “the Disneyland” of vineyards and wineries. Why? They produce exquisite wines and offer a tasting experience like you would never believe to exist. When people imagine what a wine tasting in Napa is like, they often expect it to be stuffy and formal. This is not the case at Raymond. The tour of the property progresses from one diverse, eclectic room to the next. You really have to visit to get the whole story on this place, but I hope the pictures below will entice you. Not only was Raymond my favorite tasting experience of the weekend, but they also had some of my favorite wines.

Frames at Raymond

Outside at RaymondRaymond VineyardsRaymond Vineyards

4 pm – Alpha Omega

Alpha Omega is the perfect place to end day one because of the beautiful estate and relaxing, spa-like atmosphere. Alpha Omega provides an outdoor tasting experience next to a tranquil fountain. I honestly could have taken a nap here to the sound of the flowing water. Wine makes me sleepy sometimes and it can be exhausting to drink all day. My mom’s friends totally showed me up!

If any of your tastings end early throughout the day, you can always pop in to a winery of your choice and do a quick walk-in tasting. We did this at Silver Oak and had a lovely time.

8 pm – Bottega

If you’re searching for a really nice, upscale dinner during your trip, look no further than Bottega. The chef at Bottega hosts the cooking show, Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello on the Food Network, so he’s the real deal. I started off my meal with an amazing shredded brussels sprouts salad and had the risotto for my entree. Everything was delicious so I would highly recommend stopping in.

Day 2

11:30 am – Robert Sinskey Vineyards

Something that really fascinates me about wine is how it pairs with certain foods. I took a Pairing Food and Wine course when I studied abroad in Italy, so I have developed quite an interest in this. We started off day two at Robert Sinskey Vineyards with a flight of wine accompanied by seasonal pairings. The pumpkin soup was to die for!

Robert Sinskey

1:30 pm – Caymus Vineyards

Caymus is particularly known for their family-made Cabernet Sauvignons. We didn’t have a reservation here but just like Silver Oak, we had some extra time and decided to pop in. I sure am glad that we did because their Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon was one of the best glasses of wine that I have ever had. Amazing! The tasting took place on an outdoor patio in their absolutely beautiful farmhouse grounds.

Caymus Vineyards

4 pm – Blackbird Winery @ RiverHouse

The last stop of our Napa Valley getaway was at Backbird Winery at RiverHouse. RiverHouse is not actually located on a vineyard. It is a really cool tasting room in downtown Napa that offers a fabulous and intimate experience with plenty of great wine and a special treat at the end. We had a lot of fun wandering through RiverHouse and checking out all the beautiful artwork.

Well, that wraps up our Napa Valley itinerary! If you’re planning a trip to wine country this year, I hope this guide helps take away some of the stress involved in the planning process. Have you been to Napa before, and if so, did I miss one of your favorite spots? Let me know in the comments below so I can check it out next time!

7 Comments

  1. 03.26.2017 / 1:35 am

    Ah I love Domaine Carneros! I’m also from Northern California and love a trip to Napa… now I live in Amsterdam but I always try to visit when I’m home! I also love Bouchon – both the restaurant and the bakery. Did you visit too?

  2. Magda
    03.26.2017 / 4:29 am

    We went to Napa last September but your trip looks far more luxurious than ours 😉 We visited only 3 wineries, however still enjoyed our time there!

  3. meghanramsey1
    03.26.2017 / 6:31 am

    I am so sad I didn’t get to go to Napa on my last trip out to Cali – it looks like so much fun! I love the idea of boutique hotels, they are so much fun to stay in!

  4. 03.28.2017 / 8:17 am

    Great recs! The White House looks amazing, and I definitely have to visit a few of these wineries on our next visit. Check our Scribe down in Carneros on your next visit. The wines are great and the setting is really unique – they set up shop next to an abandoned estancia. We were lucky enough to go when they were just opening and we got a real behind-the-scenes look, but I’m sure the owners are just as welcoming now that they’ve been at it almost a decade!

  5. Elena
    04.07.2017 / 12:08 am

    Awesome post, thank you for sharing!

  6. McKayla Bee
    08.08.2017 / 4:05 pm

    Hi Natalie! My husband and I are looking into coming to San Francisco/Napa/whereverelseweendup? next month and I was just curious how you set up the wine tastings and how much they normally are?

    • Natalie 08.08.2017 / 11:58 pm

      Hi McKayla! Thanks for stopping by! You can visit each of the individual websites for the wineries and make tasting appointments that way. Some wineries like Silver Oak have tasting rooms you can just drop into without a reservation. Prices for the full tasting experience/tours range between wineries but depending on what you’re looking for – it could be anywhere between $20 – $100 a person. Some of the more pricy ones include lunch and food pairings. Let me know if this is helpful at all!

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