Napa Valley Journals

A Taste of Napa

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A travel journal to Napa Valley by food&fun

Mustard Fields Photo, Napa Valley, California More Photos
Quote: Wineries, restaurants, accomodations -- so many choices, where does one start? Here is a sampling of some favorites from a frequent visitor.

A Taste of Napa

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Overview

Another View Over the Rainbow Photo, Napa Valley, California
Quote:
Napa's "high season" is June through October, though there are things to do and see year 'round. February and March are the slow months for tourism, so the marketing gurus came up with the Mustard Festival to draw more visitors. Although the vines are bare and dormant, the vineyards are abloom with bright yellow mustard flowers. There are art festivals and special events throughout the 2-month festival, mostly on weekends. The weather during that time can be rainy, curtailing outdoor activities, but there are plenty of things to do (including tasting wine and eating fine food) indoors. The St. Helena Premium Outlet Mall has a small selection of upscale shops, including Brooks Brothers, DKNY, Coac...Read More

Best Western Elm House Inn

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Hotel | "Elm House (Best Western)"

Quote:
Cozier than a motel, more private than a bed & breakfast, the Elm House combines the best of both worlds. From the outside, it looks like a large, square Victorian mansion-house. Inside, the rooms open onto a corridor that surrounds the 2-story high great room, which has comfy sofas and a large stone fireplace. There is a hot tub in a patio outside (though I''ve never seen anyone using it). Breakfast, included in the price, is served on one side of the great room and includes pastries, bagels and English muffins, cold cereals, oatmeal, hard boiled eggs, fruit, yogurt and a selection of juices and hot beverages. Cookies are set out to serve yourself in the afternoon. The rooms are stan...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 19, 2001

Best Western Elm House Inn
800 California Boulevard
Napa Valley, California 94559
707/255-1831

Napa Valley Marriott

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Hotel

Quote:
The Napa Valley Marriott is undergoing a masive recontruction job, slated to be completed in the fall 2001. They have refurbished one side of the building and are building an entire new wing of "executive" rooms with a spa. Because of the construction, rates are lower than usual. (Our room was $99.) Fortunately, the construction noises were not a problem, even during the week. There is a small but well-equipped gym available. Our room had been freshly decorated, with a very nice stuffed chair and ottoman and a desk and office-type desk chair. The comforter on the bed was actually functional, not just decorative, and the blanket was not one of those plastic-like plush things so common in motels....Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on February 19, 2001

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

John Muir Inn

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Hotel

Quote:
Located just off Highway 29 at the end of Napa closest to Yountville, this comfortable motel is very convenient for touring up and down the valley. We were pleasantly surprised to find a kitchenette in our $119 room. It had a microwave, mini-fridge, 1-burner electric hotplate (with 2 frying pans) and the ever-present wineglasses and corkscrew. The room was also equipped with a hairdryer, iron, ironing board and magnifying mirror. No bathrobes, but what do you expect for less than $125? The beds were very comfortable and the facility seems modern. In the lobby is a large scrapbook of menus for a lot of local restaurants, from high-end to casual, and there is a rack full of free brochures and tour...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 19, 2001

John Muir Inn
1998 Trower Avenue
Napa Valley, California
(707) 257-7220

Terra Restaurant

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Restaurant

Quote:
The husband-wife owners met while working for Wolfgang Puck; he was a chef and she was a pastry chef. About 10 years ago, they started Terra restaurant. Although it is reputed to have an Asian-fusion cuisine, we found it to be "California-French-Italian." Now, this is not to imply any disappointment; my husband and I were happy with our dinners. The restaurant is two store-fronts combined to make up two sparely decorated dining rooms. The setting is one of elegance but not formality. Our desserts came in beautiful Japanese-style ceramic bowls -- the only hint of an Asian influence that we could detect. I started with a delightful mussel saffron soup with a cream base. The flavor was delicate, ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 19, 2001

Terra Restaurant
1345 Railroad Ave
St. Helena, California 94574
+1 707 963 8931

Mumm Napa Valley

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Attraction | "Mumm Napa Valley - wine tasting"

Quote:
We made Mumm an activity because they had a special exhibit of the World Press Photo award winners from 1950-2000 on display in the art gallery. It was a very dramatic selection of photos. The gallery exhibits change every few months; call the winery at 707-942-3434 or 800-686-6272 to find out what is on. In addition to the changing shows, there is a permanent exhibit of historic Ansel Adams photos of the Mumm winery and vineyards. I was not that impressed with the winery photos--they were good examples of industrial photography, but the photos of the vineyards were striking. Definitely worth a trip to see the work of this master of black and white photography. The tasting room is...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 19, 2001

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

Dutch Henry Winery

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Attraction | "Dutch Henry Winery - wine tasting"

Quote:
We first discovered Dutch Henry about 5 years ago, looking for small wineries that make pinot noir. It is a family-run winery, making only about 3000 cases a year of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Rose, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel. The pinot noir is so popular that the 300 cases they make sell out very quickly. The "tasting room" is a folding card table set up in a corner of their barrel-aging barn. Where most wineries have a sales staff running the tasting room, here your wine will be poured by the owners, Kendall Phelps (the older guy) or Scott Chaffen, who is the winemaker. Both are justifiably proud of their wines, which were even written up in the Wall Street Journal as being s...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 19, 2001

Dutch Henry Winery
4310 Silverado Trail
Napa Valley, California 94515
707.942.5771

Oakville Market

Attraction

Quote:
From the outside, the Oakville Market looks like a tiny general store from a by-gone era. Inside, you simply can't believe such a tiny store can hold so many delights. The shelves are packed with gourmet mustards, olive oils, vinegars, spices, spreads, jams and jellies. You could almost make a meal of the samples spread on the counters. Dip a chunk of French bread into a specialty olive oil, taste a bit of biscotti. And what a selection of cheeses (both imported and local) and sliced meats! How many kinds of salami actually are there? There are breads and cookies and other sweet baked goods. And of course, there is an excellent selection of wine. This is a wonderful place to stop to put...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 22, 2002

Oakville Market
7856 Highway 29
Napa Valley, California

St Helena Premium Outlets

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Attraction | "St. Helena Premium Outlet Mall"

Quote:
My one great indulgence is Coach leather, but even if I'm going to use a purse everyday for 5 years, I still can't see spending $250 for it...especially when the Coach outlet store has it for at least half price. Whenever I am in the Napa Valley, I just have to stop here to see what is new and on sale. They have purses, belts for men and women (about $20 for a belt that retails for about $50), small leather goods, briefcases and even leather jackets. There is also a Jones New York outlet. (But in some cases, I understand why the clothes are in the outlet and not the dept. store -- bad color or fabric or design.) Other fine quality clothing stores include Escada and Donna Karan for women and B...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 22, 2002

St Helena Premium Outlets
3111 North St Helena Highway
St. Helena, California 94574
+1 707 226 9876

Niebaum-Coppola Estate Winery

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Attraction | "Niebaum Coppola Winery"

Quote:
Yes, Coppola is Francis Ford Coppola of movie fame. You can't escape that here at the winery -- it includes a museum of movie props, including of course those from the Godfather movies. The tasting room (more like an estate) has a touch of theme park about it. Wine World, perhaps. They charge $6-10 to taste, depending on what wines you are sampling, but the pours are generous, considering the purpose is supposed to be to decide what you'd like to buy, and you and a companion can always share one glass. And you get to keep the glass. My favorite was the Black Diamond Claret, which had a lot of fruit without being heavily oaked. It's about $15 at the winery (cheaper at Trader Joe's and Costc...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 22, 2002

Niebaum-Coppola Estate Winery
1991 St Helena Highway
Napa Valley, California 94570
(707) 968-1100