Napa Valley Favorites : Detailed Recap of Wine and Food
I read this board so many times before heading to Napa. In keeping with the rule of checking the boards before asking, I found many helpful tips across numerous posts. I thought it would be only fitting to share my experience so another Napa newbies and veterans can benefit.
A close family connection goes quite regularly so he set us up with some amazing tastings. Please note if you set up any of the private tastings, there is no charge, but you will be expected to buy a few bottles (as they are just opening their doors for you quite often). If that's not your thing or in your price range, there are lots of other great options out there that are semi-private or even in group.
Started out at Domain Chandon - We knew it would be a factory kinda tour but we were interested in champagne production. The tour was surprisingly intimate and interesting. We followed it up with lunch dining outside at Etoile which was superb (make a reservation beforehand if you want a table outside). At lunch we had an incredible glass of wine recommended to us by our waiter as his most favorite of the entire wine list. The 2006 Abadia Retuerta Sleccion Especial set the bar very high for the rest of our tastings. The champagnes were definitely nothing special, stick their great wine list.
Next we went to Cade for a tasting. Wow! What an incredible view and tasteful, modern setting. Cassandra was great and their wine was very tasty. We especially liked the Sauvignon Blanc (definitely the best non-New Zealand S.B. either of us had had). We took Cassandra's recommendation and also got a bottle of the plumpjack syrah, which we hadn't tried in the tasting. I HIGHLY recommend this one if you are into wines and into unique experiences.
After that we took a friend of ours' recommendation and stopped in at Casa Nuestra. What a disaster. We quickly learned not to veer too far from the recs of our family connection! Poor quality wines and the tasting experience felt sort of odd. Bought 1 pity bottle of Rose.
Dinner at Ubuntu was AMAZING! Someone else on here said it is truly an experience unique to Napa (we live in LA and moved from NY so it sometimes seems hard to find something we can't get in those cities). Dinner was delicious, fresh, and filling. Didn't miss meat one bit, and didn't feel like they were trying to substitute meat. Just amazing vegetarian food. Key was the waiter recommending a few cannot miss items (grits with a cracked egg, and a flatbread with fresh greens and truffle cheese). Had a bottle of Robert Sinskey Abraxas with dinner which we liked, but neither of us loved.
Next morning we met Shirley Roy at Roy Estates for a private tasting. This was a real highlight. She was very thoughtful and incredibly entertaining. This is an experience for anyone hoping for the personal experience and true wine etiquette. It was great to hear the story of the vineyard, the wine, and how she and her late husband ended up as vintners. We loved that she asked us to wait just inside the gate when we arrived so she could tell us about the vineyard and show us the land before heading to her estate. It was so nice too to sit with her at her dining room table tasting two of the best bottles we had on the trip. For my bf the Prop Red was tops, and I loved the Cabernet. One thing to note, don't come here if you are not ready to spend $$, but if you are, this is a SERIOUS TREAT and would surely be anyone's highlight of the trip.
Brunch was at AD HOC. Delicious, but a bit decadant. Chicken and Waffles. A great salad. The highlight was definitely dessert. Lemon Yogurt Mousse with a little simple syrup, mint and fresh berries from The French Laundry's garden. Out of this world.
Things we didn't get to do but would have liked to: we got a recommendation for Vinter's Collective. Didn't make it there but sounds cool (a wine co-op tasting). Another friend spoke highly of the view at Kuleto and insisted we go. Didn't find a time that worked with our schedule, but hope to soon. I also didn't read this response until after we had booked around town, but George on another thread (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/716053) was very helpful with intimate and "experience" based selections (which is my kind of trip). Read the bottom of the thread for our convo if interested. We'll have to try next time, for sure!
Hope this helps!
Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio
1140 Main Street, Napa, CA 94558
The French Laundry
6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599