Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Calling All Winos....

So after typing up a nice, long post last night about our upcoming 1-year anniversary trip to Napa, and closing out of Blogger thinking I had saved said post (but really hadn't), I am now retyping my Napa post...only this is the short/sweet and copying/pasting of itinerary version. Don't get me wrong, I love writing and blogging, but I don't love when my posts disappear and need to be rewritten at square one. Seriously, am I the only nitwit out there that has actually closed out of a program without fully saving my work? Hopefully one or two fellow bloggers out there will understand and will (hopefully) give me a pass on this very simplified post....

So, on to the good stuff. We are planning a weeklong trip to Napa next month!!! We have been planning this trip for over a year (we debated between Napa and Tuscany - both places on our bucket list), but in the end we chose Napa. We also tried to match up our trip with some close friends that are also headed out that way in April, but unfortunately we will miss each other by one week.

How are we financing this trip? Read on...

When we first moved into our new home last summer, Mr. C. had to spend the first 8 months traveling for work. He would spend five days in a hotel then come home on the weekends....and repeat the process over again. It was really hard on both of us...but the small silver lining was that we were racking up beau coup airline and hotel points. When we'd talk on the phone late at night, we would often talk about all of the places we could one day visit with all of these points we were earning. Since Mr. C and I both love wine (red to be specific, Malbec to be even more specific), we knew Napa would be a great place for us to celebrate and enjoy some much earned and deserved R&R together. So while there were some many lonely nights along the way to earn this trip, our airfare will be free, along with our weeklong stay at a 5-star hotel suite in Napa. We will have other costs, of course, including a weekly car rental, restaurants, the bike tour, winery tours/tasting and any purchases we make...but we'll take free air/hotel any day and happily shell out our $$$ for some vino and memories in Wine Country.

I am seriously jumping out of my skin with excitement for this trip. I don't have any pretty pictures for this post, but I do have links to the wineries we will be visiting (see itinerary below), and the pictures on those sites are breathtaking and worth a visit to the websites. 

Napa Itinerary:

*I WOULD LOVE IT if any Napa vacationers and/or residents have any suggestions, critiques, comments, etc. regarding our tentative itinerary. Don't be shy and thanks in advance!!! :-) 

Sunday, April 17th:
·         Fly out in early AM from Boston to St. Paul, MN. 45 minute layover, then fly to San Francisco; arrive at 2 pm.
·         Pick up rental car @SF airport and drive out to Napa. Check into hotel to unpack. Drive around if feeling up to it. Could also just lay by the outdoor heated hotel pool.
·         Dinner: Uva Tratoria (Napa) and stay for live jazz (no cover) until 9 pm.

Monday, April 18th:
·         AM: V. Sattui Winery (St. Helena) : This winery offers free self-guided tours of the grounds, underground cellars, museum & buildings. Complimentary cheese and hors d’ouerves provided upon entrance. A 2 ½ acre picnic area overlooking the vineyard is available to guests to have lunch. Winery boasts an extensive deli (over 200 kinds of cheese, sandwiches, etc.). Open daily from 9-5. It was the 2011 winery of the year and there is an online coupon for a free tasting. Tasting info: $5 tasting for 5 wines; $10 tasting for 6 including limited edition wines. *Have lunch here from deli.
·         PM: Duckhorn Winery (St. Helena) : Duckhorn offers personal attention with private, tableside tastings on their veranda (4 wines for $20; 5 wines including limited edition for $30). Also offers a semi-private estate tour/tasting (90 minutes). Open daily 10-4. Winery of year.
·          PM: After Duckhorn, drive around/explore the area and then stop by Prager Winery/Port (St. Helena)  on way home. Prager is a small, family owned winery that is open daily from 10:30-4:30 and offers a $15 tasting for 5 premium wines/ports –(sharing okay). Has interesting features including the vintage “web window.”
·         Dinner: Angele Restaurant (Napa)

Tuesday, April 19th:
·         Full Day Bike Tour; select 1 of the options:
1)      “Cycling Through the Vineyards” (top choice): $150 pp. Off-Road Mountain biking through vineyards, led by a tour guide. (Don’t need to be a cyclist but it is a workout). Included are: bike, helmet, picnic lunch, water and cliff bar. Group will stop at approximately 3 wineries.
2)      “Ride, Wine & Dine” $140 pp. Same as above except focus is more on the scenery. All riding is done on paved roads and is at an easy, leisurely pace.
3)      “Cabernet Tour” $150 pp. Same as above except visit 4 wineries – all known for Cabernet. Focus is on more specialized wine tours, and there is a slightly nicer, catered lunch. All paved roads.
4)      “Half Day Tour”½ day wine tour (9:30-1 or 12:30-4); visit 2-3 wineries; lunch not included. Can keep bike for an additional hour afterwards if like.
5)      “Self Guided Tour” – Rent bikes and have the company help you route out your own bike riding route to visit several wineries. Boxed lunch will be delivered to winery of your choice.
·         Dinner: La Toque (Westin’s Michelin rated restaurant)

Wednesday, April 20th:
·         AM: Sterling (Calistoga) Winery :  Open daily 10:30-5; $25 general admission includes aerial tram ticket, self-guided tour (paths, walkways, DVD stations, etc.), complimentary tasting of five wines and a souvenir wine glass. Online coupon for $5 off admission.
·         PM: Lunch (head back to Napa to pick up sandwiches at Taylor’s Refresher in Oxbow Market ), head out to Geyersville for their legendary pizza ( ), or find something along the way to St. Helena.
·         PM:  Frank Family (St. Helena) Winery : The 3rd oldest vineyard in Napa (est. 1884); open daily 10-4. No price info available on site. Rated as one of the top 6 Napa vineyards for a “jovial” time.
·         PM: If feeling up to it, visit Chapellet  (St. Helena)before (it’s only open until 1 pm) Frank Family – or at least drive by it for the view (known to be the best in all of Napa). Chapellet Winery offers daily tasting @ 10 am for $25; 90 min tour/tasting for $35 between 10:30 – 1.
·         Dinner: Bistro Don Giovanni OR Azzuro Pizzeria (Both in Napa)

Thursday, April 21st:
·         AM: Dutch Henry (Calistoga) Winery :  Beautiful, family run and is open daily 10-4:30. Standard tasting of 6 wines plus free olive oil tasting for $15. A bocce court (can reserve first call with tasting) and picnic is available for guests. Dog friendly. *Bring lunch with us from Taylor’s Refresher in Oxbow Market (Napa) to eat at picnic tables…or head back to Napa and eat at one of the Wednesday night dinner restaurants.
·         PM: Hess Collection Winery  (Napa) and/or Amizetta Winery  (St. Helena). Hess provides free wine tours from 10:30-3:30 along with free art museum tours. $25 private tour/tasting and $35 for tour/wine/cheese tasting. $25 for wine flight/cheese platter served on their veranda in adirondack chairs overlooking the gardens. There is a 2 for price of 1 online coupon for tasting (might be only available Thurs-Sat).
·         Dinner: Celadon (Napa)

Friday, April 22nd:
·         AM: Check out, then head to Del Dotto (Napa) Winery : Offers Underground Cave/Barrel Tasting for $40. Voted #1 wine tasting by world wine critics! The Caves are candle-lit Friday through Sunday.  Tasting includes barrel tasting in the cave out of several types of different oak barrels. Following the barrel tasting you will sample select bottled wines along with handmade chocolate truffles and cheese. Finishing off with a sampling of our ports. The experience lasts about an hour. Sunday – Thursday our Cave Experience & Barrel Tastings (no candles) are available at the following times: 11:00am, 11:30am, 1:00pm, 1:30pm, 3:00pm and 3:30pm. Fridays and Saturdays ONLY our Cave Experience & Barrel Tasting's times are: 10:00am, 10:30am, 12:00pm, 12:30pm, 2:00pm, 2:30pm.
·         PM: Visit Muir Woods (redwood forest) for hiking (0.5 – 3 mile trails) on way back to San Francisco. (Have lunch in Napa before heading to this park, or wait for a late lunch in SF).
·         Check into hotel (San Francisco): TBD.
·         Lunch in SF: TBD.
·         PM: SF sightseeing at Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf, etc.
·         Dinner – TBD.
Sat, Apr 23rd:
·         Fly home in early AM.


  1. Have fun!!! Napa is on my bucket list as well.

  2. You can't go wrong with what you've posted that you are looking to do. Its a very full agenda so don't be disappointed if you can't get everything crammed in, enjoy what you can. I also love Greystone, The Culinary Institute of America.

    Enjoy your time in Napa.