Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Best places in Napa


Dana
 Share

Recommended Posts

We'll be making a trip through Napa next month, but won't have much more than a day to see as much as we can. What are the 'can't miss' places? We love wine, but are novices.

Thanks so much

Stop Family Violence

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Since your only here for a day I would make a loop going north on the western side of the valley and back south on the eastern side. Three or four wineries in a day is a good number, more and you'll most likely feel rushed.

Start your day at St Supery, their tour is a good introduction to how wine is made. From there continue north to Opus, the tour there will give you an idea of wine making on a smaller scale, just don't go thinking their wine is worth $150 a bottle :wacko:. You have to eat lunch at Taylor's Refresher. After lunch go down to Phelps, their patio is a relaxing place to spend an hour or so sipping some very nice wine with a great view of the valley. If time permits Pine Ridge has a tour of their caves.

For dinner Bistro Don Giovanni is hard to beat in the summer, when you can eat on the patio.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have not been to Napa in almost ten years now, but I can't imagine there is a better place to eat then either Tra Vigne or Mustards. Mustards though seems to have the real Napa wine experience. Great food and service as well as an interesting wine list.

As for wineries I love, Cuvaison, Whitehall Lane and Cosentino. Avoid Sterling and V. Sattui at all costs. These too places are way to commercial. I also have always liked the Oakville grocery. If you are into the history of the valley then you have to go to the old Inglenook winery and BV. This is where the two most important wine makers in the history of the valley made historic wine in the 40's, 50's and 60's.

David Cooper

"I'm no friggin genius". Rob Dibble

http://www.starlinebyirion.com/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have not been to Napa in almost ten years now, but I can't imagine there is a better place to eat then either Tra Vigne or Mustards.

With the obvious exception of French Laundry (on hiatus I believe).

fanatic...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have not been to Napa in almost ten years now, but I can't imagine there is a better place to eat then either Tra Vigne or Mustards.

With the obvious exception of French Laundry (on hiatus I believe).

Tra Vigne is overrated, their menu is static and the service is questionable. Bouchon, Bistro Don Giovanni, La Toque, Martini House, Terra, Bistro Jeanty, and of course the French Laundry (which is not on hiatus until the fall) in my opinion serve better and more interesting food than Tra Vigne. Mustards isn't a bad place to eat either though it is very loud and I would put it more on par with ZuZu, Pearl, and Tuscany.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dana:

I don't know which day of the week you'll be there, but Merryvale Vineyards Click Merryvale gives an EXCELLENT wine tasting seminar that is great for a self-procalimed novice. You taste the individual components of wine (tannin, acid, sugar and alcohol) and learn to "map" your palate and what each component adds to the blend. It's mentioned on their website at Merryvale. The class is held in the glorious candlelit cask room that is featured on the winery home page. Worth it just to see that, but also very educational and one of the best tours I took. Tasting seminar was only available on Saturdays and Sundays when I went a few years ago. I'd check with the winery or their homepage to see if that's still the case. Merryvale is great wine too! A very reliable and consistent producer of high quality wines.

WINERIES: My advice for wineries is to avoid the huge commercial not-wineries-but-refineries (St. Supery, Sutter Home, etc.) and head for the smaller places you've probably never heard of. Many of the smaller wineries seem to be on/near the Silverado Trail, a road that parallels Highway 29 a few miles east. It's a much calmer, less traveled road and seems to have a few more of the gems on or just off of it. Definitely spend at least one afternoon exploring here. On/near Silverado Trail and heading northward are Robert Sinskey Vineyards ("Jolly Rancher" [my description, not theirs] Pinot Noir), S. Anderson (sparkling wine and Cabernet), Goosecross Cellars (Sauvignon Blanc was delicious), PlumpJack Cellars (really friendly folks and delicious riesling!), ZD Wines (fabulous chardonnay), V. Arroyo and Chateau Montelena. Others I visited and I'd recommend on the main drag (Highway 29) include Grgich Hills (their chardonnays and Violetta dessert wine are yummy!), Heitz Cellars, Merryvale (previously mentioned) and Niebaum-Coppola. Coppola is a larger and certainly more commercial sort of place than I would normally endorse, but I found the building architecture and some of the movie artifacts displayed there extremely interesting, and the tasting room was very nice. Their high end single vineyard wines are quite good.

A little bit off the beaten path and on the road to Sonoma (Highway 12/Old Sonoma Road) in Carneros is Artesa winery Artesa Winery It's a gorgeous angular modern structure built right into the side of a mountain and designed by a famous Spanish architect. Definitely has that funky Barcelona feel to it. It has outdoor sculpture gardens and fountains, and art exhibits, a winemaking museum and a lovely tasting room inside. Artesa is owned by the Spanish firm that bottles Cordoniu, but the wines made here are small production and very high quality. This place must be a tax write off for the parent company because the structure alone must have cost hundreds of millions of dollars. There's no way their relatively small annual case production is covering that. But it's SO cool and the views are spectacular! Definitely some of the loveliest scenery in the entire area can be viewed from the terraces surrounding the building. Sit outside, stretch out and enjoy a glass of their sparkling wine in the sunshine - life doesn't get too much better than that! Saintsbury (whose Pinot Noirs are spectacular) Click Me is also nearby. As a matter of fact, the staff at Saintsbury are the ones that steered me to Artesa. I'd have never known it was there unless they told me! When you come driving around the bend and see this unbelievably modern structure built right into the side of a hill, it really takes your breath away! :cool:

EATING: If you can manage to get a reservation at French Laundry - DO NOT MISS THE OPPORTUNITY! Best restaurant meal I ever had the pleasure of partaking in, period. I'd also recommend Terra Restaurant in St. Helena (1345 Railroad Avenue, 707-963-8931). It's Asian influenced California/French cuisine. Excellent food and service, great wine list and very helpful sommelier. Reservations are easier to come by than French Laundry, but still recommended. The sake marinated sea bass is spectacular! In Yountville is a place called Compadres (6539 Washington Street, 707-944-2406). I had a Champagne brunch there after a hot air balloon ride {Aside: a REALLY cool thing to do - $185/person and totally worth it. Check out Napa Valley Aloft and call Adventures Aloft at 1-800-944-4408 to make arrangements. They were REALLY nice and a pleasure to go flying with} Really good (read: incredibly filling) Huevos Rancheros, breakfast burritos, etc. I'm sure the lunch and dinner menus are just as good (if you like casual Mexican) and they supposedly make fantastic Margaritas. You'll want a change of pace from drinking wine ALL the time eventually, right? :wink:

In Oakville on Highway 29 is the Oakville Grocery store. Looks like a general store out of an old western movie, but wait until you get inside! Fabulous cheeses, deli meats, olives and prepared foods you would only expect to see at Zabar's in Manhattan, and an EXCELLENT wine selection. All the makings for a fabulous gourmet picnic if you are smarter (and more frugal) than the average bear. Many of the wineries have picnic areas and encourage this sort of thing. I think they probably expect you to be drinking their wine you just purchased in the tasting room, but there aren't any "picnic police" so I wouldn't sweat it. Chateau Montelena in Calistoga has gorgeous grounds and Japanese gardens and fish ponds up on the hills at the northern end of the Valley. A very lovely spot, but there are many to choose from. (Hint: pick up wine glasses at one of the first tastings you go to - many times they are included as a souvenir in the nominal tasting fees. Keep them in your rental vehicle for spur of the moment picnics!)

I hope this helps. I had one of the loveliest vacations ever in Napa/Sonoma, and would highly recommend it to anyone!

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Go to Calistoga springs...have a mud bath and massage (in the A.M.) ....go get a picnic lunch at oakville grocery and tour 1 or 2 vineyards. I'm sure you will want to relax and not spend too much time in the car.

If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding. How could you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat!??

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have not been to Napa in almost ten years now, but I can't imagine there is a better place to eat then either Tra Vigne or Mustards.

i took about 10 years off of napa, too, but started going regularly again about 4 or 5 years ago. much to my surprise, i loved it. and there are MUCH better places than mustards or tra vigne. i'm not much of one for tasting rooms, but definitely go to phelps. definitely go to sinskey. definitely plan a dinner at bouchon, if you aren't going to FL (or even if you are ... just allow a day in between). i sent one of my pickiest, slow-foodiest friends there a couple of weekends ago and he said he had the best blood sausage he'd ever had. and this is a guy who knows from blood sausage. hit the outlet stores in napa, especially the barneys. for fun, continue north on 29 through knight's valley. imagine you were going to stop at peter michael, if they only had a tasting room.

as far as restaurants are concerned, one of the great hidden delights of the valley is gordon's in yountville (just down washington from FL). great breakfasts and a real who's who of the valley. in napa proper, also stop at cafe zuza for a meal. great med food.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

as far as restaurants are concerned, one of the great hidden delights of the valley is gordon's in yountville (just down washington from FL). great breakfasts and a real who's who of the valley. in napa proper, also stop at cafe zuza for a meal. great med food.

Gordons is great, dinner there on a Friday night (the only night they serve dinner) is definitly worth doing. I also agree completly with the ZuZu recomendation, it's a tapas place with great food and great wine, the only drawback is they don't take reservations.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dana,

Hope this isn't too late, but I received some wonderful recommendations from egulleters last summer: I've attached the link below.

In Napa, would recommend tastings at Joseph Phelps (great sit-down tasting) and Pride Mountain (really friendly people and nice lineup of wines). Taylor's Refresher is a great restaurant while you're in the area.

Cheers,

Howie

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?act=ST...f=24&t=7009&hl=

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you go to La Toque, the wine and food pairings are worth investigating and enjoying.  Basically a tasting menu with wines to match.

Definitely. They do a black truffle tasting menu in February that is really amazing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Taylor's Refresher. Have the patty melt.

no way :angry:

the ahi burger and espresso bean shake :wub:

anyone been to joel gott vineyards? his cabernet goes well with larb

Drinking when we are not thirsty and making love at all seasons: That is all there is to distinguish us from the other Animals.

-Beaumarchais

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Taylor's Refresher. Have the patty melt.

no way :angry:

the ahi burger and espresso bean shake :wub:

anyone been to joel gott vineyards? his cabernet goes well with larb

Whatever you get, you must also get the garlic fries. I haven't been to joel gott vineyards yet... I suspect your mentioning him because he and his brother own Taylor's. They do make some really really good wine, and reasonably priced as well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...