A Taste of Napa

I just returned from the most incredible wedding for my dear friends Jaime and Marc in Napa, CA.  She looked exquisite and it was the perfect backdrop to the start of their marriage.  When we heard the wedding was going to be in Napa during harvest season, I instantly went into planning mode.  To ensure we made the most out of the long weekend, I put together a spreadsheet (nerd alert) to help us maximize our Napa experience.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have been to Napa before and did a lot of research on planning the perfect trip and thought I would share some tips with you.  Pop open your best Pinot and happy planning!  Cheers!

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  • Getting Around: Securing a rental car and designated driver is a must!  Napa is full of options from Uber cars to limo drivers.  My sister introduced me to a service called Destination Drivers who are fantastic.  They charge an hourly rate and will come directly to you.  The best part- they will drive your rental car around so you don’t have to.   I’ve had the best experience working with them.  All of the drivers are professional and local which offers a great perspective and recommendations on hidden gems.
  • Sippin’: Some wineries allow walk-ins, but it’s always a good idea to have a few reservations lined up to maximize your wine tasting experience.  If you’re traveling with more than 5 within your group, they usually require a rez.  The wineries love having guests and are always happy to try to accommodate.  There are so many wonderful vineyards and tasting rooms to visit, but here are a few of my favorites:

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  • Good Eats: What goes better with wine than food!  There’s no shortage of restaurants that range from high-end to grab-and-go.  Here are a few of my faves:
    • Oakville Grocery: This little gem is the oldest continually operated grocery store in California.  Their sandwiches are beyond amazing- the crab cake sandwich is a MUST.  And you can’t go wrong with their salt and vinegar chips- swoon!  Grab your sammy, a glass of wine and sit out on the picnic tables to enjoy the view or head out to your next tasting.
    • The Boon Fly Café:  Breakfast, lunch, or dinner- it doesn’t matter this place will not disappoint. The rustic cuisine and contemporary roadhouse atmosphere are the perfect mix.  Whatever you do, start with the signature Boon Fly donuts.
    • Bottega: Chef Michael Chiarello- need I say more.  But I will…you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but some of my faves are:  Insalata di Cavolini di Bruxelles, Polpo alla Griglia, and Pollo alla Diavola sul Mattone.  If you’re looking for something other than a wine, the cocktail with vodka, pomegranate ice cube and basil is LEGIT (see below).
    • Bouchon Bistro and Bakery:  This intimate French restaurant offers a bistro style atmosphere and upscale cuisine.  As if it couldn’t get any better, they own the bakery next door!  They serve the bread baked daily in the restaurant- perfect for soaking up every last drop of broth and sauce.  Some of my favorites:  Salade Maraîchère au Chèvre Chaud, Steak Frites (Duh), Moules aux Poireaux (save some bread for that goodness), Pommes Frites (say yes to the truffle), Choux de Bruxelles, and the macarons from the bakery are perfection.

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