Nothing says romance like a nice bottle of wine, so it is only fitting that Napa Valley has been named a top destination for Valentine’s Day by FlipKey. Wine tasting, fine dining, beautiful picnics are all offered in Napa Valley and any (or all) of these activities would make for a memorable Valentine’s Day experience. Not to mention the perfect couple photos you could take with the sprawling vineyards as your background. For a relaxing, but romantic, weekend getaway, Napa Valley will be a perfect Valentines Day choice.
First on the agenda would of course be a wine tasting and vineyard tour, and you will have plenty to chose from depending on your taste. You can even hop around to a few different ones if you prefer. For an even more unique experience, head over to the Fontanella Family Winery where you and your significant other can actually create your own wine together. Once you have tasted your fair share of wines, grab a bottle of your favorite and head out on a beautiful picnic at one of the many stunning spots in the area. Don’t fill up too much on wine and cheese though, because there are countless fine dining restaurants available for a special Valentine’s Day dinner. Many restaurants and wineries in the Napa Valley area offer special, fixed-course meals just for Valentines Day. Whether you want something opulent, or more intimate, Napa will have a restaurant to fit your needs. For something a little different, the Napa Valley Wine train is a great way to spend your evening. You will get to enjoy a delicious meal as this old fashioned train whisks you through the Napa countryside.
If you are looking to spend some more time outdoors soaking in the scenery, you can rent bikes and explore the area that way, with plenty of places to stop and have a snack or take pictures. Napa is also known for its spas, so if you are looking to be pampered there will be plenty of choices. Overall, Napa Valley has everything you could need for a special Valentine’s Day. You will have your pick of fine wines, cheeses, and intimate settings along with beautiful scenery and plenty of activities that you can enjoy together.
Napa Valley is a feast for all five senses, especially your taste buds. With delicious food and delectable wines around seemingly every corner, this destination is a must-visit for foodies and amatuer sommeliers alike. The rich, fertile soil inspires passions beyond food and drink, and into writing. Some of the most talented bloggers in the country come from northern California, specifically Napa Valley. We've created a list of our favorite 12, along with a bit about each award-winner.
Adventures of a Carry-on: "If you're a sophisticated traveler seeking a a richer travel experience Adventures of a Carry-on is for you. I have an insatiably curious mind and love of adventures that makes me want to inhabit each place I visit. I'll give you the insider tips based on my first-hand experiences and impressions of hotels, restaurants, spas and wine country adventures. There's more to wine travel than wine. Really."
Girl and the Grape: "I'm a winemaker, author and mom living with my family in the heart of downtown Napa. At GirlandtheGrape.com you get a peek into the life of a winemaker, the art of grape growing and winemaking, wine country living, winemaker confessions, wine myths demystified…. I am a passionate wine storyteller with a love for everything wine. GirlandtheGrape.com is Winemaking, life, the dirt."
Kevin Nelson: "Kevin Nelson is an award-winning book author and travel writer whose articles on Napa Valley, Sonoma County and California's wine country are informative, insightful and always entertaining."
Michael Chiarello: "Named Esquire magazine’s “Chef of the Year” for 2013, Chiarello made his mark by combining his Southern Italian roots with the distinctive hallmarks of Napa Valley living."
Napa Man: "Jim White has been a food and wine writer, newspaper food editor, and professional restaurant critic for 30 years. He moved to Napa Valley, CA, in 1997 in order to write about food and wine in the setting he says is 'the best in North America, if not the world.' Trained as a journalist, Jim has been a TV news reporter, a TV news anchorman, and a foreign correspondent in Africa; he has produced and directed films for the National Film Board of Canada and served as the head of audio visual resources for Canada's International Development Agency."
Napa Valley Vegan: "Napa Valley is an amazing destination that many dream of visiting and that I have the good fortune to live in. The goal of my blog is to share my vegan experiences so travelers enjoy their visit to the Valley and leave loving Napa Valley as much as I do. Join me as I eat, drink and shop my way through Napa Valley - vegan style...and blog about my adventures!"
The Accidental Wino: "The Accidental Wino is a local insider's guide to food and wine from Napa, the Bay Area, and beyond."
The Cork Board: "Welcome to The Cork Board–the premiere blog of the Napa Valley! A small group of Napa Valley locals created this blog in early 2007 because we enjoy covering the latest happenings from in-and-around the valley. We share details on local events, do winery reviews, newsmaker interviews and share tips, tricks and itineraries for navigating wine country.Trevor Jonas is the editor-in-chief and his wife, Karen Jonas, has the dual role of editor and photographer.Cheers!"
The Gutsy Traveler: "The wonder that led me to travel in the first place is reignited every time I pack my bags. My wish is to share that excitement with you. Thanks for visiting the GutsyTraveler.'Here's a little more about me: Marybeth Bond has been a guest on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” NPR, National Geographic Weekend and CNN Travel. Bond is the "go to" expert for adventure, women, mature travel, travel tips, travel advice and travel stories. She is a National Geographic author, (12 books), contributor to PBS, LA Times, USA Today, National Geographic, Contributing Editor for Travelgirl Magazine and more. She knows her subject well. She’s traveled to over 100 countries."
The Rich Life on a Budget: "Fortunate enough to live in California's Wine Country, I aspire to enjoy every aspect of this world-renowned travel destination from the incredible food and wine to the gorgeous scenery, fantastic shopping and more. The Rich Life on a Budget®, a lifestyle blog, features travel stories, winery, lodging and restaurant reviews, fashions ideal for Napa and Sonoma Valleys, and anything that makes my Wine Country life rich!"
Two Guys from Napa: "We’re just two guys in Napa Valley whose goal is to make planning your next trip to the wine country, whichever one that is, easier. After visiting over 800 tasting rooms around the world, we wanted to share the benefits of our experiences with others and if we recommend a place, it’s because we’ve been there ourselves and can personally recommend the experience."
Wine Country Getaways: "We have been traveling to the Napa Valley and other California wine regions for forty years. Our blog is about insider tips and wonderful wine country discoveries."
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Napa Valley boasts some of the most fertile soils in the entire world, which in turn makes wine from the area the best in the business. And while Napa's stellar reputation was built on the merits of its Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, many other wines that call this region home have won closets full of awards.
Tourism in Napa is a major industry as well. Hundreds of thousands of amateur sommeliers visit Napa Valley annually to tour award-winning wineries, learn about the process of creating these masterpieces, and to taste test 'til their heart's content. We've compiled a list of the top wineries in Napa Valley so you can get a jump start planning your trip. These wineries were chosen based on visitor reviews, their wine offerings, and a stellar reputation. Grab your corkscrew and your crystal stemware and head to these wineries in Napa ASAP:
Marriage lasts a lifetime, so it’s only right that every female celebrate her last days as a single lady with a fabulous bachelorette party that lasts the whole weekend. And what better place to celebrate and sip away any wedding jitters than a place where the wine never stops flowing? That’s why we named Napa Valley a Best Bachelorette Party destination.
First, there’s the abundant supply of wine. With more than 450 wineries in the region, Napa Valley is considered one of the premier wine regions in the world. It’s the perfect destination to spend a weekend with your girlfriends touring endless vineyards and tasting perfectly aged and fermented wines. With so many different wineries in Napa Valley, there is sure to be something for all of your gals.
There’s more to do than just indulge in fine wine and savory foods in Napa Valley, though. With its picturesque landscape, let someone else take the wheel and guide you up Highway 29 or down Silverado Trail on a luxury bus tour or train ride. Tours can be arranged and customized, so that the stress of planning is off your plate. You’ll see rolling golden hills, lush vines, and bursts of wildflowers as you explore. For a more adventurous group, Balloons Above The Valley offers the unique opportunity to catch the sunrise from a hot air balloon as it floats over the valley.
Recover from a day of tasting wines and feasting on foods by enjoying luxurious spa treatments at one of the many upscale spas in the area. Enjoy a detoxifying body scrub, exfoliation, or facial, or simply lounge by one of the pools tucked into the scenery. Since the average daytime temperature in Napa Valley is a comfortable 70 degrees year round, this destination is sure to be a winner no matter when the girls can all be rounded up for a memorable bachelorette party weekend.
With fine wines and food, blissful pampering and relaxation, and abundant sightseeing and shopping, this region offers something for all brides, bridesmaids and best friends. If you’re planning a bachelorette party that won’t disappoint, head straight to Napa Valley.
Summer might be coming to an end, but Californians are excited because September equals wine, and lots of it. September is California Wine Month, celebrating wineries, vineyards, and growers of all types of vino.
California Wine Month was created to recognize how much the state of California benefits from the wine industry in terms of economy and lifestyle. California produces 90% of the wine in the United States and is the fourth-largest wine producer in the entire world.
There is plenty to do all month, according to VisitCalifornia.com:
“During this statewide celebration of the Golden State’s rich wine history, you can participate in events from picking and crushing grapes to VIP tours to tastings, concerts, and so much more.”
According to our Travel Insights, the two most popular locations to visit in the California Wine Country are both on the North Coast: Napa, with 26.4% of all travelers heading that way, and Sonoma, with 24.4%. Most travelers go for a romantic weekend getaway, with the most common party size being two and the most common reservation requests made for just one or two days.
Sunset Magazine describes the most-visited location, Napa Valley, as “the best wine region in the New World. Period. Back when our neighbors to the west were taking the prune market by storm, Napa was uncorking our national appetite for fermented grape juice, giving it a seat at the table alongside the great wines of Europe.“
There are so many different types of California wine to choose from, including: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot noir, Sauvignon blanc, Syrah, and Zinfandel. Over 700 miles of winegrowing areas include more than 100 American Viticultural Regions full of different types of wine and people.
In Bon Appetit Magazine, renowned Napa chef, vintner, and TV host Michael Chiarello explains how to choose which winery to go to:
“Wine tasting shouldn’t be a crapshoot where you’re just stopping at every shop that you see. Prioritize the wineries you want to hit on your journey. Even if you’re a neophyte, if you’re going to wine tasting, there’s a good chance you’ve had wine before—start by researching a varietal you like, agnostic of brand. Then, when you get to the tasting room, let your preferences be known (‘Hi! I’m here for the pinot noir!’), and let the staff guide you from there.”
Wine is not just something you drink with dinner: it has a history, a culture, and it brings people together. So what are you waiting for? Grab that special someone and take a weekend adventure to the California Wine Region.
If you are worried about not knowing how to properly taste the wine, check out Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s article on How to Taste Wine.
Guest post by: Suzanne Johnson
Book clubs, cooking clubs, bunco, bridge…what is the unifying theme to most women’s gatherings? Wine! If you can add in the opportunity to do lots of talking, while sipping wine, in beautiful surroundings—even better. So when a group of girlfriends and I decided to look for a getaway destination, Napa Valley was an ideal choice.
We needed to coordinate travel plans from the Midwest and the West Coast. Flights into Sacramento would have brought us closer to Napa, but we found that flying into San Francisco had better prices and better timing—although the congestion in and out of the city would make me re-think Sacramento on my next visit. The first half of the four-hour drive was spent weaving through lanes of traffic, until the rolling green hills beckoned us away from the urban chaos.
September and October are the months to see Napa Valley in high gear, as the juicy clusters of grapey goodness are harvested from the fields. This year, cool temperatures at the start of summer may have delayed the harvest by a few weeks—which gives travelers an even bigger timeframe to get in on the festivities of the fall crush.
When I first heard about the fall crush, I half expected to get barefoot and stomp around in a vat of purple mash, just like the old I Love Lucy episode. I’d love the experience, but cringe at the thought of drinking wine that once squished through someone’s toes! These days the fall crush is more of a celebration—the hard work of the spring and summer has paid off, the grapes are in off the vines, and the transformation into wine will soon begin!
We spent a day biking vineyard to vineyard along the Silverado Trail, starting with renting bikes in Yountville through the Napa Valley Wine Tours. We stocked up on picnic supplies—olives, flatbread crackers, cheeses—at the Oakville Grocery market, and thus fortified, we set out. By day’s end we’d visited half a dozen vineyards and covered over twenty miles! If I were to do it again (and I would love the chance!) I’d do a guided tour, led by a local biker who knew how to avoid the traffic—the roads we chose did not have wide shoulders, and we did worry about drivers who may have sampled too many.
Over coffee the following morning, the four of us were stretching our aching legs and wishing we’d thought to make massage appointments. We spied the lovely Villagio Spa, just down the street from the coffeeshop, and—our guardian angels of wine and pampering were looking out for us—we found they’d just had several cancellations, and could fit us all in for massages. If you ever have the chance to be spoiled rotten by the Villagio Spa, don’t pass it up! Better yet, plan ahead and make a reservation!
Tastings and opportunities to learn more about wine are everywhere, and cater to everyone from wine and cheese pairings for the casual wine drinker to the serious oenophile. It’s not just the grapes coming in from the fields at this time of year—the farmer markets overflow with bounty, and if your group can cook at all, you will love gathering the ingredients for a fall feast back at the vacation rental, where everyone can mingle freely instead of staying seated in a restaurant. That way, the conversation and laughter goes on until the wee hours…and isn’t that what the girlfriends’ getaway is all about?
Suzanne Johnson lives, writes and plays in the Cascade mountains of Oregon with her family of adventure-prone boys. More of her writing can be found a SuzanneMyhreJohnson.com.
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