People who know Tres and I best, know we love wine. Heck, people who may not know much about us at all probably know that fact! Six sweet years ago, We took a trip to Napa and San Fran and got engaged. Ever since, Napa has been one of our favorite places on earth, and we tend to make at least one trip a year.
California wine country is literally one of the most beautiful places on earth. I've always said, it's the closest landscape you can get to Europe in the US. Having traveled to wine areas in Germany, France, Italy, and Argentina, I can honestly say California wine country is still close to the top of our list. And it shows because we go A LOT! I call it my second home, and it really does feel that way.
Some people like to go to the beach... we like to go to wine country! With that known, I get asked a lot for recommendations of our favorite wineries and restaurants. So, here's a list to go by if you ever decide to take a trip to the valley.
The winery and views are stunning. The art and architecture is modern and welcoming. I'm a bigger fan of the atmosphere here than the actual wines. But go for the views and chic feel.
A very knowledgeable tour with a fascinating family story and interesting vine picking and winemaking process. This wine is some of the best you'll ever drink... Rare to see it under $300 a bottle, but you get a glass on the tour. This wine is liquid gold, I tell you!Make an appointment.
Best winery tour ever. Make sure you get the Full Circle Tour and go hungry! You will tour the grounds and learn about the produce they use in their food before you taste it. You'll get to eat fruit off the trees when walking around! I even took some of their bay leaves home - directly off the property! The tasting is in their caves, full of great food, superb wine, and elegance!
We went at the end of the day so experienced a super fun staff. They drink the wine with you and are young and entergetic. Go at end of the day when it's kind of rowdy.
This is a beautiful winery with good sparkling wine and a nice patio. There is also a nice restaurant to enjoy for lunch.
I'm obsessed with this place because it looks like an absolute palace... It's incredibly beautiful. It's the first winery we ever visited and we keep going back. They are known for their delicious sparking wine. Order a tasting of all their wines and a small bite to eat (caviar, perhaps?!) and just sit on the patio and enjoy the views and richness of this place.
This is one of mine and Tres' favorite wines ever. The atmosphere is low key, casual, and comfortable. You can genuinely see why it's called Frank "Family" because you feel like family here. Also a good place to end the day.. Lots of fun. Tres bought this wine for all his groomsmen in our wedding and we just keep on buying it! The Zin is our favorite.
It's right across the road from Domaine Carneros and the views are absolutely gorgeous. I love the front door patio to sit, drink wine on, and just take in the absolute beauty of the landscape.
This one is in Sonoma. You feel like family when you walk in and the grounds are gorgeous to walk around and take in. The wines are good and not too expensive and the family story is an interesting one.
Good wine, nice people. We have done a casual tasting and sit down tasting here. I like the wine better than the winery but worth going if you're on a mission to come home w good wine.
Good wine, nice outside seating, and you'll more than likely meet one of the owners. It's right on the Silverado Trail so a great stop on a day you don't have appointments.
The family here is so nice and personable... You get a real family feel. The grounds are pretty and it's nice to just sit and drink outside and enjoy the winery.
Beautiful, busy, and right on the main highway. It's easy to get to and another good stop on a day you're winery hopping.
Best patio ever and delicious sparkling wines. When you're here you feel like if you weren't here you'd be missing something. The crowd hanging here is fun, attractive, and just enjoying life.
Right down the street from Mumm and Balducci, this is a must-stop. Delicious wines and views to die for! Ask to do a seated tasting, upstairs, on the patio. It's so relaxing!
Amazing views and awesome tasting. You're literally on Spring Mountain here. They greet you with wine and you sit and enjoy the view. Tasting is outside which is great. You must make an appointment.
Some of our favorite wines come from here, and we are wine club members of this one. Walk around and enjoy the grounds here, and you might run into a very nice man who will tell you lots of great stories and explain all the work that goes into the landscaping!
This is my rec for if you want to picnic at a winery. You MUST pack a picnic and buy a bottle of wine here and sit in the front of this winery and just enjoy... It's amazing and beautimous! I also love the inside of the lovely victorian house!
This winery was a pleasant surprise. I promise it's not wall to wall with white zinfandel. The wines here are quite good! The Victorian house on the main road is difficult not to miss, and when you go in for a tasting you'll feel like you've gone back in time. It's a stunning place and worth a stop!
Really good wine and very popular. It's a crowded one but worth stopping at if you enjoy a solid bottle of wine. Taste them all and leave w one. Save it for a special occasion.
Some of the best wine in the valley. Make an appointment for a great tour. I love how beautiful the grounds are here and the story of the family is so interesting. Our favorite wine here is Belle Glos Clark and Telephone!
The mountain wineries are some of the best, and Pride has a lot to be proud of. Their wines are delicious, their tour guides are great, and their views are some of the best. We took tons of pictures here!
One of the best winery experiences we have ever had! Up a winding mountain, you'll think your lost on the journey up there, but once you get to the top it's like a spotlight is on Kuleto and all its glory! You'll feel like you were transmitted to an Italian vineyard. Farm animals run free, produce is abundant, and the panoramic views of the valley are that of what you can't get anywhere else. The wine is exceptional too. We took several bottles home a couple of years ago and haven't touched them yet.
Auberge du Soleil
Hands down #1 food rec I have for Napa. Best brunch ever. Of all time. It's a multi-coursed brunch with some of the most delicious food you can imagine and the best views of the valley from your patio table.
Rusic, casual, fun, farm to table restaurant. It's right on the main highway, and a great lunch stop if you've been drinking wine all day and get hungry. The food here is some of my favorite! We have done dinner here, too, and would do it again!
Best dinner in Napa. I love their menu selection and their food is just down-right fabulous! Book well in advance.
A Thomas Keller must! What am I saying... All Thomas Keller restaurants are a must! But this place is legendary when it comes to fried chicken night! Make sure you book on the right night. It's everything it's hyped up to be... Promise!
Another Thomas Keller favorite - we never go to Napa without a stop here for lunch. We sit on the patio, drink champagne, and eat as many oysters as we can stand!
A great brunch stop with a cool atmosphere, fun menu, and ambiance that could keep you there all day!
Dean and Deluca
If you're a food person at all, this is just a must. Even if you just walk around, but you won't want to do that. It's difficult to go in and not buy everything you see. We always get our picnic spread here and take it to a winery to consume with a bottle of wine!
Clif Family Winery Bruschetteria Truck
Clif Family is a must! It's a winery complete with bike rentals and a Bruschetta truck! It's a great lunch stop, and if you go at the right time, you can do a Bruschetta Wine Tasting. Their delicious wines are paired with bruschettas from their food truck.. Yum!
The Model Bakery
If you stay in or close to St Helena, this is the perfect pre-wine tasting stop. Delicious coffee and pastries, and the best homemade English Muffins you'll ever eat in your life live here!
Amazing amazing amazing Italian food and pizza! I can't even with this place! Sit on their lovely patio for dinner and have one of their pizzas and the Rabbit Ragu!
A great, low-key, casual dinner spot. Don't let the casual throw you off - the food is to die for!
Goose snd Gander
An upscale pub with great food and the best cocktails in the valley! If you can stand to drink more, go here after dinner for a nightcap. Or have dinner here - it will knock your socks off!
A delicious Italian restaurant with a menu you will love and an atmosphere you want to be immersed in. Their cocktails are great too. It's fun to try a little bit of everything off the interesting menu.
i love this place because it's like being in France! You get the best of both worlds... Ideal French cuisine in the middle of Napa Valley. From foie gras, to pate, to escargot, to onion soup, this place screams French food and does it just right.
The food here is superb but once you sit on the lush patio, you'll realize everyone really comes here for the sophistication. The ambiance at night cannot be beat... It's so chic!
Russian River Brewing Company
If you're staying in or around Santa Rosa, you don't want to miss coming here for a beer or two. We did the beer sampler and I would go back 100 more times! Sure, you're in wine country, but you may want to take a break for a cold one.
Willi's Wine Bar
Willi's is off the beaten path from the main area of wine country but if you're staying near Santa Rosa, this restaurant needs to go on your list. I couldn't even decide what to order here there was so much that looked good! You leave very full and happy.
The Girl and the Fig
This place is in Sonoma and it's my favorite restaurant there! I have the cookbook and love it - if that tells you anything.
*** I'm always adding to this list, as we continue to go back to Napa every year! We will be there in October so I'm sure there will be an update by the end of the year!