It’s really exciting to visit Napa Valley during harvest time. There are so many activities going on and the wineries are full, yet it still manages to maintain that low-key vibe that The Valley is known for. The weather this time of year is perfect. The days are warm and the nights are cool and crisp. The vines have gorgeous colors with bright green and luscious purple grapes adorning them. As someone who has always lived in Miami, it’s a very refreshing change of pace. I’m sharing my itinerary on how to spend 48 hours in Napa Valley and get the most of it!
We enjoyed a short stay at the Napa Valley Marriott. The hotel is comfortable, clean, and centrally located in Downtown Napa. Although we didn’t spend too much time at the hotel, it was the perfect spot to stay that provided quick access to St. Helena Highway.
48 Hours in Napa Valley
We started our day with a tasting at Far Niente. For those of you who don’t know, Far Niente is home to my all-time-favorite chardonnay, and hence, we are members of their Collectors Club. It’s actually the chardonnay that made me fall in love with white wine to begin with. Their pristine grounds and wine caves are the wow factors that set this estate apart. It’s rustic and charming, just what you’d expect from one of California’s oldest wineries.
Tours are thorough and by appointment only. They are well worth the price with a complete tour of the caves and vintage car collection on site. There is a seasonal cheese pairing accompanying each of the wines so you’ll leave this tasting with great ideas to create your own wine pairings at home.
There are so many amazing restaurants in Napa but with just two days (and lots to do on our itinerary) we decided to visit Addendum, a quick and casual spot located in Yountville. We had worked up an appetite so we grabbed a picnic table and went to town on a bucket of fried chicken. We enjoyed every crunchy bite and were quickly on our way to the next stop. I recommend this lunch spot for it’s speedy service, central location, and fried chicken (duh).
Our second tasting of the day was at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and their estate totally took my breath away. A complete contrast from the rustic charm I had seen so far, I loved their modern and open tasting room. The back wall of the room is glass, which offers incredible views of their vineyards and the rock formations just beyond them.
Our last stop of the day was definitely the most fun! Del Dotto offers a truly unique experience in the Valley. It was different in that we felt like we there to drink – not to taste – thanks to solid pours and (if you ask nicely) second tastes. The best part is that you are tasting FANTASTIC wine and you are tasting a lot of it. Before the tour we were greeted with a lovely glass of rosé.
We went into the cool, dark caves and sampled the wines which were drawn directly from the barrels with a wine thief. As you walk through the caves tasting the wines that are part of your tour, you quickly come to realize that the tour itself is not the only thing that’s unique about this estate. Del Dotto is an out-of-the-box kind of winery and they experiment in ways that may seem unconventional to some like combining different oaks in their barrels. For example, their 9 Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon is aged in a French Oak barrel coming from the oaks of nine different forests, creating a flavor profile like no other. Their wine is interesting and delicious (and you wish it would never end).
After the (very generous) tasting, we snacked on pizza, a charcuterie plate and sampled some chocolate – you can probably imagine that we needed something in our stomachs by the end of the tasting! It’s really hard to walk out of Del Dotto without buying something – you just have so much fun and you want to take the fun with you! We brought home a bottle of our favorite wine we tasted that day, 9 Oaks, as a souvenir of our fun visit to Del Dotto. We visited their original Napa location, but I’ve heard great things about their newer, second estate in St. Helena.
After a restful night at our hotel, we headed up to Chateau Montelena in Calistoga. As we walked toward the estate, we were greeted by the gorgeous stone chateau with it’s ivy covered facade. As CellarMaster wine club members, we took advantage of an exclusive tasting of Montelena’s wines which were paired with cheese and dried fruit. As always, we were blown away by the wine. It’s always exceptional.
After the tasting we went on to explore the grounds of the estate and walked along the paths around Jade Lake. We admired the Chinese gardens that make this winery so peaceful – and took lots of photos along the way! The winery has shaded pagodas which are great for spending the rest of the afternoon enjoying a picnic and a fabulous bottle of wine.
Heading back towards San Francisco, we paid the classic California diner, Gott’s Roadside, a visit. I savored every bite of my Double Cheeseburger and every sip of my chocolate shake – don’t judge.
Visits to Napa are never long enough. It’s a place that always calls me back for more. With so many amazing wineries and restaurants, you’ll always have something new to experience, and the views never get old. Next time I visit, it will be during a different season with new memories to create. We are currently planning to celebrate the New Year in Napa, so I’ll be sure to share my itinerary with you all. Thank you for reading my 48 hour round up! I hope you enjoy Napa Valley as much as I do!
Next Wineries on Our List
While we had a relaxing weekend sipping away at some really amazing wine, here’s a behind the scenes look at Chateau Montelena’s first day of Harvest this year!