If you haven’t seen the Netflix film Wine Country with Amy Poehler you need to stop what you are doing, open up a big bottle of wine and watch it… Now! OK, spoiler alert, it’s a bit of a chick flick but there are plenty of hilarious moments. “What do you taste? There are no wrong answers…” Tip: Never answer that question.
So now you want to plan out your own weekend getaway to Napa. You want to get silly drunk, roll down hills, maybe even renew some old friendships? Well here’s the reality check - Napa is expensive. Super expensive. Like $50 per person to taste at some wineries expensive! But I can help. Yes, I can definitely help.
GROUP SIZE MATTERS IN WINE TASTING
A group of 4 or less, Napa is all yours. Once you hit 6 you need to think about reservations. And once you go over 8 you should know that some wineries just don’t want you, especially if you’re laughing and giggling and just having a great old time. The trick is to call ahead and make reservations. They might charge you more but at least you know when you arrive that they are expecting you, have a server ready for you, and have space set aside for you. Yes, some wineries are totally cool with large groups coming in unannounced - Castillo di Amorosa, Chandon, Sterling, and a few others. But even if you do get in it means long lines waiting for wine, a major buzzkill. No one wants to wait for wine so make reservations if you have a group over 5 people.
If you are coming with over 8 people just email me and let me help you. I don’t charge for this - I try to help the wineries and in turn they help me and my readers. In the end you get a deal cheaper than you could get yourself. If you are trying to ballpark wine tasting fees for any group over 8 use $40 per person, per winery, as a starting point. It can be less but for planning it’s best to be realistic.
HOTELS ARE EXPENSIVE AND BOOK UP FAST
In the movie they had this great house all to itself. Well, that’s a tall order in Napa. If you want that experience you should expand your search to Sonoma. But if you want Napa then start with hotels. You want a hotel that is close to restaurants. That’s because at the end of the day you don’t want to be driving to eat dinner. This means find a place in either downtown Napa or Yountville. Use this link to start browsing the deals - https://arestravel.com/hotel/list/3035/m211 - If you wanted that private estate in the vineyards email me - I know some wineries who have villas where you can stay. These are not published so just ask.
GET A PRIVATE CHEF EXPERIENCE WITHOUT A PRIVATE CHEF
One of the very cool things in the Netflix movie Wine Country was that they had a private chef. But if you aren’t staying in a farmhouse or just can’t afford your own chef then check out Long Meadow Ranch’s Chef’s Table. I’ve done this - it’s incredible. There’s a private communal table in the winery that seats around 10 people. Next to the table is a kitchen with your own chef who carefully and skillfully prepares a 2 hour dining experience for you, course by course, with wine pairings. It’s totally indulgent and so much fun, especially for a Wine Country getaway. I also have an offer for my readers that adds on a private cave tour if you book the dinner so make sure you email me to get that.
On an even tighter budget? Go to The Bounty Hunter for dinner where there’s great BBQ and a killer Happy Hour and tons - I mean TONS - of wines by the glass. Top notch food and authentic Napa experience.
SPA EXPERIENCE IN NAPA… ON A BUDGET
A Wine Country weekend should mean some relaxing experiences as well and Napa has no shortage of top notch, high end spas. But for those looking for a budget spa experience do something that is uniquely Napa and go soak in a mud bath. Calistoga is home to plenty of options to soak in natural spring waters filled with soothing clay and peat. Couples welcome, even threesomes (um, OK), and it’s a spa experience that you will remember for a long time.
GRAPE STOMPS, CAVE TOURS, HOT AIR BALLOONS, NAPA WINE TRAIN, NAPA HAS IT ALL
If you’re coming in Fall make sure you book a Grape Stomp. Grgich Hills has a good one where you stomp away and take home a wine stained t-shirt. Cave Tours are great during off season when it’s raining outside or on a super hot summer day when you want to get out of the heat. Hot Air Balloons start early so decide if you really want to get up early and do not plan on this after a night of fun wine drinking. And who can resist the Napa Wine Train? With lunch and dinner excursions, an excursion that drops you off at wineries, even a Wine Train and Castle trip, there’s something for everyone and a totally unique experience. And guess what, I have discount tickets so make sure you ask before booking.
OVERWHELMED? JUST EMAIL ME!
A big part of what I do here is help visitors find the Best of Napa on a Budget. All honest advice, no tricks or gimmicks, I’ll help you plan it all out and it’s all free of charge. All I ask is that you tell all of your friends about me and you follow me on instagram! Here’s to a great weekend Wine Country getaway!