quick trip to NAPA
My husband and I are taking a quick trip to SF and I refuse to miss out on Napa! I need help figuring out where to go! We are mostly looking for stunning views, a glass (or 2) of sauvignon blanc and a really good lunch!! We are not interested in any tours..My husband would love a beer (yikes! Does that exsist there??) also, would like advice on transportation from union square to Napa.
The first part is that at this time of year, the "stunning views" are of vines without leaves that are being pruned back to mere twigs... You will see rolling hills of mostly brown stalks. The lush vines don't occur until late spring and through fall.
And beer *does* exist in Napa but I'm not sure you would want to go where it can be obtained... Downtown Joe's on Main Street brews its own beer, but the food is less than stellar (extremely mediocre bar food). A great place for lunch with a view would be Angele, on the river front, or the outside garden area at Bistro Don Giovanni. Brix is another option, if the weather is good, although I prefer their happy hour menu.
Another place I love for lunch is Zuzu; ask to sit upstairs in the window area for a view of the river and nearby hillsides (those are green because it is hiking area).
All that said, Domaine Carneros is a great place for a bubbly tasting with a view.
To get to Napa, you are going to have to rent a car (easily done from Union Square). Since you don't want a tour, you probably want to avoid the day-trip tours buses that exist.
I think the Napa Valley is beautiful any time of the year. I actually like to see the neat, symmetric rows of the vines in their dormant stage. I would definitely recommend renting a car and then driving up the Silverado Trail from Oak Knoll to, at least Dunaweal Lane. The view from the deck of Silverado Vineyards is beautiful any time of year. From the porch of Miner Family Vineyards there is a nice view and, of course, the view from the bar at Auberge du Soleil is always nice and you could enjoy a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc there and, though I'm not a beer drinker, I'm sure they'll have a decent selection.
Further north, there are nice views from Rombauer Winery and Sterling (though you'll have to pay to take the tram up there) and you don't have to drink their wines. A stop at the campus store at the Culinary Institute will give you a view from their front steps and you can watch the chocolate candies being made. Drive west for a few miles on the Oakville Grade and you will have other vistas of the valley. I do like the outdoor deck at Bistro Don Giovanni and the view from Brix dining room is also nice. The drive up to the valley through Carneros is also enjoyable and I think beautiful even with the dormant and naked vines. Go and you will have a nice day.