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Apr 1, 2009 07:16 PM

napa 4 days/3 nights

My husband and I will be arriving in Yountville (from Austin, TX) to stay at the Vintage Inn beginning Sunday May 24 and departing Thurs. May 28. This is a food, wine and decompression vacation for, no more than 2 wineries a day and some really great long, leisurely meals. I want to know what those in the know believe to be "can't miss" experiences (aside from TFL, that's a known by all). We eat everything, can go high end to low end, and don't have specific cuisine in mind...we just want to know where the best meals to be had are in the Napa Valley. I've searched the board, and the information is pretty spread out. Also, if anyone has some wineries that they especially love for generally great experience, please throw those in as well. Thank you in advance for any suggestions

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  1. shel:

    Your trip sounds wonderful. Congrats to you. As you'll read in the various posts, you'll see radically different opinions as to what's best to do in Napa. The most difficult part is sorting through the various opinions and selecting from those opinions the ones that are best for you.

    For myself and my guests in the area, my personal preference is to try to combine various wine and non-wine elements put together in a relaxed, casual way designed for diversity and non-exhaustion. A small sampling:

    * wineries (1 per day, 2 max) mixing medium and small, formal and informal:
    small: HDV (Napa on Trancas: top Hyde Vineyard small producer of Burgundian Chardonnays and excellent Syrahs; personal, intimate tour/tasting); McKenzie Mueller (tiny family vineyard on the farm in the Carneros -- meet the dog and the family)
    medium: Patz & Hall: excellent vineyard designate Chardonnays and Pinots tasted in industrial park in Napa; Darioush (Iranian Persepolis architecture gone wild, on Silverado Trail, but with delicious wines -- like the Merlot best); Schramsberg (historic Calisotoga sparkling wine producer in wonderful caves -- fun and educational);

    * restaurants: with no write-up on details, like:
    * Bouchon: lunch or dinner
    * Taylor's Refresher: lunch on sunny St. Helena day
    * Redd: lunch, bar snacks or dinner in Yountville
    * Ubuntu: veg dinner in Napa
    * Boon Fly Cafe: breakfast in the Carneros

    * spa: Carneros Inn, Il Villagio, Auberge

    * non wine: Marshall's Honey Farm in American Canyon: funky, delicious, featured by Thomas Keller restaurants; Round Pond Olive Oil in Rutherford: tour, tasting and possible lunch on exquisite property.

    retail: stroll downtown St. Helena or the plazas in the towns of Sonoma and Healdsburg. Relaxing and fun with good scenery.

    Ex. morning: winery
    lunch: one of the above
    afternoon: retail per above
    late afternoon: spa (and or pool at your hotel); or non-wine food experience
    dinner: one of the above

    repeat day after day!

    Have fun.

    5 Replies
    1. re: cortez

      Thank you so much for your detailed reply. Like you said, there are many great places in Napa, and when I started reading through all the post, it was just a little overwhelming! I know most places in Napa necessitate a dinner reservation; do I need them for lunch, too?

      1. re: shelbyk

        In Yountville for luch that time of year you may need reservations at certain places. Other good eats in Yountville, Bottega indoor and outdoor seating,Ad Hoc and even Bistro Jeanty although it recently recieved a bad bad review but so what. Also just out of town to the north is Mustards which will hopefully be reopened by the time of your visit. That would be a fantastic lunch choice, or to the south towards Napa Don Giavonni, which also has nice outdoor seating as well as inside. Just like restaurants everyone has there favs, there are so many wineries now it can be overwelming. I think that is good advice not to hit say more than two in a day, depending you could push it to three.

        1. re: shelbyk

          I tend to make lunch reservations (at Bouchon, Jeanty, Bottega, Redd, Mustards) just to avoid a possible disappointment or delay.

          1. re: cortez

            Are reservations at Bottega (for dinner) as hard to come by as OpenTable would lead you to believe? If you want to be seated at 9:30 you are in luck, otherwise I think they are booked up for the next month!

            1. re: gregb

              Que horror! I'll get on that reservation pronto!

      2. Call Ladera and make an appointment for a tour. It's out of the way, 1800s building, good wine, beautiful grounds.

        1. What about Cyrus and Terra? Both look outstanding...

          1 Reply
          1. re: shelbyk

            Terra is wonderful even a litle romantic, great food nice setting in old brick building. Hiro and Lisa put out sofme amazing food. Its in St Helena about 9 miles north of Yountville. Cyrus is fabulous but it is in Healdsburg. Unless your really bent on going there I would stay in the Napa Valley at least for dinner unless you have a designated driver.