Napa makes for the perfect weekend getaway. Two or three days is plenty of time to eat good food, drink even better wine and hang with good people. An,d honestly, if stay here any longer, you may just spend all your money on tastings and wine to bring home.
Now is one of the best times to go to Napa because it's harvest season! Napa's beautiful all year long, but this time of year is my favorite. The grapes are still on the vine (which makes for more interesting tours), the weather is magical, and the wine is flowing.
Napa has a small town vibe with the benefit of being surrounded by world class vineyards and Michelin star chefs. Mornings are cool, afternoon are pleasant and everyone is in the best mood. The dress code is decidedly casual. Everyone seems to gravitate towards comfort over anything too dressy or stiff.
See below for my Napa Kit must haves...
Easy dresses are my go-to when the weather is nice and I know I'll be doing a lot of bopping around from brunch, to a vineyard tour, to a couple wine tastings, dinner etc. Both of these dresses can be easily be worn all day into the night. Easily throw on a jacket if it's cool outside or in a tasting room.
I'd recommend flats or sandals so you can walk through the vineyards with ease. These Steve Madden Gold Loafers are my new favorite. You can easily put the heel down for a slip-on-and-go vibe or wear them as a traditional loafer for a more put together look. Not to mention they go with everything - pair with your favorite jeans or slide on with one of these midi dresses for an instant glow. And white Supergas are a no-brainer for whatever the day throws at you.
This Only Hearts bodysuit is a travel necessity for me. It's the perfect little one and done piece, and it is so easy to add layers over when needed. The fabric is super slinky and slimming and the low back gives it a little sexiness.
I love to have a flannel with me to tie around and accentuate my waist. The Ash & Ember ones are so soft and come in the best colors. They also make the perfect light weight layer for cool cave tours or misty mornings.
These Calvin basics are so classic and cute. I love this bralette because the band under the bust gives a little bit of lift while remaining as comfortable as your favorite bralette.
Accesories are what take an outfit from boring to put together. Throw on any hat from Janessa and you'll look like a Hollywood stylist put your outfit together. And this belt gives you that corset trend without having to actually deal with a corset.
Napa is made up lot of several small towns throughout the valley. We stayed in downtown Napa and then spent one day in Yountville and the other in St. Helena. Each town has plenty to offer and you could totally spend a whole weekend in just one of these, but we had favorite spots in each area so we split it up.
Bouchon: Just say yes! Make the reservation and go! Bouchon is the perfect little French bistro in the heart of Yountville with a Michelin Star rating. We had brunch here and I loved every second!
Get the Chicken & Waffles (Poulet et Gaufres)! (And here commences my love affair with the Poulet et Gaufres.) I mean just everything about these were great! The waffle were perfectly fluffy with bits of crunchy bacon throughout. The maple syrup was light and not too sweet. And then there was the gravy! Like whoa! This gravy was on another level - it was savory and I literally dipped everything on the table in it! So while everything else was amazing (the Truffle Madame Croquet and the Boudin Blanc avec des Oeufs), the Poulet et Gaufres were out-of-this-world delicious!
Tip: If you can't get a reservation or only have a little bit of time, stop by the bakery next door and get a little taste of what makes this place so delicious.
Chandon: Bubbles! Who doesn't love to start their day with a little sparkle? Known for their sparkling wine, Chandon is set on a beautiful piece of property just on the other side of Yountville from Bouchon.
Chandon's a great place to go if you don't have a reservation for a while and you just want a place to hang out. You can sip by the glass, bottle or do a tasting. They also have truffle popcorn, chocolate and strawberries and other nibbles to snack on as you sit outside on their patio.
Bell: This little gem ended up being one of our favorite stops. We were instantly greeted with a cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc. They asked about our favorites and what other wineries we had visited. When we told them we had come from Chandon, they let us compare their champagne to Chandon's. They described theirs as having more elegant bubbles and I would have to agree. Very crisp and refreshing.
We took the Grape to Glass tour and they showed us around the vineyard and let us try some of the Merlot grapes that were still on the vine. We checked out all their aging wine and even got to try a taste straight from a barrel.
After the tour finished, cheese and crackers were brought to a table where more wine flowed for the rest of the tasting. I cannot recommend this place enough, our tour guide was the bomb, the wine was divine, and I can't wait to go back!
Archetype: Bright and airy, this beautifully designed restaurant offers a contemporary approach to classic dishes. I'd highly recommend at least splitting the Half Stack Lemon ricotta Pancakes - they were to die for! Just melt in your mouth yum.
Being from the South, I'm always a sucker for biscuits and gravy and their Cheddar Biscuits with sausage gravy did not disappoint. Those two together was the perfect combo of salty and sweet.
Failla: If you love a pinot then Failla is for you. Smokey and smooth. I love this winery because of how small and intimate it is. The house used to be an old hunting lodge and it hasn't changed a bit since its beginnings. We took the cave tour which was a lot of fun and educational!
Merryvale: If you need to escape the elements, Merryvale is a great little tasting room with a wide variety of grapes and vintages. The tasting guides were very knowledgeable and since it wasn't too crowded we got extra attention and we got to taste serval things off the menu. We ended up joining this wine club because we liked the variety.
Gott's Roadside: A must stop! The perfect place for something yummy to soak up all the wine you've recently consumed. I prefer the original one in St. Helena but there is also one downtown now. Gott's is a great little roadside burger joint with a nice outdoor seating area under the trees.
Oxbow Market: The cutest little market with everything you need to make a delicious dinner or to sit down to some amazing food from one of several restaurants inside. My personal fave is Hog Island with amazing oysters and the best clam chowder. Definitely worth checking out!
Bistro Don Giovanni: This place was recommended by three different locals and it did not disappoint. The best advice we got was to share several appetizers and split entrees. The portions here are huge so you'll def get enough and get to try all the yummy things.
The Ravioli was bomb, they have two different sauce choices between lemon cream and tomato - so we got 1/2 and 1/2 and both were so good! Can't go wrong! The Frito Misto was super good too, the calamari was perfectly cooked.
Tip: If you find yourself with a bottle of wine or two from your activities of the day, bring it to dinner. Most places in Napa don't have a corkage fee and you know you'll like that bottle since you just tried it!
If you're over wine or not a big wine lover (GASP!), I would 100% recommend waking up at the crack of dawn and taking a magical hot air balloon over the valley. It's one of the best experiences to float in the air in the crisp morning air over the valley.