Decisions, Decisions in Napa Valley Wine Country

I recently went on a fun getaway to Napa, California to attend the wedding of our good friends’ daughter. The weekend was packed with a lot of wedding festivities but there were also moments to enjoy the beautiful landscape of Napa Valley. We flew into San Francisco and quickly learned that we should have flown into Sacramento. Pro Tip: If you plan to just go to Napa, fly to Sacramento and save yourself hours of traffic and travel back to San Francisco. The drive to Napa is only 25+ miles from SFO but because of traffic, it can take anywhere from 1 hour to 3 hours to get there depending on the time of day.


We arrived just in time for lunch or maybe a wine tasting. First decision, where do we go? With over 400 wineries within the region, picking our first wine tasting proved to be difficult. The decision became a little easier once we eliminated the vineyards that required appointments. If you have a specific vineyard that you would like to tour, it is best to call ahead of time and arrange a good time for your visit and tasting. For instance, Opus is by appointment only.


After settling into our hotel, we drove to the town of Calistoga for a welcome dinner and reception at the Calistoga Inn & Brewery. The food and wine were delicious and I recommend this place when you visit Calistoga. The back patio area overlooks the Napa River and is strewn with lights and lots of ambience for any occasion. The town of Calistoga is famous for its spas. Mud baths, hot springs, massages and various spa treatments are available at any of the resorts in this town. The town itself is completely walkable. Stroll along Lincoln Avenue and browse through boutique clothing shops, unique gift shops, art galleries and of course world class wineries.


The next day we visited The  Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Copia in the Oxbow District in downtown Napa. The restaurant opened in 2017 and is operated by the CIA. Here you can take cooking classes, participate in wine tastings, view a fairly extensive art collection or just eat at the Copia restaurant. The Copia was developed initially as a museum dedicated to wine, food and the arts of American culture. Funded largely by Robert Mondavi, the museum opened in November, 2001. Julia Child also contributed to the museum but sadly, the Copia closed in 2008. In 2015, the CIA bought the property, bringing with it a new twist on the vision of the Mondavi’s. If you visit Copia, ask for the Sous Chef, Steven Fabian, and be sure to tell him I sent you!


The wedding festivities kicked into high gear with a lovely rehearsal dinner at Sam’s Social Club in the Indian Springs Resort and Spa located on the main strip in Calistoga. The Wappo Indians were the first to settle on this land 8,000 years ago. The property itself is stunning. A tree lined driveway greets each guest on the 17 acre property. The resort is known for its healing properties. Four thermal geysers supply the water for the mineral pool, steam rooms and volcanic ash for the mud baths. I could have spent my entire vacation on this property alone. Days filled with wine tastings, spa treatments and wandering around the property sound pretty good to me.


Finally, we arrive to the wedding day. The wedding itself was held at The Indian Springs Resort and the mother-of-the-bride provided many heart warming touches to the occasion. The outdoor service was quiet, intimate and exactly what the bride and groom envisioned. After the nuptials, we headed to Brian Arden Wines located just off the Silverado Trail for the reception. We were treated to delicious food and wine and danced the night away. The Silverado Trail is a great alternate route to take back to Napa if you want to avoid some of the congestion on the main highway. The trail is scenic and filled with lots of vineyards that are not as busy because they are off the main artery between Napa and Calistoga.


Our trip was coming to a quick end but we decided to drive back to the airport in San Fran via Sonoma and the Golden Gate Bridge. Sonoma was filled with fields of wildflowers as far as the eye could see. We then stopped just before you got on the Golden Gate Bridge to a scenic overlook and took in the view.


Five days were just not enough time to spend in Napa!  À votre santé! (Cheers!)

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