Since moving out west, I have been itching to visit California Wine Country. Even though Napa is a 10 hour drive from Salt Lake City, I still decided it was doable for a few days. We have family in Reno (about 3 hours from Napa) so we broke the trip up by visiting and staying the first night there.
We left Monday morning from Reno heading straight for the Napa Valley Visitor Center. This is a MUST! The visitor center is staffed by volunteers that are there to help guide you to tastings and tour based on your budget, time, and interests. The very knowledgeable man that assisted us highlighted a few wineries worth checking out on our one day time constraint. He provided us with a map of the area, a few Napa/Sonoma publications, and best of all-> 2-for-1 tasting coupons.
The 2-for-1 tasting coupons are crucial to staying on budget in Napa. The wineries we tasted at ranged from $15-$30 a person, so it’s obvious how this can add up.
Our first stop was Sequoia Grove, a beautiful tasting room held in a barn with sequoia redwoods growing on the property. The tasting here was $20 per person for 4 of their current release wines. We had a 2-for1- coupon bringing our total to only $20! Our “winetender” suggested we each try 4 different wines, and taste from each other’s glasses. By doing this, we got to taste 8 of their current release wines. I can honestly say that there wasn’t a wine I didn’t like at Sequoia Grove. They were are smooth, delicious, and exactly as described. We left with a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc after exploring their beautiful grounds.
Our next stop was V. Sattui, and boy this place was busy! We had another 2-for-1 tasting coupon, and after finding a place at their crowded tasting bar, we got to choose 6 wines each. Tastings here were only $15 per person, so between the two of us with the coupon, we tasted 12 wines for $15 flat. They had a very extensive selection of wine and it was all fabulous. Feeling a little buzzed at this point we skipped buying a bottle of wine and instead bought a picnic lunch. They have a sandwich shop in the tasting room, but we decided on a package of sliced salami, truffle brie, and a loaf of French bread. The grounds at V. Satuii are beautiful & there is plenty of space to find a picnic spot with a fantastic view.
Our last tasting of the day at Beringer wasn’t as budget friendly. Even though we had a 2-for-1 tasting coupon, we chose to take the cave tour. Unfortunately, it was $30 a person, but after venturing into the caves it was well worth it. You do get to taste 3 wines on this 30 minute tour while exploring tunnels and wine caves. Our guide was wonderful, knowledgeable, and funny. He described the wine making process and what how the caves were built/used. I highly recommend this tour. You can buy wine by the glass here to walk around the property with. We left with a bottle of wine and the cutest hot air balloon (which I have no clue where I am going to hang it).
Hotels and resorts in the Napa Valley can get expensive. We knew we wanted a pool in whatever hotel we stayed the night in. I jumped on Expedia and found this great hotel, Sonoma Dry Creek Inn, in the Sonoma Valley (Healdsburg) for $129! I couldn’t believe it. Comparable options were over $200. You would never guess this place was a Best Western. My theory is that it was once a privately owned resort/spa and Best Western bought it out. While checking in we asked if they had any upgrades (it never hurts to ask) and lucky for us, we were upgraded to a suite (Villa Toscana California King) for free! The suites were in an entirely separate building with its only private pool, two Jacuzzis, a steam room, sauna, and a firepit area. There were many water features in the suite house as well. Our room had a private balcony, king size bed, fireplace, and whirlpool tub. All in all this was for sure the best hotel deal I have ever gotten for under $150.
After a day in the sun, all that wine, and a swim in the pool, we were too tired to actually go out for dinner. Instead we ordered to-go gourmet hotdogs from Wurst. Ah-mazing.
Napa may seem like it is a vacation destination for the wealthy, but with a little luck it can be totally affordable!