Sometimes less is more. And with so many winery options in Napa Valley, sometimes it’s nice to have them selected for you! Here are my recommendations for the top two wineries you should visit on your trip to Napa Valley!
Napa Valley: Domaine Carneros
If you’re wanting to visit a fancy looking winery in Napa Valley, how about visiting a chateau, such as the one pictured above?
Travel Tip #20: Make a Reservation
They say (on their website) that reservations are required, while this isn’t exactly true, I would still HIGHLY recommend you make a reservation. When we walked up, the line was out of the door, and then some. When we finally got to the front of the line, we learned the wait to sit outside was around 2 hours. However, the wait to sit inside was only a few minutes. While the inside is nice, outside on the terrace is where you want to be! The weather was perfect and the views were exactly what you would expect from a fancy winery.
What to Wear
When we first arrived at Domaine Carneros, I felt pretty underdressed (and I think Ben did too). I had a silky tank top with a V cut slit down the back, rolled denim shorts and sandals. For a woman I would definitely recommend something nicer when visiting the chateau. For men, I would suggest at least a polo and no tennis shoes.
When I Went to Napa Valley
We visited the first weekend in September, on a Sunday, after driving up from the Muir Woods National Monument. Domaine Carneros closes at 5:30 p.m. everyday, so keep this in mind!
Service & Cost
A fancy winery means fancy prices, y’all! We spent $100.20 on two wine samplers and a cheese plate. I ordered the Sparkling Wine Sampler and the Sparkling Wine Cheese Plate, both of which I would recommend! (Ben also enjoyed his red wines, but I can’t remember which one he selected. The nuts pictured were free!) Here’s a link to their menu so you can scan the prices yourself. Remember, you can always drink by the glass, don’t feel pressured to get a sampler!
Every winery is a little different, and Domaine Carneros is one that provides a sit down service. Our waiter was very attentive and took his time explaining our options and the history of the winery. I don’t know a lot about wine, but it was nice to have him tell us a little bit about each glass he poured (which was eight in total, 2 ounces per serving).
Before you leave Domaine Carneros, make sure you take a turn around the terrace (especially if you sat inside like we did) and walk through the grape vines! I saw a girl sneaking a taste of the grapes off the vine, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Maybe next time!
Sonoma Valley: Buena Vista Winery
Fancy wineries are great and even better when coupled with caves (more on this below)! Buena Vista Winery is a designated historical landmark and was the first premium winery in California.
What to Wear
I think it is hard to be over dressed at a winery, but if you go, remember this one has a lot going on outside so maybe don’t wear a jacket unless its weather appropriate. I was perfectly comfortable in my aforementioned outfit. And with tons of seating, photo opportunities and even a maze outside, I would recommend dressing casually, cute (for a woman)! The winery closes at 5:00 p.m. everyday, so you shouldn’t need to worry much about cooler evening weather.
Service & Cost
The person who waited on us the majority of the time was great! I couldn’t find the wine tasting menus online, so I took a picture to share! The one on the left was $20 and the one on the right was $35. A total of $55 for two, which Ben and I decided to split. I’m a little fuzzy on the deal we received because our total before the tip was $50.85 with our “The Count Tasting” (what the receipt says) and Private Reserve Tasting being $18.49 and $32.36, respectively. We definitely had more than four glasses each, so I’m not complaining!
We were served at their outside bar where there were seating options, but to my knowledge there is not a sit down service option unless you book a tasting in advance (more info on that, here).
The Domaine Carneros winery tour is $50 per person and while I don’t know what all you see and learn during either tour, I would have to recommend a Buena Vista Winery tour. The Buena Vista tours are $25 and $40, and both look like you will learn a lot, but Ben and I had wanted to take the $40 tour of the wine cellar with tastings in their caves! Unfortunately, by the time we arrived the last tour had already ended. We had only found out about Buena Vista on our drive to Domaine Carneros.
Wineries can be expensive, but sometimes it’s just about the experience of visiting one. Remember to drink responsibly and plan your ride ahead of time. Uberring is possible, but will run you around $100 for a trip back to San Francisco!
Hi friends! This is one post of my blog series for San Francisco! Be sure to check out all the great blogs I will post for this semi-spontaneous Labor Day trip to San Francisco. Also, don’t be shy! Let me know if you’ve been to San Francisco and what you loved and *gasp* hated!