Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Honeymoon Recap Pt. 3-Smaller Vineyards & Restaurants

Morning! I hope everyone's enjoying their day so far.  Last night was a somewhat productive night.  I got some grocery shopping done, Monday's workout completed, & the hubs made dinner.  Turkey burger w/ chipolte veganaise, and kale salad for me and a pork chop, kale salad and pasta salad for him.  We picked out meats at Whole Foods for him to grill & I picked out some salads for us to have.  

It was much too hot to have the oven on today.  It's been in the 90s here in Chicago.  I'm not going to complain because I love this weather.  BUT what I don't like is going into freezing cold A/C after being outside.  I always freeze to death inside during the summer time. 

So, here's the final part of our honeymoon recap.  It's an overview of the smaller wineries & the restaurants we went to.  Note to anyone looking to wine taste through Napa...5 wineries in one day? Far too many.  Here's a list of the smaller wineries we visited.  I liked the smaller vineyards because of the one on one attention & the fact that I won't be able to taste most of these wines anywhere else but Napa.  All the more reason to go back :-)
  • Rutherford Hill
  • Miner
  • Turnbull
  • Frog's Leap
  • Clos Du Val
  • Trefethen
We stumbled upon this one after our wine train tour.  It was hidden, set back from the road.  We did just the estate tasting for $10 and got to taste about 3 different wines.  It was a pretty winery, the wine was good but nothing to write home about.  They do have picnic areas available.    
This winery is located along Hwy 29. The tasting room was very quaint and this was the only winery that I saw, where they sold wine case carriers for the plane.  We already had two suitcases to bring home, otherwise I would've brought our wine home this way instead of shipping it.  They had a really good cab that we bought, and they waived our tasting fees.  The pleasures of the smaller wineries :-) 

 Right down the road from Rutherford Hill.  This winery came as a recommendation from a couple at Mumm.  I wish I could say more about this winery, but it was #5.  From what I can remember the wine was good, and we did buy a bottle. 

 Rutherford Hill
I LOVED this winery! A friendly host named Larry :-) He was very knowledgeable about his wine.  They had a decent malbec and was generous with his tastings.  We found a 2 for 1 tasting coupon that was valid from an iPhone App.  Next time we go to Napa, I'd like to do their cave tour.  
They also had a lovely picnic area.  LC and I shared a picnic.  I wish I had taken a picture of it because it was just so darn cute, but I was too hungry to think about it.  But here's the view from the picnic area. 
Clos du Val
Another fave of mine.  Good wine and friendly employees.  The inside of the tasting room had a very French feel to it.  I almost felt like we were wine tasting in France.  They take the time to sit there and talk to you about the wine, answer any questions and give you the history behind the wine.  We ended up with two bottles of their exclusive wine: Three Graces in red & white. Yummmmm! This is what their website says about the wine:
An artistic depiction of the mischievous daughters of Zeus, the Three Graces were known throughout ancient Greece for dancing, singing and being the life of Olympian parties.  Independent in mind, body and spirit and now an essential element of our soul, there simply could be no better representative of Clos Du Val than the Three Graces.

Frog's Leap
A very laid-back winery.  We got to sit out on their front porch and watch a few kids play bags.  It was the epitome of what summer time is.  We tasted about 4 wines, and they provided us with snacks :-) BONUS!  It was set up very much like Mumm in the fact that you had a "sever" bring you your wines, tell you about each one and then they were in the area if you had any questions. The grapes are organically grown & they don't use irrigation to water their grapes, just the environment.  You also get a free bottle of olive oil when you purchase wine.  Their olive oil is really good!! 

LC & I have zero bad things to say about the restaurants we went to.  At each restaurant we received great service, excellent food, and good wine.  Just a little FYI, all the restaurants in Napa allow you to bring your own wine, but they charge you a small corkage fee.  The only place where we bought our wine was to Bouchon.  We bought a bottle of white with us which we drank before our main courses and then I ordered a class of red to go with my steak.  
  • Calistoga Inn & Brewery
  • Bouchon
  • Ristorante Allegria
  • Gott's Roadside
  •  Press
  • Napa Valley Wine Train
Bouchon Bakery
We never went to the actual bakery but we did have it delivered every morning to our front doorstep.  It was the "official" bakery of The Cottages. Everything was so good, and they have amazing croissants with chocolate :-)
Calistoga Inn & Brewery
This was the first place we ate at when we arrived to Napa.  I made reservations to this place with LC in mind: I know that he wanted to have beer at least one of the days we were in Napa.  Calistoga Inn & Brewery makes their own beer, but the dinner menu is nothing like what we have here in the midwest.  It's definitely more upscale than your typical burgers & fries type of place.  We ate in their beer garden and enjoyed some brew & yummy food.  I had lamb & and I don't remember what LC had.

Gott's Roadside
Perfect lunchtime spot.  Located on Hwy 29.  Good burgers. Good strawberry milkshakes.  End of story.

Ristorante Allegria
This Italian restaurant is located in downtown Napa, which was about 15 minutes from where we were staying.  I'm really glad we went here because not only did they have the best mushroom ravioli I've ever had at a restaurant, but we got to see a part of Napa that we never would've otherwise seen.  They're was also a street fair going on, so it was fun to see what the locals do on a Thursday night.

The last place we ate dinner and definitely our fanciest.  I loved this place and want to go back like yesterday.  We had the nicest server, who recommended the best wine and side dishes.  We had lobster cocktail for an appetizer, steak for dinner, along with truffle mac & cheese (my mouth is watering just thinking about it) and sweet corn.  They also have gruyere cheese rolls.  I could've eaten a whole basket of these, they were pretty much the best combination ever. But I refrained. Why? I have no idea.  I will need to look up a recipe for these because I need them again. Very soon.  

A casual french bistro run by the famed Thomas Keller.  The restaurant is located in Yountville, which may be my new favorite small town.  I felt like I was in a classy town in up north WI. I made our reservations here because we couldn't get into The French Laundry so we figured this would be the next closest thing.  I had steak Frites, which was pretty amazing.  The food and service were both as good as we expected them to be and we decided that next year, we'll be dining at French Laundry for our one year anniversary :-) Can't wait! 

Napa Valley Wine Train
My sister got us a very generous gift certificate for The Napa Valley Wine train, so we decided to use it for a Friday lunch.  I would definitely recommend doing this.  It was a great way to see the valley from an elevation that you cannot get in a car.  It was absolutely gorgeous.  The food was fairly good too.  We had the lobster bisque and a beef tenderloin.  Wine, however, were not included in our train ticket price.  I would definitely do this again, but maybe go for dinner just to get a different experience.  

There you have it! Maria & LC's Napa Wine adventure :-) We're so happy that we went on a honeymoon right after the wedding.  I know some couples wait, but I don't know the meaning of that word :-) It was just nice to take a deep breath after the wedding was over and forget about everything.  Napa was a good choice for the type of honeymoon we wanted to have.  I think next time we go, we'll focus more on the outdoorsy type things that it has to offer.  I would love to visit the hotsprings in Calistoga or go kayaking in The Russian River. 


  1. So jealous you went on the wine train!!! The weather looks gorgeous too...:-) *sigh* I wish I lived in San Fran...hahaha Can you believe it is way hotter here than Cali?

  2. Elvi-it was HOT when we went to Napa, dry heat into the upper 90s. But at least it was dry. What we have going on in Chicago is just gross. San Fran was colder, I couldn't believe the difference in such a short amount of time.

  3. I was thinking of taking the Wine Train but have heard mixed reviews. Does the train actually stop at various wineries? Or do they just serve wine on the train from surrounding wineries? Thanks!

    Kristen L.

  4. Hi Kristin-
    The wine train has different packages that you can choose from. They do have one that stops off at a winery but the one hubs and I did was just lunch & dessert. It doesn't include any alcohol, you have to pay for that separate. I'm really glad we did it, it's just a different way to see Napa. But you're going just for that, the view and the experience. Our food was okay, we definitely had better at the restaurants we went to.