Happy 2014 everyone! Over the holiday vacation my boyfriend and I spent a lovely weekend in Napa, CA. I'm not sure if people normally think to visit Napa during the winter since the vineyards are not the picturesque rolling hills of green, but I think it's a nice off-season time to enjoy delicious food and copious amounts of wine with much less of a crowd.
I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so I've never actually stayed over night in Napa until this time (it was always just day trips as it's only about an hour drive from the city). We opted for a charming creekside cottage via Airbnb, and it was a good first experience using Airbnb, however, next time I'd probably book an actual bed and breakfast instead. Our hosts were nice people and the cottage was as advertised, however, we both had in our minds that we'd have the property to ourselves and not necessarily have to be cognizant of our hosts' presence during our getaway. If you're looking to have a more romantic Napa getaway I'd definitely suggest an established bed and breakfast as there are plenty of lovely looking spots in the area.
We did a lot of wine tasting, hopping from one winery to another ( V. Sattui, Robert Mondavi, Folie a Deux, Hendry Ranch, etc.). Our favorite winery was definitely Hendry Ranch as we took the tour and wine tasting option. We both enjoy wine, but won't hesitate to admit that we probably knew nothing about it before our tour. The Hendry tour and tasting takes a very scientific approach to understanding the wine making process and explaining how food is an integral part of tasting and enjoying good wine. I left the tour having a much better understanding of how to pair wines with different types of foods, and just an overall appreciation of the planning and thought that goes into fine wines.
For all the foodies, Napa is certainly a destination spot for Michelin starred restaurants and epicurean adventures. We kept it pretty low key this time and didn't plan our trip around visiting all the well known spots, however, everywhere we ate still had amazing food and was quite reasonable. Some of the spots I really enjoyed on this visit were Bounty Hunter (BBQ), Kitchen Door (Duck Banh Mi), and Grace's Table (Brunch - Fish Tacos). Oh, and definitely visit the Oxbow Public Market if you're a fan of indoor marketplaces for local and artisanal purveyors of food. Cheers!