One of the best perks about living in San Francisco is being able to escape from the city for the weekend and spend time in the beautiful Napa Valley countryside. California Wine Country was pretty much made for relaxing weekend escapes, you can easily get your fill of scenic sights, good wine and gourmet food in a compact 48 hour weekend. Even if you don’t live in the Bay Area, because Napa is centrally located it’s a breezy drive from most Northern California cities. This guide includes where to eat, what sightseeing stops to plan, our favorite wine tasting spot and a Napa Valley hotel and tour guide (plus some of our travel photos to serve as inspiration!).
Where to Drink Wine: The Famous Chateau Montelena Chardonnay
If you're a connoisseur of wine making and are interested in the history of Napa Valley, the famous Chateau Montelena is a must-visit. The Hollywood all-star cast movie Bottle Shock tells the story of how scrappy Napa farmers made their mark on the world in the 1970's. The Barrett family winemakers lead the pack with their 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, which currently sells at auction for almost $12,000. The Chateau Montelena Winery is open to the public for tastings. The estate's grounds include rolling hills with vineyards and a reservoir filled with swans and willow trees.
It takes a village to make vineyard magic and Mike Grgich was another key player in crafting the Chateau Montelena Chardonnay. He offers trains tours of his own vineyard at the scenic Grgich Hills Winery. Do your homework before visiting and watch the film Bottle Shock beforehand, it will give you a great frame of reference and make your trip even more memorable.
Where to Eat in Wine Country: Brunch, Lunch and Dinner
Brunch - Boon Fly Barn is a favorite brunch spot for both the modern country atmosphere and fresh eats.
On Location Picnic Brunch - The best way to enjoy lunch in Napa Valley is outside among the grapes and the vineyards. I’ve got a complete blog post outlining the best picnic and food tours.
Patio Dinner - Enjoy the warm Napa evenings with a patio dinner at The Girl & The Fig. The menu offers a lengthy wine list which you can enjoy under twinkling lights alongside a gourmet dinner.
Sonoma Lavender Barn
Last weekend we headed out to the Lavender Barn open house in Sonoma to take in the views and cut some fresh lavender. This was my first time visiting the Lavender Barn in Sonoma. It is only open two weekends a year and it is extremely popular with visitors from all over Northern California. We were lucky to arrive early before all the crowds started to roll in and got a chance to stroll through the grounds and surrounding vineyards. I cut a large bunch of lavender to take home and it currently adorns our kitchen in a large mason jar. On the drive home the lavender was so fragrant that our whole car smelled like a spa. There's nothing better than the smell of fresh cut flowers! You can find similar Wine Country outdoor adventures on Trip Advisor’s Viator.
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