With over 450 wineries and 270 restaurants, it can be a daunting task to plan a day in the Napa Valley. To save you time and angst, we created a balanced day that will make you look like an insider and avid organizer.
Whether you’re driving or hiring (we recommend Squire Livery for small groups or Beau for large), start the day on the north side (Calistoga) and head south so the longest drive is done and afternoon traffic is mitigated. We recommend starting with breakfast at Sol Bar. Mon – Sun 7:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Click here for more breakfast options.
Plan to head south by 10 a.m., the time when most wineries open. Venge Vineyards and Hunnicutt (pictured above) are family-owned, hillside wineries that make fabulous wines and offer custom tastings in pristine settings. Hit up Venge for views and a comfortable, posh experience. Hunnicutt has caves and a casual outdoorsy vibe (reservations are required at both).
Next, head across the valley floor to Ehlers Estate or Frank Family Vineyards which offer renowned reds and relaxed settings. Ehlers is technically “appointment only,” but they often spontaneously take parties up to 6 people in the historic winery or grove. Frank Family is open to the public and also has a selection of fun whites and bubbles. If your eyes light up when you read “bubbles,” book ahead for the infamous cave tour (which takes around 1.5 hours) at nearby Schramsberg.
Buzzed and hungry?
For a sit-down meal, Alex in Rutherford is a fantastic, under-the-radar Italian spot with a breezy ambiance and a variety of tasty dishes.
After sating your hunger, continue the journey south. You may want to avoid scheduling appointments immediately after lunch (why rush?). If you stopped in St. Helena, try sampling at laid back Prager Port Works. If you lunched in Rutherford, head to Peju, a beautiful spot known for gardens, fun tastings, and a variety of tasty wines. If Yountville (also a great shopping area) was your pick for a midday snack, hit Ma(i)sonry, a funky tasting room and art gallery.
For the finale, Keever in Yountville has fantastic views, beautiful caves, and exclusive family-made wines (reservations required).Trefethen, in Napa, is perfect if you're on your way out of town and looking for a famed winery with tons of choices, good people, and no reservations required (closes at 4:30 p.m.).
Staying for dinner? Try Tarla Grill for Mediterranean, Eikos for Sushi, Bistro Don Giovani for Italian, or Carpe Diem for a hip wine bar with creative cuisine. If driving is no longer an option, consider staying at the Westin, Napa River Inn or Avia as all are close to the action. Finish your day with a show at the Uptown or Napa Valley Opera House.