Napa Valley Journals

Two Days in the Valley

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An October 2003 trip to Napa Valley by MsMaryMack

Embassy Suites Photo, Napa Valley, California More Photos
Quote: When I told people I was going to Napa Valley, they thought I was crazy. I don't drink wine. At all. Still, the two days I spent in Napa Valley were fun, even if I did drive two drunks to 12 wineries in two days. While this journal won't tell you who has the best wines, it still reviews the wineries themselves - including my vote for the best views, the best treatment of designated drivers and the best gift shop.

Embassy Suites

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Hotel

Embassy Suites Photo, Napa Valley, California
Quote:
Embassy Suites, as the name implies, is a chain of hotels that offers guests "suites" rather than rooms. For three women traveling together, this seemed like the perfect option. Our suite was located on the second floor, down an outdoor walkway which overlooked a courtyard with a fountain. Even though I knew the room would be a "suite," I was pleasantly surprised at the spaciousness. Our door opened into the living area with a couch, chair, floor television, and a dining-room table which seated two. Facing the door was a wet bar with a large mirror (which became very useful later.) The bar area had a microwave and a small refrigerator. The decor was acceptable, though a little dated, but th...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 23, 2003

Embassy Suites
California Drive at First Street
Napa Valley, California

ZuZu

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Restaurant

ZuZu Photo, Napa Valley, California
Quote:
I had researched my trip extensively before I went to Napa and had read several positive reviews of this place. I have to say that overall, I was disappointed in the value, but the ambience almost made up for it. ZuZu is a tapas restaurant. Tapas are smaller "appetizer"-size portions, typically with an international flavor. Now, I have been to several tapas restaurants before, and the portions here seemed to be even smaller than normal for tapas. The guidebooks are misleading to label this as a low-cost place, because you will likely need to order at least two dishes per person to feel satiated. The cost of the dishes my two friends and I ordered ranged from $5 for goat cheese to $9 for summer ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 26, 2003

ZuZu
829 Main Street
Napa Valley, California 94559
(707) 224-8555

Market

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Restaurant

Market Photo, Napa Valley, California
Quote:
We ended up at Market- An American Restaurant purely by delightful accident. We were looking for a restaurant called Gail’s on Main, which had received good reviews. After walking past three or four times, we determined that Gail’s was no longer there. The waiter confirmed for us, Market had only been open since the summer of 2003. What a lucky find! We were pleasantly surprised to be seated immediately on a Friday night, though we might have been out a little late for the Napa crowd at 9:30. The restaurant is one long room with high ceilings and an enormous Brunswick bar that has its own story on the menu. The building itself was built in 1890. Market bills itself as an "A...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 17, 2003

Market
1347 Main Street
Napa Valley, California 94574
(707) 963-3799

Jelly Belly Factory Tour

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Attraction | "Jelly Belly Factory Tour & Candy Company"

Jelly Belly Factory Tour Photo, Fairfield, California
Quote:
I don’t have children, but my friends and I still went to the factory and had a great time. It's no Wonkaville, but when you get to One Jelly Belly Lane, you can't help but think that it would be very cool to work for a candy company. The employees agree. Located just 20 minutes south of Napa, the Jelly Belly factory is easy to find. Directions are available on the website www.jellybelly.com or call 1-800-JB-BEANS (1-800-522-3267). Free tours are available every 15 minutes, seven days a week from 9am to 5pm (except holidays). Even on the weekends when they aren't making the candy, tours are conducted with a knowledgeable tour guide using video monitors so you can see what it would be like. I...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 23, 2003

Jelly Belly Factory Tour
One Jelly Belly Lane
Fairfield, California 94533
(800) 522-3267

Robert Mondavi Winery

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Attraction | "Robert Mondavi Vineyard & Winery Tour"

Robert Mondavi Winery Photo, Napa Valley, California
Quote:
Everyone has eaten a grape before. But have you ever plucked the sweet, juicy, plump, purple fruit straight off the vine? The Robert Mondavi tour is an incredible way to learn about the grapes that are turned into wine, the wine-making process and the wine industry. This should be your first stop on your wine-tasting adventures. Oh, did I mention that I hate wine? It doesn’t matter. The tour is still quite fascinating due to our often humorous and very knowledgeable tour guide, Ralph. A cautionary note for the non-wine drinkers, if there are any who are crazy enough to go to Napa in the first place (like me)… The tour, including three tastings, will still cost you $10 – even if you d...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 25, 2003

Robert Mondavi Winery
7801 St Helena Highway
Oakville, California 94562
+1 707 259 9463; +1

PlumpJack Winery

Attraction

PlumpJack Winery Photo, Oakville, California
Quote:
As the designated driver, my opportunity to judge a winery is based on how much there is to keep me occupied while my friends drink. In this case, I have to say PlumpJack was rather small, with not much to see on the grounds or in the gift shop. Still, their 2000 PlumpJack Cabernet Sauvignon got a 91-point rating, and the wine pourers were friendly, so I bought a bottle to take back home. My friends would have me note that a tasting was $5, which I believe was for three samples.

Hours: Open 10am to 4pm Monday - Sunday
Website: www.plumpjack.com

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 26, 2003

PlumpJack Winery
620 Oakville Cross Road
Oakville, California 94562
(707) 945-1220

The Best of Napa Valley

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

A view from the top Photo, Napa Valley, California
Quote:
Best Treatment of Designated Driver: Niebaum-Coppola was the only winery (of 12) which had anything other than water for the designated drivers to drink. They offered me a free soda. I was very grateful, as I was sick of drinking water all day. Most Entertaining Wine Pourer: Gary at Sterling Winery. He was very friendly and was quite entertaining with stories of guests that he has had through the years working at the winery. Look for him and ask him to tell you the story about "the guy from New York," which I can’t repeat here. Best Views: While several of the wineries had beautiful vineyards, Sterling had the best view overall, with a look down into the valle...Read More