It’s almost the end of summer andddd…. time for some Unwine-ding! Picture-perfect vineyards rolling over the golden hills of California, farm-to-table fine dine restaurants with long wine lists, luxury resorts with quaint spas and bubbling hot tubs, world famous wineries with expansive estates and underground wine caves and lots of wine!!! Napa Valley has Paradise written all over it!
August through September is the best time to catch all the plush & ripe grapes on vine. So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and get ready for a fun weekend in the wine country. But first, read along to plan your weekend itinerary.
How to get there?
If you are local to California, your best option is to drive! A pre-fall road trip? Tempting enough to read along!
The Drive to Napa Valley is about 2 hours with tons of picturesque stops along, which will make your weekend getaway worthwhile. If you are driving from other parts of the Bay Area, it should pretty much take the same amount of time.
If you are flying in from a different state/country, book your tickets to San Francisco. Once you land, rent a car to drive up to the Napa Valley.
Where to stay?
Napa Valley has tons of boutique hotel and luxury resorts to pick from and here are some of my favorites:
Tucked in St Helena, this luxury boutique resort is an intimate retreat with an outdoor pool, farm to table restaurant, modern & chic rooms with marble bathroom and deep soaking tubs and unparalleled views of Spring Mountains and vineyards.
Located in the lovely riverbank of Napa, this hotel is super close to all restaurants and wineries in Napa Valley. The rooms are sumptuous, with large beds and luxurious bathrooms. They also have a spa and a great French restaurant on the property.
This Tuscan-inspired Napa Valley lodging, is a perfect blend of luxury and valley charm. It is situated at the entrance of Napa Valley – giving you tons of opportunities for wine tasting, plunging into the resort pool set against a backdrop of rolling vineyards, spend a relaxing day at the spa and dining at some great restaurants onsite.
This resort, complete with tennis courts and a gorgeous golf course, is a great option for staying overnight in Napa. Just off the Silverado trail (where tons of wineries are located), it’s the perfect location for your weekend getaway.
Hotel Yountville, is a luxury spa resort in the heart of Yountville. Its a great place to spend the day lounging by the pool and outdoor patio or exploring the surrounding wineries and restaurants. RH Yountville is one my favorites to dine in!
Helpful Tip: When booking a hotel and activities, keep in mind that Napa Valley consists of more than just the town of Napa. Napa Valley stretches from Calistoga and St. Helena, to Yountville. Also August through September is the peak of tourism in Napa and the rooms tend to get a little pricey. So make sure to book your hotel in advance, to avoid the crowd and spending too much on accommodations.
Here is a 3-Day itinerary to make your weekend getaway to Napa unforgettable!
Drive up from San Francisco
On Friday, Naveen and I drove up to Napa Valley, from San Jose. As I mentioned before, it took us about 2 hours to drive up there with a quick stop at Chic-fil-A to grab some lunch. Coz no road trip is complete without some fast food and the Spicy Chicken Sandwich is just too good to pass.
We checked in to our hotel and freshened up a bit, for a night of Pizza & Pinot!
5 PM – Pizza & Pinot Night at Far Niente Winery
Located in Oakville, Far Niente is one of the oldest winery in the valley. With sprawling picturesque gardens, beautiful estate, historic wine caves and breathtaking views of Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards – it is definitely a winery you have to visit when in Napa.
As soon as we drove in, we were greeted with a grand entrance, lush with thousands of bright red and deep pink azaleas. The gently curved Acacia Drive that leads you to the estate is surrounded by more than 100 Autumn Gold ginkgo trees paving a dreamy experience – as if you are entering a different world.
They have a variety of wine tour and tasting options ranging from $60 to $100, which lets you take in all the beauty of the estate and taste some of their best wines, in a private or semi-private setting. We decided to checkout their seasonal event – Pizza & Pinot night at the Far Niente Grill.
The Pizza & Pinot night is an elevated take on a classic pizza party. Set in the Far Niente Grill, with unobstructed views of the vineyards, perfectly manicured lawn with a pool and sparkling fountains – the location was beyond beautiful. We spent a great evening tasting some of the best Route Pinot Noir paired with freshly baked pizzas and strolling through the estate.
Far Niente hosts special events on Friday nights to enhance your winery experience. So checkout their website for different events and tickets!
Breakfast at Bouchon Bakery
Start your day with some yummy pastries and sandwiches from Chef Thomas Keller. Head to the Bouchon Bakery– a French style bakery in Yountville. Extra flaky croissants, fresh coffee cakes and mouth watering selections of tarts- SOOOOO GOOD, you will thank me later!
10 AM – Wine Tour & Tasting at the Signorello Estate
There are tons of vineyards/wineries to pick from for a tour/tasting. You can find some of the Best Vineyards to visit in Napa Valley here!
We picked Signorello Estate – because it is a small, family-owned vineyard offering private tour and tasting experience.
Your experience begins with a “welcome” glass of wine and a driving tour of their estate vineyards. The tour gives you an opportunity to see the grapes on vine up close and learn so much about the history of wine making and heritage of the estate. We saw different varieties of merlot, chardonnay and cabernet grapes and learnt all about their harvesting process – from vine to wine!
The tour is followed by a seated tasting experience of some extraordinary Signorello wines. My favorites were their two varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon – Padrone & Signori (named after the father and son of the estate). The wines are thoughtfully paired with cheese, dried fruits and nuts to enhance your tasting experience.
It was a day well spent among the vines and I recommend this as a must-do activity when you visit Napa Valley.
Lunch at RH Yountville
After the wine tasting, we explored the town of Yountville. Yountville is the culinary capital of Napa boasting Michelin star restaurants, tasting rooms, hotels & spa.
We had tried the RH restaurant during our last trip to Chicago. and loved the place so much, we knew we had to checkout the California location. Located in the 5 building compound the RH restaurant provides an amazing dining experience amidst trickling fountains, heritage olive trees and glimmering chandeliers. It also features a two story wine vault inside a landmark stone building (specializing in rare, limited production wines from Northern California) & a barista bar.
We ordered the RH burger, Shrimp cocktail and Fusilli Pasta(and of course Mimosa) – Everything was delicious ! I also recommend going a little early for a drink at their bar – it is adorable! This is a perfect date spot in Napa.
3 PM – Wine Tasting at V. Sattui Winery
Onto our next wine tasting experience for the day! After lunch we headed to St. Helena to enjoy a wine tasting session at the V. Sattui Winery.
This lovely winery is perfect for a picnic. They have a big deli full of amazing lunch options and picnic tables outside – and the fact that you can bring your own food in makes this a fantastic lunch & wine spot.
The sprawling estate includes large event spaces for weddings, a beautiful chateau, tri-level terraces that overlook beautifully manicured gardens and vineyards. They have many indoor and outdoor tasting experiences at an affordable price. The tasting introduces you to a wide portfolio of award-winning Premier and Estate wines and you can savor any 5 of your choice.
Dinner at Acacia House
Dining with vineyard views! Can life get any better than that?
Led by the “Top Chef Masters” winner Chef Chris Cosentino, the Acacia house is an artful Californian bistro located in heart of Napa Valley. Set in Alila Napa Valley’s restored Georgian farmhouse, everything from the modern interiors with open kitchen to a spacious wraparound veranda and patio with vineyard views looked so elegant and perfect for a date night.
And oh the food, beautifully plated and sourced from local organic ingredients was so delicious and savory with every bite. You have to try the Iberico Pork Schnitzel topped with caviar and Tuna Tartare- I’m still drooling, thinking about it.
The highlight of this place is the champagne cart – which lets you taste some of the valley’s best rose and champagne as you dine.
It’s definitely one of my favorite spots in the valley and I recommend dining here – especially for a romantic date night!
Morning Hike by the Napa River
Rise & shine, its time for a short hike before you wine! It may come as surprise to you, but Napa Valley has so much more to do than wine tasting and fine dining and we decide to explore a bit.
Napa River Trail is a 4.5 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Napa that boasts stunning river and vineyard views. The north of trail, takes you to downtown Napa and has more of a city walk feel. If you head south towards Yountville, the same trail takes you through stunning vineyards and right next to the river!
The trail is perfect for biking and walking and has tons of photo-ops and wildlife along the path.
10 AM – Wine Tasting at Inglenook
An exclusive, blow-your-mind tasting I love in Napa Valley is Inglenook. You’ll wind your way up Helena Hwy to this absolutely stunning property, with no other winery in sight. It feels straight out of France. A grand historic Chateau with expansive gardens and vast stretches of vineyards. The views are UNREAL.
You can enjoy an outdoor seated wine tasting or take in the expansive vineyard views as you relax in a luxurious private lounge beneath the pergola in the courtyard. They have various tasting experiences curated to give you the finest of the wine country.
During the tasting, they will teach you how to taste wine, pair it with cheese, and the nuances behind each sip. My favorite from the tasting? The Rubicon. Incredible bottle.
Inglenook is great for first time Napa-goers and groups for the ultimate Napa Valley experience.
Lunch at R+D Kitchen
A modern space with outdoor seating and Sushi delight! Hit this place for some delicious, pizzas and mouth watering sushi. You can’t go wrong with anything on their menu. Another one of my favorite things about this place – their outdoor bar area with fire pits at night. It’s a wonderful spot to gather around for some pizza and wine over great conversations.
After lunch, you can take a stroll through the city of Yountville, to shop for souvenirs or explore local art galleries.
There are many vineyards in the Rutherford, St Helena area if you’re up for some more wine tasting, But we wrapped up our vacation and headed back home.
You can find a list of Must Try Vineyards in Napa Valley here.
Other thing to do in Napa Valley
Go on a Hot Air Balloon ride
One of the most romantic things to do in Napa Valley is to take a Hot Air Balloon ride. It’s the most unique and inspiring ways to appreciate the valley’s lush, rolling hills and gorgeous coastline. The tickets typically range from $200-$500 depending on the size of the group.
Have a spa day
Napa is home to some of the best resorts in the world – and therefore some of the best spas in the world. Some of my favorites are Kenwood Inn & Spa, Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and the newly opened Montage Healdsburg.
Hop the Napa Valley wine train
Ride in a restored historic train, which takes you on a 36-mile roundtrip to St. Helena and back, stopping at celebrated wineries along the way. With its Honduran mahogany paneling, brass accents, etched glass partitions, and plush armchairs, the Wine Train also evokes the elegant glory days of luxury train travel of the early 1900s. You get to sit back, relax, and savor a delicious 4 course meal, and take in all the beauty of the wine country as you ride the train. Its one the best ways to explore Napa Valley.
Thank you for reading along. Hope this helps you plan your next weekend getaway to Napa Valley! If you have any questions, you can leave a comment, or slide into my DMs @preksharaj.