Craving Cabernet Sauvignon? Gamble Family Vineyards gets you. This third-generation-owned collection of vineyards really gets anything that starts or ends with Sauvignon. Definitely pay a visit, and be sure to say hello to their cute pup, Cairo. The Gargiulo Vineyards are another scenic spot to sample some delicious Cabernet Sauvignon, set in the gorgeous Oakville appellation between the Vaca Mountains and Mayacamas Mountains. Our vote for best variety goes to the Truchard Vineyards, the most Northeastern vineyard in the Carneros region, whose unique topography with a wide variety of soils (including clay, shale, sandstone, lava rock, and volcanic ash) permits prime growing conditions for 12 different grape varieties (that’s a lot). In fact, it’s one of the most diverse estate vineyards in all of Napa. Tastebuds, meet Truchard’s Chardonnay, Roussane, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Merlot, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Tempranillo, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.
After a couple days, you may be tempted to skip some of the vineyard tours post-tasting, but you’d be remiss to pull that move at the Peju, famed for its spectacular gardens abundant with roses and dahlias whose fragrances mingle in aromatic perfection with those of the vineyards. Make an appointment to spend a day perusing the famous Hess Collection of five different vineyards sloping along the Bay all the way into the mountains, not to mention the Contemporary Art Collection on the property, featuring works from the private collection of proprietor Donald Hess. A few more of our favorites are Silver Oak, Cakebread, Pride, Checkerboard, Acaica, Quintessa, Shafer, and Duckhorn.
Much as we’d like to believe we can all just subsist on wine forever, Napa also has delicious restaurants to pair with your drinks. For Italian, try Oenotri, owned by Napa native chefs Curtis di Fede and Tyler Rodde and home to an incredible house-made charcuterie and wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas. If you’re craving more, 25-year-old Tra Vigne is another Italian favorite, beloved for its rustic dishes like mozzarella al minute and braised rabbit ragu pasta, served in a shaded courtyard. Switch up cuisines with some dishes of Asian flair at Redd, with specialties like Hamachi sashimi on sticky rice. Be sure to sample their house made “Redd Wine” (hah, get it?), a blend of Cabernet and Merlot. At Ottimo, meaning 'optimal' in Italian, chef Michael Chiarello brings together the very best of Italy and Napa Valley through traditional family recipes prepared with an inspired California twist.
If you’re down to splurge, Napa has plenty of luxury spots to do just that. Stop one: Auberge du Soleil; this luxuriously rustic spot is known for seasonal, regionally sourced dishes like meyer lemon glazed duck with farro and artichokes. Next is French Laundry, a global destination for foodies, known for offering only nine-course tasting menus every night (including their signature Oysters and Pearls), at $270 a head. Ball out. It’s worth it. Keep it up with some avant-garde presentation at The Restaurant at Meadowood, where young chef Chris Kostow has made a name for himself (and scored 3 Michelin stars) creating dishes with impressive precision, like thinly sliced breasts of squab decorated with frozen foie gras and cocoa nibs. (Picky palettes: be warned or be adventurous.) A VS tip - you can have amazing light bites and drinks in the bar to taste this amazing fare without having to sit for a full meal.
For Napa Classics, consider Bouchon, the little brother to French Laundry (run by the same chef, Thomas Keller) that serves traditional French bistro cooking and delectable comfort food. For more Thomas Keller at great value, Ad Hoc is like a homey American bistro offering a four-course meal at $52 that changes nightly. Think comfort food like pork chops and the favored buttermilk-brined fried chicken. Another classic is Terra, run by Napa royalty couple Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani (literally, she’s the daughter of a master vintner) in a stunning century-old fieldstone building that serves upscale French cuisine with Asian influence, as well as traditional desserts. For more modern twists on classic fares, Acacia House is just what you're looking for. Located in the heart of Napa Valley, this fine dining option is nothing short of unforgettable. Eclectic comfort food can be found at the beloved Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, serving up quirky specialties like Oysters Bingo and the Mighty Meatloaf. We’d tell you exactly what those are but we’d rather you pop in and taste for yourself (we promise it’s yummy). Get the farm-to-table experience in true modern day Napa essence at Farmstead, mixing rustic ambiance with industrial farm style in a midsize eatery that turns into a lively bar scene as the night goes on. While Archetype is known as a beach-chic establishment in downtown St. Helena, complete with picturesque white marquee and creamy décor. It transitions beautifully into fall, offering a crackling fire pit by the waiting benches lining the sidewalk. Head over for a weekend brunch to sample their Cowgirl omelet with trumpet mushrooms. End a day of wine tasting with tapas at Napa’s beloved Zuzu, the Spanish-inspired restaurant in the historic old town. (Come early, they won’t take a res.) End your weekend getaway in classic vineyard fashion at Press, serving modern American specialties in a gorgeous vineyard setting of indoor and outdoor seating with large fireplaces. Their extensive wine selection is exclusively produced in the Napa Valley, the perfect goodbye to a perfect vacation. Best pizza in town is Ciccio, but like all great places they dont take reservations so get their early. And for those nights where you couldnt bare to eat another big meal or better yet a quick snack inbetween meals its a crime not to stop at 1.75 a taco-Tacos Garcia truck located in Napa on the corner of Lincoln/Jefferson in the Arco Gas station parking lot. And don't forget to grab a magical dessert at Bella Bakery!
If you’ve been treading the vineyards all day in your flats dying to slide into something with a little height, now’s your chance at late night wine bar 1313 Main in downtown Napa. While life in the vineyard mostly quiets after dinner, this lounge gets going as well-versed bartenders serve up their specialties while you befriend locals and weekenders alike at the high tables. You can find another trendy late night lounge at Sol Bar in the Solage Calistoga hotel, featuring mid-century décor and wooden tables opening onto a large outdoor terrace where clientele gather around the fire pit. Picture leather banquettes and tabletops littered with empty bottles of Pinot and Merlot and you’ve pictured Auberge du Soleil, the all-day wine bar and bistro offering an ala carte menu perfect for late dinners. We love Silos as it gives us a reason to stay up past 10pm, its Intimate hideaway club offers live jazz, rock & blues daily, plus cocktails & locally sourced wines.