I could safely say that wine country is on the top of my “happy place” list. And when visitors come into town, I always try to plan a trip for them to see what it’s all about.
This past weekend, my older brother and his girlfriend were here for an extended weekend from Atlanta. Leading up to their arrival, I knew I wanted to put together the perfect day in Napa, and after all was said and done — it was pretty darn great — with plenty of fun and a lot of wine.
Here are a few things I considered when planning the day …
- Arranging a car service, so we wouldn’t have to worry about directions or driving around between wineries
- Scheduling appointments at no more than three wineries located in a close vicinity so we didn’t overbook the day
- Packing plenty of water and snacks for the car trip so we could stay hydrated and full
- Taking total advantage of the gorgeous weather and finding places where we could be outside
And here’s what our day looked like …
Outdoor tasting at Paraduxx at 11 a.m.
Our first stop was at a fancy winery and tasting room on Silverado Trail called Paraduxx Winery. We were greeted with a glass of white wine, then shown to a nice table out on the patio.
Seriously, we could have stayed all day at Paraduxx — just sitting there — because the weather was beautiful, and the fog burned off shortly after our table of tasting glasses was served.
Before the tasting, our sommelier gave us a history of Paraduxx and it’s family of wines (including my personal favorite, Duckhorn). Then, we tried a selection of red wines, paired with cheese, crackers and chocolate.
The red wines were super rich, and we all tried our best to taste the notes that were written on the tasting cards — sometimes being able to and sometimes not. The wines were definitely pricey, but you could tell the quality was there in every single sip. I would love to have a couple bottles of the red for a fancy steak dinner at home.
The tasting took about 90 minutes, but of course, we stopped halfway through to take some pictures with the vista behind us. So much beauty!
The best parts about the Paraduxx tasting? The great service, the tasty nibblies and the awesome setting. By the time we were finishing up, the tables were filling up across the courtyard area and people were arriving with their dogs. It made me super upset that we didn’t have our little Rudy with us. Nonetheless, off to the next winery … (Thanks, Paraduxx for hosting us — we love your chic vibe and scene!)
Tour and tasting at Clos du Val at 12:45 p.m.
If you want to see a beautiful winery, you should put Clos du Val on your list. This place is absolutely gorgeous, and the wine is very tasty too.
We were lucky to start our visit with a glass of white wine, then get a special tour of the wine barrels in the back and have a private tasting with a very knowledgable sommelier — who educated our group of four with each sip.
We were so pleased with the experience and the wine that we each bought a bottle of Winemaker’s Signature Three Graces White 2014 (which is now in the fridge waiting for a special occasion). By the way, Clos du Val winery sells many wines that are not available in stores, which we enjoyed experiencing, and they are at a little lower price point than our first winery.
I loved learning about how Clos du Val has changed the way it grows and produces wine and how the brand is turning more to an estate winery (where they grow their own grapes). The wine business is pretty interesting!
The best parts about the Clos du Val tasting? The wine! And the outside vineyard views. (Thanks to the lovely people at Clos du Val for the hospitality for our group!) Note: You can take a picnic lunch to Clos du Val if you buy a bottle, and it’s definitely a nice place to relax and hang out — a little more casual and cheery.
Drop-in lunch in Yountville at 2 p.m.
If you’re in need of a sandwich or salad in Napa and don’t have a reservation at an expensive spot for lunch, head to downtown Yountville and wait in line at the Yountville Deli. I ordered a smoked salmon sandwich, and it was beyond. It was a little messy, so no pictures to show, but we each were fully satisfied with our mid-day meal. We didn’t want to waste too much time inside a restaurant since we had a car service waiting for us, so this stop was just what we needed.
Casual tasting at Hagafen at 3 p.m.
Our final stop of the day didn’t have an exact appointment time, and I did that specifically in case we were running late. With full bellies after lunch, we pulled up to Hagafen Cellars, also off Silverado Trail in Napa. And let me tell you, Hagafen is a laid back and casual place to do a wine tasting. We walked into the tiny tasting room greeted by some super friendly folks, who were totally informal and funny.
Instead of doing a tasting, we elected to each choose and purchase a glass and sit outside in the Mediterranean garden. There were people playing corn-hole and listening to music, and the weather remained gorgeous. We’d definitely go back to Hagafen one day to buy a bottle and play a board game in the sun. It’s not uppity at all. It’s a come-as-you-are place to chill. Good work, Hagafen.
After three wineries and a stop for lunch, our group of four was incredibly happy with our day in Napa. Each of the three wineries offered a different type of wine, setting and experience, making it a very complete day.
We hopped back into our black SUV and reflected on our experience on the less-than-an-hour drive back to Walnut Creek. Wine country adventure = major success.
Seriously though, wine country is not just a place to sip on wine — there are tons of vistas, places to play games outside, excellent restaurants and so much more — and according to our trip, very dog and family friendly. If you’ve never been, put it on the list!
Oh Napa, you’re always a good time. I hope to see you again very soon!How to have a great day in #WineCountry ... Click To Tweet
*Thanks to both Paraduxx and Clos du Val for hosting our group on the house. We are big fans!
Questions of the day
What’s your happy place?
Have you ever been to wine country?