Day two in Napa consisted of a day long wine tour! We scheduled our tour with Napa Winery Shuttle. . What a great tour! We were really glad we booked the tour. For $75, we were driven around Napa and we visited 6 wineries. Each winery also had tasting fees which ran anywhere from 10-25 dollars, some even more. Our tour guide, Lawrence, explained the story behind the fees among other tidbits of Napa. I guess when people first started to travel to the vineyards of Napa for tastings, some people got a little out of hand. So, to try to limit shenanigans and stop the people who cause them from visiting, the wineries started charging. Some of the wineries wave the fee if you purchase bottles. You can also download the winery founder app and receive tasting specials such as two for one tastings.Our first stop on the tour, Andretti, offered the two for one tasting special.
Winery 1: Andretti
This winery is owned by Mario Andretti, the race car driver. The people who were working the tasting room here were really nice. I also really loved the grounds of this winery. The guy who was serving us the tastings also gave us a bonus taste of Pinot Noir straight from the barrel!
Winery 2: Silverado
This winery is owned by Walt Disney’s daughter, although it is not advertised as such. The tasting room and adjacent patio of this winery had a beautiful view of the Napa countryside. Once again, their servers were friendly. I could have just stayed here all day relaxing with some wine on the gorgeous patio; however there was still plenty of stops to make.
Winery 3: Mondavi
This was probably my least favorite of the bunch. It seemed a little too commercialized for me, although the grounds were still beautiful. The servers were not very helpful.
Food stop: Oakville grocery
This was the cutest little shop with the most delicious and fresh sandwiches. There is a deli counter with local and fresh meats, cheese and salads where you can choose a sandwich or build your own. There is also a variety of food for purchase (cheese, jams, etc). I loved this place. I ate quite possibly the best chicken salad sandwich ever. We actually took our lunch to the next winery.
Winery 4: Rutherford Estate
Once we arrived at this winery, we took our first tasting outside to eat outside on the winery’s beautiful grounds. Again, the scenery was breathtaking. This is the one winery I bought wine to ship home. This part is so overwhelming. I loved all the wine I tasted at each winery. So, trying to choose what to buy was difficult, because unfortunately I can’t afford to buy it all! A friend and I shipped our wine together and then split the cost. It was about $25. The winery was able to ship from their winery, but I read that there are some wineries that don’t have that capability. So, it may get tricky to buy wine from some of the wineries so check ahead. I just heard that the U.S. Postal Service might start shipping alcohol though, so that might make things easier.
Winery 5: Black Stallion
I think the story behind this winery is that the owners bought the property as a ranch at first, then converted the space into a vineyard/winery. The server here was very friendly, a favorite of ours. He was the only server that actually tasted some of the wine with us. He tasted and then spit it out into a bucket. He then had a conversation with us about what we tasted in the wine. This winery also had a nice patio that we sat at for a couple of minutes before Lawrence whisked away so we can fit in another winery. Fine by us!
Winery 6: Trefethen
Our wine tour was coming to an end, how sad! This winery reminded me of barn. It was in what seemed to be an older wooden house that was converted.
All in all, our wine tour was fabulous! I loved each and every wine I tasted, even the Chardonnay and Merlot which is usually my least favorite wine. We all agreed that the wine shuttle was definitely worth it. We were safely driven to 6 wineries and given a little history about Napa. At the beginning of the trip, Lawrence told us that if we stuck to about 45 minutes at each winery, we would fit in more. This was enough time to take plenty of pictures and taste plenty of wine. This was definitely enough time, although I could have easily stayed at each one all day! Lawrence was good about rounding us up to maximize our time.
After a day of wine tasting, we had a few hours to rest and get ready for dinner. We were taking a ride into Yountville to have dinner at Bouchon. Before our trip, I tried to find some places on Yelp to eat. Bouchon is owned by the same guy behind The French Laundry, so I figured it must be good. I guess French Laundry is one of the best places to eat. I can’t really do those prix fixe dinners, because they usually involve seafood or mushrooms, both of which I can’t eat. So, they would be a waste for me. Anyways, we made our way to Bouchon that night. I really liked the steak I ordered; I substituted the fries for mac and cheese because that’s how I roll. I think that our meal was probably not appreciated by us as much as it would if we didn’t go after a day of wine tasting. We were just too tired and almost sleeping. And get this- none of us even drank wine at dinner!
So, that was Napa! I loved it and I can’t wait to go back. I will definitely be staying at the Meritage again and hopefully check out more of the hotel. I would like to check out their winery, spa and their bowling ally. Since our wine tasting took up one whole day, were weren’t able to explore the hotel as much as we wanted to. But no complaints here, the wine tasting was definitely worth it! I would also recommend the wine shuttle! There are certainly wineries that I would like to visit next time that are just too difficult to see on the shuttle though. Since you are with a group of people on the wine tour, everyone has to come to a consensus as to where to go and how much you are willing to spend. Since some of the wineries I wanted to check out (Sterling for example) were too far and it didn’t make sense to take the shuttle there since you wouldn’t be able to see as many wineries then. Maybe one day I will be able to afford a private driver that can just take me to them all! A girl can dream.