2 Days, 1 Night in Napa

Last weekend, SMS and I went to Napa.  I was off-call and was able to venture a little farther away than normal.  We are going next month as well with SMS’ parents but even though the two trips are close together, I kind of wanted to get my “Napa Newbie” trip done.  It was nice to get the lay of the land and see a few places that I had heard about to weed out the “Repeat.  Must do again” from the “Ehh…it’s to somebody’s taste, but not mine.”

Coffee Scales for Pour-over at Ritual

On Saturday, I got up for a run and then we were off a little after 9.  We arrived in Napa by 11 and headed to the Farmer’s Market.  It skewed towards ready-made goods more than produce but it was a a lot of fun.  We bought figs, which I hadn’t seen in Mountain View for a few weeks.  We also had sandwiches for an earlier breakfast from “A Proper Sandwich.”  We split the sandwiches- I favored the roasted delicata squash with caramelized onions, fig spread, greens and pepitas on a hearty bread. SMS ordered the pimento cheese sandwich which was tasty but basically, a holiday cheese ball smashed into a sandwich.  I wasn’t quite expecting that but still, it’s nice to try something different.

Oxbow Market- crowded but awesome

Although we were full, we wandered through Oxbow Market.  It is super cute and airy with lots of great stand-alone shops, mostly food service.  It is similar to the Ferry Building in San Francisco and the San Pedro Market in San Jose.  There’s a Hog’s Head Oyster bar, a restaurant called The Kitchen Door, Ritual Coffee, and C Casa, a great Mexican food place that is pricy for Mexican food but relatively inexpensive for Napa :/

How to strap that to a car…

After looking at Oxbow, we decided to make a big driving loop up the Silverado Trail and back on the 29 to Napa, where I had booked our last-minute hotel.  The whole area was very crowded- it’s harvest time!  We stopped in St. Helena and window-shopped.  We found a motorcycle rental shop with some jet-engines out front.

I think this looks very Wild West…with gourmet tastes!

We also went to Oakville Grocery, which was smaller than I thought and although the building was historically interesting, I was a bigger fan of Oxbow.  I was definitely glad that we stopped though because I had heard so much about it.

Even the cheese at V. Sattui are crowded, ha ha.  But delicious!

Then we went to V. Sattui for a late lunch and glass of wine.  There are large picnic grounds there and  although the layout was nice, neither one of us really liked it.  And to be honest, most people’s rave reviews are usually in context of when they had already had a few tastings and then went to V. Sattui and really, that’s how it struck me- a place that would be more fun if you were drunk.  You know, get a little food, drink a little more, relax under a tree or on a picnic bench.  Definitely fun in the right mindframe but as a stand-alone stopping point in Napa?  I recommend a pass.

The French Laundry


We stopped in Yountville to take ultimate tourist photos at The French Laundry.  We also walked around the gardens which were very impressive.  So well-laid out and perfectly ordered with excellent irrigation set-ups.  There was also a chicken coup/playground for chickens and a greenhouse.  It was really cool to wander in there.

Then we went to Napa, checked into our hotel, had a cookie and milk break at 6 and headed out to dinner.  We walked towards the downtown where we had dinner at Carpe Diem, which was really fun.  We each had a shot of yellow lentil soup and then we shared a salad and a flatbread.  I had a flight of the “interesting reds,” which included a pinot noir I really liked (usually I find them a little too light and fruity).

Tasting Time!

Hess Courtyard and small pond with little goldfish

The next day, we had breakfast at the hotel which was carb-tastic!  We each had a waffle and then we split a homemade blueberry-banana mini-loaf.  Yum!  Then we headed out to Hess Winery, which was fantastic.  We went to the tasting room first where we tried a flight of three cabs (we liked 2010 the best) and a flight of four varied wine (I liked the Syrah).  Our pourer was really nice and the room was very cool.  We wandered around the gift shop and then went to view the attached museum/private collection of Mr. Hess, which is an incredible modern art collection.  After 40 minutes, we went on a tour of the vineyards and buildings which was about 30 minutes, but got the main points across.  It was a really pleasant, fun place and we were big fans!

Very cool collection and layout
Working winery next to the art!

After that, we decided to head home after a lunch at C Casa in Oxbow Market.  We stopped at UC-Berkeley and walked around for a bit. We also went to the top of the campus tower and had a great view on a pretty clear day.  Then we went to Stout Poutine so that SMS could get his poutine fix that he had had since reading about poutine in Berkeley.  They are really good but maybe a little much after a food-centric weekend!

Westward view from the tower

Then, we headed home and prepared for the week.  It was a fun weekend get-away and makes me really excited for our trip in a few weeks!  I’ve made some reservations and hired a driver so it will be a little more wine-centric.  Hey, maybe we should stop at V. Sattui!

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