Again, none of the wineries, hotels, or restaurants mentioned here are paid or solicited placements, blah blah blah, etc.
We awoke on Day 3 of our Napa adventure feeling a bit over-served and missing our wee CEO, Master P; nevertheless, we started off the day with a hearty hotel breakfast in hopes of avoiding the toasted-in-the-tasting-room, buying too much wine trap of yesterday (hint: it didn't). We set out at the crack of dawn - code for "sometime before noon" - to collect our team and sample the Silverado Trail wineries.
Our tour guides were staying at the nearby Inn on First bed & breakfast, about which they had nothing but raves; I didn't see the rooms myself, but from the looks of the stylish entry & family-style dining room, this looks like the place for the charming Napa B&B experience. We enjoyed our Westin stay (free thanks to Starwood points) well enough, but I'd save up to stay at a place like this the next time.
Having collected our hosts from their B&B, we sped off to a . . . quirky mix of wineries. We had a much more hit & mix experience on the Napa side vs. yesterday's Russian River Valley, encountering some iffy wines and tasting room staff who were . . . perhaps a little starved for company, let's say.
Mildly related side note: we tried to stuff 5-6 tastings into a day, which is simply too ambitious for post-collegiate me. Now that I actually have the resources to do stuff like this, my energy level (liver) doesn't. Next time I'd stick to 2-3 tastings per day and build in a healthy siesta or spa visit - siesta *and* spa visit! - before dinner.
The best from a wine & Pretty views perspective was the well-regarded Duckhorn Vineyards, whose less-pricey "Decoy" label is a household staple here at Pretty HQ. Much like dating the high school quarterback, Duckhorn knows it's a good catch and acts accordingly; they don't need your business, but it's tough to argue with why they think highly of themselves:
We were worried after forking over $20 each to the gruff front desk person - the previous wineries we'd visited had a much more laid back, welcoming payment and entry system, in which you only paid a tasting fee if you didn't buy any wine (if they remembered to charge you at all). Nonetheless, we shuffled through the beautiful, crowded tasting room to our seats on the glorious, sun-dappled patio:
|No, those are not *all* my wine glasses (with thanks to the Anonymous Cousin / tour guide / stealth fab photographer for snapping this)|
Our experience improved greatly once we were seated - our server was kind (read: smiled while pouring generously), that inimitable California sunshine was out in full force, and each & every wine tasted was, well, varsity quarterback level of good. As is our want, we "sampled" too much and purchased accordingly.
Our other stop I'd recommend, scoring highly in those all-important categories of scenery and "White Wines Most Likely to Pair Well with a 'Real Housewives Episode'" (that's a compliment in my soon-to-be-published book, obvs.), was Chateau Boswell, a smaller production winery with a Pretty wine grotto:
I'd call to book ahead here - consistent with many small wineries we came across, they require reservations for tastings - and if you do, brace yourself for a very friendly if . . . chatty tasting room staff. Worth it for the house white, I say - one of my favorites of the trip - and you can't go wrong with the view.
Speaking of chatty, do I ever have too many nice things to say about pricey-but-religion-changingly-good lunch spot Gott's Roadside (St. Helena location). Gott's looks like an unassuming, 1950s-era charming li'l roadside burger joint, but it is so much more. Like the glutton I am, I completely forgot to take a photo and just focused on devouring my ahi tuna burger and garlic fries instead.
Given the often tight timeframes between scheduled tastings, I recommend pre-ordering your lunch online; by doing so we were able to skip a formidable line and park it on the picnic-bench seating. Sunshine + laughing at the poor fools in long lines = a winner day.
We retired early from another long, long day of tasting, eager to get home first thing the following morning but determined to return to Napa as soon as possible - just as soon as we get through the case-and-one-half (!) somebody (ahem, AH) bought & then had to figure out how to ship home. At 5:30 am the morning we were departing. As one does. Ahem.
Summary of My Napa-Area Highlights