Take the road less traveled on The Silverado Trail, a road that runs parallel to Highway 29. With fewer big name wineries brings fewer tourists, making the scenic drive through the country all the more beautiful. And while The Silverado Trail might not have many restaurant options, some of the best winery picnic areas run along this stretch, so pack a lunch!
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DARIOUSH: With a nod to Vegas, Darioush has to be the most ridiculous winery in Napa Vally. With its Persian columns and in your face architecture, you half expect to see Lara Croft jumping from the rooftop with a machine gun blaring! Stop here for a photo op, your friends won't believe it. But don't taste here - that's for the next stop. Map
REYNOLDS FAMILY: A lot of wineries claim to be family run, but perhaps that doesn't count if your family is a dysfunctional corporation. Reynolds is a real family operation, started by a wine loving dentist. Low key and friendly, make reservations to taste. Map
CLOS DU VAL & STAG'S LEAP WINE CELLARS
The movie "Bottle Shock" told the story of the 1976 blind tastings in Paris, focusing on Chateau Montelena and their winning chardonnay. But that's only part of the story. Clos du Val was also there, one of only 6 California cabernets selected. The unpretentious tasting room is wine newbie friendly, offering tasting tips and helping to educate those wanting to learn more. Map
Down the street is Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, not to be confused with Stags' Leap Winery down the road. The main difference is that it was Stag's Leap Wine Cellars that won the Paris tastings for best Cabernet Sauvignon. You like cabs, you're going to want to taste this one! Map
REGUSCI WINERY: There's something about the drive up the dusty road to this historic winery, driving past the vineyards until you reach the olive trees. The sleeping corgi in the sun sets the tone for this winery, looking a lot like something out of the movie Under the Tuscan Sun.
The Regusci stone winery building dates back to the 1800's and is one of the original wineries in Napa Valley. It managed to stay afloat during prohibition, becoming a part time dairy and part time wine bootlegger, and in 1932 was sold to the Regusci family who did a loving restoration.
Friendly servers keep things moving inside. Outside, the picnic tables under the olive trees are begging you to open a bottle of wine and to tear open that baguette, and who are you to argue? One of the best "secret" picnic spots - remember that! Map
PARADUXX: Unlike other wineries that make you belly up to the bar, at Paraduxx, an offshoot of Duckhorn Vineyards (hence the name, Pair of Ducks), you'll be seated at a table and all pours will be served to you at once, making for a very relaxing experience. On nice days the outside lounge chairs under the oaks can't be beat. Reservations required. Map
FROG'S LEAP: You'll feel like a kid on a field trip to the farm when you visit Frog's Leap, once a frog farm for San Francicso diners who couldn't get enough of those delectable frog legs. The tour starts with a glass of wine as you walk around the farm and facilities, with more tastes along the way, making this a very fun tour indeed! Map
MUMM NAPA: You started your tour of Napa with champagne at Domaine Chandon, now end it with an afternoon on the patio at Mumm Napa. Stroll through their free art exhibit then grab a seat with a view of the vineyards and sip a flute or two of sparkling wines. Their reasonable tasting fees are made even better with this free two-for-one coupon / Map
AUBERGE DU SOLEIL: As the wineries close down, don't go back to your hotel to sulk. Instead, head over to 5 Star Resort Auberge du Soleil and go straight to the bar for a beautiful view of the valley and some beautifully prepared cocktails and appetizers.
Considered one of the premier dining spots in Napa, often compared to The French Laundry, taste for yourself with their bistro menu of more reasonbly priced items like pomme frites (skinny French Fries) with aioli sauce ($8) or Chardonnay steamed mussels with grilled bread ($18). Menu / Map
BISTRO JEANTY in Yountville reminds me some of my favorite dining experiences in Paris. The food is good enough to be awarded a Michelin star for the past three years, but the atrmosphere is as fun and comfortable as a neighborhood bistro. Those without reservations are welcome to find a spot at the community table up front, but those looking for romantic dining should head to the rear with the French decor and fireplace. Web / Map
BOUCHON is Thomas Keller's restaurant down the street. A bit fancier than Bistro Jeanty (and a bit pricier), it's a great way to experience the magic of Keller's kitchen and a wonderful way to end a trip to Napa Valley. Web / Map
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SPRING 2013: Thank you everyone for making this one of the most popular sites on Napa. Very cool.
The big Napa news is that we now have our own online store called Napa Valley Home & Garden. We're bringing the best of Napa Farmhouse living right to your home. Check it out - we're open for business!