Trip to Napa/Yountville Worth it?
I'm a big foodie just like everyone on here. As for wine, I can enjoy it at home, but have very limited knowledge on pairing or which wines compliment which dishes. Theres a lot of raving about Napa and Yountville on Chowhound and it's made me think that I should pay a visit out there. I feel that learning about wine is a long process, but will a trip there give me a little more knowledge about wines? Plus I do want to eat a good meal there too. I've heard Bouchon was a place worth visiting. Thanks!
Hey Lando...I'm not much of a wine drinker, but Ruth does bring up points to consider.
Anyway, for food in Yountville, Bouchon is definitely worth a visit, as is Ad Hoc. Also stop by Bouchon Bakery to pick up some goodies.
For non-Thomas Keller food, Bistro Jeanty is also good spot, and I hear a lot about Redd, but I haven't been yet.
For enjoyment, learning about wine is not that long or hard. Becoming an expert is a never-ending process. The place to start is a great book by Andrea Immer Robinson, “Great Wine Made Simple”. This will suggest many local wineries to taste and give you a comparison by which to judge the others.
"Worth it" is always subjective. There are many good restaurants in the Napa Valley. Is it "worth it" to go there? It would depend on a lot of factors, like how much effort it would take to make the trip; how much, generally, you enjoy taking a "road trip" to the country; and how the restaurants there compare to other restaurants you have, or would like to, check out. Obviously, from the amount of discussion about those places and the number of people who do make the trip, many people think it's "worth it." You might want to go through some of the exhaustive discussions of Napa area restaurants to get a better idea of what restaurants are out there and what people think of them to decide whether it's "worth it" to you.
As for learning about wine, again, it's hard to tell from the information in your post. If you like wine, then it's worth it to visit a winery at least once. If you've already visited a winery, then how much it's "worth it" to visit more wineries really depends on what you want to get out of each visit. Do you want to taste a wide variety of wines and talk to the winemakers? If so, it might be more "worth it" to you to check out Sonoma, where the wineries are smaller, less commercial, less crowded, and where tastings are less expensive (or maybe even free). Since according to your profile you live in Fremont, you might also want to stick closer to home and check out the wineries in the Livermore area and in the Santa Cruz mountains, which will also be much less touristy.
If your main interest is in learning about pairing food and wine, the experience you'll get at most wineries won't give you that, so I'd say that visiting them at random wouldn't be "worth it" -- however, some wineries do have programs more centered around food and wine pairing, so it might be "worth it" to ask specifically about people's experiences with that kind of winery visit.
re: Ruth Lafler
Everything Ruth says.
Use the resources in your own neck of the woods first, like Ruth says. Especially the Santa Cruz mountains. Learn about the winemaking process and varietals and food-and-wine-pairing at wineries near you, and at wine stores and tastings and classes. When you and your wallet are ready, come up to Napa, or Sonoma and taste further.