Napa Valley Journals

A Week in Napa Valley

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An April 2000 trip to Napa Valley by Constance

Rutherford Hill Winery Photo, Napa Valley, California More Photos
Quote: A week of fine dining and wine tasting in the most famous wine region in California.

A Week in Napa Valley

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Overview

Quote:
What's not to love about a place that offers you free wine samples every 100 yards? Yes, the vineyards, the wine and the food are all amazing in Napa but it's the scenery that really makes this place stand out. Renting a convertible is a must. The incredible views and the feeling of the California breeze in your hair make even driving a memorable experience.Quick Tips: The wine tastings are wonderful but the alcohol can definitely go to your head. Several of the vineyards have cafes or specialty shops you can buy snacks and water in but it's smart to take some extra water with you for the car. This is a prime place for intoxicated driving and there are plenty of police officers around lo...Read More

Napa Valley Marriott

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Hotel

Quote:
Average at best. We tried to save some money and used Priceline to book our hotel room. At first we were excited to be booked in a Marriott but upon our arrival we saw what else Napa Valley had to offer. There are the most amazing B&B's and Inns everywhere. All of which were charming and unique, unlike the Marriott which was a 2 level walk up next to the highway. Still, it was clean and the staff was very courteous and helpful.

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on June 22, 2000

Napa Valley Marriott
3425 Solano Avenue
Napa Valley, California
1(707) 253-7433

El Bonita

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Hotel

Quote:
This was a last minute reservation. We decided to spend an extra day in Napa and needed a room for the night. Unfortunately, that proved difficult. We drove past the El Bonita without consideration at first, but after finding no other rooms available, we pulled in to inquire. Don't let the name scare you away, the rooms were clean and the staff friendly. This is definitely a small scale roadside hotel though. The ammenities were not four star but after a day of drinking and dining we were happy to stay here. We booked the 'King Spa' room which had a huge wonderful tub. The hotel is right off the road and even though our room was the furthest away we still heard every car that went by all night...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on June 22, 2000

El Bonita
195 Main Street Street
Napa Valley, California 94574
(800) 541-3284

Napa Valley Grille

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Restaurant | "The Napa Valley Grille"

Napa Valley Grille Photo, Napa Valley, California
Quote:
YUM! We walked in the door and smelled the delicious aroma from a mesquite wood grill. The decor was a beautiful dark cherry and it had a soothing feeling. We knew immediately it would be a wonderful dining experience. We started with fried artichoke & calamari which was a little heavy for our taste. For our main course we tried two specials; sauteed scallops and a light fish. Both were amazing. We really loved the fact that although it was a crowded restaurant, we could still carry on a casual conversation and hear each other without shouting. Their wine list is also extensive and represents the best of what Napa Valley has to offer.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 22, 2000

Napa Valley Grille
6795 Washington St
Yountville, California 94599
(707) 944-8686

Brix Restaurant

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Restaurant | "Brix"

Brix Restaurant Photo, Napa Valley, California
Quote:
This was our favorite restaurant in Napa. The food was amazing and the architecture was designed to make the most of the surroundings. Brix sits on the outskirts of a wonderful vineyard and has an outdoor patio complete with a garden, benches and sculptures. We ordered our appetizers and immediately ventured outside to enjoy the last of the day's sunshine. The food was a fusion of traditional and more eccletic pairings. I started with a 'Ragout of Fava Beans & Roasted Mushroons with New Potato Salad, Chive Raita & Curry Oil'. I swear, I could have eaten the same thing every day I was in Napa! Everything on the menu and on the tables I saw looked mouthwatering. You can also bring in your favorite...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 22, 2000

Brix Restaurant
7377 St Helena Highway
Napa, California 94558
+1 707 944 2749

Red Hen Cantina

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Restaurant | "The Red Hen Cantina"

Quote:
It was a beautiful day so we were excited to see the huge deck they had. We immediately pulled over for a casual and affordable lunch. The deck overlooks the highway but with the breeze and sun we soon forgot about the traffic. The food wasn''t spectacular but your typical mexican fare and worth the price. The menu has a wide selection including many vegetarian items. They of course had a full range of Margaritas but we were preparing for an afternoon of wine tastings so stuck to the diet cokes.

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on June 22, 2000

Red Hen Cantina
5091 St Helena Highway
Napa, California 94558
+1 707 255 8125

Della Santinas Trattoria

Restaurant | "Della Santina''s"

Quote:
This was our only venture into Sonoma and I must admit that this dining experience was a bit hazy after a day of wine 'tastings'. We met a wonderful local couple at our last vineyard of the day and they told us that this was their favorite restaurant in the area-- so off we went! I remember a wonderful wine list... and then more wine! The food was wonderful and had that homemade Italian grandmother's kitchen quality about it. The restaurant was packed but there was a wonderful, romantic open air section in the back that was away from all the noise and crowds. This was definitely worth the trip into Somoma. My only regret, (besides too much wine), was that we went late in the evening and all the ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 22, 2000

Della Santinas Trattoria
133 East Napa Street
Sonoma, California 95476
(707) 935-0576

Gail's Cafe

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Restaurant

Gail's Cafe Photo, Napa Valley, California
Quote:
Gail's Cafe is an old fashioned cafe and ice cream parlour that's filled to the brim with nostalgia. Everything from a Player Piano to a Jukebox to vintage advertising and celebrity autographed photos. There is just so much to see! We were walking by and couldn't resist going in to check it out. Gail's has a wonderful old fashioned ice cream and candy counter, complete with homemade fudge. They also have an expresso bar and serve breakfast, lunch and dinner for very reasonable prices.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 24, 2000

Gail's Cafe
1347 Main St
St. Helena, California 94574
+1 904 963 3332

Livefire

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Restaurant

Quote:
The ambience was great and the dinner good. It had a relaxing upscale casual dining feel and I was comfortable in my jeans and sweater. The food was dependable and the menu offered a variety of good choices. I was able to alter my meal slightly to accommodate my tastes after the waiter got the chefs approval. We started with a lightly breaded calamari served with pieces of thinly sliced lemon. It was amazing! We were both in need of some carbs after a day of wine and the pastas here were good. Being a dessert fanatic I was a bit disappointed with their chocolate chip creme brulee which was very thick and too cold. The service here was great though and the staff exceptionally friendly.

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on June 24, 2000

Livefire
6518 Washington St
Yountville, California 94599
+1 707 944 1500

Artesa Winery

Attraction | "Artesa Winery - Wine, Architecture and Art"

Quote:
As the name suggests Artesa, (meaning 'artisan' in Catalan, the language of it's founders in Barcelona) offers so much more than just great wine. This winery is definitely off the beaten path and much less crowded than the others. It's located on top of a huge hill which gives you a majestic panoramic view of the surrounding vineyards. As you drive up the hill a beautiful sculptured fountain with their signature design comes into view. This is just the beginning of the works of art that await you. Water is a predominate theme and adds to the relaxation of the experience. Climb the stairs to the winery and you'll pass a gentle cascading slope of water that descends from the reflecting pools ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 24, 2000

Artesa Winery
1345 Henry Road
Napa Valley, California 94558
(707) 224-1668

V. Sattui Winery

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Attraction | "V. Sattui Winery - Old World Charm"

V. Sattui Winery Photo, St. Helena, California
Quote:
Sattui is visible from the main road through Napa and is impossible to pass up. As you approach you'll see 2 large stone buildings that are everything I imagined a winery would look like. They have an old world charm feel and draw you in. The wine selection is large and they discount by the case and will even ship it home for you. The staff was extremely helpful in suggesting other wineries according to our tastes. Beware their signature Madeira! It's a combination of brandy and zinfadel and packs a punch. This is one of the best winerys for a romantic picnic as they have a wonderful tree-shaded picnic grove and a gourmet shop with a large assortment of prepared foods, cheese, crackers, fru...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 24, 2000

V. Sattui Winery
1111 White Lane
St. Helena, California 94574
(707) 963-7774

Merryvale Winery

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Attraction

Merryvale Winery Photo, Napa Valley, California
Quote:
This large stone building covered with ivy atop a perfectly manicured lawn is in a busy retail area and didn't draw us in the first few times we passed it. However, it was one of the few wineries that stayed open later in the afternoon so we eventually checked it out. The wine was great and the interior wonderful. It had that inviting dark, castle feeling and I found myself wandering in the gift shop to avoid going back into the real world sunlight for a while longer. The best feature was a huge room off to the right that had a long dining table for private parties surrounded by wine barrels. There is also a dining area which is actually a HUGE wine barrel that has a circular table and can sit 8 or so...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 24, 2000

Merryvale Winery
1000 Main Street
Napa Valley, California 94574
707 963 7777

Rutherford Hill Winery Photo, Napa Valley, California
Quote:
Rutherford is another off the beaten path winery that has much to offer. Located off the Silverado trail on the top of a hill it's one of the quieter wineries. There are wonderful picnic areas scattered through the surrounding woods that are perfect for a quiet lunch. Amazing sculptures and flowers accent the building which has a very natural feel. Wine tasting can be done inside or outside. They featured mostly reds but did offer a lovely white 'gewurtztraminer' -yeah, I have no idea either, but it tasted great!

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 24, 2000

Rutherford Hill Winery
200 Rutherford Hill Road
Rutherford, California 94570
+1 707 963 7194; +1

Mumm Napa Valley

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Attraction

Quote:
Mumm features sparkling wines that are a definite change to the others I'd been tasting. The building and views as we pulled into the parking lot were beautiful but I almost pulled out when I saw all the tour buses. Fortunately, my fiance talked me into staying. We really enjoyed this experience. Unlike other wineries, Mumm doesn't have a tasting bar that you stand at. Instead you're seated at a table inside the building or on the patio and brought a tasting menu. The tastings aren't free but very affordable. I got a sample of their 3 popular sparkling wines served in small flutes for only $7.00. After our tasting we went inside a charming gift shop to pay our tab and were offered a memb...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 24, 2000

Mumm Napa Valley
8445 Silverado Trail
Napa Valley, California 94570
(707) 942-3434

Opus One Winery

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Attraction

Opus One Winery Photo, Napa Valley, California
Quote:
We walked in - We walked out. This is a very expensive wine and unless your a wine expert, it's probably not for you. The architecture is interesting in a 'Las Vegas' sort of way, which is why we ventured in. The actual winery is very quiet but in an uncomfortable morgue way. It's definitely not warm and inviting and the tasting rooms are tiny areas with only a few bottles available. Tastings cost $25.00 per sample so we just enjoyed a quick view from the roof and were on our way.

Member Rating 1 out of 5 on June 24, 2000

Opus One Winery
St. Helena Highway
Napa Valley, California

Robert Mondavi Winery

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Attraction | "Mondavi Winery"

Robert Mondavi Winery Photo, Napa Valley, California
Quote:
I was tentative to visit Mondavi because I wanted to avoid the well known commercial wine sellers and go to the smaller quaint wineries instead. But knowing absolutely NOTHING about wine we decided this would be a good place for the quick 'everything you need to know about wine' tour. We were right. These guys know there stuff. Our tour guide Kurt was amazing and a highlight of our trip. He was both knowledgeable and funny and didn't mind our stupid questions. He took our group throughout the whole process from seedlings to how the grapes are grown, picked, and how they are made into different wines. We did this tour on our first day in Napa and it made all the difference. It was great to hav...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 24, 2000

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

Prager Winery & Port Works

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Attraction | "Prager Winery & Port Works"

Prager Winery & Port Works Photo, Napa Valley, California
Quote:
The Prager Winery is a small family owned winery with all the local flavor we were looking for. The owner, Jim Prager is a charming man took us through a private tasting of his unique wines. Located behind the Sutter Home Winery, the winery interior is small and dark and has an incredible old world feel. Port is an acquired taste and a bit stong for me but I wouldn't have missed this experience for the world. His dessert wine, St. Claire is amazing! If you're a cat lover keep an eye out for their wonderful pet basking in the sun. He loves attention and has a great purr. They also have a charming Bed and Breakfast available in overlooking a beautiful flower garden and shade trees. Contact...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 24, 2000

Prager Winery & Port Works
1281 Lewelling Lane
Napa Valley, California 94574
707-963-767

Sterling Vineyards

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Attraction

Quote:
Located at the top of a 300 foot knowll, Sterling Vineyards is another exceptional winery with spectacular views of the Napa Valley. The only way to the top is by taking a $6.00 sky tram ride, which is an experience in itself. Sterling is associated with Mumm Napa Valley so with our Mumm Club Membership we got VIP treatment here. The sky tram was free, we got discounts on the bottles of wine we purchased and we sat in the private VIP section of the winery (where we sampled their finer wines not available in the main tasting section). Contact them at 707-942-3345

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 24, 2000

Sterling Vineyards
1111 Dunaweal Lane
Calistoga, California 94515
(800) 726-6136

Domaine Carneros Winery

Attraction | "Domaine Carneros"

Domaine Carneros Winery Photo, Napa Valley, California
Quote:
Domaine Carneros - (Taittinger) was recommended to us by a local couple. The building is huge and definitely stands out against the peaceful surroundings. Although this winery is far away from the others, it still attracts a crowd and the tour buses were plentiful. Fortunately, because of the size it didn't feel overly crowded. The wines weren't spectacular but the view of the horizon from the deck is.

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on June 24, 2000

Domaine Carneros Winery
1240 Duhig Road
Napa Valley, California 94559
(707) 257-0101

Sutter Home

Attraction

Sutter Home Photo, Napa Valley, California
Quote:
Although I'm not a big fan of their wines, the Sutter Homes Winery is worth a look. The tastings are held in a huge Victorian mansion set on immaculate grounds. We spent about 10 minutes here just taking photos of the house and exploring the grounds. We agreed that if we ever felt the need to sample Sutter Homes, we could buy it back home and didn't want to increase our alcohol level here.

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on June 24, 2000

Sutter Home
277 St. Helena Highway (Hwy. 29) South
Napa Valley, California 94574
707-963-3104 X4208

Where to Stay

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Story/Tip

Quote:
The majority of accomodations in Napa are B&B's and Inns. They are locally owned and individual phone numbers can be hard to find. There is a wondeful B&B association that you can call for help. The phone links to a local B&B owner who knows which places have availability. They'll give you phone numbers and even descriptions of the places. Bed & Breakfast Inns of the Napa Valley 707-944-4444 Other helpful numbers: Napa Valley Reservations Unlimited 800-251-4585 Napa Valley Tourist Bureau 707-257-7757 Wine Country Vacation Rentals 707-942-2186

Some more photos

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Story/Tip

Napa scenery Photo, Napa Valley, California
Quote:
We had a few rolls of film after our week in wine country, so we attached a couple of extra shots for your viewing pleasure.