Napa
Overview

Every girl loves a good excuse to pour a glass (or four) of her favorite wine. Whether it’s because you’re out celebrating, it was a long day of work, it’s Wednesday, whatever. But we propose a better idea: take your wine Wednesdays to the West Coast for a long weekend in Napa, the twin valleys that make up Cali’s most famous wine country. The only state attraction more popular is Disneyland - and the thought of that has us really wanting to pour a glass now.

Reese Witherspoon, Drew Barrymore, and Cameron Diaz certainly enjoyed their #girlstrip2014 to Napa last year, as we learned from many an Instagram post. Grab your gals and try to outdo them on a #wineweekend of your own. Peak season in Napa is definitely in the summer months. However, autumn is arguably the most pleasant time to head to this gorgeous region just an hour northeast of San Francisco. The vine covered, undulating fields turn golden in the fall, with average daytime temperatures a summer-y 80 degrees in October (fine, nighttime around 50). Perfect temp, fewer tourists, and the possibility to stamp grapes a la Lucy & Ethel style? Yes please.

While you peruse the vineyards (there are over 400!), comfy footwear that can handle a bit of dirt is a must. Go for laid back flats, or lace up and hop on the sneaker-chic bandwagon (Common Projects is great for classic or Mira Mikati for edge). If you want a bit of height, opt for chunky low-heeled booties, like a sturdy pair from Rag & Bone. Jean (pants or jacket - calling Current/Elliott) are perfect for the laid back vibe of the vineyards, so staples from AG will likely be your best friends while packing. For warmer days, a sundress in warm fall tones and light comfortable fabric is your best bet. While there’s a general ‘anything goes’ attitude when it comes to apparel, we’ve got a key tip - no fragrances when visiting wineries as scents can alter the tasting experience (leave your No. 5 in your makeup bag, ladies). The temp drops to a pleasant level in the evenings, so pack a military jacket or fur gilet to enjoy the nighttime breeze. Dress up your jeans with a silk top (Derek Lam is no fail) or swap in a gypsy dress or skirt at dinnertime. Opt for an easy bag such as a PS1, to carry your essentials and keep you relatively hands free as you sip away. Whatever you wear, a trip to Napa is sure to be a getaway that you and your taste buds won’t soon forget - California here we come. Johnny Depp said it best when he amended his famous arm tattoo - ‘wino forever’. Cheers!

Stay

Where to stay

Indulge

Indulge

WINE

With about 400 wineries with tasting rooms in Napa (600+ if you include Sonoma), where’s a girl to start? Not all wineries actually own their own vineyards, so we suggest you start your tasting journey at those that do, since part of the fun of sampling Pinots and Merlots is sipping surrounded by Instagram worthy scenery. Napa visitors average about three wineries a day, since a big part of the experience is meeting fellow wine enthusiasts at each stop, chatting with the bartenders, and lavishing your luxurious setting.  Although we’d definitely be impressed if you can top three (tip: you’ll for sure want to hire a car, unless you have a really good friend willing to be the DD.)

If you’re a loyal fan of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, be sure to pay a visit to Artesa Vineyards & Winery, where almost 200 acres of this 350-acre estate are dedicated to these two specialties. Linger on the hilltop (in the Carneros region of Southern Napa) for panoramic views of Napa, San Francisco Bay, and obviously the expansive estate vineyards themselves.  If you’d prefer to cheers with a glass of sparkling wine, Domaine Carneros Winery is the spot (they craft still wines too, but sparkling is their passion.) Don’t leave without sampling their luxury Le Reve Blanc de Blancs.

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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, QuintessaShafer, and Duckhorn.

...'N DINE

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!

NIGHTLIFE

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.

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Explore

Explore

In a perfect world the deliciousness of wine would be calorie free. Alas, this is not the case, but luckily Napa offers some scenic solutions. SoulCycle fanatics can test out their studio moves on the Napa Valley Vine Trail, a soon-to-be completed (this fall!) 47 mile route running from the southern Vallejo Valley all the way to Calistoga up north. Another (more manageable) trail is the Silverado and back roads. Celebrate post-ride with some wake-up espressos and Cabernet at Velo Vino, a tasting room in downtown St. Helena. The Land Trust of Napa, dedicated to protecting the land and resources of Napa Country, also offers biking opportunities, hiking excursions, and kayaking trips, to explore wine country beyond the vineyards (don’t worry, they’ll still be there when you return).  On a rainy day, pay a visit to the di Rosa collection of world class contemporary and historic art, with emphasis on the Northern California landscape or hiot two birds with one stone and visit Ma(i)sonry, a contempoary art gallery and tastings of multiple small production wineries.

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On a Tuesday evening, join the Napa locals at Oxbow Public Market’s local’s night, offering tasting menu specials and performances from 5-8pm every Tuesday. Sample a different kind of tasting at the Olive Mill, the epicenter for artisan crafted olive oils, where dedicated foodies can enjoy a tour of the mill and taste the estate’s fresh oils and red wine vinegar blends. Rejuvenate after a long, hard day of tasting at the Hot Springs spa, where you can enjoy facials, massages, or a unique mud bath mixing thermal water with 100% pure volcanic ash. Sounds odd but it’s legit. Relax in their Buddha Pond after the treatment. If you want to learn how to take a bit of the Napa taste home with you, you might consider the Silverado Cooking School, where you can learn how to craft dishes of the regional cuisine from distinguished local chefs. And, we’re sure you are just like us and want the best view in town,  so “drop it like it’s hot” and head up to see the sunrise in a hot air balloon ride then a breakfast picnic after to get your day started right.

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SHOP

Where to Shop

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Shopping in Napa mainly is buying cases of wine at the vineyards, but when you want to take a break or are feeling tipsy and want a new dress (as we do when we’ve had a few) head to Pearl Wonderful Clothing in St. Helena. For contemporary clothing with a celebrity stamp of approval, browse this award-winning boutique, with previous clientele including Sandra Bullock, Michelle Pfeiffer and Reese Witherspoon. This intimate setting fills its racks with stylish apparel, unique accessories, and handbags, all reflecting the Napa Valley lifestyle. Keep adding to your Napa collection at Mustard Seed Clothing Co, the locally owned boutique of casual elegance. This place seriously knows how to meet your needs, as they even have a “Guy Chair” with a glass of wine on hand in case you’ve dragged a reluctant shopping buddy along.

If there’s anything women have in common beyond an affinity for wine, it’s an affinity for shoes. Footcandy is here to assuage your footwear desires, offering everything from boots, to sandals, pumps, sneakers, slippers and more.

Finally, treat yourself at the famous Woodhouse Chocolate, a three-generation family-owned shop selling top notch chocolates and champagne (Napa Valley is big on indulgence, if you haven’t noticed yet.)   

Shop the Destination

IRO Dylan White Leather Moto Jacket $1,295.00
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Intermix Zoe Floral Dress $325.00
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Sunday Somewhere Hunter Sunglasses $270.00
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GRLFRND Karolina Distressed High-rise Skinny Jeans $250.00
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Splendid Crepe Shirt $86.00
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Eytys Mother canvas trainers $160.00
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Ahlem Concorde Sunglasses $470.00
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Alexis Alvinna Ruffle Blouse White $375.00
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Acynetic Olivia Jeans $225.00
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No. 21 110mm Gingham Bow Slide Sandal $605.00
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Veronica Beard Button Puff Sleeve Sweater $395.00
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Acne Studios Jensen suede boots $560.00
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Chloé Mily small textured-leather and suede shoulder bag $1,690.00
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Vanessa Lace Choker $26.00
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Current/Elliott The Soho coated low-rise skinny jeans $250.00
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Jennifer Fisher Classic Round Gold-plated Hoop Earrings $295.00
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