February 28, 2017

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I’m normally a planner when it comes to our trips, but with Napa I was super overwhelmed and shut down!  I was also really worried having a low tolerance that I was gonna pull a Sideways and fall off the stool at a tasting.  Too much vino.  EEEK!

It is not like that at all.  We had a lovely time and definitely learned a lot about wine and wine tastings.

My husband and I went to Napa last October as an early anniversary trip.  There were a few things I did right!

Where to Stay

Stay at Meadowood in St. Helena.  This is one of the best.  If you book according to Relais & Chateaux (lists the best hotels and restaurants around the world) you can check this one off your list. You drive up a little winding road with beautiful low hanging trees.  The temperature literally drops a few degrees as you come onto the property.  The rooms are beautiful with everything a travel snob would want (that’s us!).  You have a personal concierge and you’re assigned the same one throughout your stay so they get to know your routine.  They’ll drive you where you want to go, bring you what you need.  Yeah, it’s great!   They have a sommelier that serves up wonderful wine in their main room each evening, so you definitely need to chat with him to learn the ins and outs of the wineries.

Meadowood Napa Valley

900 Meadowood Lane

St. Helena, CA 94574

Tel 877.963.3545

Where to Eat…

The Restaurant at Meadowood  

900 Meadowood Lane

St. Helena, CA


It’s an over-the-top culinary experience.  It is very pricey but if you want the best wine-pairing out there…do it.  We had the most wonderful glass of wine ever (’97 Caymus).  They give you the good stuff!  They decanted the Caymus twice and served it up right!


Yountville, CA


Bouchon is a small award winning french restaurant.  It’s packed and lively. And has a lovely patio where you can sip wine of course.  The food is rich and fantastic.

Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch

738 Main Street

St. Helena, CA


This was a great place for a light lunch.

Goose & Gander

1245 Spring Street

St. Helena, CA


This gastropub has great food and amazing cocktails.  If you’re sick of wine, it’s a nice change.  Try their burger!

How to plan your wineries…

We opened up a map of wineries in Napa and there were so many we didn’t know where to start.

We were standing in the lobby at the Meadowood and decided to speak to the sommelier.  He was quick to circle where we should go.  Where the hidden gems were and which ones to steer clear. Basically, crowded tourist traps.

The first one we went to was to was Heitz Cellar.  They were so laid back and nice, plus their tastings were free.  So, they weren’t pushing premium tastings or anything like that.

Heinz Cellar, St. Helena

Other wineries we hit up were…

Duckhorn Vineyards



Orin Swift — If you like Prisoner, you’ll love this one.  We had a lot shipped home from here!

Kelham–We had a light lunch here in the vineyards with wine pairings. 

When to go…

I don’t think you can go wrong, but we stumbled into Napa at the perfect time.  We went the week after Labor Day.  The grapes were ripening on the vines and apparently that brings a ton of people.  If we happened to be there a week later, then it would have been more crowded.  It wasn’t at all when we were there.

Buying Wine…

At each winery, you have a chance to buy wines that are only sold there and cannot be found in stores.  With some you can even set up an automatic shipping plan, where they will send you a new vintage annually.  They also offer you a “discount”.  It was fun to do, so we did have quite a few bottles shipped home.  Most wineries will ship to your home, if not, the hotel will do it for you.  We also noticed several mailing places around town that will pack up and ship your wine.


The Spa at Meadowood

900 Meadowood Lane

St. Helena, CA


This is one of the top 10 spas in the country and I’m not surprised at all.  Forbes gave it 5 stars.

No community rooms here.  Each guest gets their own spa suite with it’s own steam shower and changing area.  My husband didn’t have that uncomfortable men’s locker room thing most spas have.  It was a really nice way to detox all the wine we’d been enjoying.

In a Nutshell…

Don’t be afraid to ask questions at wine tastings.  We showed up not knowing much and felt like experts by the time we left.  The first tasting we asked “what is the right way to taste wine”.  There is a right and a wrong way!  It totally changed the way I drink a glass of wine now.  I can see what they’re actually talking about with their descriptions.

It’s hard to go wrong in Napa.  I’ve always wanted to go and I don’t feel like I missed out on anything.  So, I can cross that off my bucket list.



For more travel info on Napa…

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