Our Trip to Napa Valley: Part II
Happy Thursday! Almost a month ago I published my first post about our trip to Napa Valley and this post is the second part of the series. The first part focused on our first two days in the valley, and this one will be about our last two days. Enjoy!
Our third day in the Napa Valley fell on Easter Sunday. Initially I was kind of worried that we would have trouble finding a Catholic Church to attend mass at, but luckily our resort (the Vista Collina) had a Catholic chapel right on the property dedicated to Our Lady of the Grapes! We attended an early mass and then walked around the resort’s vineyards which were also dedicated to Our Lady. We didn’t eat before mass or anything because we had a brunch reservation at the Auberge du Soleil.
I was so excited to have brunch here because I have never actually been to a Michelin Star restaurant. To no one’s surprise, the brunch was fantastic. It was comprised of four courses and overlooked a portion of the valley in Rutherford. (I talked about this in my last post, but the Napa Valley is a collections of towns. “Napa”is one of the towns in the valley, but there are many more. Rutherford is one of those towns.) Everything featured at this brunch, from the house-made butter and wine to the risotto and short ribs, was amazing.
I think the thing that surprised me the most about this restaurant, though, was the price. If you want to try a Michelin star restaurant but don’t want to break the bank, this is a place to visit. Was it cheap? No, not at all, but it also was not ridiculous. I think when people imagine Michelin restaurants they picture dishes of mini finger-foods for $400 a plate. This was certainly not the case at this restaurant, and the portions were generous.
After brunch we headed to our only booked tasting of the day. Our second day in the valley was very busy and when I was planning our trip I wanted to have at least one day that allowed us to have some free time. Being I didn’t know exactly how long brunch was going to last, I booked only one tasting for Easter Sunday at Del Dotto in St. Helena.
Our experience at Del Dotto was one of my favorites on this vacation. It was so unique and we learned so much about tasting and making wine! At the other vineyards and tastings we drank wine from already-packaged bottles. At Del Dotto, our tour guide took our small group into the underground caves and used a wine thief so we could taste the wines right from the barrels. I never really understood the differences between wine aged in certain barrels as opposed to others, but when I was comparing the wines right then and there I genuinely tasted a difference. I also loved the Italian flare of the Del Dotto estate (and the pizza was good, too).
After Del Dotto, we stopped by downtown Napa to visit some of the shops that were closed previously. While downtown, we visited one of the coolest tasting rooms by Chateau Buena Vista. Honestly, it was kind of by accident that we even ended up in here! I thought it was a chocolate shop, but it wound up being a chocolate shop and wine tasting room that featured parings together.
This shop was gorgeous. It looked like a set out of Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette. There were feathers everywhere, gold bars, plush velvet seats, and even mannequins in elaborate sequin dresses. It was wild.
The wine, too, was amazing! And so was the chocolate! Not to mention, the servers at the Chateau Buena Vista were so interesting to talk to and so personable. I am so glad that we stopped into this tasting room and highly recommend it for anyone who loves chocolate and wine.
After all our shopping, we had a dinner reservation at Celadon. This dinner was very casual, yet still pretty good. The appetizers at Celadon were really great, and it was a very family-friendly restaurant. (In general, we didn’t have one bad meal in Napa.)
After dinner, we headed back to our resort and relaxed.
Our fourth and last day in Napa was special because it was my husband’s birthday! We wanted to do something really exciting so we took a trip on the Napa Valley Wine Train. The Wine Train is a pretty popular activity for tourists, so if you’re interested in taking a trip I highly recommend booking in advance.
In general, I thought the wine train was awesome, but definitely “touristy.” It does not seem like an activity many locals partake in, but nonetheless it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I am glad that we took a trip.
When the train departs, guests begin with champagne and breakfast. The food is actually quite excellent on the train. After breakfast, the train stops at the famous Napa Valley sign for photo opportunities and a quick tasting. After, we headed to the Charles Krug winery while we enjoyed lunch. We spend about an hour at Charles Krug, learned about the history of the vineyard and the Mondavi family, and then headed back onboard for a cheese course. Our next stop was the V. Sattui winery and tasting room.
I really enjoyed V. Sattui and would stop here if I ever visited Napa again. It honestly seemed like such a relaxing place to just sit and enjoy some wine while eating yummy takeout. One of my favorite parts about this winery was the fact that an Italian deli was right on the property! You know I left with some goodies for the way home. We had a tasting, walked the grounds a bit, then headed back on the train for our dessert course.
As I said before, in general I enjoyed the wine train. However, I did not feel like we had enough time at each location. If you have any interest in visiting Charles Krug or V. Sattui alone, I would book those tasting separately.
After the wine train, we actually headed back to San Fransisco. I wrote a short blog post about that here, so check that out. After our evening in the city, it was time to head back home to New Jersey.