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Visiting Napa Valley wineries is a wine lover’s dream. You can easily spend a week in the Napa Valley. It really is a place where you want to take your time and indulge in all that the Napa Valley has to offer. If you are short on time and looking for a bit of a taste (pun intended) then keep reading as I share with you how we spent a day in the Napa Valley.
Visiting the Napa Valley
Located just over an hour’s drive from San Francisco, the Napa Valley is a great day trip or weekend getaway from anyone that finds themselves in San Francisco. There are many options for getting to the Napa Valley. You can choose to rent a car (not advisable unless you have a designated driver), rent a limo or even take the Napa Valley Train. If you are flying check out flights into San Francisco or Oakland. I tend to stalk Google Flights until I find cheap flights.
Learn how I find cheap flights here.
Napa Valley Wine Train
The Napa Valley Wine Train is a fun and unique way to see the Napa Valley. With tours ranging from 3 to 6 hours it is a great way to enjoy a carless fun day in the Napa Valley. Some tours include lunch or dinner.
You can even bring your own wine. Corkage fees are $20 per bottle.
Get Tickets for the Napa Valley Wine Train here.
Wine Tasting in Napa Valley
When Choosing which wineries to visit there are a few things you want to consider. You should expect to visit between 2-4 wineries during your visit. This is dependent on a few factors including distance and length of the wine tours. The wineries are not all necessarily near each other so there may be a bit of driving between locations. Some wineries also offer very in depth wine tours. Finally, the wine tastings and tours tend to be a bit expensive. You can easily pay over $100. If you are able to splurge I highly recommend doing a cave tasting. However if you are on a budget there are still plenty of wineries you can visit while not breaking the bank.
Champagne for Breakfast. Count me in. Start your day with a bit of sparkling at Domain Chandon. Domaine Chandon opens daily at 10am which makes it a great first stop for your day. Come for the sparkling wines however they also offer still wines as well. My favorite was the Rosé of course. The grounds are beautiful so even if you just go for a tasting be sure to take a walk around the grounds, or bring your glass outside and enjoy the views of the vineyards.
Tasting Fee: $20-$35
No Appointment needed. You can drop right in.
Cave Tasting at Hall Rutherford
We splurged a bit and opted for the cave tasting at Hall Rutherford. This was by far my favorite and a great experience. We started the day in there tasting room sipping on glass of white. While waiting for our tour to start we had to opportunity to take in the views from their tasting room which sits up high and offers stunning views of the Napa Valley.
Once we were ready, we proceeded to head down into the caves where we learned all about vineyards, wines and production process. After tasting a few wines, some right from the barrel we were lead into the main room where we proceeded to taste an additional three wines paired with meats and cheeses. Some of the wines we sampled retail for over $200 a bottle. This is definitely a stop that is recommended for those that have a great appreciation for wine.
You will have the opportunity to taste award winning wines and learn what goes into making some of the best wine in the world.
Tasting Fee: $100-$250
Make sure to call ahead to make advance reservations.
Lunch in the Napa Valley
By this point even though we only visited two wineries we were ready to soak it up with some Tacos. If you are short on time (and cash) I highly recommend picking up burritos at La Luna Market and Taqueria. This grocery store, located in the heart of the Napa Valley has some of the best burritos. You will not be disappointed. Step inside, order your burritos and grab a spot at one of the picnic tables located right outside. It’s the perfect place for a quick bite. After stuffing our face with burritos we continued on to our last and final stop of the day.
Our last stop for the day was Del Dotto. This is another great place to taste amazing wines however the grounds are absolutely stunning. We did our tasting at the bar which allowed us to wander a bit with our glasses and explore the property. Del Dotto also offers cave tours and tastings as well. Just make sure to make an appointment ahead of time.
Tastings and Tours $45-$175
By Appointment Only
Best Napa Valley Wineries
Depending on the kind of experience you are looking for it is important to carefully select 3-5 wineries that you would like to visit. You will most likely not make it to all of them if you are only visiting for the day. Below is a list of wineries that come recommended including prices.
Treat yourself to a wine tasting in a castle. Wine tastings start at $35 and include a self guided tour of the castle.
Known for their white wines this is a must visit for those that enjoy a nice chardonnay wine. Tastings start at $30 and reservations are not required.
Known for their Petit Syrah this family owned winery is a must visit. Tasting for groups of 4 or less or complimentary and reservations are required.
This is the perfect place for a picnic. Tastings start at $20 however I would recommend putting that $20 towards a bottle of wine that you can enjoy on the grounds.
Great option for those looking for sparkling wines. Tastings start at $70 and reservations are required.
This is a pretty cool spot in the Napa Valley. It’s actually a 1930s era gas station. Not only it is cool but the wines are great as well. Tastings are $25 and reservations are required.
Some of the best views in the Napa Valley. Tastings start at $45 and reservations are required.
Beautiful grounds and great wine. Tastings start at $30 and reservations are required.
They have an underground waterfall. Need I say more. Tasting and tour starts at $80 and reservations are required.
Smaller winery with great wines. Tastings start at $20 and are by appointment only.
Napa Valley Hotels
If you choose to make a weekend of it (or even a week) there are a number of hotels in the area that are perfect for a getaway. My favorite is the Andaz Napa . The location is perfect and it is a great place to relax after a long day of exploring and wine tasting.
For additional hotels in Napa Valley check out Trip Advisor.
Napa Valley Restaurants
Food and wine go hand in hand and luckily the Napa Valley is home to a few amazing restaurants. Before beginning your day I would suggest that you indulge in a heart breakfast. You will be drinking … er tasting a lot of wine so you want to make sure you have a full belly.
Don’t forget to make time for lunch. Whether you are looking for a quick bite or something a bit more formal there are plenty of options.
Finally, whether your making a weekend of it or just there for the day grabbing dinner is never a bad idea.
Great for a quick bite on the go or for dessert.
Excellent spot for burger and fries. This place is casual and is great anytime of the day.
This is a local favorite and is usually pretty busy so be prepared to wait. However it is a great spot to get a good hearty meal.
Another excellent option anytime of the day. They also have a great happy hour during the weekdays featuring bites starting at $5. While prices are moderate this can also be a great budget friendly option.
Fun spot for dinner and drinks however they also serve brunch and lunch as well. They also have an excellent cocktail menu if you are looking for something other than wine.
For those interested in treating themselves to a Michelin star meal. Open for breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner. Beautiful property and amazing French cuisine.
Great place for dinner al frescoe. Excellent Italian Food.
Great spot if you are interested in a good steak.
Whether you are visiting or call San Francisco home, visiting the Napa Valley is a must do for any wine lover.
For more wine tasting guides check out my guide to the Willamette Valley.
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