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The Perfect Mid-Napa Day Trip

Trying to cover Napa in a day would test even the greatest strategic minds—so we're breaking it up into bite-size chunks.

Ashes and Diamonds.

 

Napa Valley is about 30 miles long, five miles across, and cross-hatched with dirt roads, winding mountain drives, and meandering lanes. Without a solid plan you could easily spend most of your day in the car and miss all the best spots. Fear not! In a new series of stories, we are separating Napa Valley into three easy-to-decipher areas (north, middle, and south) so that you reduce your drive time. In this second day trip (click here for the first), we focus on the middle of the valley (from Rutherford to Oak Knoll), which has less variance in terrior (environmental factors that affect vines and grapes) than the other areas and is home to many of the most famous Napa Valley wineries. 

MORNING 

Head up Highway 29 and make a mid-morning stop at Oakville Grocery for supplies, as it’s all Napa Valley farm style and they have everything from coffee and tea to cheese and sandwiches. Then it’s onto Rutherford, home to a plethora of wineries with unique personalities and offerings, despite their close proximity. Head to Tres Sabores if you like getting off the beaten path, are into biodynamic farming, a relaxed atmosphere, picnic-table tastings, and complex, zesty red wines (by appointment only). Or opt for Alpha Omega, if you’re looking for something posh on the main drag with a wide variety of acclaimed wines and an open patio and fountains. If you want something that’s a mix of both of these, then go to Round Pond, a down-to-earth winery that also serves up great estate olive oil. 

Alpha Omega Winery.

Now cut across the valley on Oakville Crossroad, where you’ll find Cliff Lede and Paraduxx, both famed wineries with reputations for being hip and stylish without being pretentious. Both offer a wide range of tasting options, wines that rival any in the valley, and are a good representation of what Oakville has to offer. If you are staying off the beaten path and dig limited-production wines, then family-owned Gargiulo Vineyards might be a better choice. 

LUNCH

Jump over to Yountville for lunch on the main drag of Washington Street. If you’re looking for high-end pizza and salads, go to Redd Wood. If you want classic French, head to Bouchon, which is also known for coffee and treats (expect a line), or local favorite Bistro Jeanty. Hungry for Italian? Bottega has a big menu full of hearty and flavorful dishes. If you’re in a hurry, Yountville Deli will do the trick, or grab a quick, solid bite at Southside (they make a great cappuccino).

AFTERNOON/EVENING

After lunch, book ahead at Keever for a cave tour, killer views, and a tasting with one of the kind and knowledgeable Keever family members. After that, you’ve got a decision to make. Do you, A), cut across the valley on Yountville Crossroads to the Silverado Trail and to Robert Sinskey and Silverado Vineyards, which has a slew of great wines and a terrace with one of the best views in the valley? Or do you, B), stay on Highway 29 and visit the beloved Trefethen family (try the riesling, my personal favorite and a locals’ go-to) and/or Ashes and Diamonds, the very hip and trendy new winery opened by the family behind Darioush Winery? Either option is exceptional—you can’t really go wrong.

DINNER

If you decide to stick around for dinner, then head into downtown Napa. It seems like every other door is a farm-to-table restaurant, and there are plenty of spots with live music that varies based on the night. A few personal favorites are Tarla Grill (Mediterranean), Eiko's (sushi), Napa Sport (if there is a game on), Bistro Don Giovanni (Italian), and Napa Palisades Saloon (high-end pub food). If you want to try the hot new spot, book a table at Gran Electrica, and if you love steak then you can’t go wrong with Charlie Palmer or Cole’s Chop House.

 

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