Erin & Andrew’s Guide to Napa Valley

auberge du soleil napa valley rose wine

Okay guys! Here it goes…

We’ve been to Napa a handful of times and have been wanting to put this guide together for quite a while. We did all the dirty work – ate the food, drank the wine, and are really excited to be sharing our recs with you! There is SO much to see in Napa Valley and we’re already looking forward to our next trip there. We also can’t wait to explore Sonoma some more. We’ve only been there a couple times but for the purposes of this guide, we’ll stick to just Napa. One of the most challenging parts of Napa is wanting to see it ALL but also needing to pace yourself and not rush through the experience. Try to limit your tastings to three wineries (max) while starting early and fitting in multiple stops for food. Hope you enjoy and let us know your feedback (or any other questions) in the comments below!

Wine

  • Frog’s Leap – We loved this winery so much that we signed up to be members. It’s family run, environmentally friendly, has beautiful grounds/gardens and a laid-back vibe, and offers some of the best wine we’ve had. I HIGHLY recommend booking the tour; we felt it was well worth it! Their zinfandel is also very approachable and the perfect wine for any occasion. If you go to the winery, try it out, grab a few bottles, and take it to your next dinner party!
  • Far Niente – The first time we tried their wine was actually at Mr. Lyon’s Steak House in Palm Springs. Fortunately their winery is as great as their wine, so don’t miss this one! The grounds here are incredible (the owners were horticulturists). We loved that their chardonnay was different than the typical buttery chardonnays that’ll find at some other wineries. Their cabs were also fantastic!
  • Hourglass – Loved their wines and the cave tasting room was so much fun! You can’t go wrong with any of the wines here – we may or may not have taken a few bottles to go…
  • Stags’ Leap Winery – Andrew accidentally booked a wine tour here, mistaking it for the other Stag’s Leap (below). The main difference between the names of the two wineries is the location of the apostrophe in the name (we learned all about this confusion). Although we ended up at the wrong one, we still loved this place. The history was really cool, the location and views were incredible, and the wine tasted great! Try the Amparo Rosé and the Petite Sirah (Ne Cede Malis).
  • Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars – This is the famous Stag’s Leap that put Napa Valley on the map. If you don’t already know the story, you can read about it here. The wine is truly fantastic and one of our faves is the Artemis Cab.
  • Honig – Like Frog’s Leap, and coincidentally right next door to it, this winery is also family run, environmentally friendly, and super laid back. We loved their wine, especially two in particular. Their cabernet sauvignon is approachable and perfect for any dinner party while their late harvest sauvignon blanc might be the best dessert wine we’ve ever had! We’ve also been drinking their traditional sauvignon blanc for years now.
  • Alpha Omega – This is a great place to start the day, especially if you want to jump into the non-sparkling wine varietals. The staff was wonderful and the fountain is beautiful! It has a very chill and relaxed vibe. Due to the fires in 2020, most wineries focused their production on rose instead of cabernet sauvignon. That having been said, Alpha Omega’s rosé was delicious!
  • Regusci – A stunning rustic winery.
  • Rombauer – Not only does Rombauer have amazing views from above but it also has some of the best Chardonnay we’ve ever had. If you’re into buttery and oaky chardonnays, this is your spot to be.
  • Mumm – This was a nice spot to start our day of wine tasting. We really liked their Blanc de Noirs and heard their Sparkling Pinot Noir is fantastic, though they are currently sold out until later this year. We’ve set a reminder to notify us once it’s available so that we don’t miss out!
  • Domaine Carneros – Here’s another great spot to start the day! The property is almost majestic and will make you feel like you were transported to France.
  • Round Pond – It’s easy to lose track of time while wine tasting here. You’re perched up above the vineyard overlooking it all, which is so nice on a warm sunny day. The atmosphere is super relaxed and far from stuffy.
  • Pine Ridge – Delicious wines, awesome cave to hang out in, and rolling vineyard hills; what else do you need?
  • Turnbull – LOVE the outdoor garden here.
  • Silver Oak – This winery is a classic and totally worth checking out!
  • Chateau Montelena – Chateau Montelena has a rich history of great wine (you can check the story under Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars). It also has a spectacular stone chateau, which is GREAT for photo ops!
  • Inglenook – This is another beautiful property and I absolutely love the library tasting room. Totally worth it!
  • Nickel & Nickel – A sister property of Far Niente, this winery is very open and relaxing with delicious reds.
  • V. Sattui – We’ve heard many mixed reviews about this one, as some people love it and others warn of it being Napa’s #1 tourist trap. We fell victim to this on our very first trip to Napa in 2015 and although this may be true, we still had a fun experience with friends at the time. However with so many great options in the valley, we recommend venturing out to try other wineries.
  • Castello di Amorosa – Here’s another one from the same Napa trip in 2015. The castle itself is gorgeous. It’s usually busy and may feel a bit touristy but we enjoyed the beautiful views and the tasting in the cave.
  • Hestan – We ended one of our days at this tasting room in the middle of town in Yountville. It’s a solid place to grab some wine if you’re walking from a hotel in town.
  • Frank Family – The property is beautiful with huge trees spread throughout. We really liked their chardonnay!
  • Opus One – We haven’t been here but have heard that the wine tasting experience is incredible and worth the steep price.
  • Duckhorn – We’ve heard so many great things from a lot of you about Duckhorn but haven’t had the chance to go yet. We’ve tried their amazing wine and can’t wait to check out the property the next time we’re in town.

Dine

  • Mustards Grill – My friend Kelly was a chef here so we were able to try SO many dishes. It’s been around forever and has a relaxed atmosphere. Make sure you try a glass of the Ilaria Malbec (delicious and incredible value) and dine in the garden outside! You can’t go wrong with ANYTHING on their menu but don’t miss the Famous Mongolian Pork Chop, Dungeness Crab Cakes, Seafood Tostada, and Chocolate Hazelnut Truffle Tart.
  • Farmstead at Long Fellow Ranch – It lives up to its name with its farm to table dishes and has a fun and chic ambiance. The fried eggplant dish with balsamic bacon glaze was our of this world!
  • Bistro Don Giovanni – This old school Italian restaurant is one of the oldest restaurants in the area. You have to try their lemon ravioli – it took me right back to Italy!
  • Ciccio – Look no further for authentic Italian food in Napa Valley. It’s a must try and well worth the wait (no reservation taken)!
  • RH Restaurant – You’d be hard pressed to find a more stunning setting than this restaurant and wine vault. It’s totally worth checking out!
  • Bouchon Bakery – This was our first stop when we were in Napa back in January 2020. If you haven’t been, you NEED to experience it at least once.
  • The Model Bakery – Here’s another amazing bakery (without the crazy line). Andrew loved the Custard Danish and I could eat the Key Lime Pie ALLL day! Not to mention, it’s the birthplace of Oprah’s favorite English muffin. It’s safe to say that it’s our favorite bakery in the valley.
  • Gott’s Roadside – Once we saw this on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, we knew we HAD to go! It definitely lived up to the hype. The Classic Cheeseburger and Green Chili Cheeseburger are DELICIOUS. The Ahi Burger also came highly recommended.
  • Oxbow Public Market – Make sure to come hungry because you’ll have countless options of food. It’s a really great place to stroll around, kind of like a Napa version of Pike Place Market.
  • Redd Wood – Unfortunately, this place is now closed due to the pandemic. We had been a few times and LOVED their pizza and butternut sage pasta.
  • The Restaurant – It’s located at the Auberge du Soleil hotel and has an AMAZING view, especially during sunset. It’s very romantic and we especially loved the brunch here.
  • The Station – A great spot to grab a quick cup of coffee!
  • Solbar – This is in the Solage hotel in Calistoga and the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with blueberry syrup on the side is to die for!
  • Oakville Grocery – Has everything you need from wine (on tap or to-go), a deli, gifts, coffee, and baked goods. Highly recommend!
  • Ad Hoc + Addendum – Go for the fried chicken; just trust me on this one.
  • Filippi’s Pizza Grotto – There are several locations spread throughout California. It originated in San Diego and is a staple for great pizza. Make sure to purchase a few bottles of their red pepper flakes – we use it all the time!
  • Stone Brewing – Here’s another place that originated in San Diego. We capped off a night with friends here back in early 2020 and have always enjoyed their food (and beer).
  • Lucy – Our friend Kelly now works at Lucy (after leaving Mustards) and they have a wide variety of delicious dishes. The setting is modern and gorgeous.
  • Charter Oak – This is on the top of our list for next time! We’ve heard great things about it and they’re known for their seasonal farm to table menu.
  • Goose & Gander – Another place we can’t wait to try!
  • Torc – A follower recommended this but we didn’t get a chance to stop in this time. Their desserts look amazing!
  • Bistro Jeanty – Really cute vibe. Our favorites on the menu were the Crème de Tomate en Croute (tomato soup in a puff pastry) and their chocolate croissant bread budding.

Stay

  • Auberge du Soleil – This is where we most recently stayed. It’s a beautiful resort but can be pricey. The rooms have a large patio and are amazing, while the pool is stunning with a beautiful view. It feels like you’re in France! If you don’t stay at the hotel, I suggest heading over for their brunch or sunset dinner.
  • Hotel Villagio – It’s located ideally in the center of Yountville (connected to the Vintage House hotel) and within walking distance of many amazing restaurants. We stayed here the first time we ever went to Napa in February 2015.
  • Bardessono – This is just across from Hotel Villagio and is the perfect place if you like a more modern vibe.
  • Four Seasons – This place is absolutely stunning and I love that it’s so close to the town area of Calistoga.
  • Stanly Ranch – The architecture and vibe of this property is amazing. We checked out Bear for a late night dinner.
  • Carneros Resort – Every room at this hotel is actually its own cute little cottage with a private back terrace and outdoor tub.
  • Hotel Yountville – We stayed here during fall of 2022 but didn’t get the chance to stay in the hotel for very long because we were busy running around. It’s charming, nice, and really convenient because of it’s proximity to restaurants in Yountville.
  • Maison Fleurie, A Four Sisters Inn – This is a cute, quaint spot in the heart of Yountville. It’s also a great value hotel!
  • Marriott Napa Valley Hotel & Spa – This one is in the middle of town in Napa proper. You can never go wrong at a Marriott and its much more reasonably priced than some of the other highly regarded hotels.
  • Calistoga Ranch – Sadly, this resort burned down in early 2020 (just two months after we stayed there) and was by far our favorite hotel in Napa Valley. It was so serene and we’re not sure if there are any plans to rebuild but we really hope they do!

If you want a quick list of great value wines, check out my favorites under $20! Also, if you’re interested in another guide to a beautiful California town, check out this Santa Barbara post Andrew and I put together. Finally, thank you to everyone for all the great recommendations for our most recent trip, we really appreciate it!

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