Napa Valley

With hundreds of premium wineries and thousands of acres of coveted vineyards, Napa Valley has more than earned its position as one of the world’s most premier wine regions.

Located about an hour’s drive from the bustling cities of San Francisco and Oakland, Napa Valley, California Wine Country feels a world apart. Its picture-perfect patchwork of agrarian heaven extends thirty miles north to the dramatic palisades towering above Calistoga.

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The verdant valley surrounded by mountains and forested slopes is rich in history. Tapping into that history allows visitors to get off-the-beaten-path and truly immerse themselves in alluring stories that make this region so unique.

In the world of both tourism and winemaking that in some areas have become more corporate-driven, it’s a breath of fresh air to discover family-owned properties and wineries still celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit of the American dream.

Wine Country Inn

Nestled in the heart of Napa Valley, St. Helena’s Wine Country Inn is the perfect place to stay. This romantic and secluded bed and breakfast sports an array of rooms and cottages that are luxuriously appointed. Many come with views overlooking the vineyards and valley. My spacious room included a separate seating area and outside deck with a stunning vista.

Wine Country Inn in Napa Valley

The inviting lobby and accompanying rooms are beautifully decorated and an outdoor patio overlooking the idyllic grounds is the ideal setting for breakfast. The morning buffet is impressive with enough choices to please any guest. A pool and hot tub perfectly round out the inn’s gracious amenities.

Charles Krug Winery

In 1861, German settler Charles Krug founded Napa Valley’s first commercial winery in St. Helena. In 1943, the Italian Cesare Mondavi family purchased the 147-acre winery. For more than 150 years, the Charles Krug Winery estate has produced exceptional innovative red and white Napa Valley wines, stewarded by the Peter Mondavi Sr. family.

Charles Krug Winery in Napa Valley

Restoration of the Charles Krug family reserve barrel room and carriage house in 2009 helped preserve the storied past of this magnificent winery. Mondavi family members still live in historic homes on the property. Photos in the public tasting room and private library celebrate the Krug and Mondavi family’s many stellar accomplishments.

From May to October, winery grounds are open for pizza on the lawns, live concerts, movie nights and other events. We had the pleasure of strolling the property, sipping wine with Peter Mondavi, Jr. and sampling several Neapolitan-style wood-fired pizzas that were the among the best to be had outside of Naples, Italy—the birthplace of pizza.

Louis M. Martini Winery

One of the first Napa Valley wineries to open after the repeal of Prohibition, Louis M. Martini Winery was founded in 1933. True to Napa Valley’s reputation for creating the best Cabernet Sauvignons, Martini offers an acclaimed portfolio of these spectacular reds.

Louis M. Martini wine

The winery and grounds have been magnificently restored offering both indoor and outdoor tastings and more personalized Martini Park Cabana food and wine experiences. Our winery tour included an exploration of the Underground Cellar, complete with a vault containing cherished vintage wines surrounded by old photos and family memorabilia. Creative and tantalizing culinary pairings with small-lot wines followed in the comfort of its newly-opened Heritage Lounge.

Chef’s Table at Long Meadow Ranch

Excellence through responsible farming is the mantra of Napa Valley’s Long Meadow Ranch. Showcasing the freshest ingredients from the Hall family-owned farm, ranch and vineyards, the estate chef provides guests a five-course culinary masterpiece. This elegant dining experience with wine pairing is offered at the rustic and historic Logan Ives House at Farmstead.

Long Meadow Ranch in Napa Valley

In true farm-to-table style, 80 percent of the foods served are homegrown and raised on property, including grass-fed beef, honey, estate olive oil, fruits and vegetables. Mouthwatering menu items change according to seasonal offerings and are perfectly paired with impressive Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and a late-harvest Chardonnay.

Stony Hill Vineyard

Well off-the-beaten-path, picturesque Stony Hill Vineyard in St. Helena has been family owned and managed by the McCrae family since its founders stumbled across the 160-acre goat ranch in the early 1940s.

Stony Hill Vineyard in Napa Valley

There’s nothing like sitting outdoors on a sunny, breezy day, overlooking the gardens, hillside vineyards and rolling meadows while sampling their luscious elegant old-world style whites and reds. The aptly-named Stony Hill wines are produced and bottled at almost 1,000 feet above the Napa Valley floor.

Town of St. Helena

The charming town of St. Helena sits in the heart of Napa Valley. Wineries, art galleries, restaurants, quaint boutiques and sycamore trees line picturesque Main Street. This is the very same Victorian-lined road that Robert Louis Stevenson and his new bride once traveled on horse and buggy during their Napa honeymoon.

Beautiful historic brick and gingerbread architecture remains in St. Helena today, a reminder that small-town America still exists even in the middle of the most renowned and expansive wine region in the U.S.

Historic building in St. Helena

Artesa Estate Vineyards & Winery

One of Napa’s most amazing wineries just happens to have one of the most amazing views of the Napa Valley. Its iconic modern architecture, captivating fountains and award-winning wines make the avant-garde Spanish-American Artesa Estate Vineyards & Winery a must-visit.

The property is so magnificent, it served as the setting for the recent Hollywood movie Wine Country starring Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and a full cast of stars.

A variety of tasting experiences are available by reservation. We loved the Heritage Flight of white and red Spanish-inspired wines paired with five small bites known as pintxos. These creatively flavorful treats are speared with sword-like picks and designed specifically to accompany each hand-selected wine.

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Peter Mondavi, Sr. once said “Growing grapes and making wine is more than a family business—it’s a way of life for my generation and those that follow.”

Having the opportunity to experience Napa Valley through the eyes of the families who embrace this philosophy and live it every day was an absolutely unforgettable experience, and one every visitor should enjoy.