Napa Wise Guide
by W. Blake Gray
Wine may be a European tradition, but winery weekends are an American art, and a recent one.
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Twenty years ago, most Napa visitors came for the mineral waters of Calistoga and marveled ("Are they still making wine there?") at the fortress-like wineries on Highway 29.
Winery visits in Europe are still like that — a haphazard tour, hoping someone will be home and generous enough to pour you a taste. Wine country is farm country, so in Europe, accommodations and restaurants are limited.
Not in Napa, the home of gentleman (and gentlewoman) farmers, some of whom were engineers or executives until love for the grape drove them to the soil. Unlike France's wine regions, Napa abounds in hospitality and services, albeit at a price.
And yet, cost aside, it's almost a dream: You sample America's finest wines by day and some of its most sophisticated cuisine at night. The following day, submit your body to being wrapped in herbs or covered in mud, before a healing massage wrings your cares away.
Our Wise Guide to Napa will help you plan a getaway to the Tiffany heart of wine country. Drawing from our complete list of lodging, we'll help you find a B&B to fit your budget, whether you're a Kennedy or an average Jackie.
Everybody visits wineries in Napa (and neighboring Sonoma County), even if you're bringing the kids, and even if you don't drink. Click on any winery name on our interactive map and we'll tell you about visiting there. We also point out some wineries to visit for beginners and aficionados; and for white fans and red fans.
We know you'll like our list of every winery currently offering free tasting. But don't forget to read our list of do's and don'ts of winery visiting, and our tips for how to drive safely and still enjoy yourself in a county where the main activity is drinking.
With their emphasis on fresh ingredients, Napa's restaurants will help you return to an era of appreciating nature's seasonal bounty. We'll tell you about the best dinner restaurants expensive and cheap, the best cheap and expensive places for lunch, and the best breakfast restaurants. We'll also tell you where to have a memorable picnic lunch, a quintessential Napa experience after a visit to an upscale deli.
We'll tell you about other Napa fun too — spas, hot-air balloon rides, biking and hiking, and shopping.
All this makes Napa unique, a sophisticated yet rustic locale that feels European, though you can't find anything like it in Europe. One day, perhaps, they will learn this from us.
A Perfect Napa Weekend
Do's and Don'ts of Winery Visiting
Where to Stay
Good Wineries For Beginners
Wineries for Aficionados
Great Dinner Restaurants — Expensive
What Does a Weekend in Napa Cost?
About the Napa Wise Guide author
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