The lifeblood of the Napa Valley flows 30 miles from the City of Napa, to Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford, St. Helena and lastly, Calistoga. Most everyone knows the sustaining plasma coursing through the center of the region is wine - reds, whites, and every shade in between. According to Napanow.com, one grape cluster will make a glass of wine. Approximately 75-100 grapes make up a cluster, and 4-5 grape clusters will fill a bottle. There are far more statistics available than will fit on this page, like the number of calories in a glass of dry wine - between 100 and 125. The details involving wine making are quite interesting. They support the fact that in Napa growers are assuredly fermenting, squeezing, and fondling a lot of grapes because the 400 wineries in the area produce close to 9.2 million cases of wine annually.
It’s reasonable to think that where you find a huge collection of great wines, you’ll also find an abundance of restaurants serving fine food. These are the kind of restaurants that rate glowing stars in the Michelin Guide. While those star-makers are often famous and expensive restaurants with noted chefs, with any luck you’ll also experience unpretentious dining like Mustards Grill in Yountville or Cook Restaurant in St. Helena. It’s really hard to find a bad meal anywhere in the area. Great restaurants abound and I personally believe Bottega Restaurant in Yountville should be borderline arrogant for serving such heavenly short ribs. But like most of the local eateries, they aren’t. You’ll find that at many smaller restaurants, servers linger at tables in friendly chats and to the naked eye, never seem harried. Conversations extend from the food to how the local little league is doing this year. If you hail from the city, you won’t miss the obvious fact that there’s a very different vibe here, one that’s very appealing. While wine is big business here, locals seem to somehow weave it into their day, remaining very tuned into a healthy balance between work and leisure time.
Any community focused on growing and celebrating their own food and wine, will also be home to artists of all kinds. One-of-a-kind shops richly flow through the Valley cities where you can find items you won’t see in shops at home, clothing that seems to be made exclusively for you, and selections eclectic enough to satisfy every taste.
If you are a wine drinker, visiting the region and it’s wineries can be a very special experience. But if wine just isn’t your thing, you’ll find wineries offer activities for you as well, like shopping, and visiting in-house galleries. Many wineries carry some of the most unique finds in cooking supplies, dinning linens, glassware, home décor, and just about anything to do with eating or drinking. You might also enjoy a tour of a winery that doesn’t require you to taste the wine. The wine train is another possibility. Ride in a vintage train car through the heart of the Valley while you eat lunch or dinner and enjoy the scenery.
Wineries seem to love art. If they don't have a dedicated space of their own, they regularly bring in exhibits, offering visitors the opportunity to browse while they taste wine. As an example, Markham Vineyards is currently displaying a nostalgic look at Rolling Stone Magazine covers by Baron Wolman featuring favorites like Mick Jagger, Janis Joplin, Tina Turner, Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, and more. You don’t have to do a tasting to tour the exhibit.
Exhibits offered by wineries can also include jewelry collections designed by both local and famous artists. Guests have a chance to not only view, but also try on pieces.
If you’re planning a special birthday, wedding or celebration of any kind, you’ll find wineries can offer complete planning and facilities. Venues range from quaint to spectacular. Driving up Highway 29, you’ll notice big signs for small settings about the size of a cottage, and small signs for vast properties with palace-like buildings and extravagant landscaping. As you drive through the Valley, keep your eyes open as many wineries are set back a distance from the street.
Wineries are well-known for their massive entrances and stunning doors. Photo collections of them are available as posters and sold around the Valley.
Gardens and courtyards are also a staple at many tasting rooms creating amazing photo opportunities. Many locations offer spectacular views like the Sterling winery. Their tram will take you above the tree lines to expose the natural beauty of the region. You can purchase a ticket that includes a self-paced tour, the tram ride and a tasting. You also have the option of booking the ride separately. Go to Sterling’s website to get a discount coupon for your visit.
Wineries can be extremely picturesque with some of their origins dating back as far as the 1800s. But don’t let the age fool you. They are equipped with every modern convenience you would want for event planning. Modern commercial kitchens allow some wineries to provide food without relying on outside vendors. Others hire preferred caterers, some of the best in the valley. Entire events can be packaged to include lodging, as many hotels partner with wineries to offer visitors special rates.
If you find Napa Valley restaurants too pricey, consider a picnic. A great number of Wineries feature picnic areas on their grounds. It’s fun and inexpensive and allows you to choose a location where you can take in the surroundings. Start by visiting one of the full service local delis like Giugni’s on Main Street. The sandwiches are exceptional and the surroundings are funky and entertaining with enough antique memorabilia and posters to keep you occupied while your sandwich is made to order. Looking for something a little more gourmet? At Dean and De Luca you can pick out a sandwich, a complete meal or sample their huge array of cheeses and decadent desserts. Gather your selections then pop into the tasting room of a winery with a picnic area, and choose a bottle of wine. Take your lunch outside and enjoy a relaxing meal in plush surroundings. Before your trip, you can get a complete list of picnic areas and maps with the link below.
The largest collection of Napa tasting rooms can be found on Highway 29 as well as Silverado Trail. But be sure to visit Napavalleyvineyards. This site offers a list that includes costs for tastings, tasting room hours, picnic facilities and more.
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