You know you’re getting older (and/or more snobbish) when you wouldn’t swap a weekend wine tasting in Napa Valley for all the nightclubs in Las Vegas.
Mrs Man vs World and I visited Napa Valley on our US honeymoon roadtrip, after Las Vegas and before San Francisco. As a result, it was the perfect place to rest and relax after the City of Sin, and get our energy back up ahead of our visit to the City by the Bay and our drive down the famous Pacific Coast Highway.
Although it’s already nearly one year since our two days in Napa, I still remember our time there fondly – these were some of the highlights.
Wine flights and nibbles at Bounty Hunter Wine Bar
In case you’re not that in to wine, Napa County in California is considered one of the best wine regions in the world. And they call wine tastings wine flights here.
Normally, I’m really more of a beer man, but I am fond of the odd glass (or bottle) of pinot noir every now and again. Over my two days in Napa I seldom drank anything other than wine – and my first wine flight was literally within half an hour of arriving in Napa, at a funky wine bar in town called Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokin’ BBQ.
My wife and I sat outside on Main Street, enjoying our wine – shed had the white, I had the red (pictured above) – and just generally reflecting on our awesome our lives were. We even had some bread and cheeses.
Oxbow Public Market
It’s no secret that Napa has amazing food and wine. Visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to fancy places to eat and drink – but you can also find champagne food on a beer budget price if you know where to look.
Might I suggest you pay a visit to Napa’s Oxbow Public Market? I think I shall.
The Oxbow Public Market is a wicked little food market, where you can pick up some amazing food and wine for less than it’d cost at one of the fancy restaurants in town. It’s filled with little restaurants, cheese and wine maerchants, a bakery, a chocolate shop, oyster bar, and even an ice cream parlour.
I recommend Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen, which makes traditional Venezuelan meals like arepas, which are like grilled corn flour sandwiches stuffed with tasty meats and salad.
The Oxbrow Public Market is open seven days. You can find it at 610 and 644 First Street, in downtown Napa. It’s just a short walk from town.
Driving past the vineyards
We’ll get to the wineries themselves in a second, but first I wanted to say how cool it is just to take a scenic drive past all the wineries in Napa Valley.
The sun beat down on our convertible as we cruised through Napa wine country, grape vines on both sides of the road. It was quite picturesque, in a rustic sort of way. It reminded me a lot of France actually (we’ve also been fortunate enough to have visited the famous Bordeaux wine region).
Sutter Home Winery
The first winery that we stopped at was Sutter Home, because my wife had fallen in love with its white zinfandel – a light and sweet pink wine with essences of strawberry.
I’m happy to report that Sutter Home was very generous with the wine tastings, which were complimentary. The grounds themselves are pretty nice, too, but not as nice as other wineries we’d visit later in the day.
Sutter Home white zin was probably Mrs Man vs World’s favourite wine of the entire trip.
Castello di Amorosa
Remember how I told you that sometimes Napa reminded me of France? You should, I said it just a moment ago. Anyway, no winery in Napa reminded me of Europe more than Castello di Amorosa (pictured above), for obvious reasons.
Isn’t it cool? Castello di Amorosa’s castle covers roughly 11,200m² (121,000 square feet) and includes 107 rooms over eight levels (above and below ground). The castle is architecturally faithful to the 12th and 13th centuries, even if it was completed much, much more recently than that.
Lunch at V. Sattui Winery
The V. Sattui Winery in St Helena in Napa Valley was my favourite winery of all the ones we visited – a regal old winery with a leafy, park-like setting.
It was crazy busy, but we eventually managed to get some picnic food (consisting of a large chicken and cranberry sandwiches, some pasta and a whoopee pie for dessert) from the winery’s deli, which we ate on a picnic table under the trees.
Afterwards, we went inside the winery’s cellar-like tasting room, where we enjoyed another wine flight – our final one in Napa.
The next day we headed to San Francisco, where we eventually began our slow drive down the Pacific Coast Highway, through Big Sur and back to LA.